Terry Jones’ Next Irresponsible Protest: Legal? Sure. Stupid? Yes. Ethical? Of Course Not.

We have to permit the stupid demonstrations to protect the important ones.

The latest drama surrounding irresponsible publicity addict, Quran-burner and gonzo Islam-hater Rev. Terry Jones is his attempt to get a permit to demonstrate outside  the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michigan because, well, because it’s there, I guess.  Wayne County and Dearborn officials insist that he pay security costs that they estimate at about $46,000 before he will be allowed to incite more violence and riots overseas. These are a near certainty because a lot of people in other countries can’t understand why the United States lets its citizens say and demonstrate about any fool thing they want to.

Like Fred Phelps and his cult’s putrid disruptions of veteran funerals, Jones is an example of how America is bound to permit irresponsible as well as responsible speech under the protection of the First Amendment. Clarence Darrow’s quote is applicable: “In order to have enough freedom, it is necessary to have too much.” Yes, allowing citizens to intentionally inflame Islamic radicals abroad and demonstrate for religious bigotry is “too much” freedom, but we shouldn’t trust our government to start deciding what is “enough.” Is the security fee a ploy to squelch Jones’ right to make an ass of himself, inflaming international conflicts in the process, or a legitimate requirement?  That’s a judge’s call.

There is no question, however, that we have to allow irresponsible, hateful, ignorant demonstrations to go forward. Everything about Jones’ protest is wrong…his motives, its purpose, the timing, the likely effects. It is an unethical act. But for our own sake, and to preserve the foundation of this nation’s unique democracy, it would be more unethical to prohibit it.

6 thoughts on “Terry Jones’ Next Irresponsible Protest: Legal? Sure. Stupid? Yes. Ethical? Of Course Not.

  1. Well, Terry Jones is only relevant and only inflames hatred here and abroad because the press makes it so. When I was in college, we had the ‘pit preachers’. They would stand on a box in the ‘pit’ around campus and say the most outrageous things to try to get a rise out of people. Terry Jones would have made a good ‘pit preacher’. Why aren’t they big-time news? There are a lot more of them .

    One lone guy standing in front of the Islamic Center in Dearborn is not news unless the news outlets make it so. Why is the opinion of one, solitary nutcase newsworthy? There are plenty of people in Europe whose attitudes make this guy look enlightened and a poster child for tolerance. There are plenty of people in your town (wherever you live) that have ideas wackier than his. Why aren’t we talking about them by name? Because the news media didn’t decide to make any of them a celebrity.

    Without a conscious effort by the media, Terry Jones would be an unknown preacher in Florida, preaching his message of hate to 25 like-minded individuals.

  2. “Without a conscious effort by the media, Terry Jones would be an unknown preacher in Florida, preaching his message of hate to 25 like-minded individuals.”

    That genie is out of the bottle. At this point, there is no way the media is not going to cover this jerk. Take your pick – someone from the Right or the Left, Western or Middle Eastern or other, will cover the demonstration, even if it were only one guy with a sign. And then the rest will descend like vultures, if only to report that other news organizations thought this worthy of coverage.

    But Jack is absolutely right: in order to protect legitimate protests, we have to also protect this one.

  3. Claiming Jones incited violence overseas stretches the definition of incitement beyond the breaking point, as the violence occurred ten days later.

    Just recently, there was a gay pride event where Christianity was mocked . It is possible that ten days later, someone would read about it, and then decide to kill a homosexual in retaliation. But that would not count as incitement.

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