Saturday, September 11, 2010
No Korans Burned Today
I got up this morning and the headline in the paper was NO KORANS BURNED TODAY. Well, close anyway. Some people think it's terrible, terrible for it to be trickier to set a Koran on fire than a US flag, or a the bible, or Mad Magazine, or Pride and Prejudice. That puts the Koran on a pedestal, and that ain't fair.
But no, I don't think the Koran is on any pedestal today. Mr. Crazy Florida Pastor didn't suddenly start revering the book, or even start feeling deferential to Muslim sensibilities. He just realized that riots and deaths (maybe his own) were on the horizon. It was a simple matter of prudence. That's the most uncontroversial of reasons to cancel an icon-desecration: just to avoid death and destruction.
Calling off a book burning out of mandatory reverence would be silly--nobody has to revere other people's icons. But what about deference to other people's sensibilities? "Hell no, we won't defer!" Never? Not at all? Not even a little bit? Say it was the world's oldest copy of Pride and Prejudice that someone planned on setting on fire. Should the weeping of the Austen-lovers really be ignored?
That seems mean-spirited and anti-social. I'd go the Aristotelian route--we ought to defer neither too much, nor too little, but in the right way, at the right time, for the right purpose.