Book Burning

I guess I have some obligation to comment on the proposed September 11 Qur’an burning by some low rent superstition peddler in Florida who seems to be seeking his church’s 15 minutes of fame, presumably to increase his membership from 50 to 55.

Oh, wait, that WAS a comment, wasn’t it? Well, now you have some idea of my attitude towards this.

I’ve been reading about it for a couple of weeks, most notably, and most recently, over at Ed Brayton’s and P.Z. Myers’ blogs, where the comments are thick and incisive. I don’t really think I can add much to the discussion, but having a brain, I do have some thoughts, and here they are:

  • It’s a book, people. A compilation of words printed on paper, bound together is order to have all the words in one place. There are probably billions of them in existence, and the world will not be diminished by the loss of a few copies to intentional combustion. They are easily replaceable, and the ideas contained in the books will still be there (unfortunately).
  • While I find the intentional destruction of any book repugnant, for some reason I can’t get too worked up about these particular books being burned. Then again, I don’t think I’d be upset if there were other books burned at the same time, containing equally silly writings in them, like the Bible, or the Left Behind series.
  • One of the reasons I can’t get too worked up about this book burning is because it is intended as a statement in the exercise of the free speech rights of the Dove World Outreach Center and its small congregation about a competing religion, Islam. It’s ostensibly a protest against that religion because of its purported connection with the 9/11 destruction of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the planes and people used to cause that destruction. These gun-toting religionists, wacky as they may seem, have a First Amendment right to burn as many Qur’ans they feel inclined to purchase ahead of time (assuming they don’t already own their own stock, which is unlikely) and I agree that if they want to do so, they should not be prevented from it.
  • I don’t agree with the statement they are making, which seems to be a broad one attempting to paint the religion of Islam, and all of it’s adherents, with the terrorism of 9/11. I don’t believe there is any evidence to support that statement, despite the fact that all of the 19 terrorists happened to be Muslims – extreme, radical, right-wing, fundamentalist, Qur’an-pounding Muslims nonetheless, but not necessarily  good examples of your average Allah-worshiping Muslim. If they actually want to make a statement like that, then they should also throw a few Bibles on the fire, because one can make a perfectly valid claim that Christianity is equally responsible for irrational violence and death. Trying to paint all of Islam with the  responsibility for 9/11 is simply an exercise in bigotry and hatred I can’t support. There’s enough of it in the world already, much of it provoked by religion. We don’t need any more.
  • Obama’s claim, along with his generals and others, that the book burning will put the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq in more danger than they are now, not to mention perhaps acting as an additional recruitment tool for al-Qaeda, while perhaps true, is irrelevant. First, I find it hard to accept how the burning of a few books could make worse what we’ve already accomplished with our bombing, invasions and troops. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans have died at our hands since 2001, though I don’t doubt the irrational incendiary meaning that will be added to an already irrational Islamic outlook on life by insulting their book. Second, if their response to a book burning, a relatively innocuous action, is to take it out on innocent people by stepping up terrorism, or attacking our troops, one can’t blame the book burners for the irrational response of the Muslims, any more than if someone attacked Glenn Beck for speaking on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, it would be his fault for speaking, not the attacker’s for his response. Lay blame where blame is due.
  • To a certain extent (though this is arguable) those soldiers that are being put in increased harms way by the biblio-conflagration are actually fighting to protect the right of these book burners to burn books. It may sound ironic, but there you have it.

There is one bit of good that could come from it though. The predictable reaction is that a bunch of Muslims will react irrationally, by attacking someone they shouldn’t, or blowing up something they shouldn’t, are otherwise making an obnoxious nuisance of themselves. If they do (with sympathy for the victims) I hope it causes many observers to decide that all religion is nonsense, if this is how religious adherents react to burning scripture.

35 thoughts on “Book Burning

  1. The best comment about that guy in Florida was regarding how he had a church in Germany at one point but the Germans kicked him out for preaching hate. The comment was ‘you know there’s something wrong with you when even the Germans won’t burn books with you.’ ZING!

    All this shit is ridiculous; the burning books, the Manhattan mosque (and some other mosques trying to open in various cities and towns), the “Awakening” rallies scheduled for Saturday, it’s all ridiculous. The NFL season couldn’t have started sooner. Everybody needs a distraction.

  2. Well, I’ll just say this is one of your better posts, John. Despite your antipathy for all things Christian, I’d say you have a pretty balanced view on this.

    I’d thought about emailing this guy and warning him that this might not be one of the smartest things he could do, right now, but, hey… how many thousands of folk have already done that? I agree that free speech is the most important thing, here, though not always appropriate. I guess he’ll have to take what comes, won’t he?

    One thing that’s pretty obvious, here, is that there are those that will profit from this fiasco no matter which way it goes. Infidels will triumph in the negative publicity this will inevitably generate against Christians and religion, the Zionists will be happy to see any Muslim retaliation further besmirch their already waning popularity, furthering their agenda of pushing Islam out of Palestine, and the REAL instigators of 9/11 will, once again, have the excuse to go invading some other Islamic country, if there is a negative response, with the feigned purpose of liberating it from itself, though really to make big bucks for the military-industrial complex.

    It’s getting around the time we had some other snit to upset an already tenuous international scenario. Maybe all it will take is one lone preacher to touch it all off, eh?

    Or, maybe everybody blowing it all out of proportion, like always, perhaps?

    • Gideon “…and the REAL instigators of 9/11 will, once again, have the excuse to go invading some other Islamic country…”
      Every time I think you’ve reached bottom, you pick up the shovel and keep diggin’.

      • I’m not through digging yet, Modus! Here’s some more thinking for you.

        I can hear it coming… “Yeah! More conspiracy shit!” Well, let’s assume just for the sake of assuming that the government is responsible. Let’s assume that they do control the media to a great degree. Given that, what do you think the chances are you’ll get anything but lies if you question their involvement?

        It’s an old article, but, it still has relevant points. There are lots of questions not getting answered, Modus. I guess you’re satisfied with what you’re being told. You’d better hope you’re right, son, not just for your own sake, but for the sakes of those close to you!

          • Gideon “I’m not through digging yet, Modus! Here’s some more thinking for you.”
            That whole page needs a “{citation needed}”.

            “Here’s an interesting video. Check the date it was first aired, Modus.”
            I can’t. I don’t currently have a computer that both:
            A) Works.
            B) Can access youtube.

            “Here’s verification.”
            An episode guide for the entertaining and cancelled too soon The Lone Gunmen? (Damn you, Fox! Give us more Frohike!)

            • X-files PREDICTED 9/11, and since X-files was made by the HOLLYWOOD jewish-controlled elite CABAL, 9/11 must have been master-minded by the JEWS!!!1111eleventy!!!11!!!!

  3. These are folks who define themselves by what they hate and their “enemies” (just about everyone who doesn’t go to their small-case congregation) and I know plenty of people in churches around here who are saying “DAMN! They beat us to the punch”!

    I have spoken to several people who are in agreement with the book burners, and I have asked about the part in their own (at least to them) holy book where it mentions returning good for evil, doing good to those who hate you… that fol de trol.
    The human face is a wonderful thing. Mention those little bits of their sacred book it it assumes all sorts of expressions, swells to the point that eyes must surely pop from their sockets, and who would think that caucasian skin could actually turn such colors?

    But it seems to be resolving itself, according to NPR. We can but hope.

    I often wonder about people like this beau z’eau, he and his more radical counterparts in Islam…they sound so much alike.

  4. Yeah, I think your point about assigning blame is a good one. The Muslims who will take offense and react violently are where the blame rests. Those who burn the book are only guilty of poor judgment (and perhaps Christian extremism).

  5. A few years back, the next town over from where I live was in the news for a small congregation burning Harry Potter books.

    Unreadable fiction from hundreds of years ago or amusing fiction of recent vintage, I am not that interested in how kooks attempt to get themselves in the news.

    If I were a bleeber, I wouldn’t get all worked up over someone burning a Babble, so long as it wasn’t mine. Only people like the proto-fascists that get their panties in a bunch over flag burning would be upset about Babble burning.

  6. The Muslims who will take offense and react violently are where the blame rests.

    I have to agree with Vjack on this one. I was just reading in the NY Times a moment ago about violent protests breaking out in Afghanistan over this. We’re constantly told not to associate all Muslims with the actions of the extremists, and I have defended the Park51 Project, but in return, the Muslims should not blame the United States for the actions of a crackpot pastor with a tiny congregation in Florida.

    The price of liberty is not just eternal vigilance. It is also accepting the right of others in your midst to express opinions and beliefs that one finds abhorrent.

    And remember, in the face of an international outcry, the Taliban gave the world the finger and went ahead with the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas. If a single American life is taken over this incident, I might just burn a copy of the Quran myself.

  7. I should add, the Bamiyan Buddha statues were many centuries old and had historical and cultural value. The Qurans that the pastor wants to burn are copies that he likely had to pay for with his own money.

    • Ain’t religion so freakin’ sensible? I’m watching this stuff on TV this morning, with the pastor being interviewed about how he had an agreement with a local iman to trade not burning the books for the Muslims not putting the mosque near ground zero, as if a local Florida iman would have the authority to promise that, and I conclude that this is all so silly. It’s extortion.

      “I’ll set these books on fire if you don’t move your mosque!”

      It’s no wonder I’m an atheist. Religion is so juvenile.

  8. The First Amendment protects speech one disagrees with. That’s what it’s for. That said, the Pastor’s a boob. I still stand for his right to publicly boobify himself.

  9. “One thing that’s pretty obvious, here, is that there are those that will profit from this fiasco no matter which way it goes. Infidels will triumph in the negative publicity this will inevitably generate against Christians and religion, the Zionists will be happy to see any Muslim retaliation further besmirch their already waning popularity, furthering their agenda of pushing Islam out of Palestine, and the REAL instigators of 9/11 will, once again, have the excuse to go invading some other Islamic country, if there is a negative response, with the feigned purpose of liberating it from itself, though really to make big bucks for the military-industrial complex.

    “It’s getting around the time we had some other snit to upset an already tenuous international scenario. Maybe all it will take is one lone preacher to touch it all off, eh?

    Or, maybe everybody blowing it all out of proportion, like always, perhaps?

    I have to agree with Gideon on that.

  10. I have to agree with Gideon on that.

    Gideon’s agreeing with me? Sarge is agreeing with Gideon? Are the Four Horsemen just around the corner?

    (I’m going to be away for over a week, with no access to the computer, in case Gideon notices that future comments aren’t approved. Play nice in the meantime.)

    • “I’m going to be away for over a week, with no access to the computer, in case Gideon notices that future comments aren’t approved.”

      Well, if that’s the case, John, how about lifting your moderation rule on me? Think you can trust me for a week?

  11. Gideon’s agreeing with me? Sarge is agreeing with Gideon? Are the Four Horsemen just around the corner?

    No, they already turned the corner: I agree with SI, PhillyChief and Gideon. In fact, I agree with everyone here except ildi, and that’s only because she didn’t contribute anything germane.

    My only criticism is this:

    If they do (with sympathy for the victims) I hope it causes many observers to decide that all religion is nonsense, if this is how religious adherents react to burning scripture.

    I get that you dislike all things religious, but, just two paragraphs earlier, you most eloquently said:

    …one can’t blame the book burners for the irrational response of the Muslims, any more than if someone attacked Glenn Beck for speaking on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, it would be his fault for speaking, not the attacker’s for his response. Lay blame where blame is due.

    Now, my gut tells me that even questioning that might get me a bunch of insults, but, who knows? Maybe not. My point: you are right in that we ought to lay blame where blame is due, and I think these people are nuts [the book-burners and the zealots who would react violently]. That’s why I think going from, “Some hatemongering wingnut who got himself kicked out of Germany is nonsense” to “all religion is nonsense” doesn’t follow.

    Don’t you think fanaticism and intolerance are the real enemies here?

    • There are three things here, not two; book burners, Muslim reactions, and religion. In the first part of your criticism, SI is talking about Muslim reactions and religion. In the second, he’s talking about book burners and Muslim reactions, so the two quotes are not at odds with one another as I think you’re suggesting.

      Certainly SI is asserting that the Muslim reactions are prompted by religion. Would these people act the same way if some yahoo was burning any other book? I don’t know. I suppose it could be possible that they could love something else to the point that seeing a copy of it burned would prompt a potentially deadly, irrational reaction; however, their religion states that infidels must die and this action deserves a response so his assertion is hardly a stretch. If there’s something which prompts such a response, then it’s reasonable to re-examine the value of that thing. I suppose it’ll always be debatable whether religion prompts people to act looney or looney people are drawn to religion. If the latter, then loons will be loons whether there’s religion or not.

      • I suppose it’ll always be debatable whether religion prompts people to act looney or looney people are drawn to religion. If the latter, then loons will be loons whether there’s religion or not.

        I think they feed each other. Religion is like fuel to a fire. Without it, many loons might find other things to express their looniness, but more than likely they would be marginalized as loons. With religion, they are given a podium and credibility for their looniness, so as to attract more loons.

  12. “Don’t you think fanaticism and intolerance are the real enemies here?”

    I’d also add to that just plain old grandstanding and attention-seeking…possibly some bucks to be made, too – there’s a good ol’ fashioned motive that all creeds employ from time to time! And, it’s not just Christians (so-called) behaving badly, either, as we have plenty of examples of infidel naughtiness in the world. Take a gander at the communist societies, so-called “atheistic” ones, that don’t stop at burning a few books. Of course, atheism is a religion, too, isn’t it? It’s growing to cult status rather rapidly, these days.

    No, I think I’d go with intolerance and fanaticism, they aren’t exclusive to any one culture, class or creed.

    • Of course, atheism is a religion, too, isn’t it? It’s growing to cult status rather rapidly, these days.

      Of course, this is a canard that doesn’t hold much water. Atheism is not a religion, it is a simply lack of belief, like aleprechaunism.

      We’ve been down this road before, so I’m really not interested in a long discussion. Suffice it to say that while atheism is not a religion, atheists as a whole tend to share certain ideals and mindsets. You will predominately find us to be inclined to skepticism, critical thinking and the use of the scientific method to test reality. We are empathetic to human suffering, because it is humans like us who are suffering and not because of a belief in future rewards or punishments. We do not accept dogma without evidence.

      If that makes us a cult, then it’s a cult I gladly accept membership in.

  13. Awww…c’mon, John, enough with the moderation crapola, okay? I’ve been a good boy… let me out of infidel purgatory, will ya? Is this a democracy or not?

    You can trust me!
    :-)

  14. “You will predominately find us to be inclined to skepticism, critical thinking and the use of the scientific method to test reality. We are empathetic to human suffering, because it is humans like us who are suffering and not because of a belief in future rewards or punishments.”

    And you think Christians aren’t able to be discerning? I wasn’t born a Christian, you know. I was not exactly an infidel, either, though I may have lived like one. I always kept an open mind, and I never took anything at face value, just because someone said that I should. I was taught to think for myself. That’s why I don’t follow any particular creed, anymore, just the Word, Him/itself. It’s that critical thinking that’s gotten me in deep doo-doo with many other professed Bible-punchers. As far as your science is concerned, well, like I told Evo, when you show me something in your science that can prove what you’re saying is true without some lab coat having to sign off on it – in other words, something that you can show me, yourself, in real life, without having to go to some ‘expert’s’ book or obscure laboratory experiment – otherwise, you’re operating on faith the same as I am about the Bible.

    I don’t need any promises of future rewards to help folks out, either, or monetary ones. Do you charge a fee for giving legal advice? There’s nothing wrong with a little incentive, now and then, to do what’s good, is there?

    The big difference between our religions is that I’m not forcing your kids to learn my religion in school and making their parents pay for it, or throwing them in foster homes when they’re truant!

  15. PhillyChief,

    While I appreciate the cordiality – or at least – the lack of virulent animosity, you completely missed my point, which was summarized in the second to last sentence of my comment.

    • While I GREATLY appreciate your brevity here, one of the many reasons you receive animosity is because you provoke it, and by commenting “which was summarized in the second to last sentence” rather than simply stating wtf it was is simply douchey. What often follows is a game of trading responses where you’ll repeatedly say I keep missing what your point was, with the clear implication that an inability to discern what it was denotes intellectual inferiority. This continued douchiness will no doubt prompt my ire which you’ll then take as license to shift the topic to ‘look at the angry atheist try to be alpha male’ as you continue to go off topic and never get to any point other than the one which seems always at the heart of why you comment, and that’s to provoke and revel in the success of the provocations.

      Right, so with that out of the way I feel my last comment was pertinent to your objection because it can be argued that “some hatemongering wingnut” is made a hatemonger due to religion, whereas a reaction to book burning is not made by the book burner; in this case, it’s made by religion. To reiterate, the second comment you quoted had three variables, whereas the first one you quoted had two. It appeared as if you missed the third variable. Of course it’s debatable whether religion makes you crazy or crazy people are drawn to religion, but you can’t, as you appeared to do, ignore the third variable and chastise someone for arguing something should be considered nonsense because crazy people indulge in it when it’s possible that they’re crazy because of religion.

      Btw, religious belief might make you douchey as well, or is it that douches are just drawn to religious belief? ;)

  16. Why do you always have to act like a fourth grader?

    …by commenting “which was summarized in the second to last sentence” rather than simply stating wtf it was is simply douchey.

    Save it. I’m under no obligations to you, whatsoever. If you can’t or won’t take the time to go back to the comment and re-read it, that’s your douchiness, cupcake.

    What often follows is a game of trading responses where you’ll repeatedly say I keep missing what your point was, with the clear implication that an inability to discern what it was denotes intellectual inferiority.

    No. There is no clear implication to anything other than what I said: you missed the point. And, no: there will be no trading of responses. There is no point in arguing with someone who can’t admit when they’re wrong. I wasn’t even talking to you anyways, so bugger off and go find another theist to troll.

  17. cl, Philly’s saying that you have to be religious to be douchey. Of course, it goes without saying that atheism is now probably one if not the fastest-growing religion on Earth. A religion of self-worship appeals to Philly.

    Anyway, there are just as many atheist douches out there as Christian ones.

    Right, Phil?
    ;-)

  18. Gideon,

    I’m aware of what Philly’s saying. The problem is, like most everything else he says, it’s bare assertion. Notice how he completely failed to address the objection I left for SI, then gets all mad and calls me “douchey” because he was too thick-headed to re-read the damn comment. When, all the while, I wasn’t even addressing SI’s bulldog to begin with. I mean, I wonder if he even believes himself. I come here, leave a comment for SI, then Philly comes along using the same old tired adjectives he’s been using for the last three years, and then blames me for “provoking” things. Yeah, okay.

    To me, it’s just depressing that some people are so fixated on personal issues that they can’t even hold an intelligent discussion, but, I’ll leave that to you.

    As far as whether atheism is a religion or not, it’s a stupid argument that hinges on one’s definition of religion. I refuse to participate.

  19. “… then Philly comes along using the same old tired adjectives he’s been using for the last three years, and then blames me for “provoking” things.”

    Nothing new, there. He’s always been a naughty little Indian.

    I’m not here to debate the definition of religion, either. See, if it wasn’t for guys like me showing up and providing a target for them, they’d soon tire of licking each other’s balls and start fighting among themselves for the right to breed any female infidels that happen along. (Natural selection, you see. A fundamental process in evolution) I couldn’t bear to see good friends separated like that. It’s going to bad enough having to watch them roast in the end of days.

    In summation, just as you would never bring a knife to a gunfight, you never bring Philly to an intelligent discussion. You might bring him to a hot dog-eating contest, though…

    Yep. No human can beat Kobayashi.

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