9/11/10

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.

8 comments:

amos said...

Since Aristotelian phronesis seems to be a rare virtue in this world, I think that it might be prudent to establish, as a general rule, that it's bad to publicly burn books and other people's icons (flags, hosts, holy idols)in general.

If people get off on burning icons, then they should do it privately, without publicity.

Paul said...

To echo a sage not reading a bvook is worse than burning it ! I have read the Koran several times and the Bible and the Bhagavad Gita. They all contain wisdom. I would never burn them.

zonalGman said...

I'm in agreement with both Amos & Paul above. I've read the books you mention Dhammapada, Tao Te Ching & what for me are books of wisdom. Does it all come down to a matter of attitudes? Do we all have to agree?
Is there a difference between a flag(of any nation),being burnt and one of the sacred books that are studied and recited & absolutely central to a person's belief being burnt with the worlds media watching?
Surely there is.

zonalGman said...

I'm in agreement with both Amos & Paul above. I've read the books you mention Dhammapada, Tao Te Ching & what for me are books of wisdom. Does it all come down to a matter of attitudes? Do we all have to agree?
Is there a difference between a flag(of any nation),being burnt and one of the sacred books that are studied and recited & absolutely central to a person's belief being burnt with the worlds media watching?
Surely there is.

Wayne said...

I don't always get what the fuss is about in these cases. Its a book. There are millions of copies of this book. Burning a book isn't a big deal. Its a symbolic protest against a perceived wrong.

It sure would make a lot of people upset, but that sort of was the point of the act.

I'd bet if I went home today, and burned Jean's book, she wouldn't be too upset. :)

This reminds me of the whole Mohammed with a bomb in his turban, or South Park's Mohammed episodes. It's a whole lot of offense, over not very much. People really ought to keep some perspective on things.

amos said...

People really ought to keep some perspective on things, but they don't, and there are a lot of irrational, violent, fanatical,
unthinking human animals, with whom one has to deal, and that's where Aristotle's phronesis comes in handy.


If your average human animal were as scrupulous, as rational, as thoughtful as Jean is......

Wayne said...

Is the reverie that people treat their holy books a kind of idolatry?

How are Bibles and Qu'rans disposed of when they inevitably can't be used any more?

Wayne said...

hmmm apparently you're supposed to bury bibles.... http://www.thelutheran.org/article/article_buy.cfm?article_id=4106

Apparently it is the same for the Qu'ran.