Thursday, September 9, 2010

Simple Answers to Simple Questions

Yes, those people in Florida are entitled to burn the Koran. It is not a crime. It’s important to realize that in the US they are free to express themselves in that fashion.

No, they are not destroying knowledge. Other copies exist.

Yes, it is an infantile act.

Yes, it is likely to cause harm to happen to people who were not involved.

Yes, Hilary Clinton is perfectly entitled to criticise the reverend and ask him not to do it.

I hope they are not stupid and childish enough to carry out this act, but they are free to do so, and it matters that they can. It also matters that the people who are waiting to be offended by it realize that they can do it and no one can stop them except by persuading them not to.


There are deeper, much more complex matters involved, but these questions need to be clearly understood before the rest can be seriously considered.

4 comments:

Vincent said...

Yes, but I don't think anyone doubts these points that you so succinctly summarise, even those who declare themselves offended at the very thought.

CIngram said...

I'm not at all that's true. I made this summary as a kind of shorthand reminder to myself not to bother arguing about it with anyone who doesn't accept it as a commonly agreed starting position, and I made it because in newspapers and other commentary I have been seeing a lot of confusion between what is wrong (or right) because it's (il)legal, what is wrong because it's is nasty and petty, and what is wrong because it's likely to provoke some violent people.

Vincent said...

On further experience of the news and reactions to it, I think you are right. It seems to me a primitive rather than an infantile act: primitive commensurate with the reactions it engenders.

CIngram said...

Primitive seems a good word. There are far better ways of making a point, including this point. People have died in protests whipped up against this act, which never happened, and the Reverend knew that his threat would endanger others, rather than himself, and he didn't care. It's why I tend to despise trade union leaders as well.