awkwardly

Monday

Choosing not to burn a quran doesn't mean the terrorists have won

Theoretically I believe people should be able to offend each other and blaspheme and say almost anything without deserving capital or corporal punishment for it. Seven UN workers didn't deserve to get killed by religious zealots, and I recognize that it was terrorism to kill them. Especially when you're not killing blasphemers but people who share the same nationality as someone who blasphemed. (As far as I'm concerned, blasphemy is a victimless crime.)

On the other hand, when you're feeling desperate to express yourself by burning a Qur'an, how many times do you need to see some radical Muslims executing Westerners to convince you that your pointless symbolic expression is likely to get somebody killed?

Think of it like another installment in the series of Saw movies. You should have freedom of expression. But if someone explains to you that the thermostat hitting 451 degrees F give or take in this Qur'an when you burn it will trigger a remote controlled monster truck in another room that will run over some human being you don't know, then is it more important to exercise your freedom of expression, or to avoid taking an action that you know will kill someone? Yeah, the resulting death would be mostly attributable to the fiend who designed all this Rube Goldberg deathtrap stuff, and yet you can stop it too. (This would be a particularly boring installment of Saw. It would be direct to DVD, no theatrical release, and would be followed by Saw: Bloodlines set on a spaceship.)

Radical Muslims reacting with violence aren't perfectly analogous to a clockwork deathtrap, but when another damn fool burns a Qur'an or throws it in a toilet or publishes the right kinds of cartoons or blasphemy, it's no surprise when some Muslims get violent and kill people. It doesn't excuse the terrorists, but it doesn't take a rocket surgeon to see that you can avoid inspiring murder by avoiding some kinds of blasphemy.

Unless you're a big fan of Dubya or false dilemma fallacies, then choosing not to blaspheme through a bullhorn does not mean you support the terrorists or that you don't support free speech. There should be ways to express ourselves and try to persuade others that freedom of speech is proper and important, without doing things that seem likely to result in riots or executions.

Reminds me of that myth or unsubstantiated rumor from the Columbine massacre, where the killers supposedly asked a girl if she believed in God and shot her when she said yes. If it was obvious that some atheist murderers were going to shoot you for answering yes, then did it serve any purpose to say yes? Could anyone blame you if you lied and said no? Even the [dog gone] apostles lied and denied that they knew Christ. It does not seem to have tarnished their reputations significantly.

When you're dealing with rational, decent people, you should be able to tell the truth. When you're dealing with irrational people, who can blame you for lying to them when necessary? Whether you're lying to a bigoted landlord who kicks out gays, or temporarily humoring a killer or terrorist, your idealistic need to be honest all the time is obviously trumped by the more immediate reality of the situation.

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