Quote of the Day: On Burning Books

Henry Jones“It tells me that goose-stepping morons like yourself should try reading books instead of burning them.” – Henry Jones, Sr. (Sean Connery) in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (.wav)

Goose-stepping morons. That is perhaps the most appropriate term ever used to describe those who burn books. Be it a Bible, a Torah, a Talmud, a Qur’an, the Hadith, the Sruti, the Upanishads, the Adi Granth, the Tao Te Ching, the Kojiki, the Pali Canon, the Book of Mormon, the Ginza Rba, Dianetics, the Avesta, the U.S. Constitution, the Little Red Book, Mein Kampf, the Humanist Manifesto, or Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, YOU DON’T BURN BOOKS!

Of course you have the First Amendment right to burn a book a protest, but the First Amendment doesn’t protect you from looking like a bigoted fool. Burning Qur’ans to commemorate 9/11 is as foolish as Muslim extremists who burn the U.S. flag in protest of U.S. policy, or fundamentalist Christians who ban and burn their science textbooks because they teach evolution. You all look like idiots!

If you want to protest the behavior of an extremist, don’t become an extremist. If you want to exercise your First Amendment right to draw the face of the prophet Muhammad, or draw Jesus in a cartoon, OK, but remember that your act is designed to piss people off, and the less intelligent patient among us often take the bait and actually get pissed off. While it is true that radical Muslims exhibit a hypocritical double standard by becoming apoplectic at the desecration of a Qur’an while they burn the U.S. flag and label Christians and Jews “infidels,” you do not overcome bigotry by becoming one.

The Rev. Terry Jones and his 50-person band of disciples at the Dove World Outreach Center are no more representative of Christianity than al-Qaeda is of Islam. Likewise, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you ought to. And, while the First Amendment does not protect all speech (forgery, threats to personal safety, criminal impersonation, libel, defamation, etc.), it does protect one’s right to protest and demonstrate in a peaceful manner. Then again, the First Amendment also allows people to act like idiots.

The same First Amendment right that grants freedom of speech also grants the freedom to act like a fool.

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6 Responses

  1. Awesome quote.

  2. There was a great book burning in the New Testament
    when books on the false Gods and sorcery.

    Paul the apostle’s preaching was accepted and the
    sorcerers voluntarily burnt a massive load of books.

  3. Yes, Acts 19:18-19:

    Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds. A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas.(NIV)

    Of course, this was a public symbol of repentance and conversion, not a protest. New Christian converts threw their books (i.e., the ones they had been reading and following) into a pile and destroyed them to symbolize their decision to leave their former ways of life and adopt new ones. I highly doubt any members of the Dove World Outreach Center are Muslim. Rather, I think this saying something else. (btw – where are they getting the Qur’ans?)

    That said, it’s still no excuse. However deplorable (and it is indeed deplorable), we cannot change the fact that Acts 19 says Christians burned books, just like we cannot change the fact that the Bible endorses slavery and subjugates women. Thankfully, 2000 years later, we have matured to a point to where we have abolished slavery, women have the right to vote, and we don’t burn books. In fact, I can only really think of one place where segregation, subjugation of women, and book burning is still practiced. Can you?

  4. Chapter 111 of tke Koran is about burning a non-Muslim.

    The power of Abu Lahab will perish, and he will perish.
    Abu Lahab will die and be plunged in flaming Fire. His wife will have on her neck a halter of palm fiber.
    His wealth and gains will not exempt him.
    He will be plunged in flaming Fire,
    And his wife, the wood-carrier,
    Will have upon her neck a halter of palm-fibre.

    Is it as wrong to burn a person as it is to burn the Koran?

    I think it is just as wrong to burn a person as it is to burn the Koran.

    In fact, it might even be more wrong.

    Although obviously I respect the right of Muslims to publish books saying certain people should be burned in Hell.

  5. Well, if you want stories in holy books about killing individuals, sometimes after trials but sometimes not, you need look no further than the Old Testament. Phineas killed a man and his wife in anger(?) because that man had taken the “wrong” kind of woman as a wife. He was honored for this. King David had a man killed because David was having an affair with his wife. A later son with that same woman became King Solomon.

  6. What a sad statement about the statist idolatry that exists in America, that burning an American flag would be considered equivalent to burning a religious text. Flags stand for empires. I say burn all of them, and save the books.

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