Maybe it’s a publicity stunt, maybe it’s legitimate, but the fact of the matter is that Pastor Terry Jones of the hilariously ironically named Dove World Outreach Center is calling for Quran burnings and, to put it bluntly, if he goes through with it then our country and our troops are in a shitload of trouble.
Keep in mind that opposition to this isn’t some left-wing ideal, the list of those opposed contains “Gen. David Petraeus and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Sarah Palin and television evangelist Pat Robertson.” That’s a pretty solid across-the-aisle bloc of naysayers if you ask me.
Here’s a good question, though: if he goes through with it (or even if he doesn’t), can Terry Jones be considered in any way legally responsible for backlash? One might be tempted to react in a similar way to the whole “mosque at Ground Zero” situation, that as terrible as it is, in as poor taste as it may be, he has a first amendment right to do and say whatever he damn well pleases.
That said, the age old example is that it’s illegal to yell fire in a crowded theater because it can cause chaos and potentially lead to injury. In light of that, couldn’t we say that making a public display of burning Qurans would be an equal offense? But then, to play devil’s advocate to myself, I’ve vocally supported flag burning in the past. It’d be hard for me to say that flag-burning is different in any way.
While I wrestle with that ethical conundrum, let me point out that this is the exact kind of thing that causes terrorism. Sure, the lunatic Al Qaeda types are just aiming for Islamic supremacy, but if you want to guarantee that the United States gets branded as “anti-Islamic”, make a big spectacle of setting fire to their holy text. Think about our media’s reaction to the burning of US flags in the Middle East.
Legal ramifications? Maybe not, but I’d love to see this guy get a shovel in the face.