Owen Wilson spoke of how one must blow 7 different kinds of smoke in the motion picture You, Me and Dupree. I’m not exactly sure which seven types he was referring to but I hear the term Holy Smoke quite often. The Holy Smoke which blew over in recent weeks was that of various books being burned, well some almost burned and some burned and smoked even. The better known case is that of a Florida Christian pastor who launched a campaign during which copies of the Quran, the book which Muslims consider holy, would be burned. The lesser known situation occurred in the always awesome land Down Under where a Brisbane lawyer decided he will react to the situation in Florida by smoking copies of both the Christian Bible and Islam’s Quran in order to give them a rating based on his experience.
A non-denominational Christian church in Florida decided, under the leadership of pastor Terry Jones, to host an ‘International Burn a Quran Day’ on the ninth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. For those smoking too much of the green stuff, four planes got hijacked on 11 September 2001 by Islamic jihadists and flew into both the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre, the Pentagon, and the fourth one was steered into the ground in a field by brave passengers who interfered with the hijackers’ plan in order to avoid another building filled with civilians being hit.
Although Jones’s reaction was going pretty much against everything the Bible, the book Jones supposedly lives by, teaches and commands, he had good reason to be upset. It was not that he took nine years to react, but he reacted to a new situation currently being debated in the US. His frustration grew from the fact that large numbers of Americans and even segments of government are supporting the notion to build an Islamic centre which includes a mosque, basically around the corner from where the World Trade Centers once stood.
To Americans, and many others around the world who saw the Twin Towers collapse on 11 September 2001 and the thousands of people being murdered and scattering in fear on live television, the site now known as Ground Zero serves as a reminder of the reality of radical Islam in practice and also of the lives of loved ones and fellow countrymen which ended there. Any rational thinking person would realise it is a bad idea to erect a shrine which promotes Islam and the territory it gained within the US over the years in close proximity to one which reminds people of the destruction it brought to the American nation and its freedom. I can see how many irrational pacifists come forward claiming that this new mosque is exactly what America needs to get over their hurt but unfortunately it is nothing more than disrespectful to all Americans who were touched by the September 11 events. Sarah Palin summed it up the best for me so far when she said “Book burning is antithetical to American ideals, people have a constitutional right to burn a Koran if they want to, but doing so is insensitive and an unnecessary provocation — much like building a mosque at Ground Zero.” It comes down to always go out of your way to not try and ignite anger or offend people unnecessarily – don’t burn Qurans and don’t build a mosque (or an Islamic Center) close to Ground Zero – honestly, it’s not that complex.
Alex Stewart, a Brisbane lawyer who works in-house at the Queensland University of Technology, is the other person whose actions are considered in this article. He responded to the media hype created around Jones’ plans to burn Qurans by posting a video on Youtube wherein he smokes pages from both the Bible and Quran where after he rates the burning abilities of the pages and the experience of smoking it. He said the Bible burned better while the Quran’s pages made him feel sick.
Stewart is an atheist whose aim was to get the point across that we shouldn’t care about whether a book gets burned or not but that it is the message written in it which is important. It did seem like he was going to lose his job at the university though, for the exact same reason mentioned above: he did not go out of his way not to generate anger and offend people but also let his emotions get the best of him. Although I agree with what he was trying to say I would expect a lawyer to know better. But then again, he’s an atheist lawyer which in itself seems a bit paradoxical. My dad, being a lawyer himself, would always tell us that the law is based on logic which I in turn believe is derived from truth. Truth is fixed and universal and therefore we can logically determine and agree (if we leave our personal agendas aside) on which laws are reasonable and which aren’t. Lawyer Stewart seems to either lack a sense of logic or he acts according to emotions and operate according to his personal agendas. I doubt he lacks logical capabilities.