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”

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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34 Responses

  1. Easycure says:

    Totally agreed. Burning books is stupid, period.

  2. KenP says:

    I went over and looked at his twitters and his “friends” twits. Twits is right. Embarrassing!

  3. CJ says:

    I agree with almost every single word of this post… except for this:

    “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 don’t know where this meme started, but it’s picked up a lot of steam due to the mosque controversy. Timothy McVeigh did not bomb the OKC Federal building in the name of god or religion. In fact, McVeigh was barely religious… and may even have been agnostic. He attacked the OKC Federal building because he hated the government.

    The men who attacked us on 9/11 did so in the name of religion. Those bombers yelled “Allāhu Akbar” as they killed thousands of innocent people. Now, there’s may be a deep and dark perversion of Islam, but it was in the name of religion nonetheless.

    Let’s denounce what this man is doing… but let’s not cloud the issue by suggesting that Christianity lead to the OKC bombing. It’s not the same. Not in the least.

  4. otis says:

    Re: McVeigh…while not a religious person per se, he took a lot of what he did from the Christian Identity movement and The Turner Diaries, all of it a perversion based on a perversion…or, in another word…radical.

  5. Chris Capra says:

    Watch out Brad, you might get Jones and his ilk out protesting this blog!

  6. First, the Koran has some of the most beautiful passages when it comes to scripture. This coming from a Roman Catholic.

    Second, most people can’t even point to the Middle East on a map so I don’t take much to what most say when it comes to the place.

    Third, in the end we wake-up, put on our pants and take a shit. We are all just humans, man.

    Have a good day all and thanks for the article, Otis.

  7. wndywitch says:


    When I heard about this on the news this AM I thought I had missed an important part of the story over the holiday weekend. There had to be a good reason that the news assumed I knew that I was just missing.

    If someone can give a good reason “other than I can” please share with the class.

  8. CJ says:

    Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to say they should burn copies of The Turner Diaries rather than copies of The Bible? There’s a much more explicit link between the Quran and what al Qaida is doing than a link between the Bible and Timothy McVeigh.

    Regarding religion, it’s written in Wikipedia (if you can believe it):

    “In a recorded interview with Time magazine[80] McVeigh professed his belief in “a god”, although he said he had “sort of lost touch with” Catholicism and “I never really picked it up, however I do maintain core beliefs.” Throughout his childhood, he and his father were Roman Catholic and regularly attended daily Mass at Good Shepherd Church in Pendleton, New York. The Guardian reported that McVeigh wrote a letter to them claiming to be an agnostic and that he did not believe in a hell.[81][82] McVeigh once said that he believed the universe was guided by natural law, energized by some universal higher power that showed each person right from wrong if they paid attention to what was going on inside them. He had also said, “Science is my religion.”[83]”

    The 9/11 terrorists would wrongly tell you that the Quran calls for these acts of terrorism and supports flying planes into buildings.

    I’m sure there are examples out there of Christianity being used perversely as justification for killing people… but the OKC bombing is a bad example.

    Sorry to hijack the thread… that’s my last word on it.

  9. otis says:

    Just one thing to consider on that, CJ….I suspect there are probably a lot of Muslims who would suggest the radicals aren’t at all connect to the Quran. But, yeah, another topic for another day. I’m glad we can at leats largely agree on something.

  10. John Martin says:

    Funny…first thing I thought of with the “whore” comment was Roadhouse, too.

  11. Grumpy says:

    “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.”

    I agree with your whole premise too, except to note in contrast with the above dozenish “christian” radicals that their degree of radicalism is burning a book, there are many more than a dozen radical “islamist” that approve of beheading, stoning, killing infidels (anyone not muslim.

    and the lack of capitalization is intentional so as not to confuse with “true” peaceful practitioners of both religions

  12. Steve Wood says:

    Being an old guy, I’m not a big fan of indiscriminate use of swear words. It dilutes their impact on those occasions when their use is justified. This was a justified occasion. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  13. Steve Wood says:

    Re: “I’m sure there are examples out there of Christianity being used perversely as justification for killing people… “.

    Indeed… the Monte Python troupe based a career on them.

    In reading the comments it becomes apparent how easy is to get lost in the minutiae and miss a very valid point. If you find yourself concerned as to how religious Tim McVeigh was or which religion has the most detestable radicals, take a deep breath and reread the paragraph that begins… “The best of this country is comprised of”.

    Que le vaya bien… Steve

  14. Glen Harness says:

    I’m curious… why is it that Americans are supposed to be tolerant of Islam and all it stands for (“peaceful” passages in the Koran aside), but Muslims get a pass? I don’t think burning their so-called holy book will cause any more problems than we already have. Not enough “moderate” Muslims (if there is such a thing) have denounced the violence that’s done in the name of their religion. And I disagree with Mr. Wood; the gratuitous use of swear words doesn’t add anything to this discussion.

  15. gracie says:

    This is happening right down the street from my house and let me tell you, Jones is a fruit loop of major proportions. His little compound is one of the creepiest things I’ve ever seen. A brightly colored playground sits next to a giant banner proclaiming that 9/11 is “International Burn a Koran Day”. There’s a freakish carnival element to the whole place that makes my skin crawl. That being said, I’m torn between ignoring this asshole and his dimwitted followers on Saturday and walking over there to photograph the debacle.

  16. Aaron William Brown says:

    Even if McVeigh had shouted “Jesus is Lord” at the top of his lungs in court, I’d never equate Christianity with him. The same holds true with the 9/11 hijackers and Islam.

    Al-Qaeda believes in a return of an Islamic Caliphate. These marching orders are NOT given to them through the Qur’an, but rather the 18th century teachings of Mohammed ibn Abd-al-Wahab (founder of Wahabism). Wahabists are on the extreme fringe of a religion that has over a billion devout followers.

    Religion skews the entire conversation about the Global War on Terror. The likes of Tim McVeigh and Mohammed Atta are rightfully thrown into the same group not for their beliefs, but for their actions. Both abandoned the core principals of their respective faiths. Both cherry-picked religious passages to lamely justify their actions. Both were animals. Blaming the religions they claim to belong to only serves to throw us back into the Crusades.

  17. otis says:

    What Aaron said (and in this case, you can feel pretty confident he knows what he’s talking about…some would say an expert)

  18. goose says:

    Interesting take on the situation, but when will the women of the world rise up for equality for their peers in Islamic nations?

    Our country has written Equal Opportunity laws in which you must conform or you cannot do business in the US, yet we openly trade with these 15th century type societies where women are basically second class citizens.

  19. diamond dave says:

    Regardless of how one may feel about Islam, this is wrong, wrong, wrong. Another dangerous nutcase trying to make a “statement” by committing an act of hate himself, and perverting his own religion in the process. Not much better than those wackadoos from the Westboro church. Guess nobody never explained to him how two wrongs don’t make a right.

  20. Special K says:

    I’m still unsettled by the Roosters order of morning activities. I prefer shit before putting pants on, but maybe that’s just me. 🙂

  21. Wolfshead says:

    The whole damn mess just makes me glad I gave up religion at an early age. Radicals on both sides go crazy making statements and for some reason the great mass of believers in their rrespective religions won’t open their mouths to condemn them or their actions. They are guilty by omission.

  22. Timmy says:

    Is he within his rights as a US citizen? Sure. I, too, stand behind these rights.

    Are his actions in keeping with the term, righteous indignation? According to Buck’s Theological Dictionary: (stupid title, solid theology)

    [Anger] becomes sinful when conceived upon trivial occasions or inadequate provocations; when it breaks forth into outrageous actions; vents itself in reviling language, or is concealed in our thoughts to the degree of hatred.

    And then there is Galatians 5:22-23:

    The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

    Seems Mr. Jones needs to do a little more practicing and a little less preaching.

  23. Drizztdj says:

    Go into a book store and pick up a copy of the bible and bring it up to the front and pay for it.

    Now do the same with the Koran, and make sure it has bold letters on the front so people can see.

    I was in a book store recently and thumbed through a copy of the Koran just for kicks and three times I swear were looking at me like I had a copy of Juggs with one hand down my pants.

    Until people understand or educate themselves on religion, people like Terry Jones will unfortunately continue to gather followers.

  24. pokerpeaker says:

    I would say Amen, but I have a feeling Terry Jones would take it as support.

  25. Travis L. Riffle says:

    Thanks for perfect post! Another Christian on the fringe, up there with the greats of Fred Phelps (God Hates Fags).

    I also want to add a political post that I shared with Facebook:
    Where are the “support the troops” people now when Gen. Petraeus talks about the risk to troops. OH, THAT’S RIGHT, IT’S ONLY CONVENIENT TO SUPPORT THE TROOPS WHEN IT ALIGNS WITH YOUR POLITICAL AGENDA. Down with Democrats, Republicans and BIG GOVERNMENT.

  26. Travis L. Riffle says:

    One other thing to CJ, I cannot find a source, but I am certain Timothy McVeigh claimed to be a Christian (although the act was never in the name of Christianity). A quick google search reveals its a debatable subject, regardless, I get the point.

  27. bayne says:

    Notes to self:

    Do not share a room with Rooster at WPBT.

  28. Aaron says:

    I am going to start out by saying, the “preacher” in Florida is an idiot, and I am 100% against his publicity stunt. Now, wouldn’t you say that perhaps the people in the muslim world that are protesting this are over reacting just a little bit over this? Does one guy in Florida really warrent protests, buring of the American Flag (which you have the right to do but really chaps my ass), and chants of death to America? Did the American and World news media really need to give this idiot a platform? Seriously, if we all ignored him then he would have had at the most 50 people watching him, and that’s it. Unfortunately the internet is giving too much creadence to the fringe and results in hyper knee jerk reactions. Let’s get some perspective people, we all know he’s an idiot and an exteremist. Treat him as such and ignore him like you would some guy ranting on a street corner.

  29. otis says:

    Aaron, you’re basically right, but as I said above, it’s not just the internet freaking out. ABC has been leading its national newscasts with it. NBC nightly had it in the first block, too. It’s in the major papers worldwide. That’s the problem: EVERYBODY is giving the guy a platform. That’s why I say the mainstream media are complicit. That a no-name from Florida has a platform has cause an unnecessary firestorm.

  30. Aaron says:

    I agree, Hence the the 3rd question. I am not really blaming the internet, I am more blaming the fact that people seem to have lost their own personal BS filter. This includes the news media. If this guy were on a street corner and yelling this stuff, no one would pay attention, but he posted a video on the internet and suddenly everyone needs to respond and it becomes a story. Furhter, why is the story how will the world react, instead of why is the world reacting?

  31. otis says:

    I would like to stand up for journalism, but I can’t. It’s as simple as that. There are still some good journalists out there, but it’s not what we see every day. Your street preacher analogy is a great one, by the way. The diference is negligible.

  32. otis says:

    Also…this speaks to Aaron’s comment. Well-considered, well-written, spot on:


  33. Tom says:

    Excellent post, Otis, and the follow-up discussion is thought provoking as well.

    As for Glen Harness’s comment about “Why do we have to care about what Muslims thing?” etc, etc. the answer is simple. There is a better way. That better way is to be considerate, even when others care nothing for you.

    If there were any doubts that the right reverend from Florida is looney tunes, take a look at the church academy’s student handbook, found on The Smoking Gun…


    The very poor grammar and lack of basic syntax makes one wonder what in the world they are teaching, besides intolerance.