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OPINION WEDNESDAY, BLOODY WEDNESDAY EDITORIAL When Mary Stuart, the Queen of Scots, was beheaded in 1587, her executioner was having an off day. His first stroke hit the back of Mary's head, not her neck. According to some accounts, she cried out in pain and continued to moan loudly as he raised the ax for another try. uttered after some corporate debacle, when dismissals were in the offing. In the wake of corporate America's en masse exodus to offshore factories and service call centers in the 1980s, the firing of domestic employees spawned a new euphemism: "Downsizing." More important, a cottage industry sprang The second stroke at least hit her neck, but up that offered corporations new strategies it did not completely sever her head from the for terminating employees that would be body. It took yet a third swing of the heads- less traumatic than the figurative beheadings many firings tended to be. man's ax to complete his gruesome task. Certainly, in an era when the phrase "going Beheadings no longer occur in the civilized postal" had entered the vernacular as a sinworld, of course, but they have become meta- ister, cautionary tale with regard to letting phorical stand-ins for the firing of employees, employees go, corporate America had a especially the termination of high-ranking vested interest in making those terminations executives. "Heads will roll," was commonly as humane as possible.

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