"A Man's a Man for all that!" - Rabbie Burns

"Religion? No thanks. I prefer not to outsource my brainwashing." - Bunc
Trying to get your average Joe creationist to understand the phrase scientific theory is as hard as getting a fish to enjoy mountaineering. Its an unimagined world for them - it requires a complete reversal of their normal modes of thinking and being. The fact that humans could explain the complexities of this world without a creating God is a world view they cannot grasp. It's like asking a tuna if it appreciates the view from the top of Mount Everest. Bunc

Sep 24, 2010

Gateshead Six Arrested for burning Koran

The arrest of six men by Gateshead Police for burning a Koran doesn't show the UK in a very favourable light for a number of reasons. The men have it seems been charged with "inciting racial hatred". Given that the only people who could logically have been the target of this book burning are Muslims this charge of inciting racial hatred is a strange one. I'm not the first one to point out that Islam and Muslims are not a racial group.

It seems to me that, unless this particular law is framed in a very loose way, these men will have a clear defence that there is no offence because no race can be identified which is the subject of any act of hatred.  This will depend of course on the detail of what was actually said and done in the video.

I have mixed feelings about  this whole affair though. Like PZ Myers over at Pharyngula I find myself quite disturbed not only by this ridiculous equating of race and religion but also by the special defence of religious symbols and religious sensitivity.  Where I differ from Meyers is that while I think we should have the right of free speech and be able to burn books ( publicly or privately) as we wish that doesn't mean that it is a sensible or rational thing to be doing. Neither does it mean that there won't be consequences.

There are undoubtedly risks to Koran burning given the irrational and often violent reaction of some Muslims to this kind of thing,  We have troops in Afghanistan who might be targeted. That for me is the main reason why the actions of these men is reckless.

Interestingly it's not actually the burning of the Koran that is the act that causes all the trouble or which may be prosecutable. Lets say that these men had burned the Koran privately and simply then told everyone about it in a blog post. Would that be inciting racial hatred?  What if it turns out that the book which was burnt was not actually the Koran but some other book given a false cover to make it look like the Koran?

If it is only the actual Koran that when burnt gives rise to the offence of inciting racial hatred then are Gateshead police accepting that the Koran does in fact have some special properties?  Would burning a Bible be an offence of racial hatred? If not then why is burning a Koran?

Clearly it's the public nature of the act which the police must rest their case on. The men though are reported to have claimed that it was a private act filmed for their own purpose and that they did not intend for it to go on YouTube.

I could claim here publicly that I had a Koran which I burnt some time ago. What is the essential difference between that "confession" and the posting of the video I wonder. Whatever the twists of the logic of all this I know that I am now much clearer about what is going on in the UK.
Big Brother is watching and the Thought Police will keep us safe......


Delirious said...

The sad thing is that they probably turn a blind eye to those who burn Bibles, flags...etc.

Bunc said...

I don't get the whole burning thing anyway so I'll not be doing any burning.

In general I don't think having a negative view of another group of human beings means that you should provactively destroy things that they value. It demeans the burner and is unhelpful. When I see people from other cultures burning symbols it's not an admirable sight and feels provocative.

I don't support being so provocative. But we do have the right to look to the same treatment in return.

Looney said...

I have to wonder how long this treatment of Islam as a race/culture is going to be accepted in Europe and America. Texas has fuss going on now about the special status of Islam which is generating a big fuss:


rummuser said...

Bunc, let us take another look at this phenomenon of burning. Two most publicly burned items in the world are the Indian and American flags and effigies of both leaders. It is no big mystery where these burnings take place. The same places also bomb places of worship and burn people of different beliefs inside besides their books and whatever else. What do the local police there do?

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