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Afghanis riot over Terry Jones' Koran-burning kill 20
April 2, 2011 8:35 PM   Subscribe

A 2nd day of riots in Afghanistan over Rev. Terry Jones's trial and execution-by-burning of a Quran leaves a total death total of 20, with at least 80 injuries, including 7 UN aid workers. Thousands participated in the riots across the country. "I don't think we should be blaming any Afghan. We should be blaming the person who produced the news — the one who burned the Quran," stated the top U.N. envoy in Afghanistan, Staffan de Mistura. Others defend Jones's right to free speech. (previously)
posted by shivohum (227 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
So, in theory, Rev. Jones could wipe out the population of Afghanistan by burning a Quran until there was no one left to riot. I think the riots probably pump up the self worth of Rev. Jones, who, in my mind, has every right to burn whatever book he wants on his personal time and property. I don't agree with his reasons for doing so, but I'm not going to kill anyone if he burns one of my favorites book either.
posted by perhapses at 8:42 PM on April 2, 2011


I don't think we should be blaming any Afghan. We should be blaming the person who produced the news — the one who burned the Quran"

I think that thinking of this problem in terms of blame - let alone in such black and white terms - is pretty unhelpful. Jones is an idiot, but to he wasn't pulling the trigger on anyone. It doesn't exonerate him; he certainly shares part of the responsibility of subsequent violence. But lambasting either him or the other uneducated fundamentalists seems kind of beside the point, neither course will result in fewer deaths.

All fundamentalist idiots in both countries proved is that idiocy is a transnational, trans-religion phenomenon.
posted by smoke at 8:48 PM on April 2, 2011 [35 favorites]


He can be excericising his right to free speach and still be a stupid bastard who got a bunch of people killed.
posted by Artw at 8:49 PM on April 2, 2011 [83 favorites]


When I suggested someone toss the guy into a cenote in Florida, a Christian progressive who has a cooler head than I, suggested sending him to Afghanistan with a crate full of Bibles.
posted by mwhybark at 8:51 PM on April 2, 2011 [12 favorites]


I'd love to be a fly on the wall when Terry Jones meets St. Peter.
posted by Grumpy old geek at 8:52 PM on April 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


charlie manson was only exercising his right to free speech.
posted by kitchenrat at 8:53 PM on April 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


smoke: "Jones is an idiot, but to he wasn't pulling the trigger on anyone. It doesn't exonerate him; he certainly shares part of the responsibility of subsequent violence. But lambasting either him or the other uneducated fundamentalists."

This is the same guy that was threatening to do this months ago, yeah? If so, it's not an act of ignorance. The guy had it very clearly explained to him what would happen. He chose to cause those people's deaths.
posted by mwhybark at 8:56 PM on April 2, 2011 [12 favorites]


I hope he's getting the ego boost he wanted out of it.
posted by Artw at 8:58 PM on April 2, 2011


well, i'm sure wandering around my house calling him a fuckhead who should shipped overseas in a wooden crate, something I haven't ever done before. Consensual abuse is so Seattle.
posted by mwhybark at 9:00 PM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


+be
posted by mwhybark at 9:00 PM on April 2, 2011


More knowledgeable persons please correct me: am I right in thinking that the Qur'an is similar to the Torah, in that it's not just a lot of paper with a bunch of text on it but rather a sacred item that must be treated as such? IIRC, you're not even supposed to be naked in front of a Torah. Is this also the case for the Qur'an?
posted by Gilbert at 9:02 PM on April 2, 2011


Burning the Quran in Florida after a money trail?

Yeah, this is a stalworthy and upstanding individual. Worthy of trail by cultural immersion, much like mwhybark's friend I say send him over to Afghanistan, only with a load of Qurans. Let us see how reverentially he would treat them in the face of being held personally responsible for his actions and not hiding in some white bread enclave.

It brings to mind the quip about "how come animal rights activists never throw paint at the Hells Angels"
posted by edgeways at 9:02 PM on April 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


Muslims who riot at signs of disrespect need to harden the fuck up. It reeks of insecurity. I can live with people burning my nation's flag and insulting my people (Jews, Americans, take your pick).

Look to the confident American Muslims who bravely walked right by the douchy Tea-Baggers in the OC a couple months ago. There was no need to riot then and there is no need to riot now.

What this makes the rioters look like, and I suspect how their Western sympathizers view them, is a helpless bunch of babies or animals. They react a certain way. We sort of know what they will do and we know it isn't right or sensible. With any other human adult we would not permit such behavior, but if we take that responsibility away from them, it moves to the person who incited them in the first place.

So do we Americans need to take responsibility for the behavior of a bunch of idiots half-way around the world? That doesn't make sense to me.
posted by cman at 9:08 PM on April 2, 2011 [40 favorites]


I look forward to the civil and criminal law suits against Jones by the families of the victims.
posted by stbalbach at 9:10 PM on April 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


It sucks that some ignorant loudmouthed asshole here is even getting airtime, and it really sucks even more that it's causing trouble and actually getting people killed there, but on both sides you have a bunch of people not taking their personal spirituality and piousness seriously enough, while taking some loudmouthed yahoo and/or a book too seriously.

On all sides it's ignorance and superstition causing people to overreact. Apologies if that's personally disrespectful of anyone's spiritual beliefs - it's not intended to be. I'm judging the irrational actions and reactions and behavior of individuals, not any particular ideology.

The whole thing is dumb. I feel bad for anyone innocent caught in the crossfire.
posted by loquacious at 9:10 PM on April 2, 2011 [11 favorites]


Are these statements logically equivalent?

"Reverend Jones burned the Quran. The Afghan fundamentalists killed the UN workers, therefore Reverend Jones caused the death of the UN workers"

"Al Qaeda destroyed the WTC. The US invaded Iraq. Therefore Al Qaeda caused the invasion of Iraq".
posted by storybored at 9:11 PM on April 2, 2011 [13 favorites]


cman: "Muslims who riot at signs of disrespect need to harden the fuck up. It reeks of insecurity. I can live with people burning my nation's flag and insulting my people (Jews, Americans, take your pick).

Look to the confident American Muslims who bravely walked right by the douchy Tea-Baggers in the OC a couple months ago. There was no need to riot then and there is no need to riot now.
"

I dunno. I think even when you disagree with someone when they say that their feelings are hurt or have been offended, you shouldn't discount or downplay those feelings, or treat your own perspective as the one that is central to the discussion (which is often the automatic unconscious response of those with privilege, nyself included).

Instead, I thnk it's important to work your hardest to understand just why people find something hurtful. Whether doing that ultimately changes our opinions or not, it makes us better able to treat each other right in the future.
posted by ShawnStruck at 9:12 PM on April 2, 2011 [10 favorites]


Muslims need to be desensitized to being offended. Rioting, killing people, threatening people, etc. whenever mildly offended is unacceptable. Because of the reaction that these sorts of things produce in the Muslim world, the rest of the world should work to offend them more, not less, until they can learn to be offended in a civilized manner.

Equating the "magic" book burner's actions with the overreaction to the "magic" book burning is idiocy. The book burner did nothing wrong (apart from being a religious moron of a different flavor.)

Freaking religion. Die already.
posted by smcameron at 9:12 PM on April 2, 2011 [25 favorites]


Just within the past month you had the release of those gruesome trophy-pose photos of American soldiers atop the corpses of innocent Afgan civilians as well as the slaughter of 9 Afgan boys by NATO.

POINT BEING: Man, I think it's probably bad news bears to fault anything here except the occupation itself, which has endured now for a decade. Combine that with the unique cocktail of a revolutionary meme, mob rage and the spread of new media ballooning the antics of insignificant bigots like Terry Jones and you end up with this.
posted by m_steven_a at 9:12 PM on April 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


You know, both sides can be wrong. Each in their own way, each to their own degree.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:14 PM on April 2, 2011 [11 favorites]


I think this guy is an idiot, that doesn't mean he doesn't have the right to free speech. Imagine this: Someone else could, this very moment, be throwing a Quran in the garbage. Someone could be reading the Quran and eating a bacon sandwich with greasy fingers. I am in favor of treating holy texts with respect. But just think of all of the desecrations that could potentially be going on this moment. Is it in any way sensible to riot over one of them that you happened to hear about that happened on the other side of the planet?

He should be legally free to do this. They should be free to be offended--I mean, he was trying to offend them, to say they're wrong for being offended is kind of ridiculous. It is still their own fault for acting in a chaotic and violent manner *because* they were offended. Or, if you like, the fault of a chronic lack of education, economic well-being, humane treatment and self-governance, whatever. Still not the fault of the guy with the book and a match--and the guy with the book and a match is still a dumbass. I'm perfectly comfortable believing both of those things at once.
posted by gracedissolved at 9:16 PM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't much care that some doofus in Florida burned a book. I'm much more outraged that a bunch of cavemen killed other people in the name of a fairy tale, and more than a bit disgusted that the narrative in many quarters has become talking about how bad Terry Jones is and nothing else. That somebody half the world away was sort of a dick doesn't justify killing anybody. The idea that said cavemen were left with no alternative to conducting a massacre and that it was just desserts on some level is both completely repulsive and entirely typical of the lazy, knee-jerk argumentation produced by people more interested in getting one over on their political opponents than in remedying real-world problems.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:16 PM on April 2, 2011 [12 favorites]


POINT BEING:

Nonsense! It's entirely illogical that these riots have anything to do with Afghanistan being bombed back into the stone age and occupied for the fifth time this century, nor the continued discontent and civil unrest in the Levant as a whole! That would mean that we're not witnessing religious savages reacting to a perfectly sensible and reasonable Christian pastor! What balderdash! I can't believe you drink perfectly good Scotch with that mouth!
posted by loquacious at 9:18 PM on April 2, 2011 [15 favorites]


Dove World Outreach Center: Reaching out to the world. And punching its face.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 9:18 PM on April 2, 2011


The guy had it very clearly explained to him what would happen. He chose to cause those people's deaths.

Andrew holds a gun to Bobby's head and says, "I'm gonna shoot Bobby if Charlie burns that book!" Charlie shrugs his shoulders and burns the book. Andrew shoots Bobby.

Charlie is maybe a callous jerk, but Andrew is the only one guilty of murder. Bobby's death is 100% Andrew's fault.
posted by straight at 9:19 PM on April 2, 2011 [20 favorites]


That somebody half the world away was sort of a dick doesn't justify killing anybody.

I'll bet you a nice sandwich there's millions of Iraqis and Afghans who have said, thought and felt the same thing over the past few years. It's a pretty popular sentiment the world over, really.
posted by loquacious at 9:21 PM on April 2, 2011 [10 favorites]


I'll bet you a nice sandwich there's millions of Iraqis and Afghans who have said, thought and felt the same thing over the past few years.

Preaching to the choir. Two wrongs don't make a right, etc.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:22 PM on April 2, 2011


and still be a stupid bastard who got a bunch of people killed.

This line of thinking relies on taking the murderers' excuse at face value. I'm not convinced that the sort of person who claims to have killed others based on a fictional story with no observable interactions with reality actually has any scruples about why they kill anyone else.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:33 PM on April 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


Wait, so I'm confused here. Didn't this whole Koran burning controversy happen, like, last year? But Afghans are only pissed off about it now? What happened to trigger this? And didn't this Jones fellow chicken out on actually burning a Koran and make up some lame excuse to cover for what was basically his publicity stunt? Even the News Hour's reporting on this has been remarkably context-free.
posted by indubitable at 9:34 PM on April 2, 2011


Didn't this whole Koran burning controversy happen, like, last year? But Afghans are only pissed off about it now? What happened to trigger this? And didn't this Jones fellow chicken out on actually burning a Koran and make up some lame excuse to cover for what was basically his publicity stunt?

There were two controversies with the same guy. The first time (last September) he didn't burn the book; this time he did.
posted by shivohum at 9:36 PM on April 2, 2011


Burning a Qur'an for the sole purpose of infuriating a bunch of people on the other side of the planet is about as stupid and hateful an idea as any.

However, anyone who says that Rev. Jones is wrong or even criminal in his actions is, in my opinion, even more misguided than the Reverend himself.
posted by reductiondesign at 9:37 PM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


the stupid - it burns
posted by pyramid termite at 9:39 PM on April 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Stupid v stupid.
posted by ob at 9:41 PM on April 2, 2011


Wait...so someone burns the quran in florida and a bunch of muslims die in afghanistan?

Muslims, please...you are falling into their trap. This is exactly what that bastard wants.

He doesn't give a shit about the Quran...he just wants to offend muslims. Killing off 20 by burning one quran is giving him more than he wants, and reinforcing his resolve to burn books.

Can you not make babies and send them to florida for every quran he burns or something?
posted by hal_c_on at 9:41 PM on April 2, 2011


it's not just a lot of paper with a bunch of text on it but rather a sacred item that must be treated as such
I'm not sure I understand your definition of must.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:43 PM on April 2, 2011


often the automatic unconscious response of those with privilege

Not being a fucktard kneejerking religious zealot is a privilege?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 9:43 PM on April 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


obiwanwasabi: "often the automatic unconscious response of those with privilege

Not being a fucktard kneejerking religious zealot is a privilege
"

No, but going, Oh, lalala why are these people of a certain religious being so serious, and acting like one's own perspective is the only one that matters certainly is.
posted by ShawnStruck at 9:46 PM on April 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


hal_c_on: Wait...so someone burns the quran in florida and a bunch of muslims die in afghanistan?

Actually, at least some of the people killed were UN aid workers. The stupid thing is that the UN aid workers were probably against the whole Koran-burning thing anyway, but they happened to be the most convenient targets.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:48 PM on April 2, 2011


Muslims, please...you are falling into their trap. This is exactly what that bastard wants.

Please don't talk like this. People "falling in their trap" are individuals being misled by leaders, big and small, with agendas, both petty and grand.

But it isn't "Muslims". Even if the people being misled are Muslim and the leaders doing the misleading are, too. "Muslims" are a whole bunch of us, most of whom (statistically speaking) aren't doing killing or misleading.
posted by Mike Mongo at 9:49 PM on April 2, 2011 [13 favorites]


Equating the "magic" book burner's actions with the overreaction to the "magic" book burning is idiocy. The book burner did nothing wrong (apart from being a religious moron of a different flavor.)
Here's the problem: Terry Jones believed this would happen. His purpose was to incite Muslims to violence, to prove a point. What is currently unfolding is his success case. The issue, as I see it, is not the fact that he said something or did something that others find offensive. It's that he did it with the expectation that violence would result.

I don't know what the legal issue there is, but the moral issue seems pretty unambiguous. Whether Muslims need to 'harden up' or not is irrelevant to the question of Jones' agency.
posted by verb at 9:54 PM on April 2, 2011 [18 favorites]


You know, both sides can be wrong. Each in their own way, each to their own degree.

Burning a book vs killing people who had nothing to do with it? That's a pretty fucking huge difference of degree.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:58 PM on April 2, 2011


Times like this it occurs to me that if everyone in the world who would get offended by a purely symbolic gesture that harms no living creature so much that they are moved to violence would just die, the world really would be a better place.

Patriot or Muslim, Christian or any type of Zealot -- if being offended by burning of a commodity copy of your holy relic moves you to violence: just die. Go for it. If I have to burn one myself, let me know, I'll seriously think about it.
posted by chimaera at 9:59 PM on April 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


*Offer void if you would inflict your violence upon anyone else. If you're going to off yourself only I really just might think about burning a flag, or a Bible or a Koran to offset the likelihood that, in the future, you'll get offended by something and go kill someone besides yourself.
posted by chimaera at 10:01 PM on April 2, 2011


Is it just as bad if I download a Koran app on my smartphone and then delete it?
posted by mullingitover at 10:01 PM on April 2, 2011 [16 favorites]


Times like this it occurs to me that if everyone in the world who would get offended by a purely symbolic gesture that harms no living creature so much that they are moved to violence would just die, the world really would be a better place.

So your answer to irrational violence is the epithet "Just die"? Wow. Sounds pretty damn sensible to me.
posted by blucevalo at 10:03 PM on April 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Is burning a Koran much different than publishing a cartoon of Mohamed? I wouldn't be surprised if Jones ended up dead over this.
posted by Bonzai at 10:04 PM on April 2, 2011


This only begins to illuminate a much, much bigger issue that the world will have to face sooner or later: the Western belief in freedom of speech v. the extreme blasphemy laws put in place by many Muslims and Islamic countries. And this isn't a problem that will go away quietly.
posted by reductiondesign at 10:06 PM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


However, anyone who says that Rev. Jones is wrong or even criminal in his actions is, in my opinion, even more misguided than the Reverend himself.

Your opinion and your surety in expressing its moral infallibility mark you squarely as American. Thankfully there are quite successful cultures on Earth who believe that hurtful words and actions should be controlled to create a more peaceful world. One day you may learn of these places if you try very hard.
posted by TypographicalError at 10:08 PM on April 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Shawn Starr, your response to a post about Muslims who riot at signs of disrespect was a discussion about how people should treat someone when they say that their feelings are hurt or have been offended. Cman didn't say people whose feeling are hurt when they're disrespected need to harden the fuck up, just the ones who start rioting when they take offense. The distinction's pretty important, don't you think? Can't we say, "I know your feelings were hurt, but rioting's off the table."
posted by layceepee at 10:09 PM on April 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


hurtful words and actions should be controlled

You've hit the nail on the head with the American jab. Events like this or the recent Westboro SCOTUS ruling illustrate precisely why I believe the United States' freedom of speech laws are the best in the world. Why should I not be allowed to express myself just because someone else is offended? Everyone should have their point of view protected by law. Muslims, Christians, Jews, racists, murderers, homophobes, politicians, saints, beggars... everyone.

The idea of a government suppressing someone's speech because it's "offensive" or "hurtful" is terrifying.
posted by reductiondesign at 10:14 PM on April 2, 2011 [26 favorites]



So your answer to irrational violence is the epithet "Just die"? Wow. Sounds pretty damn sensible to me.


I'm a bit of a zealot myself when it comes to reasonableness. It's people who are NOT reasonable about symbolism that make the world a worse place to live. The day I can burn a flag in a town square in the deep south and a Koran on the streets of Kabul with nary a look from a passerby would be a great day indeed.
posted by chimaera at 10:15 PM on April 2, 2011


The murderers of the innocent in Afghanistan are evil, wrong, and criminal, whereas Reverend Jones is merely evil and wrong, so congratulations to that guy
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:17 PM on April 2, 2011 [16 favorites]


Just as an experiment, I downloaded a text copy of the Koran, made several thousand duplicates of it, and then secure deleted them. What now?
posted by mullingitover at 10:19 PM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Neither burning a book nor a flag, drawing a cartoon, saying something irreverent about Jesus, Muhammad, or Xenu is justification for violence. There are 300 million people in the U.S. who could decide to burn a Koran, or a Dungeon Masters Guide at any moment. Would anyone think it would be justified if a group of RPGers killed 20 people because their special book was disrespected? Why should a religion get a free pass? If someone killed some antiwar protesters because one of them burned an American flag would we think, "Hey, they brought this on themselves." Those who murdered these people are the only ones at fault for their deaths.
posted by Tashtego at 10:20 PM on April 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


Your opinion and your surety in expressing its moral infallibility mark you squarely as American. Your opinion and your surety in expressing its moral infallibility mark you squarely as American. Thankfully there are quite successful cultures on Earth who believe that hurtful words and actions should be controlled to create a more peaceful world.

Snide anti-Americanism aside, there's no moral high ground to claim here. Some people think that the state may legitimately curtail some speech to ensure others do not suffer psychic harms. Some people think that state actions to curtail speech for this reason are illegitimate. Believing one or the other might make you wrong, but it doesn't make you a smug asshole.
posted by Marty Marx at 10:20 PM on April 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Both sides think they are doing God's will and have God's favor and backing behind them. Look what it's lead to: death, strife, and misery.
posted by Daddy-O at 10:21 PM on April 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


>Would anyone think it would be justified if a group of RPGers killed 20 people because their special book was disrespected?

Only if they were NPCs.
posted by Catblack at 10:22 PM on April 2, 2011 [9 favorites]


And again, it's worth saying that the political and economic situation of the rioters has a lot more to do with the riot than any particular Muslim or Muslims generally being susceptible to offense. I doubt that lethal riots directed at U.N. workers following incitement from religious leaders would be a problem if there was low unemployment, a non-corrupt government, no ongoing occupation by a coalition of foreign governments and organizations, continuing civil war with the former theocratic regime and associated power blocs, prospects for education and social advancement, and so on.

I mean, yeah, rioting and murdering people because you're offended at something someone else did is stupid. Which is why "they're just so easily offended because of their backwards religion!" is probably not a good explanation for what's going on.
posted by Marty Marx at 10:28 PM on April 2, 2011 [13 favorites]


For those who believe Jones has blood on his hands:

If a group of right-wing extremists declared that building a new mosque in New York was such an offense to America that they would kill random Muslims if it happened, but the mosque was built anyway and some Muslims were killed, would the people who built the mosque be in anyway morally responsible for those deaths?
posted by justkevin at 10:29 PM on April 2, 2011 [13 favorites]


Your opinion and your surety in expressing its moral infallibility mark you squarely as American. Thankfully there are quite successful cultures on Earth who believe that hurtful words and actions should be controlled to create a more peaceful world.

Are you trying to tell me there are entire countries where no one talks? 'Cause if so, I'll be moving right the fuck over.
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 10:30 PM on April 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm interested to know which symbol I can nominate to have the UN declare it's OK for me to hack peoples' heads off if someone of the same skin colour degrades my symbol in some way.

Can I make it, I dunno, Darwin's Origin and start hacking the heads off white Australian Catholics if American nutbag Protestants put "Just a theory" stickers on it?

Or am I missing something about how "speech I don't approve of" justifies murder?
posted by rodgerd at 10:38 PM on April 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


For those who believe Jones has blood on his hands:

If a group of right-wing extremists declared that building a new mosque in New York was such an offense to America that they would kill random Muslims if it happened, but the mosque was built anyway and some Muslims were killed, would the people who built the mosque be in anyway morally responsible for those deaths?


More bluntly: What is the deal with liberals and progressives taking up as apologists for misogynist, homophobic, theocratic-minded religious conservatives from other countries while concomitantly holding such disdain for the same in the U.S.?
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 10:39 PM on April 2, 2011 [28 favorites]


The only people at fault here are those who did murder in Afghanistan. They didn't just murder innocents, they murdered them because those UN workers were foreigners, the only foreigners they had access to, and the mob decided that any foreigner was "close enough."

The root of this problem is that some people genuinely don't understand that not everyone in the world is a Muslim, and that there are four BILLION human beings who don't give a crap about anything in the Koran, anything that Muhammed said, and to whom the entirety of Islam is meaningless. The gap in understanding is magnified by the fact that in these societies, non-Muslims (to the extent that they existed at all in living memory) lived as dhimmi, condemned to second-class citizenship and obliged to be even more careful around Islam's holy fences than Muslims need to be. It is simply incomprehensible that a non-Muslim anywhere would dare to say, "God's name isn't Allah, and Mohammed was not his or anyone else's prophet." Listen to Afghans right up to Karzai calling for Jones to be criminally prosecuted, and that's what you're hearing: people who genuinely don't get that their religious dictates don't apply to most of humanity.
posted by 1adam12 at 10:39 PM on April 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


There need to be more atheists in this world.

This imaginary superhero shit is fucking everything up for everyone.
posted by dazed_one at 10:44 PM on April 2, 2011 [22 favorites]


In one corner, we have the poorly educated & easily led. And in the other corner, why look! It's the poorly-educated & easily led again!
posted by squalor at 10:45 PM on April 2, 2011 [9 favorites]


And that goes for both the fanatical Islam of the murderers in Afghanistan and the selfish fucktard of a catholic in that American pit.
posted by dazed_one at 10:47 PM on April 2, 2011


the selfish fucktard of a catholic in that American pit.

Who? Jones? Jones is a fundamentalist evangelical Protestant.
posted by Marty Marx at 10:53 PM on April 2, 2011


What is the deal with liberals and progressives taking up as apologists for misogynist, homophobic, theocratic-minded religious conservatives from other countries while concomitantly holding such disdain for the same in the U.S.?

Condemning Jones for being a shithead provocateur is not the same as being an apologist for fundamentalist muslims. Condemning one bad actor does not exonerate another.

I don't see where Jones' right to freedom of speech is at all implicated here. No one was talking about preventing this, and his 1st amendment rights don't obligate anyone else to react in a particular way. He's free to be an ass, and I'm free to call him an ass. No freedom of speech issue there.

And seriously, what's the deal with the imam who actually showed up to play his part in a kangaroo court of the Quran? Did he really think it would end any other way than it did? Here's a hint: When the judge shows up with the defendant soaking in Kerosene, the fix is in.
posted by fatbird at 10:55 PM on April 2, 2011 [9 favorites]


For those who believe Jones has blood on his hands:

If a group of right-wing extremists declared that building a new mosque in New York was such an offense to America that they would kill random Muslims if it happened, but the mosque was built anyway and some Muslims were killed, would the people who built the mosque be in anyway morally responsible for those deaths?


This is a fallacious argument. Building a mosque is a constructive act. The purpose behind it is to provide a place of worship and community. Koran burning's sole purpose is to offend and rile up people of another faith.

I understand your point about the personal responsibility of the people actually causing the violence, but Terry Jones's intent must be taken into account here. He getting flack for this because he set out to cause trouble, and he did.
posted by Ortho at 10:56 PM on April 2, 2011 [9 favorites]


Who? Jones? Jones is a fundamentalist evangelical Protestant.
posted by Marty Marx at 1:53 AM on April 3 [+] [!]


Sorry for the confusion. Catholic, to me, can mean Christian in general. Roman Catholic specifically refers to people who follow the Pope.
posted by dazed_one at 10:58 PM on April 2, 2011


Wikipedia has informed me that I think this way because I was raised Anglican - most people think of Catholics as Roman Catholics. So there you go; you learn something everyday.
posted by dazed_one at 11:01 PM on April 2, 2011


I'd like to share a story about a religious (or at least spiritual) object, and some testicles - and the potential offence that followed.

I worked for many years at a Museum, building and installing exhibitions. One exhibition was about Mauri culture, including a range of amazing artefacts. The focal point of the exhibition was a wharenui (meeting house) which included some highly spiritual totem poles.

During installation, I was helping to lift one of the totem poles up so it could be craned into position. To makew the lifting easier, I put both feet on either side of the totem pole and lifted.

After the totem pole was installed, one of the Mauri elders pulled my aside ans said:

"Just so you know, it is considered an offence to place your testicles near a total pole."

Needless to say I was embarrasses, mortified etc, and apologised profusely. He just smiled, patted my arm and walked away.

I'm sure there is a lesson here in tolerance to offences committed against religious or spiritual objects...

And I have NEVER placed my testicles near a sacred object of any kind since!
posted by greenhornet at 11:09 PM on April 2, 2011 [14 favorites]


One thing I love about my fellow atheists is their boundless compassion.
posted by munchingzombie at 11:16 PM on April 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


According to Wikipedia,:"Brandenburg v. Ohio, which limited the scope of banned speech to that which would be directed to and likely to incite imminent lawless action (e.g. a riot)"

It seems like there could be a case made that his speech was not protected.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 11:22 PM on April 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


I heard the gunfire and the explosions from the retaliatory attack on Camp Phoenix yesterday as I was walking to breakfast, and knew immediately what it was.

Terry Jones lit the spark to a powderkeg that was filled with the violence of 10 years of occupation, the publicized trophy murders of Afghan civilians by American soldiers, the killings of Afghan children gathering firewood by Americans from a helicopter, the oops-sorry-bout-that killing of the Afghan president's cousin by NATO forces, and the oops-sorry-bout-that killings of thousands of Afghan civilians by NATO and ISAF forces. The Afghans who rioted and the mullah who incited them are entirely responsible for their own actions, but Terry Jones knew exactly what he was doing, and what he was doing was evil.

I believe the intent of the international mission here -- to provide security for the Afghan people until they can build their government into something self-sustaining -- is a good and necessary one. I believe the implementation of that mission continues to see absolutely terrible and inexcusable incidents, and I wish I or someone knew how to change that.

The Afghans I talk to are (as you would expect) good people, baffled by why an American would want to blaspheme and destroy the document they most believe in and upon which they rest the foundational principles of their government (kind of like the U.S. Constitution for Americans): the full name of Afghanistan is, after all, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. And I believe Terry Jones and others like him who denigrate a people whose religious and cultural beliefs differ from their own are contributing factors to the deaths of Afghans and foreigners who are working toward a stable, self-sustaining, independent Afghanistan. It's an extraordinarily difficult undertaking already: the last thing we need is stupid hicks like him.
posted by vitia at 11:28 PM on April 2, 2011 [56 favorites]


And I have NEVER placed my testicles near a sacred object of any kind since!

Hey, my testicles are a sacred object.
posted by telstar at 11:35 PM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why the fuck is anyone listening to this Jones person? Seriously? When my four year old starts shouting poo-poo pee-pee talk in the market we quietly and gently tell him this isn't the place for that kind of thing.
Jones' punishment should be obscurity commensurate with the obscenity of his discourse. If he insists on making an ass of himself shittig on othes' religion he should be man enough to go to Afganistan to do it. I'll set up a collection and kick in the first 20 bucks.
posted by From Bklyn at 11:46 PM on April 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was driving home, and heard the NPR newscaster say something about how "up ahead" was a story of several Afghans and UN employees killed because a Koran was burnt in Gainesville, Florida and I thought, "did I hear that right?

Yup. Hallelujagobble.
posted by etherist at 11:47 PM on April 2, 2011


Others defend Jones's right to free speech.

NEWS FLASH, PEOPLE OF THE WORLD : THIS IS NOT ABOUT FREE SPEECH. NO ONE IS SUGGESTING THAT THERE SHOULD BE A LAW AGAINST KORAN-BURNING.

THIS IS ABOUT BEING AN ASSHOLE. THIS IS ABOUT ANTAGONISM. THIS IS ABOUT INCREDIBLE IGNORANCE ON THE PART OF ALL SORTS OF PEOPLE.

gah! i just fucking hate when issues like this or the mohammed cartoon come up and people defend the assholes saying "yeah well something free speech i mean something something free speech you know". the concept of free-speech has to do with the law! having "free speech" means you will not go to jail for what you say! is ANYONE suggested jones be sent to jail for this? or legally punished in any kind of way?

gah!
posted by molecicco at 12:05 AM on April 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


i just fucking hate when issues like this or the mohammed cartoon come up and people defend the assholes saying "yeah well something free speech

Yeah, well something fucking something free speech, asshole. Don't know if you got the message, but sacred books aren't a protected class in America. You can burn them with impunity. Now I know that this is going to make a bunch of people mad. That's too fucking bad. Those people are wrong. This is kind-of one of those fundamental things you either get or you don't, but no way does somebody disrespecting your fucking fairy tale give you a pass at physically hurting or killing somebody! I don't see any gray area here. This is one of those lines in the sand: you're either with civilization or you're outside the walls in the forests with the heathens.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:21 AM on April 3, 2011 [19 favorites]


It seems like there could be a case made that his speech was not protected.

Religious protections clearly outweigh any laws against incitement, otherwise you could ban the Bible for inciting the killing of gay people. And Jones wasn't even directly inciting people, he was just doing something offensive that predictably led to violence.

In this batshitinsane world, I believe it's possible for a sincere Christian to believe that burning a Quran is an act of religious devotion. I don't believe that Jones is sincere, but that doesn't mean his religious actions shouldn't receive legal protection.

is ANYONE suggested jones be sent to jail for this? or legally punished in any kind of way?

From the article:

President Hamid Karzai expressed regret for the 20 protest deaths, but he also further stoked possible anti-foreign sentiment by again demanding that the United States and United Nations bring to justice the pastor of the Dove Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, where the Quran was burned March 20. Many Afghans did not know about the Quran-burning until Karzai condemned it four days after it happened.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:23 AM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I blame the media. The only thing dumber than this guy on American television is this guy on Afghan television. I mean, think about it. It's insane.
posted by phaedon at 12:30 AM on April 3, 2011


Don't burn holy books. Save a tree or two by using them as toilet paper.
posted by telstar at 12:49 AM on April 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGHzOJlC6eo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exUfpzWLOYw&playnext=1&list=PL70AAF88CF9D24B58

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZq-o7e6tD8&feature=related

I support freedom of speech, I support it in a radical way far beyond the current laws in the United States. But why has this guy gotten press? Why do people in this country know about it much less people half a world away?

If, half a world away, I saw hateful speech being picked up by major broadcasters and sent out worldwide to significant fanfare I would be freaking out.

Everyone keep talking about free speech, but if some dudes on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan were having a big party outside the local mosque burning bibles and American flags I'm pretty sure a drone would fire a missile at them under the assumption they were Al Qaeda or at least "the enemy".
posted by Shit Parade at 2:24 AM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


NO ONE IS SUGGESTING THAT THERE SHOULD BE A LAW AGAINST KORAN-BURNING.

Actually, people have suggested exactly that. And Supreme Court Justice Steven Breyer has indicated that Koran burning may not be protected under free speech laws, and laws prohibiting such actions might not be in violation of the constitution.
posted by sophist at 2:27 AM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDdWu6SmN3Y
posted by Shit Parade at 2:47 AM on April 3, 2011


This is one of those lines in the sand: you're either with civilization or you're outside the walls in the forests with the heathens.

Spoken like a true cultural warrior. And isn't it fortunate for those heathens that we're occupying their country, and we're willing to kill as many Afghans a it takes to get them to be civilized like us. Remember- every time we drop a bomb on children or attach electrodes to a prisoner's genitals, it's in service to the great cause of getting them to abandon their false religion.
posted by happyroach at 2:54 AM on April 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


Weird. You'd think that if the problem was simply Muslims taking their religion too seriously, violent rioting would be epidemic all over the globe, wouldn't you? But no, it's currently confined to Afghanistan. It's almost like the Afghanis are angry about something else. But what could it be?

Huh. Oh well. Luckily, it's not that complex. If only they would all hurry up and become Christi ... er, atheists, I'm sure they won't have anything to be angry about any more.
posted by Amanojaku at 3:02 AM on April 3, 2011 [14 favorites]


The only people at fault here are those who did murder in Afghanistan.

ASSHAT: Oh, look! A wasp nest! I'm going to poke it with this handy stick!

[PASSERBY IS STUNG TO DEATH]

ASSHAT: Well, it was the sole fault of the wasps.


It was a completely predictable outcome. Just because it was Jones' right, and he didn't break the law, doesn't mean he was right. Something can be both legal and deeply unethical.

Jones is a motherfucker who should die in a fire.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:19 AM on April 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


Yeah, well something fucking something free speech, asshole. Don't know if you got the message, but sacred books aren't a protected class in America. You can burn them with impunity. Now I know that this is going to make a bunch of people mad. That's too fucking bad. Those people are wrong. This is kind-of one of those fundamental things you either get or you don't, but no way does somebody disrespecting your fucking fairy tale give you a pass at physically hurting or killing somebody! I don't see any gray area here. This is one of those lines in the sand: you're either with civilization or you're outside the walls in the forests with the heathens.

What are you talking about?

What is the issue that you wish to discuss?

Please sort yourself out because you are confusing a bunch of different things and then personally attacking me.

I actually agree with you that someone in another country burning a holy book does not give other people in another country the right to murder and hurt people in response. In fact, I think it is absolutely, and totally awful. I never said anything to the contrary.

This priest, as far as I am concerned, has every legal right to be an asshole. He has the right to burn that book. But he is still a fucking asshole. An antagonistic asshole who I am willing to bet knows very little about his own religion, let alone Islam. He disturbed this shit, on purpose. And why? Because he is every bit as ignorant as the people in Afghanistan who rioted in response.

So when I say he is an asshole, do yourself a favour, and do not get all confused and say that I think that he should not have the right to be an asshole. He has that right, and he has exerted it, quite clearly.

So. Am I "heathen"? (interesting choice of words). What exactly is this "fundamental" thing that I don't get? (interestinger)


sophist: Supreme Court Justice Steven Breyer has indicated that Koran burning may not be protected under free speech laws, and laws prohibiting such actions might not be in violation of the constitution.

Really? Well, I would definitely not be in favour of that. And so far as I have followed this and similar debates, very few people within the US (or the EU re: Mohammed cartoon) are suggesting that it should be outlawed.
posted by molecicco at 3:53 AM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm always dismayed at the kneejerk declarations of "freedom of speech" whenever an idiot like Jones does purposely provocative theater like this. As if our beloved Constitutional freedom indemnifies the actor from criticism. With Freedom of Speech comes great responsibility. You absolutely have the right to say what you want, or engage in all sorts of political theater. However, you also have no right to duck personal responsibility for the results of your speech. Words and actions have effects.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:47 AM on April 3, 2011 [10 favorites]


NEWS FLASH, PEOPLE OF THE WORLD : THIS IS NOT ABOUT FREE SPEECH. NO ONE IS SUGGESTING THAT THERE SHOULD BE A LAW AGAINST KORAN-BURNING.

THIS IS ABOUT BEING AN ASSHOLE. THIS IS ABOUT ANTAGONISM. THIS IS ABOUT INCREDIBLE IGNORANCE ON THE PART OF ALL SORTS OF PEOPLE.


Twenty people are killed and you and others are equally outraged by someone 'being an asshole'.

I'm ashamed to have to explain this but mass murder and being an asshole are so far apart on the moral scale that they DO NOT WARRANT EQUAL AIRTIME IN THE SAME DISCUSSION.
posted by Anything at 4:49 AM on April 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


verb: Here's the problem: Terry Jones believed this would happen. His purpose was to incite Muslims to violence, to prove a point.

Even if he did believe this would happen, those two are not the same thing.
posted by Anything at 5:01 AM on April 3, 2011


terry jones need not fret about being punished for his actions. there is no public official who would face the white heat of the fundamentalist right to take any action on what is obviously a prosecutable offence. having read and considered every comment here there really is no hope that the future won't see more actions like this accelerate the hate and intolerance of this country and it ain't just coming from the fundies, brother.
posted by kitchenrat at 5:19 AM on April 3, 2011


I suspect Terry Jones is going to find himself in danger soon. He's kicked a wasp nest.
posted by humanfont at 5:25 AM on April 3, 2011


Jones was stupid for doing this. And the media was stupid for REPORTING he did it.

Just because you have the right to do something does not make it wise to do it.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:51 AM on April 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


Would anyone think it would be justified if a group of RPGers killed 20 people because their special book was disrespected?

Only if they won the initiative roll. Otherwise it's just anarchy.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 5:52 AM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


there is no public official who would face the white heat of the fundamentalist right to take any action on what is obviously a prosecutable offence.

What prosecutable offense? Some section of the Fire Prevention Code?
posted by lordrunningclam at 5:54 AM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


If hope is confidence, humiliation is impotence, an emotion that stems above all from the feeling that you are no longer in control of your life either collectively as a people, a nation, or a religious community, or individually, as a single person. Humiliation peaks when you are convinced that the “Other” has intruded into the private realm of your own life and made you utterly dependent. Humiliation springs from a sense that one has been dispossessed of the present and even more so of the future - a future which is in utter contrast to an idealized, glorified past; a future in which your political, economic, social, cultural conditions are dictated by the Other.
[...]
...humiliation without hope leads to despair and to the nurturing of a yearning for revenge that can easily turn into an impulse towards destruction.

- Dominique Moïsi in 'The Geopolitics of Emotion'

You can't think about this outside it's historical and emotional context.
posted by knapah at 5:58 AM on April 3, 2011 [10 favorites]


clam, thank you for illustrating my point
posted by kitchenrat at 6:23 AM on April 3, 2011


The only people at fault here are those who did murder in Afghanistan.
ASSHAT: Oh, look! A wasp nest! I'm going to poke it with this handy stick!

[PASSERBY IS STUNG TO DEATH]

ASSHAT: Well, it was the sole fault of the wasps.


It was a completely predictable outcome.
It was "completely predictable" only if you equate brown people's mental capacity, self-control, and regard for innocent human life with the mental capacity, self-control, and regard for innocent human life of wasps.
posted by Flunkie at 6:30 AM on April 3, 2011 [21 favorites]


clam, thank you for illustrating my point

What? You left out a "not" above, right? Because it's obviously not a prosecutable offense. At least not in any court that has jurisdiction.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 6:33 AM on April 3, 2011


This is just another example of "Bill Clinton invented blowjobs" logic.

Nobody is going to riot unless they want to. The particular people who rioted and killed the UN workers are violent thugs who were going to riot about *something* one of these days.

Jones is an ass, but we can't go down the road of blaming him for the killings.

Also, this has nothing to do with Muslims or religion in general. Rioting and killing is race/religion neutral. There are plenty of people who incite others to violence based on some external "enemy" that has nothing to do with religion.

Hint: If you are going to say "they did this because they were Muslim", try changing it to "black" or "female" or "gay" or "rich white guy" and see if the logic holds. It will not. Membership in a statistical cohort does not predict behavior.
posted by gjc at 6:35 AM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's been said, but this is not about 'Muslims' in general, but rather a downtrodden, bombed, occupied people being incited to violence against an 'other' by their leader.
posted by signal at 6:49 AM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is what you get when you mix fire, assholes, guns and media:
 ....................
posted by scruss at 6:50 AM on April 3, 2011


If these riots were really about the burning of the Koran, why aren't we hearing about riots in Iran, Indonesia, Pakistan, Egypt, Turkey or any other Muslim-majority countries?

Which makes me think that these riots are not about the desecration, though that may be a proximal cause. I don't know as much about the situation as vitia, but certainly I can imagine that young Afghans have a great deal to riot about. I am very sad about the deaths of the UN workers, which are not justifiable, but I understand the impulse to the overall violence.
posted by jb at 7:11 AM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just because a religion has fewer people killing in its name doesn't make it less stupid.
posted by Legomancer at 7:20 AM on April 3, 2011


You know, most Muslims didn't kill anybody as a result of the Koran burning. Using this tragedy as an opportunity to get on an anti-religion high horse is a bit of an overreach. It wasn't religion at fault here. It was poverty, occupation, and humiliation. This is just the form that outrage took.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:38 AM on April 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


My imaginary friend is better than your imaginary friend.
posted by weezy at 7:40 AM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


More bluntly: What is the deal with liberals and progressives taking up as apologists for misogynist, homophobic, theocratic-minded religious conservatives from other countries while concomitantly holding such disdain for the same in the U.S.?

Said misogynist, homophobic, theocratic-minded religious conservatives are usually non-white and non-western, for one thing, placing them beyond criticism by The Oppressor.
posted by Scoo at 7:46 AM on April 3, 2011


I am in favor of treating holy texts with respect. But just think of all of the desecrations that could potentially be going on this moment.

This. My copy has a spaghetti-o sauce stain on it. Purely unintentionally, and I wish it didn't because it was a very nice copy. I'll have to replace it soon. But my point is that I'm not going to go on CNN and taunt people over my sauce-Qu'ran.

My imaginary friend is better than your imaginary friend.

If you could find the 500 most horrible things that humans have ever done to each other in the million years or so we've been what we are, I would bet that thinking that preceded 495 of them.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 7:51 AM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Astro Zombie: You know, most Muslims didn't kill anybody as a result of the Koran burning. Using this tragedy as an opportunity to get on an anti-religion high horse is a bit of an overreach. It wasn't religion at fault here. It was poverty, occupation, and humiliation. This is just the form that outrage took.

You seem to know the rioters better than they know themselves. Quite impressive, considering the ocean between you.
posted by Anything at 7:51 AM on April 3, 2011


Charlie is maybe a callous jerk, but Andrew is the only one guilty of murder. Bobby's death is 100% Andrew's fault.

You know, the world's a little more nuanced than this. For example, if Charlie suggests to Andrew that he kill himself, knowing full-well that Andrew has a history of depression, and Andrew follows through...Charlie can be found guilty of manslaughter.

Furthermore, if Charlie suggested to Andrew he kill Steven by lying to him about something Steven did, and Andrew has a history of mental issues that Charlie knows about, Charlie can be held responsible for the actions of Andrew. It's manipulative.

How does this apply? Pastor Jones knows that by performing this act, there's a chance it's going to incite violence in a group of people who are irrationally violent. He knows there is a chance that people are going to die, and yet he does it anyways.

We know a few things in this world about mental illness, and about group behavior and rioting, and to blatantly provoke terrible things is horrific and outside of what free speech is all about.
posted by dflemingecon at 7:53 AM on April 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


We know a few things in this world about mental illness, and about group behavior and rioting, and to blatantly provoke terrible things is horrific and outside of what free speech is all about.

No, I don't think it is. For freedom of speech to have any meaning, it has to cover speech that we find repugnant and offensive. Offensive statements cause people to ... take offense. And there are plenty of people who'll take offense at whatever is said. By your vague and overly broad standard, flag-burning would certainly fall in this category - if I burn a flag, I know that someone may well take violent offense.
posted by me & my monkey at 8:00 AM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I also find it hard to believe the riots are just about the Qur'an burning. vitia's comment makes a lot of sense.
posted by mediareport at 8:07 AM on April 3, 2011


What is the deal with liberals and progressives taking up as apologists for misogynist, homophobic, theocratic-minded religious conservatives from other countries while concomitantly holding such disdain for the same in the U.S.?

Who's apologizing? If you actually bothered to find out what liberals and progressives are involved in, you'd find a lot of support for gay activists, feminists, peace activists, environmentalists, and a whole lot of other things that don't fit your idea of Muslims.
posted by hydrophonic at 8:14 AM on April 3, 2011


You seem to know the rioters better than they know themselves. Quite impressive, considering the ocean between you.

It's interesting that you don't level that criticism against those who insist there is something about religion that made them do it. You don't think 10 years of occupation might have something to do with this?
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:26 AM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yes he's a dick, but I don't see how the unreasonable response of murdering people is his fault. Murder is not an appropriate reaction to an act such as this, an expression of an unsavory viewpoint. How is this more than some people in Afghanistan behaving completely fanatically? Why aren't more Muslims murdering people? How can you say, "We expect those people to kill so if you can't express your opinion"? It gives Muslims a bad name, casts them in a stereotypical light and gives power to their most fringe factions. It blows my mind.

If I burned a bible and Catholics rose up and killed 20 people, would you still have the same response?

Someone used an analogy to a wasps nest above. The difference is that poking a wasps nest is a direct violent attack on their physical being. A reasonable response to a violent attack is a violent defense, like the wasps were in the right to do. He was present when a book was burned. But to have people killed and say "That's what you get!" is completely crazy! I have such higher expectations for humanity, no matter who they are.
posted by dozo at 8:28 AM on April 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't recall the U.S. media paying any attention to this incident at all, and I read plenty of different news sources. As some one said up thread the Afghans didn't know about this until Karzai mentioned it. Who told him? There is more than one provocateur in this incident.
posted by Max Power at 8:35 AM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


It bums me out that Pastor Jones shares a name with Terry Jones, who is both a scholar and a gentleman. "Terry Jones did what?? ...Oh!"
posted by rifflesby at 8:44 AM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


592 American Soldiers Have Died In Afghanistan Since President Obama Announced The Surge
posted by homunculus at 8:54 AM on April 3, 2011


I am not a religious person at all. I will make an exception to offer my best prayer for the families of the slain aid workers. I also ask God to provide his holy divine retribution upon those who would meaninglessly incite violence and hatred in his name.

If there is a higher power I imagine that it is subtle enough to grasp the difference between a faithful follower and an insecure, cowardly zealot. God (insomuch as he exists in a obviously meaningful form) help us all.
posted by thebestusernameever at 8:54 AM on April 3, 2011


For freedom of speech to have any meaning, it has to cover speech that we find repugnant and offensive.

But it doesn't; in many states, it's a crime to say a few things; it's a crime to say a variety of words on an airplane, it's a crime to suggest that someone commit a crime who doesn't necessarily have complete mental function. It's illegal to talk about killing the president. These are examples of repugnant and offensive speech that is limited.
posted by dflemingecon at 9:04 AM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Maybe this has been said already, but to those of you who are all "Muslims should or should not do X," keep in mind that 99.9999999999999% of the world's Muslims did NOT riot in response to the Qu'ran burning.
posted by desjardins at 9:11 AM on April 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


You seem to know the rioters better than they know themselves. Quite impressive, considering the ocean between you.
Astro Zombie: It's interesting that you don't level that criticism against those who insist there is something about religion that made them do it.

I refrain from such criticism because the burning of a holy book is the rioters' and murderers' own cited reason for the rioting and murder.

You don't think 10 years of occupation might have something to do with this?

I'm sure it makes it easier to recruit people into an inherently violent religious doctrine.
posted by Anything at 9:12 AM on April 3, 2011


If you are going to say "they did this because they were Muslim", try changing it to "black" or "female" or "gay" or "rich white guy" and see if the logic holds. It will not.

Except that "being Muslim" is nothing like "being black", "being female", or "being gay".
posted by King Bee at 9:18 AM on April 3, 2011


But it doesn't; in many states, it's a crime to say a few things; it's a crime to say a variety of words on an airplane, it's a crime to suggest that someone commit a crime who doesn't necessarily have complete mental function. It's illegal to talk about killing the president. These are examples of repugnant and offensive speech that is limited.

That's a pretty narrow list of exceptions, and exceptions to freedom of speech have to withstand pretty strong scrutiny. For that matter, many of the state laws you mention may well be unconstitutional - there are plenty of unconstitutional laws on state books.

And of course, what this dumbass did doesn't fall within any of those categories. This guy isn't even within the same continent as the rioters, much less the same building or airplane. In your previous statement you indicated that any repugnant and offensive speech could be limited simply because it's repugnant and offensive. That's fine for you to believe, but it does not comport with the US law of the land.
posted by me & my monkey at 9:32 AM on April 3, 2011


In the United States, we have the right to freedom of speech, freedom of expression. An artists uses dung to make a picture of the blessed Virgin Mary, or photographs a crucifix in a glass of urine, and Christians get angry. Protesters burn a flag, and right-wingers get riled. The Tea-party Party co-opts the American Revolution, and liberals everywhere get annoyed. Global communication means that people in other parts of the world can see things that deeply offend them. Free Speech is messy, difficult, and incredibly beautiful. I'm so sorry for the families of the people who have been senselessly murdered. Rev. Jones is a dick, and his followers are narrow-minded, unthinking dupes. Free Speech is still beautiful.
posted by theora55 at 9:33 AM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Amanojaku: It's almost like the Afghanis are angry about something else. But what could it be? Yes, this. I never cease to marvel at how we Americans seem so unaware of the wreckage we're waging in other people's homes around the world. Discussing free speech is a luxury unavailable to folks with an Abrams parked on their lawn.
posted by fartknocker at 9:37 AM on April 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


More than one party can have responsibility for the role they play in an incident or series of incidents. Hey, come to think of it, every single person on the planet is responsible for their own actions.

I'll be damned, you'd think someone would have thought of that already. I should write a book on philosophy or something.
posted by Xoebe at 9:39 AM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm sure it makes it easier to recruit people into an inherently violent religious doctrine.

Considering that most Muslims didn't riot, and don't commit violence, your comment is pure Islamophobia, and doesn't have any place in rational discourse.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:40 AM on April 3, 2011 [11 favorites]


American homophobes help push for a law in Uganda making homosexuality punishable by death.

Ugandan homosexuals get outed by media in an increasingly homophobic climate. Paper publishes names and addresses of 100 gay men and lesbians accompanied by a graphic that says "hang them".

Uganda's most prominent gay activist is then bludgeoned to death.

Who is responsible for that death? If I follow the logic being argued by quite a few people here about Pastor Shithead's recent burning of the Qu'ran, only the killers themselves are responsible. Yet I'll wage a lot of money that a lot of these same people here did not excuse the promoters of anti-gay prejudice in Uganda (both Ugandan and American) on free speech grounds quite so easily.

Which makes me wonder how anyone could imply the Afghans need to learn to cheerfully accept their deepest convictions being insulted in the worst possible way while in the middle of a civil war and invasion. Not that I find it offensive - I just find it completely bizarre. People are not isolated individuals, unaffected by the world around them. That's Ayn Rand's sociopathic ideal.

If you accept that hate speech and propaganda affect behavior, you can't just accept or reject that based on whether you like or dislike whoever is the target of those messages. It just doesn't work that way.
posted by jhandey at 10:05 AM on April 3, 2011 [13 favorites]


Fareed Zakaria: "The Quran burning took place two weeks ago – to not much publicity. It was not highlighted by the international media and was not a big story in Afghanistan. There had been a few small, peaceful protests last Wednesday. Then, Afghan President Hamid Karzai decided to try to capitalize on the issue and score some political points..."
posted by homunculus at 10:05 AM on April 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


American homophobes help push for a law in Uganda making homosexuality punishable by death.

Rev. Jones burns a Quran at his church in Florida.

Do you really see those as being equal actions?
posted by perhapses at 10:13 AM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


but we can't go down the road of blaming him for the killings.

Oh, I don't blame him for the killings at all, I just blame him for wanting to provoke people into violence. That may not be a crime, as such, but it's certainly blameworthy.

I'd like to drop that prick naked into the middle of Mazar-i-Sharif and let him preach to the masses.
posted by octobersurprise at 10:18 AM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Where was the skateboarder who stole the Koran last time? We still need you, skater dude!
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:26 AM on April 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


Were there any similar riots about the Florida pastor's actions in other Muslim countries, such as Saudi Arabia, etc?

I ask for a couple of reasons: a) have the people of Afghanistan been following what has been happening in Syria, Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, and if so has there been any similar anti-government protests there? b) why was the Florida pastor's act barely covered in the Us if at all, yet apparently big news in Afghanistan? c) is it possible the riots in Afghanistan were provoked in some way by outside forces? d) is it possible to read these riots sociologically as sublimated rage at the American occupation and the corrupt Afghanistan government, rather than simply fanaticism run amok?
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 10:29 AM on April 3, 2011


I'm sure it makes it easier to recruit people into an inherently violent religious doctrine.
Astro Zombie: Considering that most Muslims didn't riot, and don't commit violence, your comment is pure Islamophobia, and doesn't have any place in rational discourse.

Considering that essentially everyone in the area was already Muslim when the war began, it wouldn't have made much sense for me to speak of recruitment if I was referring to Islam in general.
posted by Anything at 10:30 AM on April 3, 2011


Considering that "inherently violent religion doctrine" is an Islamophobic talking point, it might behoove you to speak with utmost clarity.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:31 AM on April 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


American homophobes help push for a law in Uganda making homosexuality punishable by death.

Rev. Jones burns a Quran at his church in Florida.

Do you really see those as being equal actions?


Absolutely. Both were done for the intention of provoking violence. I'm not saying "ban it all", but I am saying that it's disingenous to assume that either action could have taken place without a pretty obvious awareness of the actions' likely consequences.
posted by jhandey at 10:31 AM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think I will just keep on relying on people's capacity to not make premature judgments, and on my own ability to correct them.
posted by Anything at 10:58 AM on April 3, 2011


I think I will just keep on relying on people's capacity to not make premature judgments, and on my own ability to correct them.

Could you actually do that then by clarifying which religious ideology you were referring to? I'm glad you're sanguine about this, but you've actually been quite vague.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:01 AM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


In your previous statement you indicated that any repugnant and offensive speech could be limited simply because it's repugnant and offensive.

I didn't say that at all. I said that what he did was horrific and not what free speech was intended for, and I also pointed out situations where speech aren't free. At no point did I say that I thought he should be silenced or punished. I've opined as well about how I view his actions, but I haven't advocated his actions being criminal. I think they're in the territory, morally, but I am neither American nor constitutional lawyer and I don't think I'm able in a position to argue the minutiae of constitutional law.

For the record, I don't think Pastor Jones' actions were criminal, however I think you don't need a legal system to tell you what's morally horrific, nor do you need a legal system to institute justice...boycotting the Pastor, his followers and his followers' business and showing them that there are consequences to hate speech is one way to counter it.
posted by dflemingecon at 11:22 AM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I said that what he did was horrific and not what free speech was intended for, and I also pointed out situations where speech aren't free. At no point did I say that I thought he should be silenced or punished. I've opined as well about how I view his actions, but I haven't advocated his actions being criminal. I think they're in the territory, morally, but I am neither American nor constitutional lawyer and I don't think I'm able in a position to argue the minutiae of constitutional law.

That cake you're having and eating too - it must be tasty!

What's the point of saying that this isn't what free speech is intended for, if you don't think he should be silenced or punished? If you don't think his acts are criminal?

What does it mean to say something is in the "moral territory" of criminality? How is that a useful guide to legislation or enforcement?
posted by me & my monkey at 11:36 AM on April 3, 2011


"i like your christ, i do not like your christians. they are so unlike your christ"...ghandi
posted by kitchenrat at 11:38 AM on April 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Terry Jones is an unrepentant shitcock who is HAPPY that he can influence the deaths of others through legally-protected actions.

The Afghani people, to paint with an overly-broad brush, are being occupied by an American force whom they see killing other Afghanis, ruining the land, and behaving in despicable ways. They are also fed a narrative in which the entire point of the American occupation is to act as an enemy of Islam. They are fed this narrative largely by other shitcocks. It's hard to derail that narrative, because our mission in Afghanistan is kind of murky and nuanced and opaque; "That's not why we're here! I'm not sure why we ARE here, but it's probably not that!" is not a convincing argument.

When Shitcock Jones sets a Quran on fire, he reinforces the false narrative that the Afghani people are being fed. He is literally propping up the forces we oppose. It touches off entirely predictable violence, and he gets a righteous God-boner over it or something. His acts aren't criminal, at least not the first time, but if he does it again, I think some sort of standard of reckless endangerment might ethically apply. Whether or not it does, though, I think it's the job of Americans, particularly American Christians, to condemn him in the strongest possible terms, because whether or not he's a criminal, he's definitively evil.
posted by KathrynT at 12:00 PM on April 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


That cake you're having and eating too - it must be tasty!

Oh eff, me & my monkey, we're not all in the business of thinking our opinions are gold-weighted. I'm not trying to guide legislation or enforcement; I'm talking about how I feel, okay? You can cut out the contempt.

I personally believe that when someone provokes another knowingly that it's a morally reprehensible thing. It's not a legally-driven opinion, but I do think that speech has real consequences. That's it. I see similarities between provoking an individual who's irrational and a group who are irrational and I, personally, think the world would've been a better place if Pastor Jones hadn't done what he did. That's it.
posted by dflemingecon at 12:01 PM on April 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


we're not all in the business of thinking our opinions are gold-weighted. I'm not trying to guide legislation or enforcement; I'm talking about how I feel, okay? You can cut out the contempt.

Well, I know my opinions aren't gold-weighted unless someone's paying me for them. But I find your easy willingness to mix morality and legality when it suits you to be disturbing - just like I find this dumbass's Koran-burning disturbing. If you don't want to talk about legality, just say so, and don't say this isn't a free speech issue.
posted by me & my monkey at 12:08 PM on April 3, 2011


What's the point of saying that this isn't what free speech is intended for, if you don't think he should be silenced or punished? If you don't think his acts are criminal?

Err, I think that there are many instances that are protected by free speech even though it was not intended for that. For example, you cold get pissing drunk at a wedding, grab the mike and point out that the bride is an ugly dog and the groom is a good-for-nothing ex-junkie. Should someone try to take your mike away? Yes. Should you be put in jail for this? No.

I think one needs to distinguish between the moral and the legal (criminal) side of the issue:

Is Terry Jones a douchebag for burning Qurans? YES
Is it OK to point that out? YES
Should we try to talk him out of burning more Qurans if we have a chance to? YES
Should he be put in jail for burning Qurans? NO

(Incidentally, the last question is just a rephrasing of "Is it his right to burn Qurans?")

Are the Afghani protesters douchebags for killing 20 people? YES
Should they be thrown in jail for that? YES

I'm sure that under Afghani law and even under Sharia law, what they did was a criminal act.

Now, it just occurred to me that what Muslims upset about the Quran burning should really do is fight fire with fire and go all Fred Phelps on that assclown Terry Jones. Picket every single one of his services, yelling how burners of the Quran and members of the Dove World Whatever Church are destined to burn in hell.

(On second thought, maybe that isn't such a good idea after all.)
posted by sour cream at 12:08 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm still awestruck that some of the folks on this thread don't seem to grasp the difference between legality and morality. Jones' actions were undeniably legal, but given his past statements it's obvious that his purpose was to goad fundamentalist muslims into violence.

This isn't a matter of ignorance -- the last time Jones tried this stunt, it caused a stir precisely because many recognized it would cause a reaction, possibly a violent one. Quoth General Patraeus:
“It could endan­ger troops and it could endan­ger the over­all effort. It is pre­cisely the kind of action the Tal­iban uses and could cause sig­nif­i­cant prob­lems. Not just here, but every­where in the world we are engaged with the Islamic community.”
At the time, Jones responded by essentially saying that the principle of Koran-burning was more important than the lives of US soldiers that might be lost:
When does Amer­ica stand for truth?” [Jones] went on. “I mean, instead of us being blamed for what other peo­ple will do or might do, why don’t we send a warn­ing to them? Why don’t we send a warn­ing to rad­i­cal Islam and say, look, don’t do it. If you attack us, if you attack us, we will attack you.”
Pastor Jones is deliberately attempting to provoke violent extremists in US-occupied war zones. He is willing to do this because he wants violent conflict to be the primary means of communication between our nation and the rest of the Muslim world.

The people who are rioting are, obviously, free actors responsible for the good and evil choices and actions they make and participate in. But Jones, too, is a free actor. He is not "speaking truth to power." By his own admission, he is using a position of privilege and influence here in the United States to provoke violence against the very men and women who have sworn to protect Jones' freedoms.
posted by verb at 12:15 PM on April 3, 2011 [11 favorites]


Jones is a dimwit and a tosser, The rioters/killers, on the other hand, are utterly deranged and thoroughly scary, and they remind us why a mind fully in the grip of religious belief is a black and deadly thing.
posted by Decani at 12:22 PM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Jones is a dimwit and a tosser, The rioters/killers, on the other hand, are utterly deranged and thoroughly scary, and they remind us why a mind fully in the grip of religious belief is a black and deadly thing.

Then why weren't the Jehovah's Witnesses wandering around my neighborhood the other day not carrying machine guns and turning over cars?

Answer: because religion has nothing to do with behavior.
posted by gjc at 12:28 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Answer: because religion has nothing to do with behavior.
posted by gjc at 8:28 PM on April 3


Rot.

These were people deranged and enraged to the point of murdering scapegoats because a key symbol of their religion had been disrespected. Do you really expect to spin that fact away with a gross logical fallacy? For shame.
posted by Decani at 12:49 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seriously? Religion has nothing to do with behavior? Frankly, that strikes me as a fundamentally absurd claim, and I bet that the vast majority of religious people would agree with me on that.

In any case, at the very least, there's quite a gulf between "I can show examples of religious people who don't carry machine guns and turn over cars" and "religion has nothing to do with behavior".
posted by Flunkie at 12:51 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can I just step in here and say that this entire thread is vindicated by the name "Shitcock Jones"?
posted by benito.strauss at 1:22 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Muslims who riot at signs of disrespect need to harden the fuck up. It reeks of insecurity. I can live with people burning my nation's flag and insulting my people (Jews, Americans, take your pick).

God, what an absolutely contemptible thing to say. I want to know how it is even possible for this many Americans, including some who consider themselves to be on the side of compassion, to have arrived at this point in the history of the world without even having begun to grasp the extent to which life in the USA might be different from life in in the country where America has been waging a botched and brutal war for the last ten years. I mean, as impressed as I am that you're still managing not to mow down any flag-burners on your way to the mall of a Sunday afternoon, I wonder how hardened the fuck up you might be under different circumstances. Have you ever thought about what it would be like if thousands of armed, semi-literate Afghan teenagers had simply appeared one day and made themselves the kings of your neighbourhood? If your precious children were left bleeding and mutilated one morning and instead of doing anything about it the people in charge called it "collateral damage" and thought it was quite all right? If you had to live, year after year, at the mercy of invaders from a place where the very name of your faith, the central pillar of your life and your community, was considered an insult? I mean, did you know that Afghanistan has the second highest death rate, as well as second lowest life expectancy, in the entire world? While I was getting the link for that I learned that over seventy percent of Afghans can't even read or write. So are you really surprised that they are angry, and that a few of them would express it in this way? These people are only human. And it's wrong for you to talk about them the way you have when your own country's actions are the source so much of their misery and rage.

I say this as an atheist and a despiser of violence. I'm angry, too, that some Muslim Afghans have hurt and killed innocent people. But it's monstrous to approach this situation as if it were merely an issue of free speech and non-violent secularism vs. repression and deranged religiosity. It's monstrous to dismiss what's going on in these people's lives.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 1:23 PM on April 3, 2011 [21 favorites]


Is there a good name/insult for a person who profits from two other people's conflict? (Besides "Don King".)

Because it seems like a large number of the people who clog up the media are making their living off of promoting conflict. I would love to be able to dismiss them with "Oh, they're just XXXing", for some suitable value of XXX.
posted by benito.strauss at 1:27 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


You've hit the nail on the head with the American jab. Events like this or the recent Westboro SCOTUS ruling illustrate precisely why I believe the United States' freedom of speech laws are the best in the world. Why should I not be allowed to express myself just because someone else is offended? Everyone should have their point of view protected by law. Muslims, Christians, Jews, racists, murderers, homophobes, politicians, saints, beggars... everyone.

The idea of a government suppressing someone's speech because it's "offensive" or "hurtful" is terrifying.


This is ridiculous. It's as if you've ignored the fact that defamation laws actually exist, in America, without the Constitution inexplicably bursting into flames. Would you be so happy to see your local newspaper brand you as a pedophile? Would it not be terrifying if they were allowed to engage in "offensive" or "hurtful" speech?

The massive hard-on that people have for completely free speech is disgusting. Anyone who can look at Westboro or Terry Jones and call their actions legitimate is suffering from a terrible slavery to an ideal that is hurting everyone. Terry Jones should 100% find himself in prison for delightfully contributing to a hateful atmosphere against Muslims.
posted by TypographicalError at 1:40 PM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


When Shitcock Jones sets a Quran on fire, he reinforces the false narrative that the Afghani people are being fed. He is literally propping up the forces we oppose.

This bears repeating. If he were a suicide bomber himself, Jones couldn't satisfy the Bin Ladins of the world more. Every two-bit fanatic in the Islamic world is going to make Terry Jones very, very famous.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:42 PM on April 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


The Afghans who rioted and the mullah who incited them are entirely responsible for their own actions, but Terry Jones knew exactly what he was doing, and what he was doing was evil

I believe Terry Jones and others like him who denigrate a people whose religious and cultural beliefs differ from their own are contributing factors to the deaths of Afghans and foreigners who are working toward a stable, self-sustaining, independent Afghanistan.


Thank you vitia, I couldn't have phrased it better myself. I have friends working over there (including a co-worker leaving for Kabul next month), and I can only shake my head in disbelief. What was the point of this? What was he trying to prove?

I know he was warned of the ramifications his actions could have on our troops and civilians working to rebuild and secure these countries, yet he still went through with it. I support free speech as much as anyone, but when it only further endangers the lives of hardworking men and women who are trying to fix things over there, that's crossing a line. Personally, I couldn't care less about the higher philosophical or legal arguments. He knew what would most likely happen, yet he still went through with it. Therefore, as far as I'm concerned, he should be held accountable for the resulting casualties.
posted by photo guy at 1:45 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


More bluntly: What is the deal with liberals and progressives taking up as apologists for misogynist, homophobic, theocratic-minded religious conservatives from other countries while concomitantly holding such disdain for the same in the U.S.?

I think it can be explained this way:

The xenophobes on the U.S.'s far right will try to use these murders to support their narrative about Muslims (ie. Muslims are inherently violent/terrorists/etc). Since the far right is the political opponent, and this specific narrative is particularly odious, some people mistakenly think they must attack anything that can be seen as 'supporting' the right's narrative. So we end up with people attempting to apologize for the actions of people who they would normally be opposed to.

I think this tactic is a mistake. In this case, just call these murders what they are: ignorant violence committed by religious fanatics. But also add that this is in no way representative of Muslims or Islam in general. That way you can still fight the narrative without trying to deflect or diminish the responsibility of the murderers.
posted by jsonic at 1:46 PM on April 3, 2011


This is ridiculous. It's as if you've ignored the fact that defamation laws actually exist, in America, without the Constitution inexplicably bursting into flames. Would you be so happy to see your local newspaper brand you as a pedophile? Would it not be terrifying if they were allowed to engage in "offensive" or "hurtful" speech?

The massive hard-on that people have for completely free speech is disgusting. Anyone who can look at Westboro or Terry Jones and call their actions legitimate is suffering from a terrible slavery to an ideal that is hurting everyone. Terry Jones should 100% find himself in prison for delightfully contributing to a hateful atmosphere against Muslims.


Any time Jones defames the prophet Muhammad (pbuh), said prophet is welcome to sue him in federal court.

Oh actually I checked Wikipedia and all the characters from the Quran are dead, and so your analogy is absurd and you should stop oversimplifying things. Do not pretend it is outrageous to support freedom of religious speech, including abhorrent religious speech. It is a mainstream idea enshrined in many of the world's human rights charters. Get used to it.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:55 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


He knew what would most likely happen, yet he still went through with it.

Photo guy, I take exception to your conjunction. He knew what would most likely happen, and so he went through with it. This was his best-case scenario; this is what he was inciting.
posted by KathrynT at 1:57 PM on April 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


And I have NEVER placed my testicles near a sacred object of any kind since!

I do it all the time. It comes with the territory, so to speak.
posted by Splunge at 3:13 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is ridiculous. It's as if you've ignored the fact that defamation laws actually exist, in America, without the Constitution inexplicably bursting into flames. Would you be so happy to see your local newspaper brand you as a pedophile? Would it not be terrifying if they were allowed to engage in "offensive" or "hurtful" speech?

The massive hard-on that people have for completely free speech is disgusting. Anyone who can look at Westboro or Terry Jones and call their actions legitimate is suffering from a terrible slavery to an ideal that is hurting everyone. Terry Jones should 100% find himself in prison for delightfully contributing to a hateful atmosphere against Muslims.


Don't be a putz.

Defamation laws almost always require that the statement being made is false. Suing people for lying is a hell of a lot different than suing people for being wrong. And even these laws have seen their fair share of problems and abuses.

Emperor shitcock is wrong. But comparing lying to expressing an opinion is an asinine false equivalence. I don't have to find someone's opinions legitimate or appropriate to believe that it should be protected just the same as my right to express my opinion should be protected.

But hey, you seem awfully comfortable letting your government tell you what you can and can't say. Sounds like a great idea. It's working like gangbusters in China.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 3:16 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


The massive hard-on that people have for completely free speech is disgusting.

he said, as he insulted other people on the Internet on the basis of their nationality.

But I'm sure your offensive speech won't get caught in the net of content restriction enforced by the state.

Not that it would matter in either case. Whether Jones is or could be prosecuted has little to do with riots in the first place. The commitment to the human right to be free from the threat of punishment by the state for blasphemy is a flashpoint, sure, but as many people have pointed out already, the murder of U.N. workers at the hands of rioters rely on a lot of other social and political facts--like anger at foreign organizations after years of war and occupation. It isn't like everything would have gone just fine in Afghanistan were it not for that meddling pastor.
posted by Marty Marx at 3:35 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, well something fucking something free speech, asshole.

Yelling, "Fire!" in a crowded theater is not protected speech.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:37 PM on April 3, 2011


It isn't like everything would have gone just fine in Afghanistan were it not for that meddling pastor.

He's not helping. Isn't that obvious?
posted by krinklyfig at 3:38 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yelling, "Fire!" in a crowded theater is not protected speech.

That would be a lie. This guy is not lying. he's expressing a repugnant opinion. False equivalence.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 3:52 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


That would be a lie. This guy is not lying. he's expressing a repugnant opinion. False equivalence.

Inciting a riot by expressing an opinion can still be considered non-protected. The fact that it's an opinion does not change the fact that he's deliberately inciting a riot.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:03 PM on April 3, 2011


In other words, whether you're "telling the truth" or "expressing an opinion" is irrelevant in the question of whether the speech is intended to deliberately cause rioting.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:04 PM on April 3, 2011


That would be a lie.

Please don't do that.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:04 PM on April 3, 2011


I'm sorry, you misunderstood me. I wasn't saying you were lying. Yelling fire in a crowded theater when there is no fire is the lie I was talking about. Expressing an opinion is not a lie. The law pretty narrowly defines incitement. This does not qualify as incitement. Nor should it. People should be able to do something that others find morally repugnant are not absolved by their being "incited." There are plenty of ways to explain the murders that have taken place in Afghanistan. Jones is certainly a part of them. But to say he's responsible is laughably reductionist, and, more to the point, totally incorrect.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 4:09 PM on April 3, 2011


Sorry with my last post, think I misunderstood. Maybe you weren't referring to what I said being a lie. If not, please disregard. Need more caffeine.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:10 PM on April 3, 2011


Yelling fire in a crowded theater when there is no fire is the lie I was talking about. Expressing an opinion is not a lie.

OK, but you're fixating on the wrong issue. The issue is not that the person who yells, "Fire!" in a crowded theater is telling the truth or not, although if he were then that would be a defense for him, and then who could blame him? That's really not the point. The point is that person is deliberately trying to incite a riot. Other circumstances can occur when the "truth" isn't as important, such as when someone calls for a group of protesters to charge a police line. That person could be charged with inciting a riot, although they weren't "lying."
posted by krinklyfig at 4:12 PM on April 3, 2011


Jones is certainly a part of them. But to say he's responsible is laughably reductionist, and, more to the point, totally incorrect.

I never said Jones was responsible for the riot. He is responsible for his speech, however, and its effects- to claim otherwise is truly laughable. He was repeatedly warned this would be the outcome, and he went ahead with his plans anyway. He was hardly ignorant of what would happen should he do this. The people who rioted are responsible as well, although they were incited locally as well.

None of this happens in a vacuum. Just because you can express something does not make it wise to do so.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:15 PM on April 3, 2011


I want to know how it is even possible for this many Americans, including some who consider themselves to be on the side of compassion, to have arrived at this point in the history of the world without even having begun to grasp the extent to which life in the USA might be different from life in in the country where America has been waging a botched and brutal war for the last ten years. I mean, as impressed as I am that you're still managing not to mow down any flag-burners on your way to the mall of a Sunday afternoon, I wonder how hardened the fuck up you might be under different circumstances. Have you ever thought about what it would be like if thousands of armed, semi-literate Afghan teenagers had simply appeared one day and made themselves the kings of your neighbourhood?

Ok but on the other hand, the riots happened in Afghanistan and not Iraq, for which about all of the above is true, but is a somewhat more secular country.
posted by furiousthought at 4:39 PM on April 3, 2011


Well, I'm wasn't claiming that the world's oppressed were simply automatic violence dispensers, where you push a button and a riot comes out. Like anything, these things have complex causes. What I'm saying is that it's insulting, callous and wrong for anyone to insist on considering this single incident apart from the reality of Afghans' lives when it's impossible for Afghans themselves to do so. I mean, people in this thread have called the rioters "evil", "idiots", "babies", "cavemen", and so on. Unless this attitude is coming only from people who are opposed to all violence and all killing no matter the circumstances, I don't understand it. Because while I feel just as strongly as anyone that it's wrong to hurt (let alone kill) other people on the grounds that someone, somewhere has done something to offend your beliefs, the offence in this case is so far from being the only grounds that I don't even know how to express it. And so the idea that these people are simply somehow less moral, less just, less strong, less thoughtful than you or me strikes me as lazy, self-serving and cold. I can't excuse the rioters' actions, but I absolutely must always remember that their goodness has been tested in a way that mine will probably never be.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 6:04 PM on April 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


The massive hard-on that people have for completely free speech is disgusting.

So you're anti-erection as well? BEGONE MISANDRIST!
posted by Scoo at 6:11 PM on April 3, 2011


Misandrist? We men are not defined by our turgid penises. At most, my represents maybe 30 percent of my body weight.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:21 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


It was "completely predictable" only if you equate brown people's mental capacity, self-control, and regard for innocent human life with the mental capacity, self-control, and regard for innocent human life of wasps.

Flunkie, my wasp analogy was about predictablity, not about the mental capacity of the rioters, and I think you know that.

However, if you replace 'brown people' (whom, you will note, I did not mention) with 'religious fundamentalists', we may be in agreement. I think there is a pretty good argument that both Jones and the rioters have the "the mental capacity, self-control, and regard for innocent human life of wasps".
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:22 PM on April 3, 2011


In the United States, we have the right to freedom of speech, freedom of expression.

Yeah right, tell that line to Bradly Manning. You Americans talk a good game, but when it comes down to embarrassing speech you torture people in isolation, and deny them their constitutional rights.

Also, countries limit speech based on what their citizens care most about. Say religion, public safety put the like. Since Americans holiest of holies is money it sense that they wouldn't care about destroying religious texts. But if that preacher had been burning a billion dollars bilked from retirees health insurance, then you can be sure there would be calls for his head. It all depends on the object of veneration.
posted by happyroach at 6:25 PM on April 3, 2011


Yeah right, tell that line to Bradly Manning. You Americans talk a good game, but when it comes down to embarrassing speech you torture people in isolation, and deny them their constitutional rights.

It is to laugh! Wait, you're serious? Yeah, I doubt even Bradley Manning thinks this, unless you mean that Manning's right to free speech is equivalent to my free speech right to pick your pocket and post your credit card information to 4chan.

Also, countries limit speech based on what their citizens care most about. Say religion, public safety put the like. Since Americans holiest of holies is money it sense that they wouldn't care about destroying religious texts. But if that preacher had been burning a billion dollars bilked from retirees health insurance, then you can be sure there would be calls for his head. It all depends on the object of veneration.

Yeah, we'd sure be upset about someone stealing a billion dollars from an insurance plan. I can't believe the things we small minded money-worshiping would get upset about. God, we're such hypocrites!
posted by Snyder at 8:22 PM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm utterly amazed by all the "this quran-burning idiot caused all these deaths" comments in this thread. I really thought metafilter was smarter than that.
posted by tehloki at 9:04 PM on April 3, 2011


I'm utterly amazed by all the "this quran-burning idiot caused all these deaths" comments in this thread. I really thought metafilter was smarter than that.

It's interesting that you'd say that, because there aren't -- as best as I can tell from re-reading it -- that many people saying that. There are only a handful, actually. The majority are simply pointing out that Jones is responsible for his own actions as well, and that he was warned for months by many people that this was the likely outcome. There's a difference between saying, "Bob Did X" and "Bob Knew X Would Happen If He Did Y, And He Did Y Anyways." Even if he has the legal right to do Y, it's still worth discussing the moral and ethical implications of his role in what has unfolded.

I thought metafilter readers were better at nuance and reading comprehension than to confuse the two, but I suppose I'm wrong. Feel free to snarkishly insult the intelligence of those who believe in personal accountability.
posted by verb at 9:34 PM on April 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


A surplus of fucking idiots....


"So you probably heard of this idiot. This fucking, American, idiot. Who planned, on 9/11 this year, to burn a whole load of Qur’ans, and a whole load of other fucking idiots decided that they would idiotically react to this, and harm the initial idiot who idiotically burned these Qur’ans.
The central problem with this of this whole scenario, other than the surplus of fucking idiots, is the idea that an object can be sacred."

- Tim Minchin
posted by spongeboy at 12:29 AM on April 4, 2011


Are doctors supposed to make you feel sick ?
posted by devious truculent and unreliable at 6:12 AM on April 4, 2011


I'm utterly amazed by all the "this quran-burning idiot caused all these deaths" comments in this thread. I really thought metafilter was smarter than that.

Not when you consider that it dovetails nicely with the heavy streak of "religion is the cause of most problems in the world" among the people on this site. All tolerance and nuance goes out the window when religion comes into play.
posted by gjc at 6:43 AM on April 4, 2011


I really thought metafilter was smarter than that.

I thought people here could read. We're both disappointed.

Hey, maybe the GOP candidates should burn a Qur'an at every campaign rally. I mean, it would go over gangbusters with their constituents and what's the downside, right?
posted by octobersurprise at 7:57 AM on April 4, 2011


Not when you consider that it dovetails nicely with the heavy streak of "religion is the cause of most problems in the world" among the people on this site.

This is not the best example to stake your argument on. He didn't burn "The God Delusion".
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:22 AM on April 4, 2011


Hey, people, if you think I'm talking about your comments, but you don't personally believe that muslims are killing each other in afghanistan because somebody burned a book, I'm not talking about your comments. I'm talking about comments like this. I guess a few of the others that really had my head shaking have been deleted? It's the extreme reactions to a dude (who may be contemptible in his own right) over such a trivial publicity stunt that baffle me; both from this community and those doing violence in its name overseas. If he wasn't a right-wing evangelical nut burning the quran, we would be treating him very differently. I don't care how vehemently I disagree with an action; unless it directly impinges on the rights or safety of another, I have nothing to say against it.
posted by tehloki at 9:35 AM on April 4, 2011


Fuck it, I'm going to get one of every holy book, the best hand-knit SNES controller cozy off etsy, jonathan coulton's discography, some evolution textbooks, and top it off with the god delusion, and set it all ablaze. Feel free to directly blame me when metafilter members start killing each other.
posted by tehloki at 9:38 AM on April 4, 2011


Hey, people, if you think I'm talking about your comments, but you don't personally believe that muslims are killing each other in afghanistan because somebody burned a book, I'm not talking about your comments.
I'm sorry, what?

To the best of my knowledge, no one in this thread has said that isn't the case -- a subset of Muslims in Afghanistan are indeed committing acts of violence, and crediting the fact that someone burned a copy of their holy book. That's the entire point of the post.

At most, a number of posters have pointed out that there are larger issues at play than the simple defacing of a holy book. Given the fact that many other primarily Muslim nations with heavily fundamentalist populations haven't seen any violence following to Jones' stunt, it does suggest that simple religious fundamentalism isn't the only issue at play here. Perhaps, you know, it's the combination of religious fundamentalism, military occupation, and recent news of barbaric killings of innocent civilians by the occupying military force? Combined with the defacing of the holy books? That's just one theory.

But that's the thing: if you want to actually think and act like an adult, you have to look at complex situations and acknowledge their complexity. Events can have multiple causes. Horrible things can have multiple responsible parties, who contribute in different ways. You can take a close look at one set of issues related to a problem, and that doesn't mean that you are ignoring the others.

I know it's hard sometimes, but critical thinking and analysis is hard. There aren't really shortcuts.
If he wasn't a right-wing evangelical nut burning the quran, we would be treating him very differently.
Yes, because MetaFilter has such a long history of embracing book-burning.

In all seriousness, the closest corollary might be the leaking of the prisoner abuse photos, and the increased danger of violence against US servicemen in Iraq due to incitement of local insurgents.

Those who released prisoner abuse photo were warned that their choices could result in increased danger and perhaps loss of life. Many on the right argued that releasing the photos was nothing short of a prosecutable act of treason, that it was an act of support for terrorists. Many on the left argued that the negative repercussions were an undesirable, but potentially unavoidable, side effect of correcting the wrongs that had been done, and that concealing the truth of what we had done would be worse.

Jones, too, was warned that his actions would result in increased danger and perhaps loss of life. There was no compelling reason for him to do this, however, other than deliberately antagonizing Muslims. For him, the 'possible undesirable side effect' of violence reprisal was not undesirable at all. It is what he was deliberately trying to provoke, by his own admission. And he succeeded.

I think comparing the two situations and the responses to them is instructive, even if you seem to get the conclusion muddled beyond hope.
Fuck it, I'm going to get one of every holy book, the best hand-knit SNES controller cozy off etsy, jonathan coulton's discography, some evolution textbooks, and top it off with the god delusion, and set it all ablaze. Feel free to directly blame me when metafilter members start killing each other.
If you had been warned by high-ranking members of the US military, and many private citizens, that such actions would probably result in the loss of life... if members of Metafilter has personally asked you not to do so, for their own sake and for the sake of others who might be hurt... And you decided to do it anyways, because you really dislike Jonathan Coulton... and then what everyone warned you about happened? Yeah, I'd say you have some blood on your hands from a moral perspective even if you are legally in the clear.
posted by verb at 10:35 AM on April 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


and set it all ablaze

Set yourself on fire while you're at it, show us all how little you care.
posted by octobersurprise at 10:50 AM on April 4, 2011


All right, what if instead Jones had dug up the corpse of a child and dismembered it or something along those lines (assuming he'd done it in such a way not to run afoul of the letter of the law--say, in a country with lax regulations in this area? Never mind the public response, or the response of the child's family. Would that have been a defensible thing to do, since there's no truly "rational" basis for sentimentality about the treatment of the remains of the dead?

To many Christians and non-Christians, desecrating the bodies of the dead is patently morally offensive, for no more rational or better reason than the deeply held cultural conviction that the inviolability of the remains of the dead must be held sacrosanct.

It seems to me we have to judge the moral weight of Jones' actions and the actions of the rioters in Afghanistan (a country which has already seen its sovereignty trampled and its cultural legacy debased) independently, even though, in this case, there appears to be a direct causal connection between the events.

What Jones did was at least as wrong as desecrating a corpse, and for the same reasons. It is immoral to willfully cause the suffering of others by refusing to respect the legitimacy of their particular cultural ideals about the sacred--unless those beliefs are themselves an impingement on one's own rights and liberties.

Empty symbolism from your point of view or not, respect for the Koran is a fundamental tenet of the Muslim belief system, as is respect for what Christians call the Old Testament (or what Jews call the Tanakh). To deliberately insult an entire faith by deliberately and pointedly transgressing one of its taboos simply to generate publicity for a hateful cause is morally bankrupt.

Killing innocent people, at the same time, is of course even more morally wrong--but we don't reduce the penalties for one crime on the basis of another, worse one. And we shouldn't. Either in law or in our culture. That's my take.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:50 AM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


What Jones did was at least as wrong as desecrating a corpse, and for the same reasons.
Haha, what? I leave the burden on you to find a country in the world where grave-digging is legal. Burning a book is offensive, but it's sacrosanct free speech. They are not equivalent, I'm sorry.
posted by mullingitover at 12:41 PM on April 4, 2011


Illegal =/= Immoral

In Tibetan Buddhism, for example, corpses are sometimes used as part of meditative practices on emptiness, with corpses being left in the open to rot as a moral instruction on the ultimately transitory and empty nature of conditional existence. The West's ideas about the sacrosanct status of the remains of the dead are not necessarily as universal as you suppose, and the underlying rationales for such laws are no more based in rationality than are attitudes against the burning of sacred books.

Also, I've never bought the argument that book burning is a speech act any more than cross burning is one. Speech is speech; action is action. Actions can be lawful, but still morally wrong. But I don't see why it's necessary to confuse speech and action in the ridiculously ad hoc and arbitrary way we do. Regardless of any underlying political intent, some actions we deem speech acts; others we don't. Stealing for example is never interpreted as a protected speech act, even if it's undertaken with the same basic motives and for the intent of making a "political statement." Burning books, on the other hand, is somehow a special kind of action we unambiguously consider a speech act.

The ethical arguments for both taboos are essentially the same: Desecrating a corpse defies one particular culture's ideas of the sacred; burning a holy book does the same. It's a dick move either way.

And what's more, is the kid on the playground who goads some other gullible kid into a fight on the basis of slanderous prevarications free of any moral responsibility for his role in instigating or inciting the violent passions of others? Of course not. Neither is Jones, regardless of what anyone might think about the immorality of whatever follow-on response his actions might give rise to. Actions should be evaluated independently on the basis of their own moral merits. If their hadn't been a response in Afghanistan at all, Jones would still have been wrong.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:57 PM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd love to be a fly on the wall when Terry Jones meets St. Peter herukas in the bardo.
posted by aught at 2:04 PM on April 4, 2011


Also, one wonders if this moron has ever opened a Qur'an. Half the content found within it is recognizably the same stories as in Rev. Jones' Old Testiment. Which means the Rev. burned the stories of Adam and Eve, Cain and Able, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Lot, Jonah, David and Goliath, etc. I wonder if he was even aware of this.
posted by aught at 2:13 PM on April 4, 2011


Let's take a peek into the US fundamentalist's mind for a minute shall we?

"Hey, those gosh-durn Islamists get to stone women for sex, get to kill homos, get to cut off hands for theft (or so I've heard) and I don't! It jist ain't fair. Do you hear me Yahweh, it jist ain't fair! Hey, maybe Yahweh wants me to show how mean I am by burning one of their holy books....yeah, then maybe I'll get to stone women and kill homos and cut off thieves hands! Yup, that's the ticket...."
posted by telstar at 2:29 PM on April 4, 2011


get to cut off hands for theft

Well, ask me how you feel about amputations for theft after you've had your third bicycle stolen. They don't have to pay to imprison the thieves, and people basically don't ever steal. Seems like a pretty good system to me.
posted by mullingitover at 3:48 PM on April 4, 2011


I think the reverence for holy books is anachronistic in our century. Books aren't people, or even ideas, they're ink and wood pulp. The reverence for them was a good thing in a time when most people were illiterate, and the creation of a single book was a monumental effort. If the illiterate farmers weren't taught to revere the holy man's mysterious text that they couldn't read, they might do something hideously stupid like burn it for heat.

In the industrial world of the past, a single person could crank out hundreds of copies of the koran/bible/torah/hustler, and if one of them gets burnt it's no big deal. In the post-industrial world of bits, a single 2.5" hard drive can store the contents of thousands of books. One can create and delete millions of copies of any book all day long with little effort and no consequence except the consumption of a trivial amount of wattage.

tl;dr this is an interesting clash between the iron and post-industrial ages.
posted by mullingitover at 4:11 PM on April 4, 2011


I'm utterly amazed by all the "this quran-burning idiot caused all these deaths" comments in this thread.

The idiot did this specifically to provoke violence. When you do something to provoke violence and violence results, you have consciously played a role in instigating it. No, he didn't personally go out and kill people, and no, the rioters did not have to kill people as a result, but to imply he has no responsibility in this is simply not true.

Just to jump in on the free speech discussion, many countries enjoy some measure of free speech, but the USA's goes beyond pretty much all others to the point of jingoism. My country and many others do have limits on what can be said in the form of hate speech laws etc. but in practice we can say pretty much the same thing any American can in public without repercussions. I don't think what Jones did is necessarily hate speech, but regardless freedom of speech does not provide protection from the consequences of what you say. Things people say can cause harm and even incite violence causing death. When someone has done just that, intentionally, it's beside the point to draw attention to the fact the offending statement is legal and protected by your Constitution. It should be widely condemned, and it should be pointed out to anyone able to understand that freedom of speech also comes with certain responsibilities not unlike the right to bear arms does.
posted by Hoopo at 4:23 PM on April 4, 2011


No, he didn't personally go out and kill people, and no, the rioters did not have to kill people as a result, but to imply he has no responsibility in this is simply not true.

the rioters did not have to kill people is the main point here. The fact that they were given a flimsy motive is irrelevant.

Suppose I really love Hustler, and I discover that someone in Afghanistan burned a stack of Hustlers just to piss me off, and so I go on a rampage and shoot up my local Toyota dealership. I'm sorry, but it's not that Afghani's fault that I'm a murderous idiot. And if they were doing it to prove a point, that I'm a stupid murderous idiot, well, point made. Chances are I would've done something murderous and stupid anyway, and chances are those rioters would've (continued to do)ne stupid and murderous stuff as well.
posted by mullingitover at 5:26 PM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Corpses aren't people.

Books definitely are ideas. Especially holy books. If books aren't ideas, we don't have any ideas.

Whether one set of actions (in this case, burning the Koran) served some as a rationale for another even less morally laudable set of actions (the riots) really has nothing to do with whether or not the second set of actions were morally laudable.

If you disregarded all other considerations, and judged Jones' acts in isolation, you might judge them to be malicious, deliberately provocative acts. If you considered the response of the rioters in isolation, you might find it likewise morally reprehensible. There's no need to let one set of bad deeds obscure another. Both are bad enough for a good round of self-righteous tongue clucking. There's no conflict here.
posted by saulgoodman at 5:39 PM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Books definitely are ideas. Especially holy books. If books aren't ideas, we don't have any ideas.

*Sigh*

books:ideas::vehicles:passengers
holy books:ideas::fancy vehicles:passengers
posted by mullingitover at 5:49 PM on April 4, 2011


No, because some books have entire systems of belief connected to and embodied within them. These books are idealized in much the same way religious icons are. In the same way that Darwin's Origin of the Species or Newton's Principia are not just books but representations of an abstract principle--symbols of scientific enlightenment--to many people, Holy Books mean something as physical artifacts to the people who value the ideas they embody.

I'm not saying it's rational, just that it's not any less rational than many other things we might all agree should be sacred. People love what they love, and its cruel to rake people over the coals over the things they love if you've got no good reason to. Not every Muslim went out there and started killing people over this. Not that you'd notice, but most didn't.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:06 PM on April 4, 2011


Not every Muslim went out there and started killing people over this. Not that you'd notice, but most didn't.

Oh no, I'm fully on board with the notion that there are numerous factors that confound the notion that this is an 'omg muslins r ignant' issue. War, illiteracy, a violent culture that is very much concerned with "honor". These are the issues, and religion is tangential.

I'm discussing this issue with the implicit understanding that we're talking about mass-produced objects with no intrinsic value of their own, and 'holy books' are certainly produced en masse. If Jones had burnt Thomas Jefferson's Koran, or some other book with historic value, I'd have harsher words for him.

At the end of the day it's an interesting perversion of a religion that's so iconoclastic--Islam forbids even the representation of animals and people in art, lest it lead to idolatry. So here we have people (and I'm speaking of the particular group of murderers, and not all Muslim people) who are essentially worshipping wood pulp and ink, and willing to take human life over a perceived slight to it. For the rest of Muslims, if anything it's a vindication. There was no holy war over this, and out of the billion plus Muslims in the world only a tiny group in in a violent third world country did anything heinous in response.
posted by mullingitover at 6:23 PM on April 4, 2011


the rioters did not have to kill people is the main point here. The fact that they were given a flimsy motive is irrelevant

of course it's relevant, this is just thick. It's throwing gas on a fire. Everyone knew that an action like this was going to create problems for Western forces operating there, including Jones, which we know because he had been told as much by military leaders on a very public fashion. He was baiting a response, and he got one. What he did was tell Afghanistan that in addition to all the bombing and killing of women and children and families and destruction of homes and livelihoods, the West is also burning your holy book just to piss you off and have a laugh. That you would compare this to an absurd situation based on a comfortable American existence involving a fucking Porno mag is ludicrous.
posted by Hoopo at 7:53 PM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


That you would compare this to an absurd situation based on a comfortable American existence involving a fucking Porno mag is ludicrous.

If you don't stop referring to the sacred Hustler texts as "a f***ing Porno mag" I'm going to beat a random bystander savagely. I just feel it's fair to warn you to know that their blood will be on your hands.
posted by mullingitover at 8:05 PM on April 4, 2011


If you don't stop referring to the sacred Hustler texts as "a f***ing Porno mag" I'm going to beat a random bystander savagely. I just feel it's fair to warn you to know that their blood will be on your hands.

You've going to have to use nothing but rocks, antique rifles, and your wits to grind a major nation's military to a stalemate over 10-15 years before that threat really has any teeth.
posted by verb at 8:27 PM on April 4, 2011


In all seriousness, mullingitover, mefi's own valkyryn had an interesting blog post a while ago about the concept of manslaughter by causation, and legal responsibility for deliberately provocative acts. It's part of a semi-comic analysis of the movie Swordfish, but it makes a number of interesting points. Among other things, the idea that the law takes "deliberately provoking someone else into doing something bad that hurts a third party" very very seriously.

Am I suggesting that Jones should be arrested? No. But you're going into contortions to argue that someone should not be held even morally responsible for actions they had been warned would result in loss of life. If I had credible reason to believe that you were a killer, and you'd warned everyone that you would kill someone if I burned a Hustler, and I publicly stated that I would burn a copy of Hustler in order to prove that you would be punished for your crimes, yeah. I'd be deliberately provoking a murder.
posted by verb at 8:32 PM on April 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


You've going to have to use nothing but rocks, antique rifles, and your wits to grind a major nation's military to a stalemate over 10-15 years before that threat really has any teeth.

True, but maybe that major nation will give billions in military aid to Pakistan, and then Pakistan's ISI will help me attack said major nation.
posted by mullingitover at 8:48 PM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


MAYBE
posted by Hoopo at 8:54 PM on April 4, 2011


Pretty sure what Terry Jones did would be illegal in Australia. I don't think that's a good thing, but he's still an idiot. As are the rioters. And smug serenader Tim Minchin.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 2:15 AM on April 5, 2011


I'm discussing this issue with the implicit understanding that we're talking about mass-produced objects with no intrinsic value of their own, and 'holy books' are certainly produced en masse. If Jones had burnt Thomas Jefferson's Koran, or some other book with historic value, I'd have harsher words for him.

Why? There's no necessary reason to value historical contingency, either. A taboo on the destruction of books with culturally significant owners is no less symbolic than a taboo on the destruction of books considered holy.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:25 AM on April 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


A taboo on the destruction of books with culturally significant owners is no less symbolic than a taboo on the destruction of books considered holy.

Well, imho there is some reason to value historic artifacts. The generic mass-produced holy book of whatever religion, number 863 out of 2000 printed that day, isn't a big loss to humanity if it's destroyed. However, the one owned by Thomas Jefferson is irreplaceable.

I'm not saying it should be illegal to destroy even the irreplaceable one though, assuming the destroying is done by its owner. Just that I'd have some harsh words to say about it.
posted by mullingitover at 10:21 AM on April 5, 2011


Apparently there are large protests for a 5th straight day in Afghanistan over this, with plenty of that ol' standby, the "Death to American" chant.
posted by Justinian at 10:37 AM on April 5, 2011


Well, imho there is some reason to value historic artifacts. The generic mass-produced holy book of whatever religion, number 863 out of 2000 printed that day, isn't a big loss to humanity if it's destroyed.

It's holy. You know what that means, right? It's considered sacred, the literal word of God. Muslims wash before handling it. It's not a secret. Regardless of your views on religion, you can't just pretend that there's no value to anyone in a holy book or that its destruction doesn't have symbolic value just because it wasn't owned by someone famous. If it didn't, why did Jones bother burning it? Burning the Koran is considered blasphemy in Islam and is actually punishable by death in Afghanistan where the protests are happening. It was disgusting when the US military did it to provoke prisoners at Guantanamo, and it was disgusting when Jones did it to provoke Muslims in general. It's very clear it is done with a specific purpose, to get a response.

It's also worth pointing out that in Free Speech America, not 5 years ago you narrowly avoided having an amendment to the Constitution banning flag burning by a single vote in the Senate.
posted by Hoopo at 11:20 AM on April 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


you narrowly avoided having an amendment to the Constitution banning flag burning by a single vote in the Senate.

Amending the Constitution is actually a little bit more complicated than that.
posted by straight at 12:39 PM on April 5, 2011


you're right, it then would have to go to the individual states or their ratification conventions.
posted by Hoopo at 1:24 PM on April 5, 2011


There's a significant difference between a failed political stunt and actually murdering people. It's like comparing public nudity laws to forcing women to wear a burqa.
posted by Justinian at 1:55 PM on April 5, 2011


What will happen next week and the week after as others follow this jerk's example and insult Islam or Jones burns another Quran because it gives him so much attention?
posted by humanfont at 2:17 PM on April 5, 2011


There's a significant difference between a failed political stunt and actually murdering people

that may have been directed at another comment, but no one's comparing what Jones did and what the rioters did so there's no need to bother with more analogies.
posted by Hoopo at 3:08 PM on April 5, 2011


I was referring to the flag burning Amendment.
posted by Justinian at 3:22 PM on April 5, 2011


In that case, I was comparing flag burning to the burning of the Koran, not to murdering people. I was in an exchange above where someone was making the case that the Koran is just another mass produced book and therefore had no intrinsic value. I was pointing out that Americans also hold symbols as something deserving of respect and perhaps even legal protection. It's a long thread.
posted by Hoopo at 3:32 PM on April 5, 2011


I'm concerned by the wasp comment and some of the other comments treating the Afghani murderers as lacking free will.

This is the old "conquerors wise and responsible vs. conquered savage childish brutes" nonsense all over again.

Treat these murderers like humans, please.
posted by michaelh at 3:06 PM on April 6, 2011


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