My New Religion
I began thinking about the proposal to burn the Qur’an on September 11th. Pastor Terry, as we know now, was bluffing. His goal was “to expose that there is an element of that is very dangerous and very radical” as he puts it. I agree with him in that respect. In my opinion, anyone who interprets what the Bible, Qur’an, etc., says to be real is beyond the realm of human rationality. If burning books is my religion then who is to tell me it’s wrong? If being a anti-gay, anti-military, anti-meat, anti-abortion, or anti-stupid is what I believe then technically everyone has the right to disagree, but I have still have the right to believe such things—as long, of course, as I don’t cause harm to others.
So a literal reading of the Qur’an says to love your family and Allah and don’t eat pig…that’s fine. When it says to kill Infidels, well, that’s a different story. The Bible says to not lie, or steal, or nail your neighbor’s wife…ok whatever. When people show up on my doorstep on a Saturday morning to tell me that Adam and Eve sinned; and Jesus paid for that sin by dying on the cross; and that a space god will someday forgive me of those sins; and I will live with him, and my family, and all my dead do-gooder friends in a house of gold and clouds and translucent houses…I reserve the right to call them an unmentionable name and shoe them off my porch. In some ways I envy their naivety, and in others I despise it…usually the latter.
Anyway, back to the whole “burning the Qur’an and why a fundamentalist’s view of this is distorted” thing. No where in the Constitution does it say that burning the Qur’an is alright. However, the Constitution allows for the free expression of people, some of whom may wish to burn things. If the burning of a US flag is protected as such an expression then a Qur’an is fair game. Nazis can march, God can hate fags, etc. etc. We all can identify hateful things others have said about us or our social group. Deal with this you less than sane fundamentalists. It is the grand bargain of living in America.
The same Constitutional protection that guarantees free exercise of religion for Muslims & other mainstream religions in America allows it for this group in Florida. It is often said that freedom is not free; well, one’s own freedom of worship and expression has a cost, allowing others the same freedom even when it offends or disgusts us.
Just to be contrarian, which I’ve been known to be, but why not have a book burning of all religious texts? Such an act would thereby prove, at least for a brief period, that the book itself is not the content. I can go out and buy a new Torah, King James Bible, Qur’an, Book of Mormon, Book of Urantia, or any other fairy tale, regardless of whether some dolt burns it or not. The act does not negate the text or the words. Is the ritualistic burning of all of these sacred texts truly sinister? No. As a society we agree that it is so, as we agree that book burning is a symbolic act of trying to negate the text. As an agnostic I would consider burning a Tucker Max book, or Shakespeare for that matter, just to be “sinister” only because I get greater reading pleasure from them.
Having said that, I think the burning of another’s religious text as a sign of rejection or protest is asinine. The act of burning doesn't negate Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Mormonism, Scientology, or even being a Jedi. It’s just a way to be insulting. The pastor that organized this burning is an “ass hat” as my 14-year-old nephew would say. The people that attend the event are just misled “ass hats.” The worst thing we can do is to fan the flames by giving it greater symbolic weight than it deserves.
Oh and by the way, the hyper-sensitivity expressed by some Muslims is just as silly. If the faith of a person is precariously perched upon the physical presence of a book then it speaks volumes about the precarious nature of that person’s faith. And why is one person’s sensitivity greater than another? It isn’t a question of who was first—the Jew, the Mormon, the Christian, the Muslim, the alien, the chicken, or the egg; it’s just a question of being respectful towards your fellow human being.
My new religion…George Carlin is God, DeNiro stands at heaven to check you in, and Abe Vigoda decides if you get in or not, we never meet to pray, and our holy book is Webster’s Thesaurus. This is the Word of Deniro…thanks be to George.