An individual burning a book may be a crime against common sense but there is no violation of common law or the Constitution. Indeed, burning books is a Constitutionally-protected form of free expression. People and organizations are free to burn books if they want to (unless they violate a local fire department permit!). I don't have the time to defend this position in more detail, but I bring it up because of the recent publicity stunt of a gay artist atheist zealot who torched a rare Koran. Gay.com reports:
Charles Merrill, the out gay artist who gained notoriety for editing the Bible with a black marker and a pair of scissors, now says he's made what he called a statement against Muslim homophobia by burning an antique Koran valued at $60,000.
"The purpose of editing and burning Abrahamic Holy Books is to eliminate homophobic hate," Merrill, 73, said in a statement from his gallery, the Broadway Gallery in New York City. "Both ancient books are terrorist manuals."
While I think his comments about the Word of God are over-the-top, and without merit, I for one am glad he burned a Koran. Given the sorry state of support for free expression in the face of Islamic support for turning Western nations into Sharia thought-control camps, people need to be reminded that the choice of free expression is far to be preferred than Islamic totalitarianism.
I say, "Burn the Damn Koran" if you want to. Of course, I think it is far better that people in the West actually read it.
You may say "Burn the Bible." So what.
Here is what I do NOT agree with. You will notice I said very carefully, in defense of burning books, that INDIVIDUALS or organizations have this right. Governments or laws should not concern themselves with such legal actions by citizens. However, it would be a crime, as it was in Cuba, for an official court to order books burnt, or for a political party or a person acting on behalf of a government, to order or call for books to be burned. That most certainly would be a violation of the principals of free speech, and a dangerous way to proceed, in domestic politics or diplomatically.
If I had a Koran worth 60,000 grand I'd probably auction it off and use some of the money to help the families of Christians and others who are murdered by Islamist regimes, acting under what they consider the dictates of the Quar'an.
I have no problem with people in Pakistan wanting to burn copies of Satanic Verses. It is when groups or governments send hit squads into other nations with order to kill authors like Salmon Rushie that we have to stand up and fight back, and squarely defend the principals of rule of law and freedom of expression.
If the West wiggles and wobbles on this core issue, this would be a denial or our heritage of liberty.