September 7, 2010

Burning Question

I think it important to speak against the proposed public burning of the Qur'an not on the basis of fears of consequences, but on the basis of it being wrong in itself, as a hateful act intended to insult and demean others.

It says more about the burner than the burned.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG


susan s. said...

I thoroughly agree. The fear of books is ridiculous. That said, if I had a choice, I'd burn every Ayn Rand book still existing. Oh, and that one about meeting one's husband at the door wrapped in Saran Wrap.

The Religious Pícaro said...

I think I disagree with you.

Mind, I think the "pastor" of this church is an unspeakably xenophobic fool, and that he intends to hurt and demean. And as a Christian, I admit that we should oppose hatefulness. But I'm afraid that the only reason I would publicly oppose the Quran burning is the fear of the consequences. Otherwise, I believe the proper response would be to ignore it. Strenuously. This guy heads a congregation of about 50, and all this media attention - pro and con - is just oxygen for his little bonfire.

Free speech is only free speech if it protects hateful, demeaning nastiness, whether by fundamentalist "pastors" or European cartoonists. Nice speech doesn't need protection. And I think that it's important to keep free speech free. All of it.

And so the only reason I can think of to oppose it publicly is the physical danger that it promises to inflict on US troops in a war zone. It's like shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater, and the concept of free speech doesn't cover that.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thanks Susan. BillyD, I agree with you to some extent... and note that I didn't say he should be stopped, only that we should speak against what he is doing. I do agree it would have been best had he simply been ignored, but once this came to notice, I think it had to be spoken against. I think it important to speak against bigotry even when there are few or no consequences. It is bad in itself/ (People are free to be bigots but I don't have to like what they say or give tacit approval by my silence.)

(Part of this comes from my ethical foundation, which is not based on consequences... but that's a technical point!)

JCF said...

Seems to me, BillyD & Tobias, that you're talking the difference between ethics ("Speak against Qu'ran burning, it's wrong!") and tactics ("Give this @sshat the obscurity he deserves!"). In other words, I agree w/ you both. ;-/

The Religious Pícaro said...

Well, you're right that ignoring it has ceased to be an option.

Anonymous said...

To some extent I agree with both of you: both BillyD on free speach and TSH on not affirming the hate with silence; BillyD on not giving them the publicity they seek, and also SusanS about the saran wrap (and Ayn Rand).

On the other hand, there is a part of me that thinks that burning a book (ANY book) is not really speech - it's a hate crime committed against an objects that is one of the basics of our civilization. Burning books is, in a manner of speaking, a way to deny free speech to others by burning their very words in a very literal way.

Your freedom of speech ends at the beginning of my nose; your freedom of action ends at the beginning of my nose.

I think there is a reasonable justification, both morally and constitutionally, for making a law that prohibits denying the free speech of the people who wrote the book.

Maybe I'm just a bigoted bibliomaniac, eh?

(I gotta figure out how to get this thing to recognize my google account....)

Erika Baker said...

the problem I have with burning books it that it arises from the same misconception that Tobias points out in his previous posts about scientists thinking they can disprove God, or the same recurring accusation that Christianity is wrong because Christians have started numerous wars.

What people do in the name of misunderstood religion, or while using religious language as a cover for personal power games has absolutely nothing to do with the truth that may nor may not be found in sacred writings.

God either IS or he ISN'T, and our religious mistakes, political nightmares or scientific achievements don't affect this at all.

Brother David said...

Ignore him.

You realize that is impossible in your country with the sharks involved in the media. The US media would fan the flames of burning excrement to sell a story.

Undercover Nun said...

I believe that when Christians indulge in such hateful behavior, it behooves the rest of us to speak up and say, "This person does NOT speak for Christianity!"

Enough souls are hostile to the Church -- or have been harmed by the Church -- that the Great Commission demands that we speak out against such hateful and anti-gospel behavior.

There are so many more faithful, loving, generous Christians than there are hateful bigots or spiritual terrorists. But faithful, loving, generous Christians make for boring news copy.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thanks for the further thoughts. I will be in Memphis on Saturday, remembering the Sisters of St Mary and the priests and doctors who perished while serving during the Yellow Fever epidemic.

That is Christian witness!

Moe said...

I do think there are other imnplict issues one of which regards moral equivalence. Burning a book or killing the infidel just doesn't come up on as the same on my radar screen. Perhaps he should behead it or better yet cast stones at it.

Anonymous said...

Iconoclasm is always the reverse side of idolatry. The amount of self-importance is the same, the sense that you've somehow done something "meaningful" and "prophetic" is the same.
Tedious and stupid, both of them.