Monday, April 4, 2011
Terry Jones is Not a Terrorist
I don’t like Terry Jones. The pastor of World Dove Outreach Center in Gainesville, FL is an unloving and hateful idiot without much concern for protecting American lives. His recent decision to publicly burn a Quran was reckless, arrogant, and stupid. But he is not a terrorist. The people who are calling him one are holding him responsible for the actions of people he offended. American law has long held that people can be held responsible for advocating violence even if they never commit it themselves, but that is not what we are talking about here. Those who want Jones legally punished want to do so because he offended people and some of those people reacted violently. In America, we do not recognize the right of people not to be offended. Those in Afghanistan who rioted and killed Americans are to blame for their own actions. The fact that they killed because they were really really mad at Terry Jones in particular and the United States in general does not excuse them. Murderers are responsible for their own actions and we infantilize people when we say that isn’t true. Terrorists commit violence against non-military targets with intent to frighten people. Terrorists crash airplanes into buildings. They blow up busses and cafes. Burning books might make you a great many things, including not invited to my home, but it does not make you a terrorist and we diminish terrorism’s horror when we say that it is. Personally I am offended by Jones’s message and his actions. I not only condone, but encourage people to denounce and shun him. Picket his church if you want. But legal or congressional action against his 1st Amendment right to express his twisted religious views is threatening to all our religious points of view. Terry Jones is an intolerant fool, but he is a constitutionally protected one. Terrorists kill people, and we shouldn’t confuse two.