Opinion: Crime and punishment?

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While most of us are preparing for “peace on Earth” and “goodwill toward men,” there are others who remain vigilant of the vagrancies of the darker side of our humanity. The Islamic Republic of Iran recently vented its retribution by sentencing 400 of its errant citizens to hard time in prison for their roles in civil disobedience. Better, one can assume, than the fate of Mohsen Shekari, who was put to death this month for impeding traffic while holding a knife. While details from the trial, if there was one, are not clear, he was accused of injuring an Iranian paramilitary officer, but the execution was the result of Shekari’s “waging war against God.”

Shekari and the thousands of others like him protested the regime. They protested living conditions for women and minorities in their nation. And they protested for a voice in their own governance. It is unclear what evidence was used to show his defiance of the ruling class. As far as Western journalists have been able to uncover, even if offended, God has remained largely quiet on the claims; and Gabriel has not been seen to issue a statement or press release.

Some honorable readers will take the side of the caliphate, suggesting that good order leads to a just society. Others will decidedly be aligned with the protesters, fighting to remind us that no one person has a lock on the word or intention of the divine. The equilibrium between freedom and responsibility is perennially swaying. A bit closer to home, the question of riot or police state might be anchored to a different mooring, but the claims of righteousness must likewise be limited. Regardless of one’s personal theories of relativity, can we find balance when the punishments are so great, or the restraint is too little?

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