Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainsville, Florida had announced plans to burn copies of the Koran (the Muslim holy book) on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.  The result was a great deal of media attention from around the world, which persisted even after Jones’ canceled his Koran burning plan.  My thoughts on this matter can be seen below:

The short version

To sum up the situation in a few words, I believe that this is little more than a sensationalized overreaction to a publicity stunt conducted by a person who has every right to express himself in such a hateful manner.

The long version

I find it depressing that so many people care about an attention-seeking person’s plans to burn some books.  There are so many more important things going on in the world, yet this planned Koran burning has been at the top of the news reports for days.  Reporting this planned “event,” day after day, organizing counter-protests, etc., all just give Jones what he wants – and that is attention.

As far as Jones plans to burn copies of the koran, that is his right.  The 1st Amendment to the US Constitution protects the right to free speech, including symbolic speech such as the burning of a book.  While Jones can’t go burn down someone’s mosque to express his viewpoint, Jones is free to buy copies of the Koran and safely burn them on his own property.  While I personally find this particular act to be distasteful and rather hateful, the right to free speech should be infringed.  Jones should be free to burn the Koran if he so chooses.

Just as bad, if not worse than Jones’, are the individuals who have threatened violence in response to Jones’ plans to burn the Koran.  Violence is not the proper response to speech that one finds to be objectionable.  Moreover, threatening violence just plays into Jones’ hand, as it seems his goal is to convince the public that Muslims are violent and uncivilized.

Note: those who care to read about my religious beliefs can do so here.