(Originallly posted on Dr Hoffmann's blog, as a comment on these collected remarks of his. Reprinted here with slight corrections)
You have much to say about Terry Jones that is very illuminating. And it was very tempting at first to go along with your suggestion of arresting him. But only at first, and the more I think about it the more opposed I am to it. You say “no one realistically” believes that a USA is coming where it would be a crime to burn Bibles. But because the law is a great stupid lumbering beast, and not an ethereal spirit with all of the wisdom of Oliver Wendell Holmes, arresting Terry Jones for his hateful stunts would be a big lurching step in the direction of that USA. That’s how this beast works: crack down on expression you don’t like, and it makes it easier for them to crack down on yours. Sauce for both goose and gander. Blind justice, a stupid lumbering beast, a Brontosaurus disguised as a pretty blindfolded lady.
And if we’re going to arrest people for inciting Muslims, we really need to arrest W and many members of his administration before we get around to relatively small fry like Jones. They did much, much more damage than Jones, and holding them accountable for their crimes would do much, much more to show Muslims that we respect them.
Although it would involve chiming in to some degree with people we find quite ghastly — indeed, although it would involve to some degree chiming in with Terry Jones himself instead of arresting him as we would like to do — we need to address those mostly young men who are angry and falsely pious enough to kill for any real or perceived insult to their religion. Yes, Jones is inciting them. But it’s a problem which must be addressed that they are so easily incited that an empty-headed bumpkin like Jones, or the mention of a stupid YouTube video which I’m sure most of them have never seen — have you seen it? I haven’t — or the pronouncement of one of their leaders about a fine novel by an Indian-British-American novelist which neither the leader nor they have read, will induce them to murder. Something needs to get their attention. Just as Western bumpkins need to be educated about crucial facts such as that the great majority of Muslims, even including the duly-elected heads of state of the Arab Spring, condemned with the usual ignorant haste by Western bumpkins great and small, really do condemn the actions of those mostly-young fanatics.