First the good news: No one is getting stoned in Iran this week. Depending upon how read that last sentence, it might not sound like good news, but let me explain: A forty-three year old woman who was convicted of adultery was sentenced to be stoned to death for her crime. Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani's case has received worldwide attention. Human rights organizations across the globe have insisted that this brutal practice be stopped. Even the Vatican, who know a few things about brutal practices, expressed their outrage.
Ms. Ashtiani, a mother of two, was convicted of adultery in 2006, for which she received ninety-nine lashes. She was accused of having an affair with two different men, but her husband was reportedly already dead at the time. Iranian officials insist that the second time she was tried and convicted of adultery, she was also convicted for the murder of her husband and that is why she is being stoned to death. Suddenly that Iranian nuclear weapons program seems just a little more problematic. Nuclear weapons in the hands of stone-age vengeful ninnies seems like a really scary notion.
On the other side of the world, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit overturned a littering citation. Why all the fuss about littering? Daniel Millis, a volunteer with the faith-based organization No More Deaths, was arrested in 2008 for leaving bottles of drinking water on trails near the Arizona-Mexico border so immigrants walking through the desert would not die of thirst. Millis was convicted and given a suspended sentence. When he appealed the first time, he lost. On his second appeal, the three judge panel came down on his side: two to one. Now, two years later, he can go back into the desert and repeat his random act of kindness, but could just as easily be convicted under another part of the same law that got him arrested in the first place: the part that says it is illegal to abandon property in a national refuge, or to place certain property in a refuge without a permit. Even if that certain property might save a human life. Those guys must be stoned.