Yet Terry Jones, the pastor who organized a mock trial that ended with the burning of a Koran and led to violence in Afghanistan, remained unrepentant on Saturday. He said that he was “saddened” and “moved” by the deaths (note: as of 20 dead so far), but that given the chance he would do it all over again.
What Jones did was Hate Speech:
Hate speech is, outside the law, any communication that disparages a person or a group on the basis of some characteristic such as race, gender, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, or other characteristic. In law, hate speech is any speech, gesture or conduct, writing, or display which is forbidden because it may incite violence or prejudicial action against or by a protected individual or group, or because it disparages or intimidates a protected individual or group.
When Jones burned the Koran, he knew full well the Muslim community across the planet would be outraged. He knew that violence would follow. He may not have known who would get killed in the process, but he had to know there would be at least one death at the hands of an outraged mob.
Jones incited others to acts of violence. And he revels in it now, glorying in the attention we're giving to his sad sorry ass.
What is sad is that there are so many in the media/journalism world - Sullivan, Benen, some of the others I read online - that are rushing to Jones' defense, claiming what he did was "wicked" but that "hey, it's protected by the First Amendment."
I call bullshit.
What Jones did: This is not protected speech under the First Amendment. He intended for an act of violence to follow what he said and did. This is in my mind no different that a Klu Klux Klansman burning a cross on a black family's yard. This is no different than an anti-Semite smearing accusations of blood libel on the wall of a synagogue (using pig's blood, no less). This is no different than some racist bastard saying and doing something that gets a riot going in a street.
And getting a riot going is EXACTLY what Jones did.
Jones may not have pulled a trigger of a gun or swung a machete or committed a direct act of murder on the streets of Afghanistan this weekend. That blame falls directly on the hands of the murderers themselves and the mullahs who incited the mobs to march on the UN office in Mazar-I-Sharif. But Jones gave them the outrage: Jones gave them the motivation.
Jones' action makes it harder for the United States to handle itself on the world stage, especially now as the U.S. is trying to steady the entire Middle East during the uprisings between Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Bahrain, Jordan, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Good Lord, Afghanistan. From the 1800s onward, that place has never known a day of peace, has it? And Jones, reaching out from his pathetic little church building in the woods of Florida, is making it worse:
In speaking with Afghans about the incident, it’s surprised me how many people support the spirit of the protests. No one I’ve talked to supports the killings of the UN workers. But even well-educated, informed Afghans tell me that it’s good that people are speaking out against the desecration of the Quran.
Much of the support stems from the inability of many people here to contextualize the March 20 Quran burning. A translator who works for a fellow journalist here in Kabul did not know that Florida pastor Terry Jones was the same person who threatened to burn the Quran last September.
This led to the perception that many Americans share his beliefs, even if he heads a small church of about 30 people who have so little support that they’ve had to sell their furniture on eBay to stay afloat. Mr. Jones is now trying to sell the church property.
In a place like Afghanistan, where the vast majority of the populace is illiterate and many lack regular access to reliable news outlets, perception and rumors often become more important than facts. Now that the story of the Quran burning has spread, it almost does not matter how strongly US officials – from President Barack Obama to Gen. David Petraeus – condemn Jones’s actions. The damage has been done.
After almost 10 years of foreign troops and international aid groups, the Taliban is still a serious threat and it’s difficult to see what tens of billions of dollars of foreign aid money has bought for the country. Patience is wearing thin among many Afghans, and incidents like the Quran burning provide a vehicle for their growing anger...
Jones and his ilk "accused" the Koran of inciting crimes such as murder and rape during that mock trial of his leading up to the book burning. By his own legal argument, he's as guilty as that Koran he burned.
Jones is trying, through his acts of outrage, to condemn an entire religious belief, to condemn millions of Muslims who really aren't all violent rabble. If they DO get violent, Muslims are no different than Christians and Jews who go rioting in the streets when THEY get offended as well.
If any condemnation of violence and murder should be applied, it should be based on their ACTIONS, not their belief. Jones could have believed in what he thought about Islam and the Koran, and it would have remained an offensive but protected belief under the guideline of the First Amendment. BUT HE ACTED ON THAT BELIEF, and in that action committed an atrocity that drove others to respond with murder. That makes it Hate Speech: His actions a Hate Crime. He's as guilty as the bastards who killed in Mazar.
Jones should go to trial for that Hate Crime. A REAL TRIAL. And found guilty in a court of law governed by Men, as Jones should be found.
The trial awaiting Jones for his sins in Heaven with the God of Abraham, of Isaac and Ishmael, is already a foregone conclusion: the deepest pit of Hell is not enough for Jones...