In the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Henry Jones (played by Sean Connery) – father of the protagonist – tells a Nazi SS officer, “goose-stepping morons like yourself should try reading books instead of burning them,” referring to the burning of books that Adolf Hitler’s regime found to be offensive to his ideology.
The suggestion is one that Terry Jones, the self-proclaimed Florida pastor (and no relationship to the Indiana Jones), who made news last year by announcing he would burn copies of the Quran on the anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, should follow.
Jones eventually backed down from his threat, giving his word he would not burn Islam’s holy book, after outcry from across the global. But promises are not what they used to be, even for a pastor.
On March 20th, Jones’ self-styled “church,” the Dove World Outreach Center, put the Quran on “trial” for what he called “International Judge the Quran Day.” The pastor acted as the judge over the proceeding; with Mohamed el Hassan, an Imam from Texas, presenting the case for his religion.
The outcome was preordained. The “jurors” found the Quran guilty of “training and promoting” terrorist activities, the “death, rape, and torture of people worldwide whose only crime is ‘not being of Islamic faith,’” and “crimes against women, against minorities, against Christians, and with the promoting of prejudice and racism against anyone who is not a Moslem.”
Jones had been warned previously that publicly burning the Quran could place lives – including American troops – in danger. The pastor’s zeal for publicity, however, trumped what little common sense he seemed to have possessed last Fall, and he gleefully pressed ahead this Spring. Those warnings became reality. Shortly after the news of the Quran-burning broke, Muslims in Afghanistan violently protested; killing seven people and injuring at least 90 in separate attacks; and more may be in the offing. Jones, however, absolves himself of all responsibility, and acts the martyr; which he may hope he becomes.
The First Amendment protects free speech and expression, even if it is unpopular. There is little question that Jones was within his rights to do what he did, but that does not mean he should have; and it does make him any less the complete idiot he truly is.
-by Bob Barr, The Barr Code