Friday, September 10, 2010

P.Z. Myers has a point...

Although it's grossly insensitive to many people's beliefs, if the first amendment is real, and if you have no problem with flag burning as far as the first amendment is concerned, or Nazis marching in Skokie Illinois (ACLU first amendment cases that were decided in favor of free speech) then I think our system could stomach a lunatic who wants to burn "Korans". (I saw some footage, and it looked like they were burning translations of the Koran, and as anyone who knows anything about Islam knows, a translation of the Koran just ain't the Koran.)

The lesson of that incident [where Myers "desecrated" a communion wafer]  wasn't that you can find some jerk somewhere who will disrespect what some group finds holy — that was trivial and uninteresting, and I actually had to ignore many of the elaborate suggestions for cracker disposal sent my way to emphasize the absolute triviality of tossing a cracker/piece of Jesus in the trash. No, the real lesson was that mobs of people will react with irrational freakish hysteria to the idea that other people don't believe as they do.
The problem isn't the desecrators. The problem is the people who have an unwarranted sense of privilege, that their beliefs will not be questioned or criticized, ever, by anyone. What I was saying was that it was crazy to believe a cracker turns into Jesus, and what all the outraged Catholics were doing is confirming to an awesome degree just how mad their beliefs were, with their prolonged and excessive outrage.
So I'm looking at this recent episode with Terry Jones — a fellow I don't like at all, and I think he's a fanatical goofball — and I see that the serious problem here isn't Jones at all…it's all the lunatics who are insisting that burning the Koran is a major international catastrophe.
It's just a frackin' book, people.

 And yeah, there's folks that this is the "very word of  a deity" spoken to a guy in Arabia long ago, but if freedom speech and religion means anything, it means the freedom to ridicule, insult, and yes, "desecrate" whatever others think is "holy."

Now whether this guy Terry Jones should burn Korans is another issue; the guy's clearly Koo-Koo for CoCo Puffs®.

And our way of life can even handle clowns like this guy who's going to be at a "Value" "Voters" "Summit."  (How come that "value" has come to mean "low quality?" Maybe it's the same way that the meaning of the word "cynic"  has evolved.)  And I think the word "clown" here is not meant to be derrogatory, it's meant to describe psychologically what this man represents functionally in our public square.

Bryan Fischer, the "Director of Issues Analysis" for the American Family Association, wrote a blog post yesterday that argues that "Germany is giving us a template on how we handle Muslims: just like we handle neo-Nazis," which amounts to German police carrying "out 30 predawn raids against the nation's largest neo-Nazi group two days ago."
Fischer is known for his Islamophobia, previously arguing that the U.S. should have "no more mosques, period," because "every single mosque is a potential terror training center or recruitment center for jihad" and thus "you cannot claim first amendment protections if your religious organization is engaged in subversive activities."...

Fischer, who is scheduled to speak at the conservative Value Voters summit this month alongside Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, Mike Huckabee and others, also wrote: "I see no reason why our policies toward Islam in the West in general and America in particular should not be a mirror image of our policies toward the neo-Nazi movement."
Fischer adds that "our aim should be to make it as unthinkable for a resident of America to embrace Islam as we have made it to embrace Aryan Nations ideology. And for the same reasons."

 Finally, one more bit courtesy of P.Z. Myers...


Petteri Sulonen said...

I don't think anyone's disputed that guy's right to burn those Qur'ans.

Lots of people, however, have pointed out that it's a damn-fool idea and will very likely have all kinds of negative repercussions, including pissing off some seriously angry and seriously violent people, which will mean that more people will get hurt. Three already died in riots in Afghanistan. I do not see what useful purpose obvious provocations like that would serve.

Mumon said...


I don't either. I was just mentioning to a colleague that it's curious how most of the people that test American liberties to the extreme happen to be rather dysfunctional people?

On the other hand, you have a point too; although we Americans are pretty keen on free speech (well, many of us) there are exceptions, such as crying "Fire!" in a crowded theatre, which for no particular reason brings to mind the famous quote from Abbie Hoffman: Freedom is the ability to yell "Theatre!" in a crowded fire.

Sorry 'bout that last bit.

Fantastic Forrest said...

Mumon, I'd like to invite you to serve on a panel in my upcoming course on Freedom of Religion at Clark College. Please send me a message - to - to let me know if you're interested.

The info about the class is at