This burning the Koran business

Let me start out by saying, in case you’re new around here, that I do not support all this stupid Islam- and Muslim-bashing that’s suddenly come into fashion lately. I am no fan of any organized religion—I mostly identify as an atheist with the occasional pagan bent—but I tend to view Christianity in an especially negative light due to my own experiences and the overarching manner in which Christianity is used in this country as a crutch to hurt, exclude and bully others. For a religion whose chief text preaches tolerance, that seems to be the first thing to get thrown out the window in situations where I’d think it would be needed the most.

ANYWAY. So about this burning the Koran. I understand why people are upset that some dude is getting all the crazies riled up and excited about burning it. What I don’t understand, however, is why people keep talking about it, effectively giving this mustachioed nutjob a worldwide stage to preach his intolerance.

Maybe I’m naive, but I assumed people burned books all the time. I mean, there have got to be people in small towns still burning copies of Catcher in the Rye and Heather Has Two Mommies, right? I just assumed people burned books like the Koran as well as any other random texts they might find that deal with religions other than Christianity. Hell, aren’t there some fringe Christian groups that burn Bibles different from their own preferred version?

I don’t mean to be insensitive, and I get that a big display of burning a religion’s holy book is not going to be good for our foreign relations, but why are we paying so much attention to this guy?? It’s just some asshat in Florida, not President Obama or Paris Hilton or Oprah or some other big-deal, influential celebrity that’s running the show here, guys.

So what’s my point? I don’t know. I’d like to think that on one hand, if every time some whackjob decided to burn something in a grand display of ignorance we just ignored him, flicking the mention of him away like you would a fly buzzing around the adult table at dinner, people would get the concept that if you don’t feed the trolls they eventually get bored and disappear.

But I also realize that, as a whole, people are stupid. And there are bound to be those who would interpret the silent treatment of the offender to mean not “This is so dumb it doesn’t deserve a response” but instead “Silence means consent!” and decide to jump on the intolerance bandwagon to bigotsville, where a large, angry, jingoist mob lives.

I don’t know the answer. What I do know is that I’m getting really tired of all of the intolerance in this country, and the way that it’s being spun as patriotism and morality instead of the ugliness, hatred and fear it really is.