Thursday, September 9, 2010

Freedom of Speech/Religion Means Freedom to Make Bad Choices

I’m a little tired of hearing all the media coverage about the a pastor of a tiny church who wants to have a Qur’an (Koran) burning and the Imam who wants to build a mosque/community center near New York City’s 9/11 ground zero.

The media is making big stories out of both issues, and are likely the ones fanning the flames. Yes, the media has the freedom to cover these stories as they see fit, but, in the case of the Qur’an burning pastor, the media has now given it so much exposure that the event may endanger Americans by inciting Muslim radicals. The issue with the mosque being built near the site of the 9/11 terror attack is really a local issue that should have been resolved locally, but the media has made it a national issue.

As the media has already fanned the flames of two small “brush” fires and now have created a forest fire, the only issue left now is what freedom of speech, and freedom of religion, means.

The pastor is clearly within his right to burn whatever he wants to burn – well, as long as where he burns it, an open fire is allowed. Is it a smart thing to burn the Qur’an in protest? NO. It is a senseless act that does nothing but promote religious intolerance. How would the pastor feel if a rabbi decided to burn the New Testament of the Bible? People in the United States have the right to choose their faith (or not follow any religion) and worship without government intervention. The Qur’an has every right to be published and read in the United States, just as the Bible or any other book for that matter, religious or not.

The Imam wanting to build his mosque in New York near the site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks is also within his right to do so. But, considering the sentiment of many in the city who were directly affected by the terrorist attacks, the place the Imam has chosen may not be the best. I do believe if the facility is done right, it could be a step in the healing process, but if it were me, I would not be building it in that location – it would not be worth the constant controversy.

The one lesson that we can learn here is that our freedoms sometimes come with a price. Our freedoms sometimes mean that we are free to make decisions that are not always in the best interests of those around us. It also means that the media is free to cover issues that frankly don’t affect most people. As people sometimes don’t always learn even after repeating mistakes, I don’t think these current situations mean the end to this lesson

All Original Text Content © unless otherwise noted

Check out my blog home page for the latest information, The Frequent Critic, here.

No comments: