Saturday, September 11, 2010

Those Who Can't Write Burn


Is some idiot in my home state burning the Quran today? It seems he's not going through with it, but really, I don't care whether he does or not. It's a stupid action, but one that neither picks my nose nor breaks my concentration. Burning books is a form of self expression. It may be the lowest, stupidest form of expression, but it causes no physical harm to anyone.

This is the thing I think a lot of people don't understand about the principle of Freedom of Expression. We don't get a vote on how other people express themselves. It's nobody else's business where a group of Muslims chooses to build their community center, and it's nobody's business what book this idiot chooses to burn. In both cases, it has no effect on anyone other than the people participating in the event.

It irks me that these two things have been connected together, as if there is some equivalency between people a group of Americans choosing to build a house of worship in their own neighborhood and a bunch of assholes choosing to burn someone else's sacred book to prove that their God has a bigger dick than Allah. It doesn't just irk me, it infuriates me that anyone would make that analogy. But that's also sort of the point. The First Ammendment applies equally to Muslim Americans and Asshole Americans. It protects Klan rallies just as it protected Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. It protects Milk Squirtin' Hos 13 just as it protects Lolita and Ulysses. Indeed, in all cases, it can't protect the latter unless it protects the former.

And the best thing about Freedom of Speech? It makes idiots easy to spot. There are so many people that I know I don't have to go through the trouble of trying to communicate with because they've been allowed to demonstrate what brainless assholes they are.


I also object to the idea that the burning of the Koran is a bad thing because it will inspire fundamentalist violence against our troops, which is essentially blaming the victim. I don't doubt that images of Americans burning the Koran will inspire fundamentalist violence, but the responsibility for that rests on the individuals who commit the violence. This practice of infantilising the Muslim world, as if they are incapable of reason, is as racist as the book burning itself. Besides, you can never tell what will set religious fundamentalists off. It could be something as seemingly innocuous as a man wanting to marry the person he loves, or a woman choosing to terminate her pregnancy. We can't build our society around worrying about what the looneys out there will do. No, if insulting and demonizing another's religion is bad, it's because insulting and demonizing another's religion is bad. The end.

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