September 7, 2010

Burning The Koran

Supplanting, but related to, the sort-of-mosque that's sort-of-not-built-yet at a place that's sort-of-near-Ground Zero, is the story about a flamboyant Florida pastor who plans to hold a bonfire of Korans on September 11.

I'm not a fan of book burnings of any sort. Burning it is an act of symbolic hatred and aggression towards Muslims and is in extraordinarily bad taste. It will likely have a net counterproductive result. And the most effective way I can imagine to discredit Islam is to encourage people to read the Koran. They won't like a great deal of what they find in there; a lot of it is morally indefensible.

And the commander of American forces in Afghanistan has very publicly pointed out that by having a Koran-burning ceremony, this pastor will be inflaming the masses of people whose hearts and minds America is busily trying to win, at a cost of much blood and treasure.

But it is perfectly legal, perfectly Constitutional. Maybe not perfectly legal; as I understand it, a local air quality management board has denied a permit because of concern about toxic fumes that the bonfire would release, which I find quite amusing.

If Muslims, and in particular Muslim Americans, find this act offensive, they are free to protest it in whatever form they wish, ideally to persuade the pastor not to do it at all. Pointing out that a Bible-burning would be offensive to Christians strikes me as an excellent starting point for an argument as to why the pastor ought not to have a bonfire of the Koran.

In America, no one has a right to be protected from someone else making an offensive statement. There is no violence planned for the bonfire of the Koran and assuming that the air permit issue has been cleared up (so to speak) there is no legal impediment to the demonstration, nor should there be. This particular bit of public expression strikes me as reckless, in poor taste, and profoundly ill-considered. But we don't need the Constitution to protect speech that is popular or even generally acceptable. We need it to protect speech that is controversial.

This more than qualifies.

8 comments:

Mike said...

A few months ago, in Afghanistan, the US government burned boxes full of bibles to appease the pedophile-worshipers living there. Apparently the bibles, translated into native language, had been requested by locals but the local Imams were screaming and hooting on the Muslim CNN, Al-jizzbaggery, about how the US forces were "trying to convert Muslims" and reminding all the followers of their death cult that leaving the fold is a death sentence.

Exposing Islam for the indefensible death cult that it is, is good. If the burning of a few books helps point that out, so be it.

trumwill said...

The burning of a Koran says more about the people doing the burning rather than the people worshiping the book being burned.

Regarding the burning of the Bible, my understanding is that they were sent to a soldier by his church. It's possible, but seems unlikely to me, that the soldier was acting at the request of the local imams. Even if he was, it also seems unlikely that it was done through proper channels.

Even so, I don't like the Bible being burned, either.

A Teacher said...

I think what's going to be very telling is how the reaction really unfolds. To put a different twist on it, consider this:

Suppose that the Muslim Community makes the same threats of violence if the US Media doesn't cease any negative reporting about Muslims? For every murder by a Muslim they report they will kill another "infidel." Do we stop reporting the news out of fear of retaliation? I see the backlash to this burning in a similar light.

Yes, it's in poor taste. Yes it's not going to ~help~ any.

However, with all of the "You're putting our troops in danger because of this!" I have to pause and ask if we're willing to start giving up our liberties out of fear of retribution by those overseas.

I don't support what he's doing, but I think the Muslim world is blowing a real chance to take the high road here and simply ignore this stupid gesture, or at the very least admonish it peacefully.

trumwill said...

Back when it came to the Mohammed cartoon, I was actually more supportive of the newspapers doing what they were doing once the threats were issued and after it all got started. I think that there is some value in demonstrating that you will not be cowed. In fact, if this pastor were to end up assassinated by a Muslim extremist, my views would probably shift. But I would prefer sidestep the entire situation. Not enough to strip anyone of their first amendment rights or anything, but enough to say "C'mon, cut that out!"

I don't support what he's doing, but I think the Muslim world is blowing a real chance to take the high road here and simply ignore this stupid gesture, or at the very least admonish it peacefully.

Very good point.

Mike said...

Replace the word "book" with "flag" in discussion.

Does it make a difference? If so, why?

And why are we worried about "insulting" the vile devotees of a 7th century pedophile's cult anyways?

trumwill said...

Mike, replacing "book" with "flag" makes no real difference, in my mind. Burning neither is what I consider to be constructive behavior.

And why are we worried about "insulting" the vile devotees of a 7th century pedophile's cult anyways?

Ultimately? Because we have to share the planet with them. With so many things that we cannot or rightfully will not do to pacify them, doing things that accomplish nothing but enraging them strikes me as kind of dumb.

Mike said...

With so many things that we cannot or rightfully will not do to pacify them, doing things that accomplish nothing but enraging them strikes me as kind of dumb.

Except that we are speaking of a "religion" that fails most classical definitions of same. One that to this day practices human slavery. One that would rather see 9-year-old girls burn alive in a building rather than come out into public with their hair uncovered. One that to this day calls for the death penalty for any of its adherents who converts away, the death penalty for anyone promoting any other religion within its "controlled borders", and which at the same time considers it an "act of war" to forbid its adherents to proselytize outside those borders.

A "religion" that divides the world into only two categories: "Dar Al-Islam", the "house of Islam", and "Dar Al-Harb", the "house of War."

I cannot summon up any sympathy for this fundamentally evil death cult. Nor can I truly call it a religion. When dealing with Islam, we are dealing with something I would describe more as a cancer upon the world.

trumwill said...

Yes. I get it. You consider Islam evil. You hate Islam.

How, precisely, does burning the Koran strike a blow against Islam? It makes them mad, but it doesn't hurt them so much as energize them. It drives a wedge between people like you and people whose views of Islam are even a little less hostile. It creates sympathy for Muslims internationally (or gives those already sympathetic a rallying cry).

These are all prices to be strategically paid to achieve particularly goals (defending Israel, going after terrorists, applying pressure to prevent a mosque from being built, any number of causes that I may or may not agree with but at least understand the aims). But what is this actually accomplishing? What's the end-game?