This is insanely great (second only to NeoCam for absolute attractiveness, and arguably more suitable under predominant rough-and-ready social conditions). First, a little scene-setting:
There is, to the best of my knowledge, no single right and proper method to construct a gallows. A few elements are common to just about every design, but the grim carpenters’ flourishes of the scaffold reflect the tastes of the community and the eye of the builders. There is always a raised platform; there are always stairs leading to the platform, usually thirteen; there is always a crossbeam around which to string the noose; and there is always a trapdoor to launch the condemned into the hereafter. Beyond that, the timbers of the frame are a matter of discretion. Supporting braces and thick beams are common for permanent installations. Temporary gallows will often rely on a nock rather than a full cleat to hold the bitter end of the killing rope. A shoreside hanging can even rely on a high tide and the scuttling claws of the merciless deep to clean up the turgid mess left by a dead man dancing. …
Then the carpentry of refined-incentives governance:
Me: “I don’t know if they still do it that way, but that’s how it used to be. What’s more, even speaking up at a rulemoot can be a death sentence.” It was clear she thought I was pulling her leg. I wish I was. Tolerance for two-bit tinpot tyrants was running awfully low, so Sacramentarians decided to raise the stakes for would-be petty autocrats. “Any citizen can propose any rule change at a rulemoot. To do [so], you ascend the Black Gallows, loop a secured noose of your own tying around your neck, and take the next five minutes and five minutes only to deliver your proposal and your plea. Then there’s some sort of a deliberation process. I think folks can line up to give brief comments or something, after which the assembled crowd votes yea or nay. If the motion passes, it is now law. If it fails, the lever is pulled and you hang by your neck until you are dead, dead dead.”
Anika: “That’s insane! This place must be a madhouse!”
Me: “You might be surprised. Plenty of laws get passed this way. Most of them are pretty standard things: no murder, no theft, no rape, that sort of thing. And nobody’s stupid enough to try to pass a new law if they aren’t very sure they’ll have the support of the crowd.” I paused to consider something. “I’d reckon they don’t have a lot of civic participation on windy days.”
Excessive populism, certainly, but turned unambiguously in the right direction. After a few generations, the genetic selection effects alone would have justified it. The model, clear in context, is an anti-California. If something like this isn’t tried somewhere, social experimentation will have missed out.