Biblical Archaeology Review 34:5, September/October 2008

Strata: The Bible in the News

Casting Stones

By Leonard J. Greenspoon

In previous columns, we have explored, among many other topics, “casting out demons” and “casting pearls before swine.” Here, we shall “cast the first stone.” Well, not exactly, since (according to John 8:7) only those without sin should do so. Although a correspondent for The Irish Times seems apologetic for engaging in this activity—“At the risk of sounding biblical, who am I to cast the first stone?”—most of the rest of the world seems downright dead set against the practice.

An Australian letter-writer to The Daily Telegraph, not convinced that “lifting the price of pre-mixed alcohol drinks” will succeed in stopping binge drinking among her country’s youth, vigorously pins her opposition in these words: “I detest this moral superiority. In leafy suburbs, there are many of [the older generation] who have toxic levels of alcohol and are a burden to the health system ... Remember: He who casts the first stone should not demonise our youngsters.” From the United Kingdom’s Express comes a similarly incensed comment, also dealing with health care or the denial thereof: It is directed against an individual who “thinks it’s fine to deny smokers and the overweight [medical] operations ... Since when was NHS [National Health Services] treatment available only to the blameless? As Jesus Christ himself said, ‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.’ Even if [the woman being criticized] doesn’t overindulge in puddings or suck on a cigarette, she’s bound to have other, possibly less socially acceptable, vices.”

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