The Right To Do Something Vs. Doing What's Right
50 or so members of a non-descript Florida church will liberally apply flame to Koran Saturday.
It's a brewing international incident, a story that survives through many 24 hour news cycles because of it's incendiary nature, and a fixture on radio talk shows. A common talking point: the difference between having the right to do something vs. doing the right thing.
You may have had it up to here with all the talk and wish the subject would go away. You may wonder why a handful of people is holding our headlines hostage, potentially putting our soldiers in harm's way and perhaps stoking tensions between religions.
Wonder no more. All of this attention is a good thing, not because it gives a media-craving pastor endless face time on CNN and elsewhere. It also gives all of us--including our elected leaders--a chance to go on the record condemning a thoughtless, vile act. It gives the U-S a chance to say to the world that while we enjoy endless freedom we also know when decencies are being violated and that a few pewfuls of haters don't speak for the entire country.
No one of consequence or political heft would've had the chance to condemn the attacks had the church done its deed in relative secrecy. They very easily could've gone out into their parking lot Saturday night, lit their bonfire, achieved a modicum of self-satisfaction and gone home. Word would've no doubt gotten out, perhaps accompanied with grainy YouTube video shot by one of the participants. It would've gone viral, and the world would've been free to think that this sort of thing is a sick rule in America rather than a perversion occurring with no political comment or condemnation. Militants and insurgents would've used it as a recruiting tool, to vilify America once again as the great Satan. After-the-fact condemnation would've come too late. The horse would've already left the barn.
Our nation has now had plenty of time to get out in front of the story. We've all heard it. Most formed very strong opinions about it. No one can stop it, but no one can say that this deed is sanctioned by anyone with a shred of political juice or moral decency. Those who faintly condemnation also get exposed for being soft about the growing wave of Islamabad peculating in our country.
A handful of militants didn't speak for all of Islam when they plowed passenger jets into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon nine years ago this weekend. And, a batch of ill-directed religious zealots in Florida don't represent Christians or Americans as they threaten to torch the Koran. Muslims should be offended by what the Gainesville church is threatening to do Saturday. They should be angry at the players, though, and not the game. It's a uniquely American contest melding free will and freedom, the right to do something and the chance to do something right.
It would be nice if the Florida church made the proper choice Saturday. Yet, they live in a country that gives them enough rope to hang themselves. And, it would be really sad if the rest of the world used their planned act to paint us with a broad bush as Muslim hating crackpots confusing inteligent discourse with descretion.