Let’s Say You Own a Koran…

I know there’s a general consensus that if you own a book, you have the right to do what you want with it.

That rule applies to holy books, too.

You want to desecrate a Koran in the name of free speech? Go buy some first — or get some as donations. If it’s your property, you can do what you’d like with it.

Right…?

Almost.

Intent matters.

If you want to burn Korans because it’ll piss off Muslims, you’re a jerk.

If you want to draw NSFW pictures all over a Koran because you plan on showing it to unsuspecting Muslims, you’re a douchebag.

And if you want to do what this Facebook group was created for… I don’t even know what to say. You’re a disturbed individual.

Please don’t join the group. Just click away from it…

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • http://ehtheist.blogspot.com The “Eh”theist

    For the benefit of those of us who aren’t members of Facebook (mythical beasts that we are) could you post a screenshot or describe what’s at the end of the link? Thanks.

  • http://www.raywhiting.com/MyLife Raytheist

    I agree. People can do whatever they wish to or with or on the books they personally own. Doing something JUST to offend others to whom the book is sacred is worse than douchebaggery, imo. Gratuitous offensive behavior is … well, it’s offensive and unnecessary.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

    What has been seen canNOT be unseen. O_O;

    I have serious doubts about those folks’ sanity.

  • Jenn

    Click on it and then report the page for hate speech.

  • Claudia

    uhm ewwwww…

    Of course they have a right to do it, but don’t expect me to cheer it. Fred Phelps and his brood have a right to what they do, but they do it to cause harm (and get attention), not in the name of free speech. I get the feeling that a lot of people are using free speech as a moral fig leaf when what they really want to do is be assholes. Trying to ride the coattails of one of our most important and cherished rights to try to protect yourself from criticism for being a douchebag makes you a double-dip-douchebag in my book.

  • MJPatheist

    Yikes, thats very disturbing on so many levels. I can’t even imagine why people think this is entertaining, or how anyone could take this seriously.

    On a side note, I just have to mention that immediately after opening this site in my browser, two Jehovah’s Witnesses came to my door. I am now the proud owner of this month’s Watchtower and their November issue of Awake!, the title of which is “Is Atheism on the March?”. I almost died laughing…

  • MadScutter

    “Eh” theist: It is for a group called “International Day of masturbation on the Quran”

  • Jonas

    Thank you — Firefox’s Click over link, and show me the HTTP Reference Feature. — Now I don’t need to actually click there.

    This isn’t the protest you’re looking for.
    Move Along.

  • Guy G

    For the benefit of those of us who aren’t members of Facebook (mythical beasts that we are) could you post a screenshot or describe what’s at the end of the link?

    For future reference, you weird non-Facebook freaks can tell what the group is about from the URL it directs to. That’s what I did, since I’m not on Facebook.

    And yes, these people are morons. I expect that the group is mostly made of 15-18 year old boys who are thrilled with the cleverness of the political statement they are making. Anyone care to confirm?

  • WetMogwai

    Click on it and then report the page for hate speech.

    Yay for censorship!

    Seriously, don’t shut them up. Speak against them. Tell them they’re wrong. Tell others they’re wrong. Don’t tell them they can’t speak. As the most distrusted minority in America, what we have to say is often as offensive to some as what these idiots are saying. If you shut them up, you have to accept that others can tell you to shut up. Free speech is most important when it is offensive or unpopular speech. Take it from them and expect to lose it yourself.

  • http://www.zazzle.com/atheist_tees The Godless Monster

    Somebody, please tell me these are not atheists.

  • Elle

    The link just takes me to the log in page, no url to give me guidance. What is the group?

  • http://stojadinovic.net Predrag Stojadinovic

    Sometime, being a “nice guy” is also being a part of the problem. I don’t know why they created the group but they certainly get my support. Quran is just a book and this message must be clear. Just like the Bible and other bronze age fairy tales! Just because they have the numbers it does not give them the right to force the rest of us to respect some crappy book.

    Would you react the same if it was Harry Potter and not the Quran? Cause I am sure there are people who worship Harry the same way… Yet, they don’t have the numbers, now do they?

  • ill murray

    is it weird that i see nothing wrong with this?

  • Simon

    Intent is not the only thing that matters. Reasonably foreseeable consequences also matter.

  • dddave

    Um, were you(all) as upset when PZ myers was desecrating the host?

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com Sharmin

    I agree that intent definitely matters. They just make themselves look horrible without making any relevant point against Islam and/or the Qur’an.

  • Claudia

    Intent is not the only thing that matters. Reasonably foreseeable consequences also matter.

    I absolutely disagree. This could only work if everyone had the same notions of proportionate response. I can reasonably expect that girls seeking an education in Afghanistan may be liable to getting acid thrown on their faces. This does not make their attempts even slightly objectionable (quite the opposite, in fact). When a teacher in Sudan allowed her students to affectionately name their class teddy-bear Mohammed she was arrested and condemned to 40 lashes, and was only spared due to international outrage, having to be evacuated out of the country. You could argue that she might have expected a wild overreaction to such a trifle, and yet this does not make the Sudanese government one iota less culpable or idiotic.

    I understand the idea of not encouraging reckless behavior, but the minute you start witholding support for free speech because you expect absurd and violent overreaction, you’ve legitimized that reaction and handed a victory to the enemies of free speech.

  • http://isserl.is/ Ben Isserlis

    Don’t feed the trolls. Seriously. When has anyone ever attempted to make a political statement by masturbating on a book? Someone is laughing it up at your disgusted/serious responses right this very moment.

  • http://www.meaningwithoutgodproject.blogspot.com Jeffrey A. Myers

    And wow…

    I’d gladly BBQ with all of the Holy Books, they’re just carbon afterall, but this is just wrong.

  • Guy G

    Elle:
    If you hover over the link, the URL will normally show up in the status bar. This may not happen in your browser, but I think it’s pretty common practice. Anyway, the URL is:

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/International-Day-of-masturbation-on-the-Quran/171124869567488
    From which you can probably deduce the point of the group.

  • ManaCostly

    I dislike how you tell me (us) what to do.

  • Curran

    I have to disagree, too. To me this is similar to promoting the drawing of Mohammed. Now before anyone says it, I can see that the FB page is more about angering muslims & less about providing reasons why, but the organized drawings of Mohammed is similar. The point of both being to initiate irrational responses by zealous muslims and to show the rest of the world their intolerance. I imagine that, although not stated or well though-out, this is also the goal of this FB page. But, hey, I guess it’s no easy task to make a campaign to bust a nut on the Koran not look immature.

    Or maybe I’ve just become hardened to people getting offended. I rarely get offended by anything anymore, except by people use violence because they’ve been offended.

  • HamsterWheel

    Who is the real douchebag, someone who burns a book, or someone who thinks people deserve to burn for eternity just because they disagree with the book in question? It’s pretty obvious who the real douchebags are.

  • Aj

    I don’t even… what is this? Sometimes I’m glad I’m not registered on Facebook.

    Applying semen, actually any bodily fluid, is seen as disrespecting or showing disdain. I don’t know the intent but I’m no more adverse to this method than fire or shredding, if it’s unpleasant or gross I can just not look at it (which is my plan). Yeah, they’re probably disturbed, I’d expect a bunch of pyros to go for the burn option, and these people are probably overly concerned with their jizz. It would be wrong just to do this to offend people, perhaps they’re trying to offend people who don’t like man-juice.

    Foreseeable consequences? Spunk on paper.

  • shadow5043

    I say burn books all you want it your right to do so,but don’t do it just to piss people off that makes you no better than said people your trying to offend. In my opinion it just makes you another ignorant ass hat.

  • Jeff Sherry

    I visited the site, I’m not shocked or interested. I do own a Koran and see it as literature and have no interest in destroying it, but I’m not going to get excited if others destroy their copies to excite anger in Muslims.

    I believe in freedom of speech and do not appreciate it when threats of violence are used to hush newspapers, universities and government.

  • Silent Service

    Yay for censorship!

    Facebook is not an open forum and has rules. In order to use facebook’s forum you have to follow facebook’s rules. However, you are not required to follow those rules when not on facebook so no censorship is implied or in effect. If people want to be complete dicks, they can build their own platform to project their idiocy from.

    Nobody is ever required to provide a platform to speech that they feel is offensive. As this violates facebook policy, it should be removed. The idiots can go polute their own forum.

  • sc0tt

    Matthew 6:5 – 7 (modified)

    5. And when thou wanketh on the Koran, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites [are]: for they love to spluge on the Koran and brag about it in Facebook, that they may be seen of their virtual friends. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

    6 But thou, when thou tosseth, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, jizz on the Koran in secret; and thy imaginary friend which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

  • Simon

    Claudia, where did I mention withholding support for free speech?

  • Alt 3

    Hm. Can’t say I’ve ever had the urge to jerk off on a book… Without pictures. But sooner or later I know I’m going to be driven to burning my iPad and that has the Koran, Bible, Bhagavad Gita, Book of Mormon, Gospel of the FSM, and Dianetics on it. I should post a video and try to get a world record for death threats.

  • Greg

    I’m offended!

    The suggestion that masturbation is ‘nasty’ or ‘derogatory’ deeply offends my sensibilities.

    That aside – was I the only person who burst out laughing upon clicking on the link? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t find it remotely clever or witty – I just find it funny that someone would think it was clever or witty.

  • Paul

    Frankly, I find the Quran a bit of a turn-off.

  • jose

    Curran, “initiate irrational responses by zealous muslims and to show the rest of the world their intolerance.”

    That’s no what everybody draw mohammed day was about. It was a protest against censorship because of that South Park episode.

    There’s nothing being censored in this case. Those people aren’t defending something, their unique purpose is to piss someone off. Not nice.

  • Claudia

    Claudia, where did I mention withholding support for free speech?

    When you said:

    Intent is not the only thing that matters. Reasonably foreseeable consequences also matter.

    When Hemant said that intent matters, he was doing so in the context of saying that one should not be supportive of every jackass who wants to offend a bunch of people because not every act of free speech is done with the intent of preserving free speech. Some of it is done with the intent of being a royal-ass, and there’s nothing wrong with witholding support from the latter group. My argument is that though I support this for intent, I do not support it for “reasonably foreseeable consequences”, for the reasons I outlined above.

    If you did not mean to put intent and “reasonably foreseeable consequences” on the same level, or don’t think that not not supporting certain speech on this basis is justified, can you explain what you did mean?

  • Peterson, C.

    The problem with a demonstration like this is that it has no goal beyond angering a segment of the population.

    Challenging the sanctity of holy texts would be an excellent goal, but if they were attempting to do that they would not have limited it to the Qur’an.

    Draw Muhammad day made a lot of Muslims angry, but that was not it’s fundamental purpose. It was a stand against censorship and terrorism.

    Billboards that read “There Is No God” make a lot of Christians angry, but again that’s not their purpose. They were erected simply to promote atheism.

    There is no message here, no noble cause. It’s just a bunch of people being jerks.

  • http://ehtheist.blogspot.com The “Eh”theist

    Thanks to those who told me what was there. More thanks for not posting screen shots as I had asked. I didn’t even hover over the link as I didn’t know Facebook had informative links-just thought blogs did.

    On one level it is just a book, and while I love books and hate to see them mistreated, I would like to think that we’ll mature as a society to not be offended by this some day.

    That said, our society’s current penchant for shock-offending others and slipping away by claiming it was art, or protest, or free speech, or activism or whatever has gotten old and isn’t adding to quality of life for people.

    We need a shock-fast (not -fest) so that peoples’ nervous systems can recalibrate, and we can remember what it was like to simply dislike things, and move forward.

  • littlejohn

    I clicked the link and was taken to an invitation to join FB. I already belong to FB. Has someone taken the page down?

  • BrettH

    Claudia: I think the misunderstanding here is that (as far as I know) Simon wasn’t advocating banning it, he was just saying it’s a bad idea. I think it should be entirely legal to walk through a neighborhood controlled by violent ethnic gangs shouting racial slurs, but it’s still a pretty bad idea. If I told someone not to do it, it doesn’t mean I want it banned.

    I take free speech very seriously, and I’d fight to protect some idiots right to masturbate on any book they wanted and brag about it on any website that allows discussion of that sort of topic, but that doesn’t mean I have to think they’re taking some sort of brave stand. The ACLU has protected white-supremacists right to demonstrate, and they legally should have that right. It’s still immoral of them to choice to exercise it that way even if legislating the morality of speech is (and should be) illegal.

    I apologize if I was too rambling or wordy. It’s an issue I’m a bit sensitive about.

  • keddaw

    If you don’t like it then don’t join the group!

    No-one is harmed, no-one is threatened and no-one is discriminated against. People can be douchebags all they like, but as long as they don’t force it down your throat*, or use it to suppress others then what’s the problem?

    * Since you’re not Muslim and you’re getting offended on their behalf then YOU, Hemant, are part of the problem!

  • MH

    This doesn’t seem that different from the PZ Myers wafer incident where he also included a few ripped-out pages of the Koran. To a religious Muslim they’re both blasphemousness.

  • http://www.DangerousTalk.net DangerousTalk

    I don’t have a problem with that facebook group. I just joined, but I won’t be participating because I don’t want to mess up my Qur’an.

    If Religious people are going to go insane over something stupid it isn’t our problem, it is theirs! Getting them mad does get their attention and once we have their attention, we can educate them on the ridiculousness of their beliefs.
    -Staks

  • http://www.DangerousTalk.net DangerousTalk

    HamsterWheel Says:
    Who is the real douchebag, someone who burns a book, or someone who thinks people deserve to burn for eternity just because they disagree with the book in question? It’s pretty obvious who the real douchebags are.

    I totally agree with HamsterWheel on this. Is it more offensive that these people are masturbating on the Qur’an or that the Qur’an teaches that those who masturbate should be put to death?

    Jenn says:
    Click on it and then report the page for hate speech.

    Hating a book is different then hating people. Maybe the Qur’an and the Bible should be labeled hate speech.

  • Elena Villarreal

    This doesn’t seem like such a big deal to me. Just saying.

  • Claudia

    Claudia: I think the misunderstanding here is that (as far as I know) Simon wasn’t advocating banning it, he was just saying it’s a bad idea. I think it should be entirely legal to walk through a neighborhood controlled by violent ethnic gangs shouting racial slurs, but it’s still a pretty bad idea. If I told someone not to do it, it doesn’t mean I want it banned.

    I very explicitly said that I think they have every right to do it, in the same way that the Phelps morons have the right release their bile in public spaces or fundamentalist Islamists have the right to advocate the enactment of Sharia law or pedophiles have the right to advocate the elimination of age of consent laws. I certainly don’t think it should be banned, but I also think that certain speech is repugnant and I see nothing wrong with not supporting it, even as I would not want it banned. At a certain point it seems to me that people are just trying to be dicks and trying to get moral cover saying it’s “in the name of free speech” when it seems more like “because I want to be an asshole and not be called on it”.

    I will withold support (NOT the same thing as advocating a ban) on this basis, but I will NOT withold support on the basis of the reaction of the other side. African Americans marched in the South and it was no surprise when they were beaten and hosed down, but their cause was just so they deserved support. I wouldn’t deny support to people facing ridiculous overreactions to drawing Mo in the name of free speech, but I’m not going to actively support a bunch of people doing shit just to be dicks, even as I do support its legality and absolutely frontally defend their right to do it without suffering any more harm than calling them douchebags.

  • Guy G

    But, hey, I guess it’s no easy task to make a campaign to bust a nut on the Koran not look immature.

    They weren’t trying to. You don’t try and make something not look immature and then come up with “Let’s wank on the Koran” as the best option.

  • Greg

    DangerousTalk:

    Maybe the Qur’an and the Bible should be labeled hate speech.

    I’ve often wondered how they can’t be, actually. I mean, strip away the protection of them being a religious text, and they are pretty full of hate.

    Of course, then you can argue about whether hate speech should be allowed, but I do find it ironic when proponents of these pieces of fiction as being fact complain about being on the end of hate speech.

  • muggle

    Oh, brother. (muggle rolls eyes) I could have lived without knowing that existed though I suppose sooner or later a FB friend is going to recommend it to me and I’m going to do what I’m doing now and ignore it.

    Who cares? Who really flipping cares?

    I would care more about a Harry Potter book Predrag. Not because I worship Harry Potter but because those are books more worthy of respect (IMO, YMMV) than the Koran. Not enough to get worked up about, though.

    Seriously. This is such a nonissue the best thing to do is ignore it.

    And I too think it’s ridiculous to report it for hate speech and try to get it shut down. C’mon. You kidding me? There’s been way too much of that going on on FB lately. Bring back Pastor Flint already, damn it!

  • BrettH

    Claudia: I knew you weren’t in favor of banning that sort of speech, I just (it sounds like wrongly) got the impression you thought other people wanted to ban it.

    I think you have a very good point when the only people being put at risk are the ones doing the inflammatory speech, but I think there can be moral issues when your speech puts someone else at risk because of somebodies bad reaction. If you’re trying to assign blame the way you would in a car accident where the most at fault person takes responsibility then it is clearly the fault of the terrorists, but if there is a legitimate concern that your speech could cause a terrorist attack I think it is a good moral idea to think through your motivations and make sure you’re making a point worth making. If someone tried to ban masturbating on the Koran it might be worth the risk, but in this case I think it’s slightly irresponsible (but mostly childish).

  • Alex

    I read FriendlyAtheist less and less because of stuff like this. It’s your blog and you can tell people they are being asses as you wish. But I’ve had about enough of other atheists telling me that I am not the right kind of nonbeliever. Thanks so much but I’ll figure it out for myself if I want to support, condemn, or most likely just ignore such things. I’m much more in favor of everyone doing their nonbelief as they see fit. I then get to ask believers why they think someone would be driven to such strong opinions about religion in the first place. See how that’s a win for everyone? Well, except the believers.

  • Ben Finney

    Intent matters.

    If you want to burn Korans because it’ll piss off Muslims, you’re a jerk.

    How so?

    It seems to me that “because it’ll piss off Muslims” is on equal par with “because Muslims will be pissed off, and they’re wrong to be pissed off, and this is a way of showing that they’re wrong”.

    “Everybody draw Muhammad day” was done “because it’ll piss off Muslims”. You can phrase it another way because you approve of that particular expression, but surely that “it’ll piss off Muslims” is essential to the point of that event.

    “I will desecrate a consecrated cracker” was done “because it’ll piss off Catholics”. You can phrase it differently and point out the context that led up to it, but again, it’s essential to the purpose that “it’ll piss off Catholics”.

    In other words, how is the intent different from any other free expression that is going to offend those who set themselves up to be easily offended?

  • AnonyMouse

    Drawing Muhammed is not equal to wanking on the Qu’ran. Everybody Draw Muhammed Day was created to show that Muslims are offended by something that is comparable to other things that people are traditionally not offended by. It was a campaign for freedom of expression, and many of the Muslims involved made their point for them when they blotted out the images/sent hate mail/etc. Wanking on any book is liable to be offensive (or at least shocking) to anyone. (See the “just wrong” comments on this blog.) It’s not making any point about Muslims being unusually unreasonable.

    I support the group’s right to wank on Qu’rans – I might do it myself some day, right after I wank over a “Holy” Bible or something, y’know – but it doesn’t have the same blow as doing something completely unoffensive and watching people get offended over it.

  • Anon

    Fuck that, if Muslims riot because I burn/shred/shoot/wank onto/otherwise destroy a copy of the Qu’ran, they’re taking it too seriously.

  • Ben Finney

    It’s not making any point about Muslims being unusually unreasonable.

    True enough. I’ll buy that as a useful distinction between “burn a Qur’an” or “masturbate on a Bible” as universally offensive, versus “draw Muhammad” or “treat a consecrated wafer as trash” as offensive only to the unreasonable.

    This is quite different from Hemant’s claim, that “because it’ll piss off Muslims” is not a good reason to defile one’s own personal property as a free expression. Sure it’s offensive; I don’t think that alone makes the person a jerk for doing it, though.

  • Greg

    Ben Finney,

    Draw Muhammad Day and the desecrating a cracker thing were directly organised in response to groups telling people not in that group what they should or should not do.

    The fact that these actions pissed people off was a side effect, rather than their goal. The stated goal in each case was to stand up for freedom (of speech), not to annoy the Muslims/Catholics. This goal would have been achieved whether or not there were people up in arms about it worldwide. Therefore your claim that: ‘”it’ll piss off Muslims/Catholics” is essential to the point of that event’ is false.

    The goal with this, on the other hand, is clearly to just annoy Muslims. This cannot be achieved unless people are up in arms about it worldwide. And that is why intent matters.

    If someone had come out and said:

    “If you wank over a Koran, then I will kill you.”

    And this group was set up in response, then there would be similarities.

  • muggle

    But I’ve had about enough of other atheists telling me that I am not the right kind of nonbeliever. Thanks so much but I’ll figure it out for myself if I want to support, condemn, or most likely just ignore such things. I’m much more in favor of everyone doing their nonbelief as they see fit.

    3 cheers and well said!!!

    Me too. Stop telling me how to be a proper Atheist. This is exactly why I reject the religion of Secular Humanism and the day Athiesm become a religion is the day I become a Nontheist.

  • Peterson, C.

    It seems to me that he’s not actually trying to tell anyone how to be a “proper atheist,” he’s just expressing his opinion about an event and encouraging people not to join. There’s nothing in his post along the lines of “if you join this, you’re not a real atheist” or “real atheists don’t behave in this manner.”

    Disagreeing with the opinion that the event is in poor taste is fine, but I think people are reading too much into the original post.