8 aprile 2011

How many silly things are done, in the name of good manners

Massimo Pigliucci on Pastor Terry Jones, his act of book burning, and the murders in Afghanistan:
In and of itself, burning a book is a morally neutral act. Why would this change because some misguided individuals think book burning is worth the death penalty? And why is it that so many have automatically assumed the reaction to be reasonable or respectable? To use an example nearer to some of us, recall when PZ Myers desecrated a communion wafer. If some Christian was offended, and went on to murder the closest atheist, would we really blame Myers? Is his offense any different than Jones’?

I think I know why many people want to turn around and blame Jones: there is a deep-seated belief among many that blasphemy is wrong no matter what. This means any reaction to blasphemy is less wrong, and perhaps even excused, compared to the blasphemous offense itself.
Which immediately reminded me of this quote from the best movie ever:
Kurtz: We train young men to drop fire on people, but their commanders won't allow them to write "fuck" on their airplanes because it's obscene!