Burning Korans in Florida

You can always tell that I’m thinking hard when I have zero ideas for amusing entry titles. Irony. At any rate…

What a quagmire we’re slowly spiraling into…In a slightly morbid sense, its a fascinating example of the interconnectedness of our current society and the power of ideas. IDEAS. How a pastor of a church community of what, 100 people? In a small town called Gainsville, Florida; a town almost no one outside of America has even heard of, let alone been to…Can make an announcement with the power to inflame the globe in a matter of days, involving heads of state across the world down to villagers in remote mountainous regions.

(DISCLAIMER: I’ll say right now my paragraphs aren’t too coherent and don’t represent a discussion, so much as a collection of thoughts, flowing from mind to fingers to internet. Frankly, reading this now, it sounds fairly disjointed until you get to the end. Guess I’m saying it now so you don’t have to lol.)

I’m trying to imagine the various points and counterpoints of what people have to say…Stances and opinions…And I simply CANNOT take a coherent side in this issue. There is no fence for me to sit on on this one; I simply have ZERO opinion of substance, because this strikes so many chords, positive and negative with me. And it’s oddly disturbing, frankly. I have an issue that I feel strongly about; but I don’t know HOW I feel about it. Isn’t that strange? This is what’s spurring me to write here, because I need to sort my thoughts out and see if there’s a kernel of substance amidst all the dross. So here I go.

Freedom of speech is an American right. If people have the right to burn our flag and burn Bibles, which we (and others) have been doing for centuries, then why should the Koran have any special license whatsoever? Because our words, ideas, and gestures transcend national boundaries…If someone, somewhere else, let’s say, oh, the Middle East, burns an American flag, our response may be passionate and angry…And often is. When people burn the flag here, no matter what we pretend to think; you’re very, VERY likely to get a sharp look, if not comment (depending on where you’re from), from a passerby, irregardless of the fact that freedom of speech guarantees this and burning flags is nothing new. But burning a Bible…Or a flag…Or a Koran…In most Middle Eastern countries…Is an unthinkable act of disrespect. I think. (But then, it can be here, as well. Hence the hub-bub *counter-point from myself*) They burn our flags because they intend precisely that; we’re invaders trampling their lands to many of them; so to use that as justification to burn Korans?..We’re chasing down terrorists (ostensibly)…Threats to our own people, and theirs.

However, we cannot use our own right of Freedom of Speech and use that as a lens to view the rest of the world…Or can we? I think not; because the meanings, while similar, are not at all the same.

I passionately feel this is wrong, but cannot explain why. I feel that the pastor’s timing is horrendous and the damage he can inflict with his actions borders on criminal. But is he truly responsible or are the people who use it as a pretense for violence responsible? If a man takes a bat to a beehive and you end up get stung, do you blame the bees or the man? What if your brother, allergic to bees, gets stung? And dies? A poor comparison for our troops, but serviceable. But is bat a serviceable comparison? He’s a single person sending a violent message; the question REALLY is; how many people does he represent? Our heads of state are doing their best to paint his actions as a minority opinion…But I’m not at all sure his opinion represents a minority at all. Time Magazine touches on that this month with an article on Islamophobia that highlights the issue somewhat. And with all of the negative press from the Iranian captive woman, sentenced to death for adultery and lashed for various "indecencies," such as a photo of her appearing without her veil…The mosque in NYC…Threats of violence in response to this pastor already cropping up in Indonesia and other areas of the world…And of course 9/11…Where does the truth lie? How can we truly blame Americans for having a less than accepting take on Islam? I do NOT suggest that it has value; my first trip to a mosque was nothing but excellent and enlightening; and anyone who cares to quote the Koran should be equally aware its incredible easy to take the Bible out of context too; thus proving nothing about the ability of any one faith to foster violence.

I’ve typed a bit and I still find nothing of substance here. I feel that it’s wrong because of the far-reaching nature of his act. If it were purely a domestic issue, Freedom of Speech protects the issue and American Muslims living in our country would have to accept it as is; freedom’s price is having to put up with that kind of bullshit since someone can very easily see what you do as equally offensive. HOWEVER; this goes beyond the bounds of Freedom of Speech and our national borders…And that is why this is offensive, wrong, and should be stopped. However our own Constitution prevents it. And so it should be allowed, because to trump it would be flaunting our own laws; big government stomping on the little guy, and a firestorm from within seems equally likely in response.

No matter how this ends, it ends poorly unless it doesn’t begin at all. If I were the praying type, I pray this pastor finds an iota of wisdom before he sets the torch to a bigger bonfire than he realizes. Legal, right, or wrong, America doesn’t need this right now.

Categories: islam, musings, religion, Uncategorized


  1. I feel that he has a right to do this but I vehemently oppose the reasons behind it and the negative waves it will cause in the world around us.

    Also, please note that I don’t like book burning of any kind. Even Harlequin novels shouldn’t be burned, unless they’re the really trashy ones! (Heh.)

    (Seriously, I can’t stand burning any books, except maybe ones who have been so destroyed that they’re unreadable, or burning merely for the sake of survival with nothing else on hand.)

    • Does Freedom of Speech apply to acts that can endanger lives?

      • No, it doesn’t–the whole “yelling fire in a crowded theater argument” set forth by the Supreme Court (in the 1920s I think?)–but judging whether an act of speech endangers lives is itself dangerous, because anyone can try to use that argument to quash speech they don’t like. I think I agree with Jeremiah; I don’t like the reasons behind it, I think that pastor is a big douchebag, and I hate the idea of book burning in general, but the right to do it is so important, I don’t think that I can say that it should be stopped. I don’t know, it’s a very difficult issue.

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