For some time Olivier Wevers has been wanting to do a piece for Whim W’Him about the human predisposition to judge others and exact deadly retribution. The propensity to righteous cruelty resides, as he says, “deep in our core. It is thoroughly engrained that we are judgmental people, judgmental beings.” But it is only if we each recognize this capacity for inhumanity as part of our own individual heritage, not something belonging to other people, he passionately maintains, that we can grow out of or rise beyond it.
There are many ways in which people are put to death under the societal auspices—hanging, electrocution, gas chambers, firing squads…

A year or more ago Olivier mentioned to me the idea of using the guillotine as a symbol of the violent, judgmental tendency all too common to our species. But it was when he started reading about the ancient, yet still practiced tradition of stoning, that he knew he had found a metaphor with the strength and depth he needed. In a 2009 film, The Stoning of Soraya M, by director Cyrus Nowrasteh and screenwriter Betsy Giffen Nowrasteh, the horrific execution of a young Iranian woman in 1979 was dramatized to illuminate “the dangers of religious fundamentalism, gender apartheid, and mob rule.”