September 9, 2010

What's so terrible about book burning?

I'm wondering, after reading this hyperventilation in the always-awful "On Faith" section of the Washington Post. The author is Gustav Niebuhr:
In the United States, short of causing arson, you can burn a book, just as you can America's most sacred symbol, the U.S. flag. It's Constitutionally guaranteed. Free speech.

The moral question here is, how do we handle our freedom, which permits us appalling, anti-social acts?

As an American who deeply believes in free speech, I regard burning a book as a nearly unspeakably terrible thing. It is an assault on knowledge, and the societal value of allowing people to read and decide for themselves whether what they read has meaning to them. Torch a book and you at least symbolically deny your fellow men and women that freedom.

What's more, you replicate images of a political brutality--book burnings in Germany in the 1930s--that will haunt our planet for generations to come.
Good lord. There's an immense difference between burning your own book as a way of saying "I hate this book" — which adds more expression to the marketplace of ideas — and the confiscation and destruction of other people's books — which is about depriving people of access to expression that they want to consume.

It's offensive to say "I hate this book" about a book that some people revere, but that's the point. It's a vigorous, vicious expression. Burning your own copy of a book is the same thing. Unless you possess the only copy of the book — or, perhaps, an artistically or historically distinctive copy — the burning is just a way of being showily expressive and getting a big audience. It's absurd that any clown who wants attention can light a tiny fire and become world famous. Get a grip, people.

I find it hard to believe that Niebuhr and hyperventilators like him are big readers of important books, because their minds seem pretty feeble to me. "Torch a book and you at least symbolically deny your fellow men and women that freedom." At least symbolically. Or, to put it another way, i.e., truthfully: You don't deny other people anything. You give them something: the information that is your hatred of a book. And as they "decide for themselves whether what they read has meaning," they can take into account that you hate the book. It's not going to be a very influential piece of information, because you're just some attention whore who burned a book instead of articulating a pithy critique of it.

Yes, conceivably, a private group burning its own books might be intimidating, but that would only be because we have other, much greater reasons to fear that group or the movement it represents. And yes, when you burn a book, you adopt an image associated with the Nazis, but that marginalizes you. We don't cower every time some marginal idiot draws a swastika or does the Hitler salute. You're free to express yourself, but I think lavishing outrage on some nobody empowers him. Why not ignore what is worthless? It's a marketplace of ideas. Why are you even browsing the crap?

UPDATE: Pastor Terry Jones has announced that he won't be burning the Koran after all.

226 comments:

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John Lynch said...

Synova is so cool. She makes me redundant.

Almost Ali said...

Now we know what our leaders would heretofore never admit: Islam is not a religion of peace, but a huge, murderous, psychotic cult.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Damn! And I was soooo looking forward to the coming smackdown!

You guys are all fags. Especially Hoosier. If he were a real man he'd do a one-man koran burning himself and beam it live into Mecca. Better yet, if he had any real balls and not those fake plastic truck nuts he'd parachute into Mecca and burn the koran himself, in person! But noooooo!

Fucking pussy-ass FAG!

traditionalguy said...

The "peace" sought by mosque builders is the peace from 100% submission to the Sharia law that Mohammed wrote down by plagiarising the Jewish and Christian scriptures and eliminating from them any "son of God" or atonement for sin from Jesus's death, burial and resurrection. The Islam captives are left under a horrible iron law with no hope except law keeping...maybe, maybe not. Mohammed is the strongest anti-christ force in the world and consciously repudiates Christianity and all Christians.

jr565 said...

Drudge had pictures of a protest against the burning of the Koran in Afghanistan and the protesters burned our american flag. Note though that we didn't in fact burn the koran, but they did burn the flag. So, now, in the interest of mutual understanding and compassion I demand that moderate Muslims renounce those who burned the flag. Since we must understand them, they need to understand us, and atone for their desecrtation of our sacred flag.
If not, there will be hell to pay. Muslims will be rounded up and their heads will be chopped off with rusty scimitars. And there will be riots and burning cars, and the city will become a warzone. Oh, wait, that only happens when Muslims are aggrieved.

A Conservative Teacher said...

This whole episode, especially when compared to the media and liberals response to the Ground Zero mosque, is very interesting. Building a mosque on the site where Muslim extermists killed thousands is 'free speech.' Burning a copy of a book that you own is horrible and the President must call you out on national TV? Where were all the liberals and Democrats jumping to defend this pastor's right to free speech? Or is it only selective?

Synova said...

To be fair, what I have heard contains the caveat that the pastor has the right to burn the Koran, but shouldn't.

Of course, not everyone is fair. When the same caveat was included in almost every statement about the mosque/community center, those pointing out that despite this right the mosque shouldn't be built were all anti-Islamic extremist bigots.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

I blame flaming liberals like that pansy homosexual Muslim-lover General David Petraeus for the way this whole debacle has gone down.

What gives him the right to determine how best to fight a war on terror? That arrogant, liberal, elitist son of a bitch!

AC245 said...

John Lynch said...

Synova is so cool.


Seconded. Great comments from her on the various threads over the last few days.

jr565 said...

Ritmo wrote:
I blame flaming liberals like that pansy homosexual Muslim-lover General David Petraeus for the way this whole debacle has gone down.

What gives him the right to determine how best to fight a war on terror? That arrogant, liberal, elitist son of a bitch!

wait you mean General Betray Us? I thought the liberals hated that guy. Suddenly he knows how to fight wars?

bagoh20 said...

I doubt that W. would have been foolish enough to stick his nose in this crap. That's just one of the reason I miss having a President rather than a community organizer in charge. This guy is just pathetic.

shana said...

I'm still waiting to hear from AlphaLiberal about the "rancid campaign of hate against Muslims that Palin's supposedly engaged in. Got any examples, AL? Or do you think you can just throw around accusations without worrying about whether they're, like, true or not?

Hoosier Daddy said...

You guys are all fags. Especially Hoosier.

What? Did I fall into a time warp and get zapped back to the 5th grade?

Data Schlepper said...

How about burning a magazine? Is that allowed? I've come to hate the Sunday New York Times magazine section. What would happen if I burned it?

Robert Cook said...

Pogo, a font of perpetual hilarity, said:

"Plus, (leftists) forget that the Nazis were also leftists."

Hahahahahahaha!!

So silly, so dumb...another shmoe who swallows Jonah Goldberg's meretricious argument that fascism is inherently "liberal" or "leftist," and that the Nazis were an example of this moronic oxymoron. Oy!

Robert Cook said...

"I'm pretty comfortable saying FDR had much more to do with crushing the fascists than Stalin did."

I am no expert, and the American effort against the Nazis was certainly significant, but there are those who would say it was the Russians who were the greater cause of Hitler's defeat.

Hoosier Daddy said...

I am no expert, and the American effort against the Nazis was certainly significant, but there are those who would say it was the Russians who were the greater cause of Hitler's defeat.

From a standpoint of sucking up the greater number of German divisions, yes. But this war wasn't just about who killed more soldiers but who could field more men and equipment. We supplied the Soviets the better part of a quarter million trucks which essentially turned a foot army into a motorized one. The USAC effectively destroyed the Luftwaffe through strategic bombing which kept German aircraft at home rather then on the battlefield where should have been.

Then you have the US which just got into the ETO in 1942 and within less than two years conducted three major amphibious landings and were pushing onto Paris. From an industrial standpoint alone, by 1944 our output surpassed Britain, Russia and Germany. Combined.

Oh and we also, for all intents and purposes, single handedly fighting Japan at the same time, in a theater on the other side of the planet. Quite a logistical feat especially considering the smackdown the Pac Fleet took in 1941.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Actually the biggest factor in Germany's defeat was Hitler's micromanagement of the war. Here are just a few major fubars:

1)Listening to Goering and allowing the Battle of Britian

2)Refusal to retreat from Stalingrad (and listening to Goreing who thought he could resupply the 6th army by air)

3)Declaring war on the United States

#1 was basically a tactical setback but Germany lost far too many planes and pilots for naught.

#2 and #3 effectively ended Hitler's ambitions. His only hope would have been had either the US or USSR sued for peace, which essentially was his gambit for the Ardennes Offensive.

Hoosier Daddy said...

I will just reiterate that while strategic bombing didn't considerably reduce German industrial output, it diverted massive amounts of resources that unhindered, would have made Germany more formidable then it was. Also, you cannot fully appreciate the impact of removing the Luftwaffe from the battlefield. Airpower doesn't win wars but you can't win without it.

By late 1943 we had complete air supremacy, that means we owned the sky over Allied territory. One argument in favor of Hitler refusing to release his tank divisions onto Normandy is that US fighter bombers would have massacred them enroute. WW2 was a war of mobility and airpower can effectively keep you from moving and if you can' move, you die.

One reason the Battle of the Bulge was so devastatingly effective early one was day after day of overcast which meant Allied aircraft were grounded and Wehermacht and SS divisions moved at will. When the skies cleared it was game over, particularly since the Germans didn't reach Antwerp.

Marshal said...

Hoosier,

Your list talks around but doesn't explicitly state his biggest mistake: deciding to attack the USSR.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Hoosier,

Your list talks around but doesn't explicitly state his biggest mistake: deciding to attack the USSR.


Not really because it was his ultimate goal that had a pretty good possibility of succeeding had he left the overall strategy to the OKW and not dragged the US into the ETO by declaring war.

Again its speculation but IMO bringing in the US with its industrial output into the war was the death knell. Give Germany unfettered industrial production (no strategic bombing) and the Luftwaffe roaming the skies and it's questionable whether the Soviets would have held out much less won the war.

Methadras said...

Hoosier Daddy said...

You guys are all fags. Especially Hoosier.

What? Did I fall into a time warp and get zapped back to the 5th grade?


No, You've run into Schtickmo's alter ego, Jeremy. Or Jeremy forgot to change his account back from Schtickmo to Jeremy.

wv = slambra = TrooperYork, any comments?

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Meth Headerast gave himself that name because he likes to give head. And he can't spell.

He's a definite fag. Pansy to the extreme. He wouldn't even go into Afghanistan if you paid him.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

You guys are all fags. Especially Hoosier.

What? Did I fall into a time warp and get zapped back to the 5th grade?


Wow. Your friends could tell you were a fag even then?

They say these things are evident from very early on, Hoosier.

orbicularioculi said...

The real story is the "reaction" of 7th Century barbarians to the threat of burning a book. And the threat of a 21st Century barbarian mullah, Rauf in NYC to getting his way or "heads will roll" (literally).

Americans are becoming more and more aware of the intolerance and hatred of "practicing Muslims" (those who believe that the commands of Allah and Mohammed in the Koran, Sira and Hadith must be followed).

Islam produces a class of sociopathic adherents who believe that kafirs (non-Muslims) may be murdered, tortured, abuse, raped, stolen from and mistreated with impunity and without "shame".

There is no word for conscience in Arabic and there is no Golden Rule in Islam. Islam is an intolerant Political and Cultural System with a soupcon of religion thrown in (applicable only to Muslims)

gregg said...

After living in Egypt with islam being the guiding rules for everything, nothing a muzlim does can surprise me. How can a person find this reaction anything but typical for a muzlim.
Moohammed married a 6 year old child and banged her at 9 before she could develop any critique of his "manliness". this is common in pedophiles. If you have a tiny penis you go where no one knows what a real man is too play.
Moohammed wanted to bang a married jewish woman. To ensure that she was receptive to his advances without any hesitation, he murdered her husband while she watched. Any one would rave about old Moo's performance if getting your throat slit was the only other option. Ride that teeny weenie you big girl.
Anyone that has lived among muzlums, not just known them but KNOWS them, has to notice all of the young 6 to 12 year old boys they keep around. Well old Moo saw a girl bent over fetching some item and wanted to play hide the salami with her. turns out the she was a he. Good Old Moo was quick to think and stated that satan, (the musleem version of a higher power) told him that if the boys had no pubic hair then it was OK to mudslide them to his hearts content. Every male muzie that can afford it has his harem of tight back door boys.
When old Moo ran across a Jew that noted that old Moo just combines a bunch of pagan rituals with some jewish and christian ones and called it new and unique, that old satan told Moo to just lie in satans name to any one that questioned him.
Satan then went whole hog, so to speak, and commanded moo to lie, cheat, steal, murder, enslave and of course rape, everyone that he could not convert.

Who would not riot over unburned books if you could have everything the old evil heart desired in the name of good old satan?? islam is a soul killer and it is doing just that. muzlums hide in dresses, wetting their pants while brave men hunt them. I guess I understand as all muzlum men were once boys and we all KNOW what men do to these young boys. If I could never sit down until I was 13 I would be angry too.

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