From Pakistan comes this story, which alternatively sounds like a Coen Brothers black comedy or that lost Shakespeare tragedy, “Shahid and Aasia.”
Aasia Bibi, 21, lived in the small village of Alipur. She was in love with a young man, Shahid Lashari, but her Muslim parents forced her to marry another man of their choosing. After the marriage, Aasia continued to see her lover secretly, and they decided on a desperate plot. Shaid procured some poison, and the bride put it her husband’s milk.
Unexpectedly, he refused to drink it. Maybe it tasted funny: this is what any good “How to Poison Your Spouse” book would have explained. Milk is a really bad drink to poison. Then Aasia left the poisoned milk lying around, and her enterprising mother-in-law used it to make a traditional yogurt-based drink and served it to 27 members of her extended family.
Wait: how much milk did Aasia expect her husband to drink? Was she married to the Pakistani Paul Bunyan? Assuming he wasn’t twenty feet tall like Paul, the term “overkill” comes to mind, and appropriately so, for “Oopsie!” does not begin to express the magnitude of her mistake. All of 27 people who drank the yogurt—see, yogurt always tastes like its poisoned— passed out and were rushed to the hospital. Seventeen of them died. Aasia’s husband, however, remains hale and hearty.
1 I liked “Romeo and Juliet” better.
2. Moral luck is a bitch. Still, if you poison food and leave it around, you are asking for random bad things to happen. Usually it isn’t this many or this bad, but you never know.
3. I’m not up on my Pakistan criminal law. In the U.S., however, this would be a case of transferred intent. If you shoot at one person and kill another instead, it’s not an accident, it’s still first degree murder. If you try to poison one person and kill 17, you idiot, you’re a mass murderer, and so is your accomplice, in this case Romeo, or rather Shahid.
4. Just because you are doing something unethical and illegal doesn’t mean that it isn’t even more unethical to do it carelessly, without due diligence, and incompetently. Yes, murderers have a duty to be ethical too. It shouldn’t be a hard rule to follow: Make absolutely certain you don’t kill more people than you intend to. A corollary rule: If you can’t be certain, then don’t kill anyone, no matter how justified you think it will be.
5. I have actually read some commentary on this story that appears to blame it all on the cruelty of arranged marriages. Whoa. The utter stupidity and recklessness of the abused daughter is what we call “an intervening cause.” The unhappiness of the woman forced to marry a man (he was also a relative) she doesn’t love is a predictable result of a forced marriage; so is an extramarital affair, and so is conflict and perhaps even violence arising from such an affair. The death of 17 family members from poisoned yogurt? Uh, No. This didn’t happen because of the cruel arranged marriage. This happened because Shahid and Aasia were even dumber than Romeo and Juliet.
And also real, of course.
6. This is another example of why competence is such an important ethical value. When we take on responsibilities we don’t have the skill to fulfill, we are taking risks with the welfare of others, sometimes others we don’t even realize are at risk. It is unethical to kill someone, but if you are determined to do it, know what you are doing. In murder as in everything else, lacking the necessary skill and knowledge is a menace to society.
Pointer: PJ Media