Aaaaand we’re back to Iran:
Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a mother of two, faces imminent death by stoning after her appeals for clemency were denied. Ms Ashtiani had already been punished with flogging for what a court called an “illicit relationship”, when she was then charged with committing adultery.
The death penalty under any form is bad enough, but stoning? As if living in a theocracy wasn’t bad enough, if you step out of line you might get bludgeoned to death with stones for having a boyfriend after your husband dies – or at least being accused of doing so. There is a debate in many cases like this (particularly with ‘honour killings’ and homophobia laws) that what we’re talking about is a secular issue dressed up in religious clothing. We can put such debate aside in this case:
Under Iran’s strict interpretation of Islamic law, sex before marriage is punishable by 100 lashes, but married offenders are sentenced to death by stoning. The stones used must be large enough to cause the condemned pain, but not sufficient to kill immediately (emphasis mine).
(Gotta love religious rules. Not only do they specify the way in which a person must be executed, but they ensure the maximum amount of suffering possible. It takes a certain license for unabashed cruelty to write something like that into law, and only religious justification allows such license.)
That should be the first clue that your society is morally bankrupt: you must find a way to kill people for having sex, and in such a way as to cause them the maximum possible discomfort before they die. This is the reason the West cringes when Iran announces it intends to develop nuclear weapons. It’s not simple arrogance on behalf of the imperial powers, as many of my arch-liberal brethren like to claim. It’s not just that we want to keep ‘the club’ small or that Iran is a threat to American dominance – this is a country of people who murder people with stones for the crime of having sex. They’ve already demonstrated that they have the desire – what happens when they have the means to punish the entire world for its “sins”?
The government did a quick back-pedal after overwhelming condemnation from the international community (gotta love peer pressure) and said that the woman would not be stoned to death, but refused to specify whether or not her death sentence had been commuted. To be fair, apparently stoning is a rare punishment meted out to only the most deserving. Clearly, a woman who tried to move on after her husband died, was arrested, whipped and tortured into confessing crimes she now denies is an exemplar of those most deserving.