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← Sunday Sacrilege: Respect is not the same as obedience

Sunday Sacrilege: Respect is not the same as obedience - Comments

Rodger T's Avatar Comment 1 by Rodger T

Surely,if their god is offended he/she shall smite thee holey book burners with fire and brimstone from the heavens?

Or maybe he just could`nt give a toss/ does not exist. You choose.

A fairly pathetic god if he/she if it can`t deal with this minor conflagration.

Mon, 13 Sep 2010 06:17:19 UTC | #516867

AlphaAndΩmegaman's Avatar Comment 2 by AlphaAndΩmegaman

I like PZ Myers, at least recently, because he understands what freedom of expression and freedom of speech means and he rightly defends those principles against the cowardly world leaders and lazy journalists who hastily call for censorship instead of growing a pair. The same twisting and contortion to appease the usual suspects who speak for the religion of peace can be identified in the Danish Cartoon fiasco and in the death threats against S. Rushdie, where church leaders and government officials agreed that the problem was not the reactionary bullying and threats of murder and blackmail - no, the problem was that the Cartoons were blasphemous and Mr. Rushdie had written an obscene book. This mentality needs to be opposed and I'm glad there are people who are willing to defend human rights from those who think a book or a cartoon is worth killing over.

Mon, 13 Sep 2010 07:11:54 UTC | #516884

Outrider's Avatar Comment 3 by Outrider

Given that so many religious people are of the opinion that atheism is a religion, and that Professor Dawkins is our 'pope', if I threaten to burn a copy of the God Delusion, will I get my five minutes of fame on the international news stage?

Not, obviously, that I'd actually advocate burning any book, but I wonder how many of the 'respect for religion' shriekers would crawl out of the detritus to object to that.

O.

Mon, 13 Sep 2010 07:19:04 UTC | #516888

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 4 by Stafford Gordon

Although always amusing, I usually find his writing a bit clunky and disjointed, but this is excellently coherent, sharply logical and flows beautifully.

S G

Updated: Mon, 13 Sep 2010 07:48:50 UTC | #516895

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 5 by Stafford Gordon

A thought. That silly little chap Master Anthony Bair should have this piece thrust under his nose.

S G

Mon, 13 Sep 2010 07:55:06 UTC | #516901

Stevehill's Avatar Comment 6 by Stevehill

I believe in the right to criticise, say, the Koran. If that offends, I'll defend the critic - even if the "criticism" is say0 some cartoons of dubious merit.

But burning someone's holy book gratuitously is not criticism: it is a calculated insult, a playground taunt, an invitation to a fight. And that makes the "critic" look a lot more desperate and pathetic than those he seeks to criticise.

I'll take on the Koran, or anyone else's holy book, with reason - not with a temper tantrum which my three year old daughter would find embarrassing.

Pastor Jones has however proved to be a useful idiot in making a lot of Christians realise (if they did not already) that their own side is not devoid of nutters too.

Mon, 13 Sep 2010 07:55:26 UTC | #516902

Alovrin's Avatar Comment 7 by Alovrin

PalMD is a doctor. Yet he writes this.

From the perspective of the poor, deluded people, it’s the threat implied by the action of destroying something sacred to them.

Look humanity has become inordinately attached, over the millenia to things of no significance to the world we live in. Rather than dealing with this, we are supposed to help others prop up this crumbling edifice. And lets not take the poor people's teddy bear away. Has he not heard of the Stockholm Syndrome? Bloody Nora I'm sick of listening to qualified people, like PalMD who think they have a right squabble and prevaricate about the ignorant rantings of our ancestors.( Who would have fallen to their knees at a light switch.) On behalf of the supposedly poor people as if they need his help in this way.

And he (a qualified person in a well paid job) throws this back at PZ.

Updated: Mon, 13 Sep 2010 08:01:28 UTC | #516904

Peter Grant's Avatar Comment 8 by Peter Grant

PZ makes so much sense. :D

Mon, 13 Sep 2010 08:52:19 UTC | #516923

sbooder's Avatar Comment 9 by sbooder

I note that Pastor Jones, whom advocated burning the Koran, has not advocated burning God is Not Great.

The reason is obvious, the only reaction he would get from Christopher Hitchens would be, I hope you paid for that copy.

But the reason for publicly advocating the burning of the Koran has a very sinister side. This Pastor is trying to provoke violence, the comment is measured to incite…bring on the holy war!

But he dose have a perfect right to advocate burning and he has a right to burn a copy of his own if he so wishes and that right must be upheld.

I like the fact that PZ has used the word obedience; it reminds me of the famous Gandhi quote “They may torture my body, break my bones, even kill me, and then they will have my dead body, not my obedience”.

Mon, 13 Sep 2010 10:14:11 UTC | #516955

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 10 by AtheistEgbert

Although PZ Myers is absolute right in this matter, what exactly are we going to do about it?

Mon, 13 Sep 2010 10:49:47 UTC | #516967

SomersetJohn's Avatar Comment 11 by SomersetJohn

Comment 10 by AtheistEgbert :

Although PZ Myers is absolute right in this matter, what exactly are we going to do about it?

All we can really do is hope someone in the mahommanut camp grows a set of braincells. How much publicity would the wingnut have got if the response from the other wingnuts camp had been "Good, he doesn't deserve the comfort of the Qu'ran", or the reaction from the yellow press was "Wingnut pastor increases profits for Qu'ran printers"

Oh, sorry, those would be rational resposes!

Mon, 13 Sep 2010 11:23:07 UTC | #516977

Peacebeuponme's Avatar Comment 12 by Peacebeuponme

Steve Hill

And that makes the "critic" look a lot more desperate and pathetic than those he seeks to criticise.

Nonsense. The ones he criticises are running running around Afghanistan demanding death, attacking bases and property, injuring others and getting shot.

They are also burning objects held dear to others. If I lived in Pakistan or Afghanistan I would most definitely open up a flag shop - the owners must all be millionaires.

I have a little bit a respect for Ted Jones in the way he has manipulated this story. A tiny church in Florida has had the world's press attention, the ear of the President and has set off an Islamic reaction exactly of the sort he preaches against. And he didn't even have to do anything, which I expect was always his intention in the first place.

Of course, he remains yet another religious nutjob.

(btw - all the blame was put on Ted Jones even before the riots occured for provocation. I'm not sure how many Afghans visited Florida to learn of the plans, but they all seemed to find out about it. As usual, all the provocation has come from media hype. Why didn't they just ignore this pointless story? Answer: because they wanted all the storm, and they wanted a protest in Afghanistan, and they wanted death to America chants and they wanted protesters to get shot, just so they could sell newspapers. This is the real story of this whole affair.)

Mon, 13 Sep 2010 12:04:30 UTC | #516991

Pythagoras's Avatar Comment 13 by Pythagoras

One of PZ's best posts I think. I hope it gets widely viewed by the international Muslim community.

Mon, 13 Sep 2010 12:54:44 UTC | #517005

Marc Country's Avatar Comment 14 by Marc Country

PZ is an "it" getter.

Mon, 13 Sep 2010 13:02:37 UTC | #517007

Stevehill's Avatar Comment 15 by Stevehill

Nonsense. The ones he criticises are running running around Afghanistan demanding death, attacking bases and property, injuring others and getting shot.

And pouring more petrol on the fire in the name of "free speech" does precisely what to advance the cause of human happiness?

The corollary of freedom is a responsibility not to abuse it.

Burning books to make a point is playground logic. We should be above that.

Mon, 13 Sep 2010 13:29:41 UTC | #517029

elmo14's Avatar Comment 16 by elmo14

and hearing yet another one of the more deranged members of the People of the Book whine that we show insufficient respect for their mythology gives me the same feeling of exasperation I felt when my small children would wail about not getting a candy bar in the grocery store.

PZ is really very good at putting at all in accurate perspective.

Mon, 13 Sep 2010 13:42:46 UTC | #517035

cheesedoff17's Avatar Comment 17 by cheesedoff17

He is very right about the threat that Muslims pose to our free speech. He also makes a good point concerning how wealthy Muslim countries could be were it not for their religion. Think of all the money world wide that has been put into building Mosques instead of schools and hospitals.

Mon, 13 Sep 2010 13:43:10 UTC | #517036

bigkoala's Avatar Comment 18 by bigkoala

My wife runs a publishing house. We and the rest of her industry fully support the burning of anyone's books. (Except mine!)

Perhaps burnable series are in order, with ink/glue that isn't toxic?

Mon, 13 Sep 2010 13:47:10 UTC | #517040

hungarianelephant's Avatar Comment 19 by hungarianelephant

Comment 15 by Stevehill :

The corollary of freedom is a responsibility not to abuse it.

If you think it's possible to "abuse" freedom, then like the rent-a-muzzies who never fail to get onto BBC discussion programmes, you haven't understood the concept properly.

Mon, 13 Sep 2010 14:27:23 UTC | #517050

jac12358's Avatar Comment 20 by jac12358

PZ, you continue to be right on the money in my book, to coin a couple of consecutive colloquialisms. I don't find many people here reacting as you do to the incident (at least when I am bringing it up and pointing out the same things in my less eloquent way). And so, thank you.

Comment 6 by Stevehill :

I believe in the right to criticise, say, the Koran. If that offends, I'll defend the critic - even if the "criticism" is say0 some cartoons of dubious merit.

But burning someone's holy book gratuitously is not criticism: it is a calculated insult, a playground taunt, an invitation to a fight. And that makes the "critic" look a lot more desperate and pathetic than those he seeks to criticise.

I'll take on the Koran, or anyone else's holy book, with reason - not with a temper tantrum which my three year old daughter would find embarrassing.

Pastor Jones has however proved to be a useful idiot in making a lot of Christians realise (if they did not already) that their own side is not devoid of nutters too.

"It is a calculated insult." I am not so sure - or if I am wrong, then it is simply a returned favor.

I think one can make the case that Jones is doing this simply in symbolic protest of what happened on 9/11 by burning an copy of the text which fueled the philosophy and provided the last uttered words of the hijackers. All things being equal, what is more insulting: the burning of a book (of which there are thousands more copies and nobody is so much as harmed by a scratch) or the burning of 4 airplanes and 3 buildings with loss of thousands of lives? To me it would be like taking symbolic "revenge" on someone who drowned your entire family by taking a piss on a photo of their family. Both involved liquid, to be sure, but a million insults would never compare to the actual loss of your family.

When Muslims burn our flag or images of our presidents, are these "calculated insults" or just knee-jerk outlets of anger? We are talking about being offended here, which seems to be more in vogue today than ever (or at least the liberties with which one acts after being insulted, goodbye "stiff upper lip.") There is not much logic in being insulted. People don't often pause amid their personal (or especially their collective) offense to say "hold on, this is not very logical - woah, suddenly I am not offended anymore!" Without that step being evident, it is hard to conclude what one does post-offense is "calculated" or not.

Also, if it is anything calculated (and I think it might be purely coincidental) that the result of this Koran-burning-threat might result in the relocation of the "ground-zero mosque." I mean, if the ends justifies the means, and the means was nothing more than free speech, then what was the harm?

And speaking of the NY mosque, I think if nothing else the whole affair should set in stark contrast the level one society bends over backwards not to "offend" the other party, while the other party, not only having perpetrated the 9/11 atrocity, do not return the favor. Take the mosque - this has been viewed as a calculated insult also, but many liberal-minded types do not agree and would paint their offended American brethren as ignorant backwoods hicks and the Muslim offendees as legitimately hurt and worthy of our apologies and understanding. Baloney. You cannot basically say that one group of people have no "right" to be offended but not another, and so that therefore the party most legitimately offended has the right to have the offending party's rights to offend revoked.

Mon, 13 Sep 2010 15:35:31 UTC | #517075

SeculR's Avatar Comment 21 by SeculR

Bravo to Mr. Myers. This is a masterpiece of approachable, nailed down logic and common sense and I found myself nodding with agreement at every paragraph. I don’t know how much publicity this article is likely to get, but it won’t be enough.

Mon, 13 Sep 2010 15:37:18 UTC | #517077

DocWebster's Avatar Comment 22 by DocWebster

The corollary of freedom is a responsibility not to abuse it.

And what exactly counts as abuse? I used to know a guy, who has now passed on to all our detriment, that would walk around town with a 45 Peacemaker strapped to his hip. He had been arrested several times in his history for "packing heat" and never once resisted in any way until he got into a courtroom where he would invariably end up costing the town some sum of money for the police department's rash stupidity. His adherence to every statute pertaining to open carry meant that every cop in town was afraid of him. I met him shortly after getting robbed at gunpoint by a guy who had blown all his money gambling and was high on alcohol and antidepressants. He walked into my gas station to get cigarettes and looked me up and down then asked if I was bothered by him wearing a gun as my story was front page news. I made him laugh when I said I didn't think a criminal would bother to advertise his weapon with such a nice holster so I was all right. He said I was right, most gun carrying criminals had state issued holsters and badges and don't ever forget it. I write out this long story to give you a little sense of where this guy was coming from personally. He told me to exercise each and every one of my rights to their fullest extent, every day, in full view, and never allow yourself to curb your own freedom just to make somebody else comfortable. Your freedom and rights are too precious to allow yourself to define them down much less somebody else and anyone that tries to is looking to ride you like a mule.

Mon, 13 Sep 2010 15:45:44 UTC | #517082

jac12358's Avatar Comment 23 by jac12358

Comment 15 by Stevehill :

Nonsense. The ones he criticises are running running around Afghanistan demanding death, attacking bases and property, injuring others and getting shot.

And pouring more petrol on the fire in the name of "free speech" does precisely what to advance the cause of human happiness?

The corollary of freedom is a responsibility not to abuse it.

Burning books to make a point is playground logic. We should be above that.

I don't think that if I choose to burn a copy of a book I bought and own in my back yard is any sort of abuse of any responsibility to free speech, regardless of how many people thousands of miles away who may hold the book holy (but may also not be educated enough to even be able to read it - let alone read MY COPY), who only know about it because of our media which holds its freedom of the press more highly than our freedom of speech, fueled by its desire for profit, and are always held to a different standard of responsibility. The press can leak or disclose sensitive military secrets that have violent consequences, but a "nobody" can't burn a book, when it is the same media broadcasting the news about it that enables the Muslims to be offended!

Burning a book required no logic. If it is a symbolic gesture, in itself hurting nobody (except maybe releasing a few more CO2 molecules into your preciously overheated atmosphere), then it requires no logic, and certainly the feelings that fuel it need not be logical. Are the offended Muslims being logical? Why is their position being protected, then (especially since they aren't Americans)? Where is your outreach program to educate them on their wayward logic resulting in their offense and retaliation by murdering us, or wanting to?

And so what if it is playground logic. Despite putting on a mature demeanor, adults are just grown-up children still with their fears and faults and biases and desire for revenge and making gains through foul play - especially politicians! What is the inherent difference between a playground bully and a nation bully? So that point, even if true, doesn't seem relevant because in a way it is ALL playground politics. He-said-she-said, mistrust, posturing, popularity, lying, taking advantage, might makes right, cliques and alliances, etc.

"We should be above that."

SHOULD? Well, maybe, but that is idealism that is not law, nor reality. And your should is someone else's should not. What is there to be "above"? Had American Colonists resolved to be "above" guerilla-style fighting and sniper shots and fought in formal ways we might have never gained our freedom. All that matters are the results. Do you think Muslims care that we take some contrived higher ground? Do they back down when we go soft? Well, not to get into war territory, I will end saying that what one man does in Florida is not what "WE" do as a country. Jones does not represent the views of the USA, nor do most of our individual opinions and thinks we have the freedom to speak. If our thoughts and words were identical and toward one purpose they wouldn't need protecting, would they? Maybe if Obama burned the Koran on TV that would be closer to symbolizing the sentiment of the whole country, having elected him, and then we can say "we" "should" be "above" that.

Imagine, a teen in a movie theater fumbling at his date's breast in the dark, and out of the screen appears (in 3-D) Obama wagging his finger saying "America should be above THAT." The teen's antics maybe be "playground" antics, but their rooted desires are ubiquitous, and require no logic, and when acted out represent nobody else but that person. Only in that case if it crosses over into rape are there legal consequences. Not so with burning a book.

Mon, 13 Sep 2010 16:01:50 UTC | #517091

prettygoodformonkeys's Avatar Comment 24 by prettygoodformonkeys

Someone who is angry, about a book somewhere being burned, then registers his/her displeasure by murdering a bunch of innocent people buying vegetables in a market. This is extortion.

I really, REALLY hate to say it, but GWB was right: they do hate our freedom.

Mon, 13 Sep 2010 16:19:25 UTC | #517100

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 25 by AtheistEgbert

Comment 23 by jac12358 :

Imagine, a teen in a movie theater fumbling at his date's breast in the dark, and out of the screen appears (in 3-D) Obama wagging his finger saying "America should be above THAT." The teen's antics maybe be "playground" antics, but their rooted desires are ubiquitous, and require no logic, and when acted out represent nobody else but that person. Only in that case if it crosses over into rape are there legal consequences. Not so with burning a book.

And rather than open any actual debate about the merits of burning holy books, the media and politicians simply close down all debate and hand down their moral judgement. Where do they get their moral authority from?

Mon, 13 Sep 2010 16:26:51 UTC | #517102

UnderINK's Avatar Comment 26 by UnderINK

While I agree with you mostly, I have two points I've considered that have caused me to oppose the burning of the Koran regardless.

The first is that, although it is our right to burn property and we possess the freedom of expression in that manner, and Christians have every right here to demonstrate protest against Islam as they please, Christians and regular Americans living in other countries do not. There has already been an uprising of violence against Christians in Islamic nations for the mere possibility that this could have happened, prompting Archbishops to plead with the Vatican to have it stopped--- the Pope even became involved, opposing this idea out of fear of harm to innocents. If the burning had been done, it is likely that rage against Americans and Christians alike in the Muslim world would have skyrocketed, their idea of us as a devil nation would be completely sealed without a shadow of a doubt, and it would only show the world our inability to control international upsets occurring from within our borders, using freedom as an excuse to let people die. What's more important? That Pastor's right to burn the Koran, or the lives of Americans on foreign soil? Sorry, I believe there are times when such freedoms must be limited if it is the lesser of two evils.

The second is that burning the Koran is an action, not a reaction. That is, when 9/11 occurred and we became angry at Muslims, we invaded Afghanistan and later Iraq, and began a conflict--- that was a reaction met with appropriate force to what had occurred. They wanted to burn the Koran to bring a message about Islam and how horrendous they believe the religion is. It was partly done in retaliation for the Islamic Community Center, but that isn't a valid reaction because the Community Center has every right to be built. It could be built ON Ground Zero if they could afford to and did buy the property there. We couldn't, and shouldn't, inhibit their right to do so. As per usual, the church decided to use a threat of force to get their way, knowing that Muslims are especially sensitive about their books being damaged. But again, this was primarily enacted to make a statement about Islam in general, making it more inclined toward an action.

And for the hell of it, a third: Why commemorate such a tragic day by causing more tragedy?

Mon, 13 Sep 2010 16:29:25 UTC | #517104

Stevehill's Avatar Comment 27 by Stevehill

@jac12358

I think one can make the case that Jones is doing this simply in symbolic protest of what happened on 9/11 by burning an copy of the text which fueled the philosophy and provided the last uttered words of the hijackers.

"Islam" did not commit the crime on 9/11. A bunch of madmen did. That's no reason to gratuitously offend 1.5 billion people around the world who are not guilty.

Then again, the US has yet to respond to 9/11 in any rational way whatsoever. Illegal invasions and murdering hundreds of thousands of non-combatant civilians has so far simply made more of "them" hate more of "us". Well duh. Who'd have thought that would happen?

You can't fight terrorists by declaring war on countries. Or religions.

Mon, 13 Sep 2010 17:03:06 UTC | #517123

Peter Grant's Avatar Comment 28 by Peter Grant

Mon, 13 Sep 2010 17:31:42 UTC | #517137

Rob Schneider's Avatar Comment 29 by Rob Schneider

2 Quick comments: First PZ's article is excellent and I hope it gets some mainstream coverage. I hope, also that each of us reading it take the message on, memorize the arguments and repeat them when faced with similar circumstances in the future. We can't rely on PZ to do all the talking, or the media to pick up his words and spread them. We all have to dive in and start doing the dirty work of debating these issues publicly.

Second... UnderINK wrote:

I believe there are times when such freedoms must be limited if it is the lesser of two evils.

Freedom is not an evil. What you propose is a CHOICE to cower in the face of terrorist response to a speech act. It's a STUPID speech act, ineffectual, misplaced, likely to cause harm... I agree. But the remedy for that is MORE SPEECH, not violence.

Anyone responding with violence to a speech act is the guilty party. Period.

Mon, 13 Sep 2010 17:33:32 UTC | #517140

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 30 by AtheistEgbert

@ UnderINK

I think you'll find that this is a problem that is escalating out of control, and it's not because of some Pastor, but because of the continuing agenda of the Cordoba Initiative, and the support for the Cordoba Initiative by the mass media and by the Whitehouse. It is this that is increasing the protests to speak out against the injustice of Islam.

When people begin to discover just what exactly the planned 'community centre' really is--a recruitment centre to indoctrinate young americans to Islam--then things are really going to hit the fan.

It isn't some ignorant Pastor that is the problem, it isn't the majority of Americans who feel the Ground Zero Mosque is offensive that is the problem, it is Islam that is the problem and also our incompetent and impotent state and media.

Mon, 13 Sep 2010 17:36:48 UTC | #517144