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