Thursday, September 09, 2010

Koran Burning

First, a disclaimer...Terry Jones and his church are acting like complete idiots. Their Burn-A-Koran-Day is childish and misguided. The mission of a church is to lead people into relationship with God, not to deliver "messages" to perceived political and spiritual enemies.

Ok...just so we all understand....Burn A Koran Day=Stupidity.

Now, with the understanding that this entire undertaking is merely an excuse for an agenda-driven pastor to get more attention than he ever dreamed of, let me explain why we are reacting to this in the wrong way.

CNN quoted President Obama on the subject:

"You could have serious violence in places like Pakistan or Afghanistan" as a result of the proposal by the Gainesville, Florida-based Dove World Outreach Center, Obama said on ABC's "Good Morning America." "This could increase the recruitment of individuals who'd be willing to blow themselves up in American cities, or European cities."
He echoes General Petraeus' concerns about reprisals towards American soldiers.

These are very real concerns for our troops. However, as much as Jones' actions are repugnant, we must remember that he is only burning books. Those books might be revered by millions of people, but we must temper our reactions to reflect the silliness of Jones' actions.

The best response to Jones would be ignoring him into oblivion, because ultimately that is all that Jones' tactics deserve.

He is a bully trying to tease and insult the kid he doesn't like...and that's all that he is and all that he is doing.

The problem is that most grown, adult people, even those in leadership, have not learned the simple art of ignoring an insult.

Will there be violence if Jones goes forward with his grand idea?

I don't know. If there is, then Jones will get what he wants most of all; a weird, self-fulfilling assurance that Islam is violent.

Our freedom of speech permits Jones to do what he wants to in this regard. It also does one more important thing. It gives our society permission to ignore inflammatory speech and actions. In places where no such freedom exists, unhinged people and movements must be kept under control by force. This type of speech is illegal and requires citizens to report and enforce the laws against blasphemy, insurrection, revolution, or insult to the powers that be.

There is such a thing as caring too much. Societies which are highly invested in preserving honor and conforming everyone to strict social and political norms can become so outraged at an offense that they lose their ability to evaluate a situation in a reasonable way.

When everything matters, nothing can be ignored, nothing can go unaddressed, no sin can go unpunished, and the word compromise ceases to exist.

Pakistan and Afghanistan, or, more accurately, people in those countries, could easily fit the description of the overly invested society I portrayed.

Yet...so can we. Think NYC and a certain mosque near ground zero.

It is as important to let Jones go forward with his Koran Burning as it is to let private American citizens to purchase property and build whatever they are legally permitted to build, regardless of whether or not other people think their actions are offensive or insulting.

One of the great, unwritten rights in our country is the right to be offended and, while offended, not be compelled into responding violently or illegally.

It's a case in which apathy has a positive reward. Not having to care about crazy people and their ranting, not having to protect our honor from perceived insult, not having to make sure that everyone is put in their "place", not having to grant seriousness to rhetoric.....these are all granted to us by freedom of speech and an almost patriotic apathy.

Who said being apathetic is a character flaw?

2 comments:

DH said...

Very well written, as always. :o) I was just talking to a coworker this morning about this issue, and he and I both agreed that if not for the popular press and the internet, this pastor's actions would have been isolated to some limited outrage from his local community and then the whole thing would have faded into oblivion.
Now, with the global world being as connected as it is and the speed with which "news" can be reported, anyone can have their five mintues of fame, or infamy.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

When confronted with histrionic people, take away the audience.