What a flap. Pastor Terry Jones of the “Dove Worldwide Outreach” has got himself some big-time attention, hasn’t he?
The Erstwhile Conservative has posted a tongue-in-cheek opinion about fundamentalist Christian pastor Terry Jones’ plan to burn Qur’ans, the gist of which is that the planned burning fits our image in the Islamic world, i.e., that America intervenes in everybody’s business. The E.C. correctly points out conservatives’ calls for Islamic understanding, because of free speech, amounts to the same kind of apologetics for which they have criticized the President.
Today’s Joplin Globe editorial comments that this is a first-amendment situation, an expression of free speech, and because of that there’s nothing to be done about it, even though “. . . we’re better than this.” Well, maybe something can be done.
What if Jones burned the books and no one came?
Yes, I know, given the state of journalism these days, that’s unlikely. And yet, is it impossible? Shouldn’t the Press feel a little manipulated by this? The basic story has already been reported in detail, so the only “news” left to print is the confirmation that the act has been consummated. But, is one moron insulting a religion really news? What is next? If an atheist now decides to burn a stack of bibles, will the press
come running for that too? How about a stack of Tanakh’s? How about burning a Mexican flag in protest of illegal immigrants? Will that draw a crowd of journalists?
I would be immensely proud of American journalism if they would, in this clear case of manipulation, effectively turn their backs on Jones’ hubristic exercise. No photos, no nothing.
Supposedly journalists have ethics and standards, albeit no enforcement agency for same. According to Wikipedia these
standards include the “harm limitation principle”, about which it says:
This principle of limitation means that some weight needs to be given to the negative consequences of full disclosure, creating a practical and ethical dilemma.
And it adds further on that this includes the following advice:
Recognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance.
As General Petraeus has made clear, and which is just common sense, the insulting images of Jones’ act are surely going to be used to inflame terrorists’ passions for the indefinite future, so why wouldn’t coverage of one man’s arrogance be a perfect instance for journalistic restraint under the Harm Limitation Principle? What about it, journalists? Are YOU really BETTER THAN THIS?
PS – There will also be a problem with “citizen journalists” trying to make the internet with the event. I would suggest that local police protect the “privacy” of Jones’ little group while they have their bonfire.