In the wake of the Koran-Burnings-That-Didn’t-Happen, I have a question and a comment.
When is it ok to burn a book?
I used to be against book-burning in general because I saw all books as valuable in some respect… for some reason, that seems silly to me now. I don’t care if you burn your own books. I don’t care if you buy 983423 copies of a book that everyone loves or hates for the sole purpose of throwing them in a bonfire. I might care if someone bought a rare book in order to destroy it but that’s a different issue.
When I heard about Terry Jones wanting to burn Korans, I was opposed and disgusted at first. And then the more I heard the media complain about it, the less I cared.
PZ Myers is right — the problem is with “all the lunatics who are insisting that burning the Koran is a major international catastrophe.”
Believe it or not, Korans will still be around whether or not some copies get burned.
I understand the sentiment behind it was one of hatred of Islam, but so what? Ignore the man if you don’t like what he’s doing. It’s not like he’s advocating burning Muslims at the stake.
For what it’s worth, I don’t approve of what Jones wanted to do. His reasons were despicable and there was no noble purpose to what he was doing. He was elevating his holy book over a different one — it’s laughable, really, when you think the Bible and the Koran aren’t all that different in general.
Hendrik Hertzberg also pointed out the flaw with saying Jones was burning “the” Koran:
You can’t burn “the” flag, and you can’t burn “the” Koran, either. The flag is a Platonic ideal. As such, it is fireproof. Any particular flag is merely a copy, and you can’t destroy the flag by destroying a flag any more than you can destroy (or even harm) the Constitution by destroying a copy of it. Nor can you destroy the Koran by destroying a copy thereof, or any number of copies.
It goes back to the issue of what people find sacred and whether that means everyone else must feel the same way.
Just because you care so very much about a certain book, or a particular way of living your life, or a personal hero, or reciting a certain prayer… it doesn’t mean everyone else also has to take those things seriously. We can respect it or mock it all the same.
And you need to be ok with that.
If you overreact every time people don’t take your beliefs seriously, it gives us all the more reason to keep doing what we’re doing.
By ignoring the mockers, the protesters, and the provocateurs, you take away our fuel. It’s our Achilles’ heel. But until you realize that, we’ll keep doing what we do — destroying sacred cows one by one.
I’m not saying we do it because we hate you — this goes beyond personal relationships and feelings. But cherished beliefs and sacred cows rarely have a good reason to exist, and if some people irrationally cling to them, others will try to pry them apart. And I like that.
I may be a vegetarian, but I love it when sacred cows are slaughtered.