Burning Question

Does anyone else find it drolly ironic that the goofball Florida pastor who wants to burn the Qur’an has the same name as a member of Monty Python? When I hear that Terry Jones says he will burn a Qur’an , I expect it to be a skit with a Terry Gilliam cartoon and some ersatz cardinals intoning “No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!” Maybe the best way to handle this whole imbroglio would be with ridicule and satire. Maybe somebody should organize an alternative event in which copies of Going Rogue are incinerated.

Naturally, private citizens, religious groups, and government officials have spoken out against the book burning. However, the tone of these critics has been so urgent and emphatic–occasionally almost hysterical–that I find myself wondering if they do not protest too much. Why give so much attention to the moronic stunt of a few dozen Florida peckerwoods whose cumulative I.Q.’s would barely reach room temperature?
Of course, the planned burning is odious, but I wonder if the tone and volume of the condemnation do not also indicate a degree of intimidation. Are we afraid of what Muslims might do in reaction? There have already been anti-American demonstrations in Kabul and Indonesia in anticipation of the event. Are people so insistent that the Qur’an burning not take place out of fear of Muslim outrage? If so, we need to make absolutely clear what we consider sacred: Freedom of speech, even when it is odious, and even when it is the speech of a bigot or a halfwit. We need to make very clear to the “Muslim world” that we hold sacred the principle that we might disagree strongly with everything someone is saying, but defend to the death his right to say it. Shame on us if we let threats frighten us into retreating from that principle.

About Keith Parsons
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11983601793874190779 Steven Carr

    Even after Terry Jones has burned a Koran, there will be nothing stopping any Muslim going into a mosque and recite a Koranic chapter about burning people.

    The power of Abu Lahab will perish, and he will perish.
    Abu Lahab will die and be plunged in flaming Fire. His wife will have on her neck a halter of palm fiber.
    His wealth and gains will not exempt him.
    He will be plunged in flaming Fire,
    And his wife, the wood-carrier,
    Will have upon her neck a halter of palm-fibre.

    Isn't that what religious freedom is about?

    Muslims are free to recite chapters about people burning, and calling it the Word of God.

    If they want to do that.

    Personally, I would never recite anything about burning people.

    And Christians are free to burn the Koran.

    If they want to do that.

    Personally, I would no more burn the Koran than I would recite what the Koran says about burning people.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16008018444588788392 Mark Vuletic

    Jesus and Mo, regrettably, seems to speak the truth once again.

    I don't especially like the idea of burning books, but I'm certainly with you on this: I am far more troubled by the continued de facto abridgment of freedom out of fear of violent reprisals.

    The Qur'an burning, by the way, has been called off. Terror works.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Keith Parsons said…
    Are people so insistent that the Qur'an burning not take place out of fear of Muslim outrage? If so, we need to make absolutely clear what we consider sacred: Freedom of speech, even when it is odious, and even when it is the speech of a bigot or a halfwit.
    =======
    I think the best way to demonstrate respect for freedom of speech is to urgently and emphatically and even hysterically condemn this book burning idiocy, while not taking any action to stop it from happening.

    If the rebuke was only mild, then that would only show that we are willing to tolerate mildly offensive speech. But if we strongly and emphatically condemn this bigotry, then in allowing the book burning to go forward, we show that we can tolerate even very offensive speech.

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