Burn this, sinners

If you are a good person–as most people believe themselves to be–there are things you don’t do. This goes beyond the Ten Commandments and the relatively commonsense approach to going through your days honoring the people who should be honored, not killing people, and not coveting your neighbor’s wife. Verily, it goes beyond the rules of looking both ways before you cross the street and not using needles you find on truck stop bathroom floors. There are simply things you don’t do.

You don’t tell someone their kid is ugly–even if it is.

You don’t call someone’s mother a whore–even if she is.*

You don’t make out at a funeral.

You don’t fucking burn books. You don’t burn Animal Farm. You don’t burn the Bible. And you don’t burn the Quran. Libricide is not simply way to demonstrate your basest human flaws. It is not merely a way to vituperatively insult the author or someone who loves the book. It also exposes you for the coward you are. If all of those things don’t grab you in the crotch, then consider the fire hazard involved, you bigoted, close-minded sinner.

That a preacher from Florida can gather 50 people in a building is no insult to dedicated Christians. Give me a couple days, and I’ll round up 50 people who think Julia Child was involved in original sin. There are painfully lost people who need someone to follow and someone to call an enemy. Those kind of people–people who respond to base, primal, caveman tactics–tend to like fire. So set some stuff ablaze and watch their eyes twinkle. It’s easy and it gets you on the national news.

And therein lies the problem. Terry Jones and his few dozen parishioners at Dove World Outreach Center want to practice their First Amendment rights by burning a holy book in an effort to expose radical Islam (a practice I think we all realize is akin to burning a Bible to protest Eric Robert Rudolph and Tim McVeigh, but I’ve said all that before). I support Jones’ Constitutional right to set a book on fire, but I think it’s worth noting how terribly misguided this First Amendment expression is. Jones and his cadre of radicals–and they can be described as nothing else if you want to preserve the legitimacy of the rest of the Christian faith–are hoping to show radical Muslims a thing or two by burning the holiest book of the world’s second-biggest religion. That is, to stick it to the few thousand people who want to kill Americans, we’re going to infuriate millions upon millions of people. Nice work, Terry. You’re a damned saint.

Complicit–if not more guilty–in this entire production is the news media (and, yes, on a very, very small scale, that includes me) that are giving Jones and his ilk a platform. Every time Jones talks bout burning the Quran on TV, that’s stuff that is seen worldwide by people who say, “This guy represents America.”

And we wonder why people want to kill us.

Jones has the right to burn whatever he wants and say whatever he wants. I support that right. With that understood, if you agree with Jones’ motives, if you don’t actively tell as many people as you can that you disagree with what Jones is doing, if you don’t make an effort to tell people from other cultures that Jones doesn’t represent America, then you should not be surprised when America is the target of future attacks. It’s one thing to talk bad about a mean dog on a leash. It’s another thing to tell the guy holding the leash that his mom is a whore. The former is mean. The latter is just stupid.

The best of this country is comprised of people who understand there is humanity beyond our coastline and southern border. The best of this country is comprised of people who understand the balance of religion and patriotism. The best of this country is comprised of people who know that respect is earned. The best of this country is comprised of people of tolerance, kindness, and intelligence. Terry Jones and the people who support him can claim no part among America’s best. They are instigators. They are fame-hounds. They are willfully ignorant sinners. They represent the worst part of a great nation.

Fuck you, Terry Jones. Fuck you and everyone who supports you for making my country look stupid, intolerant, and evil.

*With thanks to Rowdy Herrington, David Henry Lee, Hilary Henkin, Patrick Swayze, and everyone else who made “Road House”