Zakaria States it Plain

CNN’s Fareed Zakaria has by far the most intelligent take that I’ve seen on the Quran burning by pastor Terry Jones of Florida:

Let’s talk for a moment about the Quran burning in Florida and it’s consequences. Most Americans are repulsed by the offensive actions of Pastor Terry Jones, a publicity-seeking extremist. But they must wonder how an isolated act like that could produce so much violence halfway across the world in Afghanistan.

So let’s trace the event.

The Quran burning took place two weeks ago – to not much publicity. It was not highlighted by the international media and was not a big story in Afghanistan. There had been a few small, peaceful protests last Wednesday.

Then, Afghan President Hamid Karzai decided to try to capitalize on the issue and score some political points.

Last Thursday he made a speech loudly condemning the burning and calling for the arrest of Pastor Jones. But having lived in America, Karzai understands well that people cannot be arrested here for engaging in free speech, which includes burning flags or books.

Karzai’s speech opened the door for Imams across the country to use their pulpits on Friday to call for protests and more.

That is when all hell broke loose.

But even then, the killings appear to have been the handiwork of Taliban agitators who were using the occasion to score points against the United States, the Karzai government, and to generally cause chaos in the streets.

The senior UN official in Afghanistan said that there was abundant evidence that the killings were not the result of out-of-control mobs but rather deliberate acts of murder by Taliban militia.

Keep in mind that these protests have been extremely small by Afghan standards – not a single one had more than 100 people at it, according to the U.S. army spokesman.

So it’s politics as much as religion at work here.

And yet there is something depressing about the fact that when something like this happens, there is an imbalance in the reaction.

Many Muslim leaders – from the Afghan government to the Pakistani government to local activists – condemn the burning of the Quran. That’s appropriate. Burning the Holy Book of any religion is offensive.

But so is killing people in reaction to that burning. And this is where there is still far too much silence in the Muslim world.

President Karzai has condemned the killing, presumably realizing that his political ploy backfired, but what about the others? And what about Muslim religious leaders in particular? Why are they silent about the murder of innocents in the name of religion?

This is a perfect moment for them to stand for a modern, moderate Islam that condemns the burning of the book but also the killing of humans.

We will keep watch for those statements.

That’s exactly right.

Comments

  1. #1 Hercules Grytpype-Thynne
    April 3, 2011

    This is a perfect moment for them to stand for a modern, moderate Islam that condemns the burning of the book but also the killing of humans.

    “Exactly right?” No. To be “exactly right” Zakaria would have to avoid the false equivalence he implies when he uses constructions like “X is offensive but so is Y”, when in fact Y is considerably (I contemplated writing “infinitely”) more offensive than X.

    Now this would be “exactly right”:

    This is a perfect moment for them to stand for a modern, moderate Islam that condemns the killing of humans even more than it condemns the burning of the book.

  2. #2 FTS
    April 3, 2011

    I think that killing people over the burning of a book, even a so called holy book, is much, much, much worse than the burning of the book itself.

    How many Muslims protested against the death by whipping of that 14 year old rape victim in Bangladesh?

  3. #3 Jason Rosenhouse
    April 3, 2011

    I think you’re a bit overly literal here. I don’t think Zakaria believes that burning a book and killing people are equivalent crimes. What I liked about Zakaria’s essay is that he clearly puts the emphasis where it belongs. Not on Jones, who is just a publicity-seeking extremist, but on what it reveals about so much of Islamic culture.

  4. #4 JR
    April 3, 2011

    This is one more example of why religion in general and Islam in particular is harmful deceit. Pie in the sky by and by is no way to organize your life. Morality and religion usually stand at opposite ends of the street.

    Argh, how horrid is it to whip a 14-y-o girl to death, after she’s already been ravaged. And in the US, in Cleveland TX, there are over 20 people accused of raping (and videoing with their cell phones) an 11-y-o.

    At least the ministers in TX are just in favor of letting the guys go, because the girl acted older, as opposed to executing her for being a slut. Proud to not be from TX!

  5. #5 Hercules Grytpype-Thynne
    April 3, 2011

    The words “exactly right” have a meaning. I don’t find Zakaria’s framing of this to be “exactly right”, for the reason stated. Yes, he may be on the right track, but if he didn’t mean to implicitly equate book burning and killing, then he misstated his position. He describes both of these acts as “offensive”, a term which may be appropriately applied to the former, but is woefully inadequate to describe the latter. If, on the other hand, he did mean to implicitly equate the two, then he’s simply wrong.

  6. #6 Deepak Shetty
    April 3, 2011

    This is a perfect moment for them to stand for a modern, moderate Islam that condemns the burning of the book but also the killing of humans.
    We will keep watch for those statements.

    Yes that would be great.
    He doesn’t however say what it would mean if those statements don’t show up. It is nice that Zakaria emphasises this though – too often moderates would say “well ofcourse killing is wrong” and then spend the majority of their time explaining why book burning is oh so offensive .. Islamophobia … etc etc.

  7. #7 Harold
    April 3, 2011

    A *truly* moderate and modern Islam is one that looks at the book burning and just calls it silly. *Condemnation* still imparts some sort of metaphysical meaning to a block of ink stained wood pulp.

    Actually, a truly *modern* religion is one that does not exist, but that’s just a paradox.

  8. #8 Tacroy
    April 3, 2011

    @Hercules:

    Yes, he may be on the right track, but if he didn’t mean to implicitly equate book burning and killing, then he misstated his position.

    That is nowhere in the statement. Saying both A and B should be condemned does not mean that A is equivalent to B, merely that they are both in the category of “things which should be condemned”.

    Honestly, he probably thought that it just goes without saying that killing people is much worse than burning books.

  9. #9 SoulmanZ
    April 3, 2011

    It is very sad that Karzai played this up. He of all people should have known what could/would happen because of that

    The alternate way to view this argument from most here is that Jones, Karzai, the Taliban and the imams involved are all guilty, to some extent. The extent should be debatable, not the causation. Each one formed a knowing chain that led to murder.

    And the murderers are guilty, but that should go without saying. They are murderers.

  10. #10 SoulmanZ
    April 3, 2011

    Oh, and I like the gist of the article, as well as the inherent ability the author has to discuss seperate issues (like speech and action) serperately without conflating them

    I do hope at least some of the major Muslim leaders in the Arab world unequivocally condemn this as against Islam.

    I also hope, totally seperately, that Americans in general condemn Jones’ actions as grossly (even criminally) negligent, against America’s morals and (if relevant) Christianity.

    I am actually slightly more inclined to believe that the Muslim leaders will lead the way though.

  11. #11 Skeptico
    April 3, 2011

    This is a perfect moment for them to stand for a modern, moderate Islam that condemns the burning of the book but also the killing of humans.

    We will keep watch for those statements.

    I won’t be holding my breath.

  12. #12 Hercules Grytpype-Thynne
    April 3, 2011

    @6:

    Not just things that “should be condemned”, but “things that are offensive”. As I said before, “offensive” simply doesn’t begin to cover the wrongness of killing people.

    And the point is that there are apparently many people in the Muslim world for whom it doesn’t go without saying that killing people is much worse than burning books – or Zakaria wouldn’t have felt the need to make even the inadequate statement he did make.

  13. #13 Vince whirlwind
    April 3, 2011

    Young men burning draft cards; women burning bras – it seems perfectly natural for people revulsed by islam to burn its most prominent symbol.

    As a political ploy, it’s perfect, too – no matter how much people might condemn you for burning a book, you are garanteed of a reaction that involves violence and murder, actions which justify the initial demonstration.

    “Modern, moderate islam”? Where?

  14. #14 Tom
    April 3, 2011

    Just do the math. There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. Only a few hundred rioted. Not time to overreact.

  15. #15 tomh
    April 3, 2011

    SoulmanZ wrote:
    The alternate way to view this argument from most here is that Jones, Karzai, the Taliban and the imams involved are all guilty, to some extent.

    Since you view all those people as guilty, just what crime do you think Pastor Jones is guilty of? I’ve seen calls for him to be arrested and charged with everything from murder to inciting a war. What crime do you view him as having committed?

    I also hope, totally seperately, that Americans in general condemn Jones’ actions as grossly (even criminally) negligent, against America’s morals and (if relevant) Christianity.

    What does this even mean? You want Americans to condemn (?) Jones for general negligence? And then assert that he acted against “America’s morals?” There actually is no such thing as “America’s morals,” so I’m not sure how that would work. If there were such a thing, one of the pillars might be a belief in free speech. Free speech includes being able to make statements even if such statements might offend some religionist on the other side of the world.

  16. #16 Pierce R. Butler
    April 4, 2011

    Oh gee, the old “where are the moderate Muslims speaking out?” schtick we’ve heard 596,873 times before.

    Tell ya what, Zakaria – why don’t you go around and interview a range of Muslim leaders, or have your megacorp employers commission a scientifically-designed poll of imams? Or even do a thorough online search of statements about Jones’s latest dumb-ass stunt?

    And tell ya what else, Rosenhouse – why don’t you inform us why you praise a thoroughly trite, stereotyped and cliche-ridden excuse for journalism as “exactly right”?

  17. #17 SoulmanZ
    April 4, 2011

    tomh –

    Thanks for the questions.

    I think he is guilty of incitement to murder. I think that argument can be made coherently enough for him to face trial, and I think in many countries in the world this would happen. Even by Amercia’s laws it is a reasonable consideration

    Whether he would be found guilty depends on how much weight you give him being told his actions would lead to deaths. I give that a lot of weight from foreign policy experts. I think he knew people would die, and he acted in a way that made that happen.

    As for America’s Morals ™ I was being a little facetious.

    I think American’s deify personal freedom at the cost of personal and social responsibility. I hope (probably in vain) that American’s can see past their blind faith in the freedom to do anything, including but not limited to spewing hate speech and carrying assault weapons, and see that the rest of the western world not only disagrees that personal freedom is the ultimate goal of life, but actually also has the clear statistics to back them up – that allowing responsibility to be marginalised in the name of the religion of the individual is actually the primary cancer that all Amercian liberals are unknowingly fighting against.

    I think if any American liberal really thought hard about how the world outside America worked, they would see that all of the multitude of problems besetting the ol USA arise from that same source – “I should be able to do whatever I want, even if it hurts me or others” … and by proxy “I don’t need to do anything to help others, they can all do it themselves”.

    Corporate control of politics, the warmachine, degredation of education, union busting, the invasion of religion into the public realm, the housing bubble and predatory lending/borrowing practices

    It all can be tied directly to an over-inflated sense of personal entitlement right? And every western country that does not value personal freedom over responsibility in the same way is doing better

    In fact the only countries in the western world doing worse are widely known for their corruption and sense of entitlement. Gotta say something right?

    Sorry, /USA bashing! Y’all are OK!

  18. #18 Thomas
    April 4, 2011

    If you can’t accuse people for what they do, you can always accuse them for what they don’t do. Assuming they don’t. It’s not as if Western media is blameless when it comes to being selective in its reporting, and stories about bloodthirsty Muslims sells better then reconciliating Muslims.

  19. #19 Rieux
    April 4, 2011

    I think he is guilty of incitement to murder.

    Then I suggest you not quit your day job, because you don’t appear to have much of a knack for law.

    Incitement requires intent to spur violence. There is no evidence that Jones intended anything of the kind.

    What you are advocating is a heckler’s veto—the principle that any thug can silence any speech he or she doesn’t like by simply threatening to perpetrate severe violence if the speaker is not silenced. It’s an outrageous attack on the human right of free expression. Shame on you.

  20. #20 SoulmanZ
    April 4, 2011

    Rieux – nice one

    If he knew his action would lead to deaths, and he acted, does that not prove intent, or at the very least raise the possibility of intent? You dont have to agree with me that he did intend it, but to say “there is no evidence” is just plain wrong. Like saying you can eat without intending to absorb nutrients: if there is a direct, understood, causal relationship you cant pretend you actions were in isolation of the outcome.

    I said I am unsure criminal action would succeed, but it can fulfill the criteria:

    Intent – arguable. See above
    Imminence – happened within 2 weeks
    Likelihood – he was told by experts soldiers would die

    I am advocating what the rest of the western world agrees is common sense. Protecting lives is more important than burning a book you dont like.

    You do understand that obscenity is not protected by the first amendment right? So you cant watch the nasty porn, but your protected actions can lead to deaths across the world? Nice implementation of a constitution you have there

  21. #21 JG
    April 4, 2011

    I will bet you solid money there are countless moderate Muslims who are, unreported by CNN, condemning the violence.

  22. #22 tomh
    April 4, 2011

    SoulmanZ wrote:
    I think that argument can be made coherently enough for him to face trial, and I think in many countries in the world this would happen.

    You are correct, in many countries in the world Jones would be arrested and tried, under a hate speech law, or a law prohibiting offending religion, or some such. The US is different. There are no hate speech laws, and although religion enjoys innumerable special privileges, the right not to be offended isn’t one of them.

    Whether he would be found guilty depends on how much weight you give him being told his actions would lead to deaths.

    Whatever he was told by anyone would carry no weight at all, for no one “knew” what would happen two weeks later. If Karzai hadn’t stirred the pot for his own purposes probably nothing would have happened. A better argument could be made that the bookburning issue was merely a pretext for anti-American protests, as the AP reported yesterday on thousands rioting and policemen being killed, “The protests, which began Friday, also appear to be fueled more broadly by the resentment that has been building for years in Afghanistan over the operations of Western military forces.”

    The idea that Jones could be charged with incitement to murder, or sedition, or any other crime, merely shows a profound ignorance of US law.

  23. #23 Rieux
    April 4, 2011

    If he knew his action would lead to deaths, and he acted, does that not prove intent[?]

    No. Very obviously not. Again, don’t quit your day job.

    That analysis would destroy the very concept of intent. It’s a very good thing you’re not a judge.

    I am advocating what the rest of the western world agrees is common sense.

    An ugly proportion of the western world outrageously and arbitrarily violates human rights. Your argumentum ad populum fails.

    Protecting lives is more important than burning a book you dont like.

    I am flabbergasted that you are so apathetic about empowering thugs to silence any and all expression they do not like. The lives you speak of were taken by members of an Afghani mob, not by Jones. They are independent and intervening actors, no matter how clueless you are about such a concept.

    Imminence – happened within 2 weeks

    WTF? You don’t know what that word means, either. I weep for any defendant cursed with you on her jury.

    Likelihood – he was told by experts soldiers would die

    And no soldiers have died. You fail again.

    Look, obviously you have simply pre-ordained that Jones needs to be punished and are casting around for any rationale, no matter how mindless and false to fact or law, that could possibly be used to get him. That kind of freakish irrationality is precisely what law exists to prevent.

    We have laws—and they use terms like “intent” and “imminent” that mean things, whether you understand those things or not—for very good reasons. They are not infinitely malleable tools for use in your revenge projects.

    You do understand that obscenity is not protected by the first amendment right?

    You do understand that I’m an American attorney and you are a clueless ignorant, right?

    Obscenity law is a stupid and offensive attack on the human right of free expression. That it exists fails to justify your stupid and offensive attack on the human right of free expression.

    So you cant watch the nasty porn, but your protected actions can lead to deaths across the world?

    Jones’s protected actions did not “lead to” deaths across the world. The chain of proximate causation stopped at the Afghanis who responded to a speech act by killing innocent people. Any attempt to blame a speaker for his audience’s violent response to his speech is morally disgusting.

  24. #24 James Sweet
    April 4, 2011

    President Karzai has condemned the killing, presumably realizing that his political ploy backfired…

    How so? Seems to me his political ploy worked just fine for his aims…

  25. #25 H.H.
    April 4, 2011

    I don’t agree that burning a Koran is immoral because it is “offensive.” Faith itself is offensive. Unreason is offensive. Appeasing the religious is offensive. Demanding that any of these things deserve respect is doubly offensive, both intellectually and morally. If you want to identify the “root cause” of these violent deaths, you have to go back much further than two weeks ago. This didn’t happen because some pastor in Florida disrespected a Koran. It occurred because religion has been shown far too much undeserved respect and deference for far too long.

  26. #26 Collin Brendemuehl
    April 4, 2011

    #1
    The idea of any religious belief system becoming moderated brings with it a certain set of assumptions about the theology. An important one is this: Is the theology sufficiently malleable so that moderation might be emphasized either externally or internally in order to bring about the desired result? Even more important is this: Is the belief system willing to submit it self to such management.
    None of Islam, Christianity, or Judaism find themselves in such a malleable position. The orthodox positions of each requires that the eschatology transcend external governance. The militant (here used to indicate its mission-oriented approach, both initiating and asserting itself with its message into the world at large) theology of all three demands that the truth be spread.
    One would now ask how that works out given the various denominations/sects of each, even within the orthodox umbrella. The commonality with all is that there is a defined missiology in place. Missiology rarely, if ever, uncouples itself from the soteriology of the system and this provides the goal. The result is that each variant orthodoxy produces a functional missiology for the continuance of the parent systematic.
    Missiology is also and always eschatological. To remove or curtail missiology is to gut the system of its meaning.

    #2
    From an evangelical perspective, this burning was stupid. There was no gain. This type of apparent magisterial advancement of the Kingdom of God (through a demonstration of apparent authority) only shows how trivial his action really is.

  27. #27 tomh
    April 4, 2011

    @25 H.H. wrote:

    If you want to identify the “root cause” of these violent deaths, you have to go back much further than two weeks ago…It occurred because religion has been shown far too much undeserved respect and deference for far too long.

    Finally, a voice of reason. Exactly right. This has been going on as far back as we can see. The Christian pastor burns the other guys’ holy book to show how tough his god is. The Muslim piles up bodies and shows how much tougher his god is. (All things considered, I’m going to agree with the Muslim here.) This is what living in a religious world is like. Sometimes other sects get involved, sometimes body counts are much higher, but as far as we know it has always been this way, and as long as religion is such a dominant factor in the world, it will always be this way.

  28. #28 SoulmanZ
    April 4, 2011

    Rieux – for someone that is trying to pull off the rational highground you are pretty shrill

    because you already blockquoted everything, rather than making this a quote fest I will just address your points numerically

    1: Clear, heinous quote mine. You can see that right? I quote “proves intent, or at the very least raises the possibility”

    Raises the possibility. I was not definitive in my interpretation of the law. You know, that thing that judges interpret differently? You know, that thing you seem to think is written on a stone tablet at the top of a mountain by an omniscient being?

    2: Argumentum ad populum? Really? We are discussing social boundaries correct? Social constructs, correct? Things made by majorities, correct?

    I am sorry that law school taught you that using latin words = win. Any and every discussion of law, yours included, is argumentum as populum.

    3: Ahh, that lovely old slow roasted chestnut, the slippery slope. The one that doesnt work with safe injecting rooms. The one that doesnt work with decriminalisation of prostitution, or drugs. The one that doesnt work with removing the death penalty. The one that doesnt work with banning semi-automatic weapons. The one that doesnt work, period.

    If you cannot see the difference between intentionally inflaming very strained racial tensions in a warzone, and almost any other expression of free speech I wonder how you can differentiate anything in your day to day life. Do you see a difference between eating a piece of chocolate and a whole block? If you are consistent, then you are either very thin or very fat, because apparently there is no in between for you.

    4: Uhhh… no. Imminence. I could probably find you precedents if you wanted. Like, say, paying a hitman and 2 weeks later they killed the person. Clearly different … but it passed the immenece test, right? Standing alone your criticism of ‘imminence’ is just wrong. You know that, too

    5: Poe right? UN soldiers (hint: peacekeepers is another word for soldiers) were killed.

    The rest seems to be you spewing inchoate anger about me criticising your religion of the self, so I wont point by point it

    The very fact you think you are 100% right, while I just wrote that I think he could be pursued, with an unknown outcome seems to imply that only one of us has a pre-ordained viewpoint here

    Yes, I would want him charged. Yes, I would hope the judge was able to interpret the law to prevent assholes like Jones from being such assholes, even if it was just a warning slap.

    You dont. I get it. But your arguments are messy, and apparently, despite the fact that Law as a discipline is a lens to interpret justice,or justice is a lens to interpret the law if you prefer, you seem to argue from absolute certainty. Again, let me be facetious and say argumentum ad verecundiam – appeal to authority (personal authority in this case).

    Finally, as to proximate cause – yes, this is the argument that has legs. I agree. Tough to prove.
    But I think that, like a person who has been told the substance they use to poison someone is lethal, Jones was told that his actions would lead to death by the foreign policy equivalents of scientific experts.

    The very fact those things happened mean they were right.

    So he cant argue ignorance. What is left to argue? That he didnt care? That he thought they were wrong? That doesnt work for Mormons who kill their kids by lack of medical intervention. At least, sometimes. Again, messed up priorities some of you have.

    You can see the similarity right. The US government in a warzone is responsible, like a parent, for the welfare of its personnel and it’s allies’ personnel. The population, being the democracy behind the government, is also responsible for those folks. They are risking their lives for you. Every American, Jones inlcuded, has a responsibility to not put those who act on his behalf in harms way.

    I am not saying you have to agree with me, just stop being such a fanatical ass. If you dont open your mind to interpretation even a little bit and accept that sometimes individual ‘rights’ are outweighed by the rights of the society, then you have to be a pretty poor lawyer

    Or at least a tax evader, right?

  29. #29 Paul Murray
    April 4, 2011

    “I think that killing people over the burning of a book, even a so called holy book, is much, much, much worse than the burning of the book itself.”

    I would happily have shot the mob that burned the library at Alexandria. The books were precious and in many cases irreplaceable.

    These days, not so much. Book-burning is a relic of a time before the printing press.

  30. #30 Rieux
    April 4, 2011

    For someone that is trying to pull off the rational highground you are pretty shrill

    Cry me a river. You are advocating a morally reprehensible position, and doing so while demonstrating a severe ignorance of the legal and factual matters you are pontificating on.

    Such actions deserve scorn—a perfectly ordinary shaming mechanism—and I am applying same. If you don’t like it, I suggest you spend less time and energy advocating for the destruction of basic human rights.

    1: Clear, heinous quote mine. You can see that right? I quote “proves intent, or at the very least raises the possibility”
    Raises the possibility.

    Yes. What I noticed was that those three words mean nothing. Intent as a hypothetical “possibility” requires no facts and no premises at all. In court, or in a simple rational argument, “raises the possibility of intent” is an utterly meaningless formulation; the possibility is “raised” merely by suggesting it, not (as you pretended) on any evidentiary grounds.

    Those three words were an empty fog you posted to obscure your lack of an actual point. It is not “quote mining” to ignore your pointless attempts at diverting attention from your failure to proffer an argument.

    I was not definitive in my interpretation of the law.

    Boy, you can say that again. And yet you pontificate wildly. Has it ever occurred to you that that’s ridiculous? And worthy of disdain?

    You know, that thing you seem to think is written on a stone tablet at the top of a mountain by an omniscient being?

    Buddy, the fact that you are ignorant of an issue of law hardly makes it a Commandment. It just means that your ignorance leads you to say things that anyone with a basic understanding of law recognizes are obviously false.

    Hey, look, a perfect case in point:

    2: Argumentum ad populum? Really? We are discussing social boundaries correct? Social constructs, correct? Things made by majorities, correct?

    No. See, that’s your shocking ignorance talking again.

    We are not talking about “things made by majorities.” We are talking about human rights, which (as an elementary matter of law, both American and international) are inalienable things that are not subject to the whims of the majority you just appealed to.

    The First Amendment, to cite a centrally relevant codification of the human right to free expression, is not “made by majorities.” You are precisely 180˚ wrong: the Bill of Rights (like numerous other constitutional guarantees of human rights) exists to limit the power of majorities to violate the rights of innocent human beings.

    All of this is basic, primary-school-level civics. And yet you post bizarre things like “We are discussing social boundaries correct? Social constructs, correct? Things made by majorities, correct?”

    That level of shocking ignorance needs to be called by its right name, “shrill” though that name is.

    I am sorry that law school taught you that using latin words = win.

    Wow. What comical sour-grapes anti-intellectualism.

    Any and every discussion of law, yours included, is argumentum as populum.

    Again: clueless. It’s just jaw-dropping that you think all law is majority rule. I fervently hope you never acquire political power.

    3: Ahh, that lovely old slow roasted chestnut, the slippery slope.

    What in the world are you talking about? There is no “slope.” Your explicit moral position, right now, is that when a violent thug threatens to perpetrate violence if anyone engages in Speech X, anyone who thereupon engages in Speech X is criminally culpable for the thug’s violent acts. That’s not a “slope”; you are there. You are directly attempting to enforce the thug’s desired censorship policy. It’s a disgusting position that you should be ashamed of yourself for openly supporting, but there’s nothing hypothetical about it.

    If you cannot see the difference between intentionally inflaming….

    You’re incredible. You admitted that you cannot show intent (but only your fig-leaf fog, “raise[ ] the possibility”). But now you pretend you’ve shown intent. Fail.

    ….very strained racial tensions in a warzone,

    You simply refuse to face the actual moral question being posed. The Afghanis in question are not a “warzone,” they are not “tensions.” They are human beings who made an independent decision to resort to violence. Your pretense that that decision can be blamed on someone for allegedly offensive speech is disgusting and shameful.

    Imminence. I could probably find you precedents if you wanted. Like, say, paying a hitman and 2 weeks later they killed the person. Clearly different … but it passed the immenece test, right?

    No. That fails “imminence” by miles.

    Again, your ignorance is astounding. The legal concept of imminence is a matter of seconds or minutes. Seconds or minutes. That you think an alleged cause-and-effect connection that spans weeks is nonetheless “imminent” simply shows that you know nothing—absolutely nothing—about the legal matters you seek to opine about. Two weeks “passe[s] the immenece [sic] test”? It’s simply mind-boggling how far off your understanding of these matters is.

    Standing alone your criticism of ‘imminence’ is just wrong.

    FFS, what in the world basis do you have to say anything of the kind? You are laboring under unbelievable misconceptions about basic notions, such as inalienable human rights—and you think that your freakish misunderstanding of terms of art such as “imminent” gives you a platform to declare someone with a basic grounding in such matters “just wrong”? How in the world would you even know?

    5: Poe right? UN soldiers (hint: peacekeepers is another word for soldiers) were killed.

    What incredible dishonesty. You seriously think you can get away with pretending that that’s what you meant?

    You introduced the notion of “soldiers” to this thread, in your absurd attempt to indict Jones:

    Likelihood – he was told by experts soldiers would die

    Presuming that you’re not citing a figment of your imagination, this can only be a reference to the warning Jones received from American general David Petraeus that American servicemembers would be endangered if Jones went ahead with his original plan to burn the Qur’an. Your use of “soldiers” referred to American servicemembers.

    And I pointed out that that particular fact in your indictment was false: the specific risk Jones was “warned” about has not turned out to be correct. This is both yet another hole in your indictment and another indication of the continual carelessness with which you argue.

    But rather than recognize and concede your error, you decided to lie, conveniently forget what you were referring to as “soldiers,” and sneer that U.N. peacekeepers are a kind of “soldiers.” Nice try, but my comment was a relevant response to your argument. I did not appreciate how disingenuously you would decide you could move goalposts at will.

    The very fact you think you are 100% right, while I just wrote that I think he could be pursued, with an unknown outcome….

    What a laughable lie.

    Here’s you, in your less-than-100% certainty, mewing that “he could be pursued”:

    I think he is guilty of incitement to murder.

    Boy howdy, now that’s nuanced.

    Your dishonesty is both ridiculous and pointless. You think, and have asserted, that Jones is criminally culpable. Stop lying.

    ….seems to imply that only one of us has a pre-ordained viewpoint here.

    Whatever. You are attacking a fundamental human right. I am defending it. I see no need to apologize for being clear about it.

    Yes, I would hope the judge was able to interpret the law to prevent assholes like Jones from being such assholes, even if it was just a warning slap.

    Fine. You are siding with autocratic tyranny. I am siding with human rights. I have no problem with making those sides clear.

    ….you seem to argue from absolute certainty.

    More disingenuous nonsense; you are no less set in your convictions about destroying human rights than I am in my convictions to preserve them. Regardless, “absolute certainty” is surely preferable to shocking ignorance.

    But I think that, like a person who has been told the substance they use to poison someone is lethal….

    And there the depravity of your (im)moral argument is laid bare: A poison is an inanimate substance. Afghanis are human beings. The fact that you cannot even concoct a metaphorical justification for your attack on free expression without dehumanizing the centrally relevant actors in the current incident is an indication of how divorced your theory is from actual notions of human justice.

    You pretend that fully grown human beings are analogous to a mindless chemical process. They are not, and thus your argument collapses. Jones is guilty only of exercising his human right to free expression in a manner that makes certain people unhappy. Your pretense that that renders him responsible for thugs’ violent retaliation is simple barbarism. You should be ashamed.

  31. #31 SoulmanZ
    April 5, 2011

    OK, I am out. I wont lie, it was a good troll you had going. The seeming knowledge of law roped me in. But I am out.

    Final points. Listen if you want. Whinge if you want. Enjoy whatever choice you make.

    If someone says “I” think he is guilty of incitement to murder, does that necessarily mean “I think everyone thinks that”, or that “I think my view is pre-emminent”? You asked what I thought. I replied my own personal opinion. I would be willing to argue it. I wouldn’t expect everyone else to agree, although even vaguely listening would be nice.

    And just because your constitution calls something an “inalienable human right” does not make it so. My country, one of the USA’s biggest allies in Afghanistan, with soldier’s at risk, does not regard it thus. There is no such universal law, even among like countries.

    So enjoy your own personal interpretation of universailty there. Ignore that your own interpretation is exactly what is wrong with your country. Keep sticking your fingers in your ears.

    And keep pretending laws dont follow majority rule too. Even in America. Who votes for the lawmakers? Who raises candidates for the supreme court?

    Cheers. Have a great life.

  32. #32 H.H.
    April 5, 2011

    Jones is guilty only of exercising his human right to free expression in a manner that makes certain people unhappy.

    Exactly.

    And there is something just so condescending and, dare I say, racist about those who want to blame Jones, which is their swiftness to dehumanize those actually responsible for these murders. They don’t consider incensed Muslims responsible for their own actions in the same way that children aren’t responsible for their tantrums, or in the way that a combustible gas isn’t responsible for exploding. Jones should have known something like this would happen. It was inevitable. Those crazed brown people just can’t be expected to conduct themselves like civilized human beings.

    Bullshit. Rieux is 100% correct. This is a free speech issue. If you don’t like someone “disrespecting” you, your religion, your momma, your gang, your hood, or whatever it is you personally value, then you can talk trash in return. You don’t get to hurt them. You don’t get to escalate the conflict into violence. Ever. Even taking a swing at someone who insults your handicapped child is morally wrong. And in this case we’re not just talking simple violence, but mass murder! How can anyone question that the whole of the blame rests on the shoulders of those who committed it?

  33. #33 Rieux
    April 5, 2011

    Clueless to the last.

    No matter how jealously you guard your ignorance, inalienable human rights are inalienable human rights, and they need no warrant (nor have I argued that they do) from the United States Constitution. Your disinterest in (indeed, opposition to) the freedom of expression does not make it any less a bedrock human right.

    And human rights are not subject to the tyranny of the majority. That is surely something a civics teacher told you when you were ten or twelve years old, but it appears you weren’t listening. More’s the pity.

    Article 19.

    Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

    – Universal Declaration of Human Rights

    There are several points worth highlighting about all of this. First, it demonstrates how many people purport to believe in free speech but don’t. The whole point of the First Amendment is that one is free to express the most marginalized, repellent, provocative and offensive ideas. Those are the views that are always targeted for suppression. Mainstream orthodoxies, harmless ideas, and inoffensive platitudes require no protection as they are not, by definition, vulnerable to censorship. But as has been repeatedly seen in history, ideas that are despised and marginalized are often proven right, while ideas that enjoy the status of orthodoxy prove to be deeply erroneous or even evil. That’s why no rational person trusts the state — or even themselves — to create lists of Prohibited Ideas. And those who endorse the notion that ideas they hate should be forcibly suppressed inevitably — and deservedly — will have their own ideas eventually targeted by the same repressive instruments.

    If you’re someone who wants to vest the state with the power to punish the expression of certain views on the grounds that the view is so wrong and/or hurtful that its expression should not be permitted — as European countries and Canada routinely do — then you’re someone who does not believe in free speech, by definition; what you believe is that one is free to express only those viewpoints which the majority of citizens (and the State) allow to be expressed. Many of the most important views throughout history have been, at some point, hurtful, dangerous and even violence-engendering. The whole reason for free speech protections is to safeguard such ideas — despised by the majority — from suppression. Burning the Koran is despicable, but it’s every bit as much core political speech as burning the American flag or an effigy of a hated political leader, or tearing up a picture of — or publishing cartoons unfavorably depicting — a religious leader.

    – Glenn Greenwald (emphasis added)

  34. #34 Rieux
    April 5, 2011

    …That last was directed at the estimable SoulmanZ, and not H.H., of course.

  35. #35 Deepak Shetty
    April 5, 2011

    SoulmanZ
    Suppose someone responds to your comments and essentially threatens violence to you or your community or your countrymen because he/she doesnt like what you are saying , and further that if he/she sees you post anywhere you will be responsible for the deaths caused – and that you have been warned.

    Suppose you do post and suppose some deaths are caused. Are you responsible?

  36. #36 Jlue
    April 7, 2011

    Many Muslim leaders – from the Afghan government to the Pakistani government to local activists – condemn the burning of the Quran. That’s appropriate. Burning the Holy Book of any religion is offensive.

    But so is killing people in reaction to that burning. And this is where there is still far too much silence in the Muslim world.

    Please allow me to correct you on one point here. Burning the Quran was offensive to all Muslims and I do not condone what the man in FL did, however, killing people in reaction to that is more than offensive. It is a crime.

  37. #37 Pierce R. Butler
    April 10, 2011

    Just for the record: either Zakaria or Rosenhouse should easily have been able to find “American Muslims Condemn Senseless Killing of U.N. Workers in Afghanistan” by April 3, as it had been posted two days earlier.

The site is currently under maintenance and will be back shortly. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon.