Calgary Herald | 08Sep2010 | Orest Slepokura

Reread Jackson

Re: "Iran woman's stoning soon, son fears," Sept. 07, 2010.

The case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, an Iranian woman under threat of death by stoning for alleged adultery, is thankfully giving Iranian officials a massive PR headache, exposing the Islamic republic's legal system as barbaric and tribal. Had her prosecutors read Shirley Jackson's story, The Lottery, they might've entertained sober second thoughts about opting for this mode of execution for the "crime" of adultery.

The 1948 short story has shaken generations of readers with its tale of death by stoning. Villagers in a neighbourly community gather annually and via a lottery select a victim from among their neighbours, slated to die under a hail of rocks.

The bland and matter-of-fact way the villagers organize their ritual sacrifice contrasted with the gruesome nature of the killing -- the victim, incidentally, being a wife and mother -- is a one-two punch that moves any normally sensitive reader to recoil with horror and revulsion. Worldwide horror and revulsion against Iran will rightly attend this woman's execution should it be carried out in the manner prescribed.

Orest Slepokura, Strathmore