Remember the chill you felt the first time you read The Lottery by Shirley Jackson? I experienced some of that from reading this article in yesterday’s New York Times: In Bold Display, Taliban Order Stoning Deaths:
The Taliban on Sunday ordered their first public executions by stoning since their fall from power nine years ago, killing a young couple who had eloped . . . The couple eloped when the man was unable to persuade family members to allow him to marry the young woman. She was engaged to marry a relative of her lover, but was unwilling to do so, according to Mr. Khan.
The couple eloped to Kunar Province, in eastern Afghanistan, sbut family members persuaded them to return to their village, promising to allow them to marry. (Afghan men are legally allowed to marry up to four wives). Once back in Kunduz, however, they were seized by the Taliban, who convened local mullahs from surrounding villages for a religious court.
After the Taliban proclaimed the sentence, Siddiqa, dressed in the head-to-toe Afghan burqa, and Khayyam, who had a wife and two young children, were encircled by the male-only crowd in the bazaar. Taliban activists began stoning them first, then villagers joined in until they killed first Siddiqa and then Khayyam, Mr. Khan said. No women were allowed to attend, he said.
Mr. Khan estimated that about 200 villagers participated in the executions, including Khayyam’s father and brother, and Siddiqa’s brother, as well as other relatives, with a larger crowd of onlookers who did not take part. “People were very happy seeing this,” Mr. Khan maintained, saying the crowd was festive and cheered during the stoning. The couple, he said, “did a bad thing.”
I keep reading the last two sentences. “People were very happy seeing this,” Mr. Khan maintained, saying the crowd was festive and cheered during the stoning. The couple, he said, “did a bad thing.” You might observe that the event described is on the end of the same grisly continuum as the old U.S. custom of public hangings. I would agree, and say public hangings as a festive social event also similarly repulsive. Repulsive, because I share the same gene pool with the cheering rock-throwers.