Friday, 10 September 2010

Pastor Jones, burning books and freedom of speech

How is it that a potty, self engrandising little pastor (I speak of Terry Jones) can have the world running around in a spin? Pastor Jones has a flock of under 30 - and that’s on a good day; his flock are dedicated to worshipping Christianity in its purest forms. And that includes, we understand, the belief that the Qur’an is a hateful book.

One reason is, of course, that the Pastor is a fundamentalist with little or no concern about the impact of his beliefs on others. A mark of fundamentalism.

Another reason is that the people in a spin are right in assessing that his demonstration is likely to cause death and injury; mostly likely to armed forces personnel. And why are they right? Because there is another group of fundamentalists who’ll go out and kill and maim people because they think the book-burning is wrong. However sacred a book, can the murder of others ever be a just reaction. Of course not.

What we have here are two minorities within larger groups prepared to insult and kill each other in the name of a Saviour and a life beyond this one.

If the irony of this weren’t so very, very serious it would be laughable.

Of course the Pastor shouldn’t be burning the Qur’ans; but look at all the publicity his statement has won him.

On a wider note, burning books can never be justified. It’s suppressing knowledge and learning. Hitler did it. In the 80s I was shocked to find Labour politicians supporting the burning of SATANIC VERSES - what a great novel that is. Causing offence is a poor defence. It was no defence when Jack Straw supported the banning of the Cartoons and Labour Ministers condemned the BRASS TACKS satire on media sensationalising of paedophilia.

In the UK we believe in free speech and artistic freedom. Artists will sometimes shock and offend - it’s a weapon in our armoury.

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