Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Burning Korans - Reasons For and Against

There are good reasons and bad reasons to burn copies of the Koran. A few of the good reasons include ...
  • It's dangerously cold and there's nothing else that can sustain a life-saving fire.
  • To subject the premise behind the title of Fahrenheit 451 to real-world, experimental scrutiny -- does paper really burn at 451 degrees? We would do well not to take such assertions on faith. Added bonus: this would subject the theme of the book to experimental scrutiny as well.
  • It's a rainy day and we are free.
  • Those marshmallows won't cook themselves; it's going to require fire.
  • A pallet of recently-printed Korans slides off a delivery truck and onto the parking lot of a gas station. The pallet collides with one of the gasoline pumps, causing several gallons to spill onto the concrete, but fortunately, most of it is absorbed by the paper of the Korans. But oh no! In his rush to shut off the master valve to the damaged pump, the gas station attendant  runs outside carrying a lit cigarette. He notices his mistake just in time to back away, but still a small bit of smoldering ash falls to the ground and sets the spilled fuel ablaze. Before anyone can even think of responding, all the Korans are reduced to ash.

    In the ensuing investigation of what seems like a terrible accident, it becomes clear that the delivery truck driver is disenchanted -- with his boss over recent changes to his work schedule, with the dawning recognition that he'll never get a sit-down job in the dispatch office, and with raving mobs who think their tantrums over symbols and taboos should control what others do. Also, it was a rainy day and we are free, so in the end, the weight of evidence suggested he purposely neglected to secure the load.
The reasons for burning Korans given by the publicity-hungry preacher in Florida are not, by contrast, good ones:
"We are not convinced that backing down is the right thing," Jones, a gray-haired, mustachioed preacher and author of a book titled "Islam is of the Devil," told a crowd of reporters in a brief statement made in the grassy yard in front of his stone-and-metal church.

"A burning of the Koran is to call attention that something is wrong," said Jones, wearing a gray suit and a tie.
He had us at "Islam is of the Devil," which signifies that the goober from Florida is not interested in free expression or any similar principle, but in a tedious holy war. He sees his favorite ancient tales pitted against another set of ancient tales and wants his tales to prevail. Evidently he can't imagine a better victory than burning copies of their tales, and people so unimaginative deserve victories so paltry.
The planned event comes near the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan and amid heightened tensions in the United States over a proposal to build an Islamic cultural center and mosque near the site of the 2001 World Trade Center attacks in New York. Opponents of the building plan say it is insensitive to families of the victims of the attacks.
They do say that, and this is because they cannot -- or want to foster this inability -- distinguish All Muslims from the 9/11 attackers. Or maybe they lack the imagination, or can't be bothered to check into the matter because they're lazy, or wish to foster the same compound of idiocy, malice, lassitude, and lack of imagination. People as unobservant as that deserve to be offended.

No one has a right not to be offended. It's a rainy day and we are free.


Sheldon said...

Seems to me that some people are obsessed with "us against them".

If there isn't some "us against them" goin on, then they feel some emptiness and need to get some "us against them" in play.

Burning the Koran is this jackasses way of stoking the "us against them". pitty really.

Dale said...

Sheldon, yea, I don't quite understand the sudden urgency to up and burn a bunch of Korans. I'm missing a crucial bit of context (or making the too-charitable assumption that there's some kind of reason for this).

Maybe it's that mosque thing that the right wing has been hyperventilating about? A certain portion of very stupid people seem to think the "ground zero mosque" is a provocation, but this only goes to show that very stupid people are very stupid.

Whatever. I'm all for dramatic forms of protest, but I do ask that they make some sense.

Eli said...

Damn you - I was saving this list for tomorrow and you went and preempted me. And as we all know the first person to write about something on the internet owns that topic forever, so...

Anonymous said...

The best part is the name of his church: Dove World Outreach Center.

Dale said...

@Eli, I am hereby damned.

@Anon., "dove world outreach." Heh.