Burning the Quran

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Peter Grant (September 24, 2010, 16:15:58 PM):
Gateshead Quran-burning
Tweefo (September 24, 2010, 16:55:18 PM):
If the Muslims did not over react when Terry Jones said he was going to do this I think this would have been a non event. Somebody threatened to burn the God Delusion and Dawkins just pulled up his shoulders. Are people burning the God delusion? At R400 a copy, definitely no.
Julian (September 24, 2010, 18:55:26 PM):

I wonder if PZ is going to burn his Koran or otherwise publicly defile it as with the cracker incident. If normally mild-mannered Catholics got so upset about the cracker, I'd hate to think what the reaction would be from the far more sensitive Muslims.
maturin (September 26, 2010, 07:29:31 AM):
To my mind, the best comment on PZ Myers' blog post http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/09/grow_up_gateshead.php is this one by ThirdMonkey:

This argument about not offending people’s religious sensitivities seems to be coming up quite a bit lately so I’ve decided to pontificate on the topic.

I was recently asked how is drawing mohammed not the same as calling a black person “nigger”?

Of course this is a nonsense comparison but I had to think for a second to figure out why and the answer was deceptively simple.

No one has a choice in the circumstances of their birth. To disparage someone on the basis of race, sexual orientation, parents or other aspects of the random chance around their birth is unfair, inappropriate and is not a defendable action.

However, everyone has a choice in their religious beliefs. You choose to believe what you believe. You might not have much choice in what faith your parents indoctrinate you with and in some cases choosing not to believe may have serious consequences but you still have a choice. No one is born believing in any particular religion. I think that most people forget that religion is a choice and confuse it with something they are born with, like race.

So when someone is offended at someone else for not respecting that choice they are choosing to be offended. Why would they choose to be offended? I can think of two reasons: to show how pious they are to fellow believers and as a weapon of intimidation. Whenever I see muslims rioting, screaming with anger, tearing at their clothes and hair in rage, all I see are people who are trying to show their fellow muslims and their leaders how pious they are (a desire likely rooted in apostacism being a capital offence). Then their leaders see this and choose to use it as a terror weapon. They encourage this behavior, foster it and grow it until the rioters actually believe that any insult should be responded to with rage. The leaders take this and show it to their enemies as a threat. “Look at our followers devotion! Look at their rage! Do what we say or we won’t be responsible for their actions!”

They gain power over others by intimidating them into “respecting” their beliefs and the first step in doing so is by displaying disproportional responses of outrage to the slightest, most insignificant displays of disrespect.

How do we fight this? Show them that we will not be intimidated. Drawing mohammed or (less tastefully) burning Korans demonstrates that we don’t care how “offended” you are and we will not be intimidated. We have to take away the sanctity of their symbols so they can’t be used as tools of control. One way to do that is to desensitize them by bombarding them with shows of disrespect for their iconography. Eventually either their heads will explode or they will realize that it is meaningless and stop getting so upset.

Taking offence is the choice of the offended, not the offender. That’s why it is called “taking offence”. No one has the right not be offended and shows of offense should only be interpreted as an attempt at intimidation. Never submit to the demands of others in the name of not offending them.
Julian (September 26, 2010, 10:09:49 AM):
I would add that when we draw mohammed we are ridiculing an idea, whereas with racial slurs we are attacking the person directly.


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