Burn that book?

Pastor Terry Jones intends burning a book this Saturday. Book burning has a long and sometimes ugly history. However presumably he owns the book in question so is it anybodies business what he does with it?

Given that he intends burning the book on September 11th, and given the book in question is the Koran, and given he actually intends burning 200 copies of the book, he is clearly out to make a statement. What he is doing is obviously going to offend a very large number of people. Some of those offended are likely to do violent things and harm innocent people.  Presumably most of those people offended won’t do anything violent but will be offended. As such a reasonably predictable consequence of this action is that innocent people will be offended and some innocent people will be hurt or even killed. There are two questions that arise from this issue:-

1. Should Pastor Terry Jones burn the Koran this Saturday.

2. Should Pastor Terry Jones be allowed to burn the Koran this Saturday.

I find the second question trivial to answer. In my view there is almost no question to answer. Obviously he owns the book, he wants to burn the book, he isn’t hurting anybody by burning the book (directly), so he should be allowed to burn it.

The first question I find harder to answer. A part of me feels like there is no way to deal with the insane and disproportionate sensitivities of some Islamic extremists other than ritualistic acts of desensitisation. However how can you willfully do something that will bring offense to a massive number of non-violent people, and likely result in innocent people being hurt? Is this really any different to running through a black suburb in America yelling “Niger”, wearing a Swatzstika to a Jewish funeral or burning an Aussie flag at an Anzac day ceremony? On balance I think he shouldn’t do it.

33 thoughts on “Burn that book?

  1. 1. Probably not, even though many of those who will be offended wouldn’t hesitate to get the matches out for a book they disliked or were told that they ought, as pious people, to dislike.

    2. I’d rather ask if anyone should be allowed to stop Pastor Terry Jones from burning the Koran this Saturday.

  2. Of course he shouldn’t do it, what an inflammatory attention-seeking asshole.
    But what’s even more unthinkable is that some other assholes may kill over this action.
    Jesus! he’s just burning some pieces of paper, what kind of deranged lunatic demands death in return for burning a few pages?

  3. He is still milking it with suggestions that he will change his mind.

    To put the whole thing in perspective, he appears to be the pastor of a 50 parishioner nondenominational church, about twenty three miles south west of Bumfuck Florida and probably can’t believe how much attention he is getting.

    It would be better for him to refrain from doing this, but I an prepared to accept this clueless moron’s right to make a fool of himself.

  4. ‘Is this really any different to running through a black suburb in America yelling “Niger” … ?’

    What’s wrong with that? Maybe he’s a supporter of the Niger football team or something.

  5. No, I understood your point and I was tactfully pointing out a typo (unless, of course, you really thought shouting “Niger” is offensive, in which case it is a solecism).

  6. Is this really any different to running through a black suburb in America yelling “Niger”, wearing a Swatzstika to a Jewish funeral or burning an Aussie flag at an Anzac day ceremony?

    I would have thought it is slightly different since he’s not going to be doing it in those people’s backyard, but presumably in his own church grounds.

    To make your analogy more correct, it’s like he’s burning a Japanese flag in a place where there are no Japanese people on the anniversary of the invasion of Pearl Harbour.

  7. But of course, muslims will be violently offended anyway because violently taking offense to things is one of the 4 pillars of modern islam.

  8. OS if pastor Jones wants to burn the Koran as long as he does it on his own BBQ – who really cares? Who would know and who would care? If he wants to ask the newspapers to watch while he burns it at ground zero – then he deserves everything he gets from non terrorist islamicists.
    What on earth is the problem here except media beat ups and trouble making and down and dirty “do anything to sell a paper”?

  9. He should do it…because he wants to and owns the property.

    He isn’t initiating violence with anyone, merely burning paper.

    Yes he is antagonizing some people with his actions but there is no moral requirement saying we must all think nice thoughts about everyone all the time.

    If someone commits violence because of this then they are solely responsible for initiating that violence. To say otherwise would be tantamount to arguing that ‘scantily clad women invite rape and are in some part responsible for such a crime’.

    It is so pathetic to see how craven people have become in the face of an overwhelmingly violent bully know as modern-day Islamic extremists. This cravenness only encourages the bully to continue to be a bully. ie you better think twice about drawing a Muhammad cartoon, lest some bully comes to kill you in the name of Islam.

  10. “there is no moral requirement saying we must all think nice thoughts about everyone all the time.”

    Moral or legal?

    I would have thought that a moral saint would think nice thoughts about people all the time… Of course there should be no legal requirement to do so. And common sense morality dictates that no-one is going to be able to live up to that expectation… But the point stands that it seems the most “moral” thing to think kindly of people in most circumstances…

    I also think drawing a Muhammad cartoon is of a different nature to burning the Qur’an. One is satire, one is deliberately inflammatory. There’s a difference between doodling a fake moustache on a picture of Julia Gillard and throwing darts at a picture of her face.

    This guy’s a crazy Christian nutjob, plain and simple. Perhaps if he was burning a collection of all the worlds religious texts that compromise individual autonomy and liberty…..

  11. Terje, if you’re not an anarchist, I can’t take your complaint seriously.

    Arguing over if it is a good idea or not for a Government controlled military is another matter.

    Do I want them? Yes. As long as muderous pricks like Bashir get off scot free and encourage the murder of more Australians, I say yes.

  12. Mark – I was asking a question not taking a position. I’ll now take a position. I think permitting targeted assassinations only make sence if one of the following conditions is met:-

    a) the target is working for a nation we are at war with.
    b) the target is a bad dude currently residing in a region of the world governed by a regime we either don’t recognise or actively condeme (eg North Korea).

    Outside those constraints I think it should be illegal. That would rule out assassinations in Indonesia. Although they could still be done illegally by patriots.

  13. Your mind has turned to putty. Bashir wants you dead.

    b) – invade them. We can’t and shouldn’t invade Indonesia. Targeted assassination is the only acceptable option.

  14. Does Bashir just want Terje dead or has he been actively working to kill Terje?

    Do you believe in laws that ban incitement, Mark? Or do you support free speech?

    A lot of these clerics encourage people to kill, but they don’t actively plan it. In such cases I have to support their right to free speech. Only those that can be proven as collaborators should be the target of action.

  15. He hasn’t been convicted of violent action, which is either lack of evidence of lack of involvement. We can pass judgement, but he is innocent until found guilty.

    His statement, horrible as they are, aren’t themselves anything but opinions.

    Until there’s something to convict him for (and evidence) there’s nothing to assassinate him or imprison him for. Suspicion isn’t reason enough to sentence someone.

    Targeted assassination on the grounds of suspicion doesn’t seem libertarian at all. It sounds more like what a totalitarian government would do.

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