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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