The Fox News website posted the AP story yesterday:
“A Florida pastor was arrested Wednesday as he drove a pickup truck towing a large barbecue-style grill filled with kerosene-soaked Korans to a park, where the pastor had said he was planning to burn 2,998 of the Muslim holy books — one for every victim of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Sheriff’s deputies in Polk County, Fla., arrested Pastor Terry Jones, 61, and his associate pastor, Marvin Sapp Jr., 44, each on a felony charge of unlawful conveyance of fuel. Jones had said he was heading to a nearby park in Mulberry to burn the Korans on Wednesday, the 12th anniversary of the attacks. Sheriff’s officials said that Jones was also charged with unlawful open-carry of a firearm, a misdemeanor, and that Sapp faces a charge of having no valid registration for the trailer. Both were being booked Wednesday night into the Polk County jail, according to Sheriff Grady Judd.”
Because of a virtually infinite number of regulations, a person wanting to exercise free speech through a symbolic act has no real appeal to the First Amendment. He can be jailed if the officials want to stop him. The pastors were obviously targeted to prevent them from exercising their right of free speech:
“Mulberry’s mayor, along with area elected officials, a sheriff’s deputy and several Polk County residents have talked about the need to express love and tolerance for all faiths on Sept. 11.”
Welcome to Amerika. The opinion of anyone in government or in (gotta love the Orwellian irony) “law enforcement” should not matter one bit. It is legal to burn Bibles, burn the American Flag, and even to burn Korans. The pastor may be stupid to do it. He may be uncouth. He may be spreading unnecessary hate if one disagrees that the Koran itself is responsible for 9-11. It doesn’t matter; he is supposed to be free to do stupid, uncouth, hateful acts of communication in this country. It is legal to burn a cross on private property while dressed like a moron in a white gown and hood. People who do so disgust me. I won’t associate with them (one of the choices the state still graciously allows me to make). But the state has no more right to stop them than I have the right to use a gun and stop them myself.
“Jones has repeatedly ignored pleas from the U.S. military asking him not to stage his protests. Military officials say his actions put American and Western troops in Afghanistan and elsewhere in danger.”
That’s sad, but the First Amendment still holds. The government had no business targeting these people due to their plans to express their beliefs. Furthermore, the military’s commanders are happy to burn Bibles for the sake of Muslims. So they can back off and shut up about burning Korans in the USA.
I think burning a Koran is stupid and childish. But when I hear that people who burn Bibles are suddenly throwing a fit, I am tempted to add kindling.