I’ve decided to weigh in on the Koran burning debacle. I’m not going to bother linking any articles–unless you’ve been living in a basement eating fish-heads, you should know what I’m talking about.
No religion or belief system is immune from criticism. This is important. I also firmly uphold the freedom of speech in the United States, where I live. I may not agree with aspects of monotheism, but the same could be said for certain polytheisms. In addition, monotheism certainly isn’t unique in the religious vandalism department. Just open a history book. In the end, however, I will firmly uphold the right of everyone to practice whatever religion–or lack thereof even–as they see fit, as long as it doesn’t harm others or interfere with the rights of others to do the same.
But the actions and words of pastor Terry Jones are contemptible. When a person or group of people go about this sort of critique in a way that destroys or attacks the human dignity (which includes living without being threatened, and the right to worship without threat or harassment) of another person or group of people, then this is not acceptable. One should be able to criticize a person, place, thing or idea without disrespect and with firm self-control. People who have no control are the first ones who will resort to extreme efforts to extinguish the rights and liberties of their fellow human beings.
Burning someone else’s cherished holy book is not proper criticism. It is nothing more than a low display of common violence–which could very well put other people such as soldiers at risk abroad (as General Petraeus pointed out), let alone Christian minorities living in various predominantly Muslim countries. This is nothing more than an elaborate tantrum made to endanger lives and incite some stupid holy war, and shows an extreme lack of control and narrow-minded view on the part of this pastor.
On the other hand, there are some, like myself, who wonder why some people out there would get enraged over the burning of a book, while these same would oppress their women and put their children to harm in tribal violence, and perform similar actions of religious vandalism. But in the end it isn’t just about a book of holy words. And it isn’t just about the extremists or the terrorists. It’s about people. It’s about Reason. Something I think many people lost sight of a long time ago.
In short, burning these holy books will do nothing more than feed the power of Isfet. And this is something I cannot agree with. Burning one’s holy book (or any book for that matter) is just one short step away from burning people. And that isn’t what this country is supposed to be about.
Go in peace, and find thy faith
Evolve thy self, and lose all hate
So a heaven you may create
In Thy Never Ending Way, Orphaned Land