Free Markets, Free People

Terry Jones, Koran burning and Constitutional rights (Update)

I don’t know what to say about this goof except in this country, he has every right to do what he’s doing.

I may not like it (I don’t like the “piss Christ” or Westboro Baptist Church either), I may not support it, I may see it as unnecessary and inflammatory to some, but then the same can be said of my other two examples as well.  His activities provide no more of a provocation than do the examples.

One of the tough things about rights and freedoms is they also apply to actions we don’t like (as long as they don’t violate any caveats to those rights). 

Many here would like to liken this yahoo’s conduct to shouting fire in a crowded theater.  I don’t buy it.  Shouting fire in a crowded theater can cause panic and irrational behavior by people in the theater because of lack of information and fear for one’s life. It is an immediate response to an immediate action.  Panic ensues, people rush to limited exits all at one time and some get crushed or trampled. It can cause immediate death and injury.

There’s no such parallel in this this story as far as I can see.  Trust me, I’m not at all pleased by the deaths of UN workers in Afghanistan, but it was at the hands of a mob that was whipped up there (not by the act in FL at the time it occurred) and chose – important word – to react murderously.   That’s right, they chose to attack people who had absolutely nothing to do with the event in Florida well after the deed was done.

Others want to invoke “fighting words” as a reason to shut Terry Jones down.  Uh, no.  The only “fighting words” I can imagine came from whomever it was in Afghanistan that whipped that crowd into its murderous frenzy.  My guess is most in the crowd had never before heard of Terry Jones or his deed until that day.  And my guess is the incitement took place in a mosque.

Don’t mistake this for a defense of Terry Jones.  I think he’s a waste of protoplasm.  And I think what he is doing adds nothing positive to the world around us.  But –and again, this is the hard part – he has every right to do it.

I’ll continue to denounce him and would be glad to tell him to his face that his actions are harmful to both people and the cause he supposedly represents – Christianity.

I doubt he’d listen.  Zealots never do.  But as long as he confines himself to the activities he has so far, it’s his right as an American to continue to do them despite how others in the world choose to react to them.

UPDATE: Figures (debt, deficit, out of control spending, over regulation, ObamaCare – all taken care of I suppose):

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told CBS’s Bob Schieffer on Sunday that some members of Congress were considering some kind of action in response to the Florida Quran burning that  sparked a murderous riot at a United Nations complex in Afghanistan and other mayhem.

"Ten to 20 people have been killed," Reid said on "Face the Nation," but refused to say flat-out that the Senate would pass a resolution condemning pastor Terry Jones.

"We’ll take a look at this of course…as to whether we need hearings or not, I don’t know," he added.

Here, Harry, let me help you out:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The first five words (the fourth one in particular) are all Congress needs to know about this.



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67 Responses to Terry Jones, Koran burning and Constitutional rights (Update)

  • As others have pointed out, if you blame Terry Jones for the actions of those Afghanis, you are implicitly saying that the Afghanis are not moral agents. That is, they don’t know right and wrong by any standards of our civilization.

    This implies that the Afghanis are no better than animals. I find such an interpretation repulsive. They’re people, and they should be held accountable for their actions as people, not as vague, animal-like creatures without moral sense in some far away country.

    • Good point.  But who will hold them accountable?  The UN et al. are busy making excuses… not unlike a dog owner.

  • As others have pointed out, if you blame Terry Jones for the actions of those Afghanis, you are implicitly saying that the Afghanis are not moral agents. That is, they don’t know right and wrong by any standards of our civilization.
    This implies that the Afghanis are no better than animals. I find such an interpretation repulsive.

    >>>> I’ll simply note that even an animal can be trained to behave properly.

  • Please explain to me why so many christians believe they are the only ones who think they are allowed freedom of religion!!! This is The United Stated of America and we are all allowed to practice our faith.

    • You might want to ask the Coptic Christians in Egypt about your premise.

      • Or the Jews in Saudi Arabia. Oops, sorry, they don’t exist.

        The strange thing to me about that ridiculous comment by Rose is the bizarre definition of “freedom of religion”. If artist X drops a cruxifix in urine, that does not affect the ability of Christians to “practice their faith”. They may not like it much, and they certainly have the right to say their taxes should not be subsidizing it, but by the laws of America, they have no right to stop it.

        Similarly if person Y decides to burn a Koran, that has zero effect on Muslims to “practice their faith”. They may not like it much, and they can certainly say so, but by the laws of America, they have no right to stop it.

        Freedom of religion seems to be a much misunderstood concept by many religious people, particularly Muslims. They wish to somehow extend their right to “practice their faith” to include the right to tell others what to do or not to do, and use coercion to force them into the desired behavior (if they can get away with coercion).

        As far as I’m concerned, at that point they cross the line from practicing their faith to thuggery. They become criminals to be resisted, instead of citizens exercising their religious rights.

    • Wha?????
      I give up. What the f  are you talking about? 

  • What McQ and Billy H say above.

    Furthermore I would say that such free speech attacks on Islam, while not to be encouraged, are never to be apologized for — at least no more so than for those opposing Christianity or Judaism. Muslims must get used to the fact that several billion other humans on earth in other countries are not required to show reverence for the Quran, Muhammad, and Islam.

    IMO such apologies only encourage further Muslim encroachments on free societies to impose Sharia.

    • Muslims, whether radical fundamentalists or not are taught a few things: One True God..Allah. One True Prophet..Mohammed. Only one book is the word of God offered by his Prophet Mohammed. Everything else is the word of infidels.  Read Sura 9 to understand how infidels are to be treated… It couldn’t be any more clear. 

      Organized religious zealots…a good reason to reject religion.

  • Just to play devil’s advocate a little…
    I go out in the middle of the street in East LA, and loudly declaim…falsely…that the local drug thug’s baby sister is a scabrous whore.  While we understand the drug thug is a free agent, am I without blame for what happens?
    I Texas, we have a “fighting words” defense for criminal assault.  We recognize that it is possible to PROVOKE a reasonable person to violence.
    Hence, is Rev. Terry really blameless here, or did he act as a provocateur?  Did he reasonably know the consequences of his very unnecessary conduct?  Is this really an example of “protected speech”?

    • Did he incite the people to kill the UN workers or did someone else?

      • Let’s take both cases.  Suppose that, using the story of the original provocation, a mullah or two or ten add fuel to the fire.
        Who lit the fire?
        Suppose now that the mullahs preach calm in Friday prayers, and some of Erp’s regenerate youths just get all hot-headed.
        Who lit the fire?
        We assume, for the sake of our exercise, that ANYBODY involved could simply let this go.  Is there not a provocateur?  Is provocation blameless?  Is intentional provocation protected?

        • If I take exception to the Westboro Baptist Church demonstration and I incite a mob to attack and kill them, is it ok because Westboro “lit the fire”?

          • If Westboro knows you are out there taking violent exception to what they do, and they do it anyway, are they blameless, or have they acted with knowledge to provoke you?

          • Yes, if they’re exercising their right to free speech. It is you who has to decide to be provoked and then choose how you want to express the assumed provocation.

        • The comparison fails though, because you’re talking about FIGHTING words.  I see no “killing words” doctrine anywhere

    • If you take that argument seriously, then you award de facto control over your speech and actions to any religious fundamentalist who wishes to say he/she is offended or outraged by your words or actions.

      Where is the line? Are you supposed to stop talking about or criticizing, say, female genital mutilation if some fundamentalist says it’s a religious ceremony? Maybe you should stop talking about honor killings – I’m sure there are plenty of Muslims who feel they are perfectly natural and are outraged that you don’t agree and want to hold them responsible for murder. 

      Are you supposed to modify history books to redact things people have said about Islam in the past that someone now finds offensive? Are you supposed to bow your head when passing a mosque because someone gets outraged if you don’t?

      Looking at your hypothetical, there’s a huge difference between being personally responsible for saying something slanderous to an individual, and criticizing an abstract concept such as a religion. I don’t see that the two have anything to do with one another from a legal standpoint. 

      And if you want to talk about “who lit the fire”, then why is that not symmetrical? Various individuals and groups in Muslim societies have bombed pizza parlors, beheaded journalists, done countless car-bombings, treated women as property, etc. ad nauseum. Why are those actions not grounds for us to go ballistic and start killing Muslims indescriminately? That’s a lot of d*mn fire starting. 

      To return to my original point, are they children or animals that they are not to be held responsible for their actions, while we must be?

      • Where is the line? Are you supposed to stop talking about or criticizing, say, female genital mutilation if some fundamentalist says it’s a religious ceremony?

        Excellent question: Here’s where I see the line.
        IF we are discussing a PRACTICE in terms of NORMS, nothing is off the table.
        IF I am burning your most holy book, that has NOTHING to do with much of anything…except my act…with knowledge…INTENDED to provoke your most extreme response.
        (Again, guys, I am posing these as discussion points.)

        I don’t see that the two have anything to do with one another from a legal standpoint.

        I know a lot of people you could insult personally, but who would aggressively defend an abstract.
        Also, don’t let me lead you astray on the legal argument.  The questions I’m posing are not legalistic (I hope),

        • What’s arbitrary is what is worthy of provocation.
          Kepler’s not putting earth at the center of the universe was provocative against the Chuch.  I guess he was right to conceal his beliefs until his death to avoid the punishment due him.  And Galileo got of easy.
          That vast majority of discussion that is the most worthwhile is provocative.

          • Is Terry Jone more like Kepler or a cross-burner?
            Why is cross-burning an outrage, when Koran burning is “tasteless but protected free speech”?

          • You’ve insulted me by implying I’m a racist.  Do I get to kick your ass now?
            Cross-burning that is offensive is usually done on a person’s lawn or directed at one person.  And at one time was often followed by physical violence against that person.  So cross-burning that is a direct threat of violence against a specific person is illegal.
            Burn a cross in your backyard with no demonstrable target of a threat to a person, no one can say shit about it.
            As for Terry Jones and Kepler, their respective values to society are subjective.

          • Lemme go back to the basics…

            Is Rev. Terry really blameless here, or
            did he act as a provocateur?
            Did he reasonably know the consequences of his very unnecessary conduct?
            Is this really an example of “protected speech”?

          • The question isn’t whether he was provocative.  The question is whether that merits suppressing free speech or allowing others to suppress it.  Especially given the arbitrary nature of what is acceptably provocative and what isn’t.  450ish years ago saying the earth revolved around the sun was provocative enough to get you tortured and killed.

    • Yes, but the fighting words defense only applies to violence against the speaker of the words, not against uninvolved, innocent third parties. A calls B a %&&^&  moron. B beats the crap out of C. B invokes the ‘fighting words’ defense. B goes to jail and pays C a bundle to settle the civil suit. A laughs.

      • Yes, but what if they came over and killed Jones.  Or someone locally did it.
        Or not even killed but beat his ass.  Wouldn’t be long before any criticism of Islam would be silenced.  And everyone’s free speech suppressed.

    • Although I appreciate the intent of that defense, sounds like Texas has some bad law there.

    • “We recognize that it is possible to PROVOKE a reasonable person to violence.”
      That smells like horseshit.  What’s a legitimate example of the need of such a defense?  Sounds like a crafty way to let someone off the hook for his actions.

      • Try inverting that, Grimshaw.
        Is there nothing I could say to you that would provoke a fight?
        Should I be off the hook for acting that way?

        • No, I don’t think there is a single thing you could say to me to provoke a fight.  Even a direct threat against my life isn’t going to provoke a fight; you’d need to actually try something and in the meantime, isn’t a threat illegal already?  If you’re attempting to provoke me by saying things, I’m probably going to first ignore you and then second have you arrested for harassment.  But I’m not going to fight you.  But maybe I’m missing some good examples; which is why I asked the question.

    • Are there any limits of time and space to “fighting words”? I can understand that going right up into someone’s face and insulting his mother could trigger something and perhaps legally that should be taken into consideration. But burning a Quran two weeks ago and two continents away? That seems ridiculous.

      • Hey, no argument from me!  Part of the stuff I’m encouraging a little examination of here is WE are looking at this from the viewpoint of Americans.
        The whole discussion is about First Amendment freedoms, which is fine from our limited perspective.
        But we DO know that we live in a neighborhood with a bunch of people who are NUTS by American norms.
        I am NOT saying Jones should be PREVENTED from doing PROFOUNDLY stupid things.  Don’t misunderstand.
        I AM saying that free speech (I’m not the author of this) is NOT free.  EVERYTHING we do has consequences, and often we CORRECTLY refrain from an act that we can foresee will…or COULD…result in bad consequences.  We all understand this, and we all act accordingly.
        The military is VERY cognizant of this, and often restricts the conduct…or freedom…of its members.

        • I understand what you were doing. I was asking you as someone familiar with this doctrine of “fighting words” that I only know as an expression from old westerns.

          I can see that docjim505 has covered my concern in fullness below.

        • I AM saying that free speech (I’m not the author of this) is NOT free.  EVERYTHING we do has consequences, and often we CORRECTLY refrain from an act that we can foresee will…or COULD…result in bad consequences.  We all understand this, and we all act accordingly.
          The military is VERY cognizant of this, and often restricts the conduct…or freedom…of its members

          >>>  Point very well taken, but at the end of the day the Koran burning was merely a pretext anyway. When they want to whip up a mob, they’ll whip up a mob.

          Islam is not – and must not ever be – a specially protected class in this country, either by law or by self-censoring and bowing to the murder’s veto would wind up doing just that.

          Islam has no veto over us.  EVER.

    • I was curious about this, so I looked up the appropriate Texas penal statute, i.e. Title 9, chap. 42, sec. 42.01(a)(4):

      DISORDERLY CONDUCT.  (a)  A person commits an offense if he intentionally or knowingly:

      (4)  abuses or threatens a person in a public place in an obviously offensive manner;

      (b)  It is a defense to prosecution under Subsection (a)(4) that the actor had significant provocation for his abusive or threatening conduct.

      I think that the distinction here is that “fighting words” are directed personally at an individual with an intent to provoke a violent response, whereas what Jones did, while offensive, was not done in person, nor was it directed at a particular individual, and we cannot prove that he intended to provoke violence.  If Terry walks up to Muhammed in a public place and calls him names, threatens him, or otherwise abuses him in a manner that seems calculated to get Muhammed to fight and he, in turn, knocks Terry’s block off, then it seems reasonable for a jury to find that he was provoked and show leniency or acquit him altogether: Terry got what was coming to him.

      However, this situation does no obtain because Muhammed hears that Terry has said something broadly offensive to Muhammed as an anonymous member of some larger group. 

      (A) Terry did not direct his comments personally to or about Muhammed;

      (B) It therefore cannot be established that Terry INTENDED to provoke Muhammed;

      (C) It is possible that Muhammed only heard ABOUT Terry’s statements, i.e. he is reacting to heresay

      Therefore, Muhammed, in my view, has no defense under the concept of “fighting words”.

      I would also like to note that the concept of “law” rests upon the assumption that people must be held accountable for controlling their passions and impulses.  Otherwise, civilized society would be impossible as people would constantly fight because they were “enraged” by what somebody else happened to say, whether is was directed at them or not, or even intended to cause offense or not.

      • doc, don’t get bogged down in legalize.  I raised the doctrine as an analogy, not as a model to hove to.

        • …don’t get bogged down in legalize…

          Then I’m confused. It’s always been legal to do a lot of stupid things. Sure, a person is responsible for the consequences of stupid acts – eat like a pig and you’ll haul the extra weight around.

          However, when it comes to committing violence and deciding whether it’s justified, you automatically get back to the legal world. That is, the law is used to decide when violence is or is not acceptable. Outrage at a stupid act is never enough to justify violence, without law to back it up.

          McQ already admitted that Jones is an idiot. That doesn’t affect his right to do something stupid, and to do so with a reasonable expectation that others hew to the law in their response. As I said earlier, various Muslims commit outrages of various kinds all the time, but that does not give Jones license to take it into his own hands to commit violence in response. If he does, by our laws he is punished for that violence. 

          Symmetrically, they can be as outraged as they like, but their violence is still wrong, still to be condemned, and we still must defend the principle of free speech lest we end up giving fundamentalists veto power over what we say and do.

          • We agree as to the killers.
            No excuse.
            No justification.  No mediation.  No mitigation.
            Let me pose another hypo…
            You have a neighbor who is known to be nuts (if not clinically, certainly by your standards).  He is violent, and has a history of attacks on others.
            He is known to have gone off when someone said “rat burgers” to him in the past.
            Without any objective purpose in saying “rat burgers”, another neighbor says the trigger term to the crazy boy.  This results in injury to an innocent third person.
            Is crazy boy the only one to blame?  (NOT LEGALLY…don’t go there)
            Is “rat burger” speaker at all to blame?

          • Is “rat burger” speaker at all to blame?

            For doing something stupid? Yes. But he doesn’t go to jail for it, and I don’t think a civil penalty should exist either. His neighbors might shun him; well, plenty of people shun Jones too. “Rat burger” guy might lose his job. The consequences are (or should be) social and non-violent.
            It certainly doesn’t mean we need laws against people saying “rat burger”. Or congressional hearings. Or anything else within the political/legal system. No coherent legal system can have rules on what you can and can’t say to a crazy person. What offends them is irrational by definition.
            I just don’t see where you’re trying to take the discussion. We all know Jones is an attention whore, and is being intentionally provocative. Our system allows him to be, because we have decided after centuries of experience that when trying to prevent outrage, the cure of limited speech is far worse than the disease.
            I don’t think anyone around here thinks this is perfect, nor that there should be no social penalty. I’m pretty sure we all think it fine to condemn Jones. But none of that affects his right to be provocative.

          • I think I did what I intended.
            We are all over the legal/moral/ethical field here.
            Nobody will hold the crazy Muslims accountable.
            Nobody is suggesting we prosecute Jones.
            But we are agreeing (I think) that the act by Jones was not OK (legal, sure).
            We are agreeing that there are things we can do that are legal, that are also quite wrong.
            NOT burning a Koran is not…to me…self censorship.
            Publicly burning a Koran…while not illegal…would for me be irresponsible, given that I do know it would be provocative, and without a benefit that justifies the potential costs (which are well known).
            Discussing the multiple wrongs of Islam…Islamism especially…is something I will do without stint.  The benefit more than justifies the potential costs.
            Thanks, guys.  It was just an exercise.

          • RagspierreThanks, guys.  It was just an exercise.

            Yes, and an entertaining one from my perspective.  You posed a good “devil’s advocate” question, and people found it interesting to discuss.  I SOMETIMES think that’s what Erb is up too.  At least, I hope he’s just yanking chains, because the alternative is that he’s really that stupid.

    • The problem Ragspierre, is that the “fighting words” defense requires an eminent threat from the fighting words and an reflexive response.
      For your argument to work, you would have to say that people 12,000 miles away have no time to think rationally to Jones’ actions.  Given that the clerics rode around with megaphones whipping people up into a frenzy there was no “eminent threat” or “immediate reflexive response” from Jones’ actions.  Furthermore, the “fighting words” defense is used when the person who uttered the “fighting words” is attacked.
      Jones wasn’t at the UN compound so the “fighting words” defense fails on that aspect as well.
      In addition, clerics ran around telling people that “hundreds of Korans” had been burned, not the one one that Jones actually burned.  Are you going to hold Jones’ responsible for the lies of the clerics?  They are the ones that actually whipped the crowd into a frenzy – not Jones.
      The fighting words defense to the actions of the crowd is frankly, offensive.  There was no immediate response from the crowd against Jones.
      This was simply an act of barbarity that cannot be justified on any legal or moral level.

  • I was interested to note that this morning John Hinderaker of Powerline had a similar reaction to the Afghanistan riots as I did a few days ago. It’s time to get out of Afghanistan. It’s time to leave Iraq.

    As far as I’m concerned, Muslims will have to find their way to modern civilization without any further contributions of American blood and treasure.

  • So what is the real difference between what Terry Jones “burn the Quran” and the Newsweek “flush the Quran” episodes ?

  • So…..
    Is Harry going to make a law outlawing LYING about troops flushing the Koran so NEWSWEEK could get more readers?
    If I remember right, that killed more than these riots did.
    Just wondering,,,, You know fair play and all………

  • This discussion has been a fascinating example of current American thought in microcosm: an exercise going no where fast!

  • Sen. Reid’s not an idiot.  There is a reason he said, “I don’t know.”  He can’t do anything.  He’s just trying to get headlines.  Terry Jones may have acted stupidly, but then again, Congress does that every day.

    @ Michael, you said, “This discussion has been a fascinating example of current American thought in microcosm: an exercise going no where fast!”  I’m not sure what you meant by this.  I assume you are trying to insult America and Americans.  If that is the case, then my reply is this: patriotic Americans discussing things like liberty, free speech, free religion, etc. is not an idle exercise.  It has created the most free, most just, most equitable society in the history of the world.  Yes, it is not perfect.  Yes, our foreign policy needs major revamping.  But if you are simply trying to spit in our face, we’d ask you to kindly move to somewhere that has a society more toward your liking, say Yemen or Somalia.  I’m sure they’d appreciate someone of you thoughtful brilliance.  If I’m misinterpreting your statement, please let me know.  I’d like to hear your “thoughts”.

    • Clearly, Reid is pandering to both sides of this argument.

    • Justin:
      … [Y]ou are trying to insult America and Americans.
      My response: Not in the least. I watch this blog regularly for a number of reasons and primarily because the discussions are grounded in logic. It is refreshing to come home and read posts that are cross posted at sites like Real Clear Politics. I think to myself, “Ah, I’m among adults again.”
      Rather, I should have been more expansive and not so mischievous, but like Ragspierre, I thought I might introduce a different (and I think larger) dimension to the discussion which is completely applicable outside of the ambit of the immediate circle of writers here.
      Bluntly, this is what I have seen from my perspective concerning this particular discussion re: another (scary) tiresome, murderous event. If you look at the tenor, direction and conclusion of this discussion, the discussion is no different that of what I see on the TV Sunday shows and print media.
      Tck, tck.
      Class, look at the logic of this example: Event A “causes” Event B – discuss. (Note to self!) Remember … in-class discussion is graded, so speak up!
      The response has been tempered and largely predictable with Ragspierre’s expected spiking of the intellectual punch, so to speak. I sometimes have the humorous vision of a bunch of now overly middle-aged men crouched over their computers, still in their socks, slacks, shirt and tie. But I digress even if it is a good role model for the grandkids. … I must say, slippers would be a nice and warming touch. Brooks Brothers has a pair I may, may mind you, just buy.
      Look at the body of the conversation. I’ll bet you the proverbial “dollars to doughnuts” bet that you cannot find any real difference between what has been written here and what has been/is being now rehashed as the news cycle winds down for a hopefully dull Tuesday.
      Full, disclosure, I was not only raised in the Bible Belt, my home town might have some justifiable ‘braggin’ rights to being called the very tine in the buckle of the Bible Belt. When that guy burned a Koran, I honestly thought, “That was sorta respectful.” He even had an ash can, I think. So, what was the big news in my mind? That was a non-event. Remember, I have the memory of a philosophy Prof. jumping up and down in class on a King James Bible just to shock freshmen into a larger thought process. In retrospect, that was perhaps the only solution to the fad/rage then: “Streaking!” He was probably correct. I’m just guessing.
      The man, probably a genuine pastor, burned a Koran (the ashes of which are known only but to someone’s God). So what? Why the fuss? He didn’t demand a big tent “Come to Jesus Meeting” so he could smack you on the forehead and knock you down with the revelation that he was somehow the one and only single conduit for Christ entering your sinful life and saving you from damnation. Heck, he didn’t even handle snakes or make you go to the local creek and get dunked. Why, the man may be a charlatan, he had no snakes! Meh.
      I see what and why Petraeus said in his request to be quiet with regard to a man exercising his rights. The fact is the now bifurcated event is and was nothing more than political show on both sides. (Some of the geniuses on the TV programs have even mentioned this point obliquely.) The difference is the guy in Florida did not seen fit to turn himself into a politically orchestrated (my belief) headhunting set of madmen who should be hunted down, and shot at dawn because they committed murder.
      The fact that the press would see that back-water Florida event as somehow newsworthy is unworthy and completely at sea with regard to even Petraeus offering his “Loose lips sinks ships” caution truly does expose a lack of core insight and understanding of what appears to be a very large cohort of murderous and cunning, generally semiliterate group of people bent on reclaiming a world that never was but to take advantage of a world that is incredibly susceptible to political, military and criminal manipulation because of indecisiveness inherent in an enfeebled press corps fighting glaring illiteracy, poverty and corruption at all levels in a world that resembles Brice Canyon without the roads, electricity, basic infrastructure and the kind of peace necessary to build something better. And, all because no one seems to see the fact that there is no causal relationship between event A and event B.
      Don’t go that way, guys. I like the reading room here.
      The last thing I need is another thrashing over government failing me in terms of the domestic policy, debt, entitlement, jobs, meds, border defense, schools, and the fact that the FED needs to somehow bail out banks Europe.
      Gimmie some answers, please.
      Justin, thank you for asking my opinion.


  • Things like this have made me even more opposed to all of our current wars in the middle east. I do not think that our presence in Afghanistan or anywhere else is improving our security at all.  Just the opposite.  We cannot defeat Al Qaeda because they are no longer in Afghanistan, they are now in Pakistan, Yemen, and elsewhere.

    We are seeing right before our eyes the rise of new regimes in north Africa who will probably be further havens for terrorists.  Nothing positive we do is acknowledged by the Arab/Persian/Greater Islamic cultures. We are simply the Great Satan.  And that is a view shared by even those whom we would call moderates.

    We can have no lasting positive impact in that region of the world and it was stupid hubris to beleive that we could.

    The only way we could deal with terror by use of military force is to act in ways which we simply will not do.  That would be massive reprisals and preventive strikes against possible terror cells and the populations they hide within.

    There are of course, other things we could do that WOULD increase our security, but they would be opposed as being anti-freedom.  Namely, controlling our borders, slow down or halt travel from terror-importing states, and rounding up people from those countries who are here on expired or unlawful visas.

    Those things would do far more for our security than all the forgiegn meddling we have dones so far.

  • The central question in this post and the comments, it seems, is whether there is some justification for “outraged” Muslims to commit acts of mayhem, either because the act(s) that outraged them may be treated as fighting words, or else because Muslims are effectively insane and, therefore, not responsible for their own actions.

    I addressed the “fighting words” argument suggested by Ragspierre, and I also agree with Lou C. Tiel‘s response.

    With regard to the idea that the Muslims (or some significant fraction of them) are essentially insane and therefore must be held criminally (or morally) blameless, it is absurd.  For one thing, it flies in the face of common sense: there are many more peaceful Muslims than violent ones.  For another, our legal tradition does not typically recognize that a member of a group may be held liable for the actions of that group (or, more specifically, other members): he must be judged on the evidence of what he PERSONALLY did.  Finally, it is repugnant to our moral traditions to condemn an entire group of people for the crimes of some of its members.

    On a related note, I read an amusing observation this morning:

    “Barack Obama is bombing a Muslim country.  Some nobody burned a Koran.  Guess who is being blamed for the deaths of UN workers in A-stan?”

    • The central question in this post and the comments, it seems, is whether there is some justification for “outraged” Muslims to commit acts of mayhem

      Not from me, doc.
      My point was not to exonerate the killer Muslims in the least degree, or even spread out their damnation.  It was to point out that Jones was an actor here, too, who bears (IMNHO) his own guilt.  I hope that is more clear.
      We sometimes get too focused on our freedoms, and forget that other side of that coin is responsibility for our exercise of freedom.
      I think it is our job to deplore Jones as fervently as we defend the freedom he abused.

      • It may not have been your point to exhonerate the thugs, but it certainly is the intent of a lot of other people.

        I agree that the converse of liberty is responsibility.  In this case, Jones was being deliberately inflammatory, and the results were (unfortunately) predictable.  However, I suggest that it might be argued that he has done nothing especially different from the patriots who made a large cuppa in Boston Harbor.  Deliberately inflammatory?  Yep.  Provocative, even stupidly so?  You betcha.  Offered a clear demonstration of the difference between the two sides?  Yes.

        • However, I suggest that it might be argued that he has done nothing especially different from the patriots who made a large cuppa in Boston Harbor.

          Naw.  I think you don’t feel all that strong in that argument.

          • You’re quite right.  This is why I would make a lousy defense attorney: I can generate an excuse for almost anything (I AM married, after all!), but they sometimes are so ludicrous that I can’t make them with a straight face!  I was thinking, though, of Fatso Moore, who HAS argued that terrorists in Iraq are just like the Founding Fathers, so I can easily imagine him making such an argument.

    • With regard to the idea that the Muslims (or some significant fraction of them) are essentially insane and therefore must be held criminally (or morally) blameless, it is absurd.

      While there are volatile emotional components to Muslim behavior, Muslims are rational actors given their beliefs that the Quran is the direct true message of God and Muhammad is the Perfect Man. All the stuff that looks insane to us Westerners makes perfect sense in the context of Islamic faith.

      Not all Muslims behave so extremely of course. But neither do they mount substantive theological or political challenges to the extreme Muslims. I am sure that many Muslims are afraid to do so, but I’m convinced that deep down they also know that Islam provides strong support for extreme behavior.

  • The good pastor has every right to burn anything, just as any muslim could stand outside his church in a public area and burn a bible.  I suspect his parishoners might become rather violent if that happened however. 

    General Petraeus has some shared consequences about the good pastor’s actions.

    • The good pastor doesn’t have a congregation anymore – he turned it over to an associate. Apparently he’s into pissing off Muslims full time now.

      • I’m grateful I don’t have to live in that head.
        Or pay his dues.

      • Sure, why not, he’s gotten more than his share allotted 15 minutes.
        Both sides think they’re doing God’s work.   I’m sure this clown will tell you it’s not just his freedom of speech at play here.  Ironically enough, so will the other side.

        • I should add – one side is merely annoying – the other side has ventured into apoplectic insanity and has, surely, violated their own religious beliefs (should they care to read them, and not take them on consult from some inflammatory idiot posing as a wise man).
          I doubt Allah makes someone who does not know me, never has known me, and never will know me, responsible for any Koranic misbehavior I might perpetrate contrary to what mobs in Afghanistan seem to believe.

  • Sadly enough the “so called” preacher didn’t do anything illegal. 
    As a “Preacher” and a “Human being” I believe he is no better than the radical muslems who are also hiding behind the skirt of God.
    He reminds me of a man I once met that was sticking up for someone who was convicted of fraud. I asked him point blank, Why does he have a tatoo of “Jesus on a cross” on his arm if he doesnt believe.  He told me he does believe in Jesus. Everytime he does something bad he prays for forgiveness. I asked him do you think He is forgiven? He said, absolutely….Its in the Bible that who so ever believe in me shall have ever lasting life…So you see I can imagine that even in the muslim faith they believe repentiveness saves them after hainess crimes as well….So what about the rest of the Bible or Koran…..Everything else written falls at the waist