1993 – Lorena Bobbit hacks off her husband John’s penis

The Bobbits – Lorena and John Wayne Bobbit – had been married for a little over five years of not terribly happy matrimony on June 23, 1993. That was the night when, finally provoked to action by the latest in a what was apparently a series of spousal abuse incidents, Lorena got out of bed, came back with a knife, and cut John’s penis off.

Lorena was arrested, but found not guilty by reason of temporary insanity. John’s penis was surgically re-attached. The couple were divorced in 1995.

Lorena became a campaigner against domestic abuse. John went on to abuse his next fiance, and then his next wife (these were two separate women). As the possessor of what was, at that time, arguably the most notorious penis in the world, he also attempted to become a porn star (which only goes to illustrate that some insanities are more temporary than others). As of 2009, he apparently still sends Lorena Valentine’s Day cards.

Referenced in:

Headline News — Weird Al Yankovic

1994 – Michael Fay is caned for vandalism in Singapore

Michael Fay was 18 years old and apparently didn’t realise that laws were different in Singapore from in his native United States. When he was arrested for theft and vandalism (which, to be fair, were crimes back home too), he was astonished to be sentenced to caning.

The actual caning itself was a fairly trivial affair – schoolchildren endured worse in the days of capital punishment on a regular basis – but the outcry was astonishing. Across America, Singapore was denounced for its barbaric legal system. American diplomats requested leniency for Fay, and the Singaporean government reduced the number of cane strokes by a third – from six to four.

Fay was briefly a media sensation, and did fairly well financially from his media appearances, but a later arrest suggests that it he learned little from his experiences.

Referenced in:
Headline News — Weird Al Yankovic

1994 – Skater Nancy Kerrigan is attacked by a jealous rival

Nancy Kerrigan, a skater who was training as a member of the US Olympic team, was attacked at practice by Shane Stant. Stant was in the pay of two men, Jeff Gillooly and Shawn Eckhardt. Her injuries forced her to withdraw from competition, and rival skater Tonya Harding won handily.

However, Gillooly was the ex-husband of Harding, and when brought up on criminal charges in the matter, incriminated her in the conspiracy also. Harding only ever admitted to helping cover up the attack, not to any prior knowledge or approval of it. Even so, the resulting scandal effectively ended her career as a skater.

Referenced in:
Headline News – Weird Al Yankovic
Tonya’s Twirls – Loudon Wainwright III