Point your finger properly

April 7th, 2011

Congratulations to Sean Webster, the man I’m taking the reins from, for three years of service to The Carroll News and First Place in the Region 4 Mark of Excellence in General Column from the Society of Professional Journalists. You’re the “Derg.”

Last week, I wrote about Newt Gingrich’s divisive comments about how he believed America was going to be “dominated by radical Islamists.” Dominating the news this past week is Rev. Terry Jones of Gainesville, Fla., who followed through on his threat to burn a Qur’an, albeit almost a whole year later.

Riots have flared up in Afghanistan over this spotlight-seeking zealot’s implementation of freedom of speech, resulting in the death of U.N. workers stationed in the pre-dominantly Muslim country.

Now, the world is pointing their fingers at Jones as the one responsible for, in his own words “stirring the pot.” The degree to which the First Amendment extends is back in question, and it’s all because of the handlebar-mustached leader of the Dove World Outreach Center.

Should Americans allow for someone to do this? Is it a hate crime? The man should be punished when he intrudes on someone else’s rights, but if he wants to go burn a book that he believes belongs to a religion of hate, then let him. “We’re not very well-educated,” Jones’s son, Luke, said. “We’re just simple people trying to do the right thing.”

Jones said he was spiritually inspired by a poster of Mel Gibson’s “Braveheart” that hangs in his office. This is not a man that should be taken seriously. Not just by us, but by Muslims as well. I consider myself a Catholic, and if someone who said he/she wasn’t very well educated, I would laugh at them for their actions rather than take what they said to heart.

Why hasn’t the international media condemned the actions of those extremists who killed the U.N. workers as much as they have Jones’? Those are the people who should be punished. Jones did not intrude on their rights, he did not kill anyone, he simply made a statement against their religion. The majority  places the blame only on Jones.

Of course I recognize the man’s actions as ridiculous, uneducated and bigoted. Yet, in no way shape or form did he do anything illegal and therefore no one should be able to tell him what he can and can’t do. Why was there not as much fury over Newt Gingrich’s comments last week? Gingrich’s statement is scary because he may have power (once again) some day.

Jones looks to press his views on other ignorant Americans. The media gave him what he wanted – to be in the spotlight. I’ve seen more coverage on television news outlets of the 20 dead in Afghanistan attributed to his actions than the 300 plus killed in the ongoing conflict in Ivory Coast this past weekend.

Jones released a video that he said he hoped, “For some [Muslims], it could be an awakening.” And, hopefully it is, but not in the way that he intended. I hope it awakens the ability of people to educate ignorant people of the consequences of bigotry rather than condemn a “not very well-educated” man for his ridiculous statements.