If They're Burning Qur'ans, ALA Says 'We'll Read Qur'ans'

From American Libraries: Book burning is the most insidious form of book banning, and just as the American Library Association is preparing to celebrate the freedom to read during Banned Books Week, along comes one Rev. Terry Jones of the 50-member Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida. The reverend’s idea of world outreach is to commemorate the 9/11 terrorist attacks of 2001 with a public burning of the Qur’an, the Muslim holy book. Gen. David Petraeus had personally pleaded with the reverend to restrain himself because of the potential for retaliatory violence.

Meanwhile, the American Library Association and librarians across the country will move the Qur’an to the top of the Banned Books Week agenda. (Leading the way by modeling tolerance, an Oklahoma public library has been hosting an exhibit of artwork inspired by Muslim tradition.)

“Free people read freely,” says Barbara Jones, director of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom. “That is a fundamental principle of the American Constitution and a basic mission of public libraries. We don’t burn books, we read them.”

Thanks to Jenny Levine for the lead.


Courts have held that flag burning is speech and is protected under the first amendment. This pastor that is burning the Quran is not censoring books he is burning his copy of the Quran. He is making a statement by burning his copy of the Quran.

Now the worry is that radical muslims will KILL people because the pastor expressed himself by burning a Quran. So the pastor needs to not speak, needs to be silenced, needs to be denied his 1st amendment rights because muslim extremist will kill people.

Who is being censored here? What happened to the idea of "I disagree with what you say but I will die for your right to say it?" That has no become "You have freedom of speech unless it offends a radical muslim and then you need to be quiet."

ALA should be backing the freedom of speech of the pastor.

Flip the scenario around.

Lefty Liberal proclaims that he is going to burn an American flag to protest the oppressive American state. Joe Patriot says that if Lefty burns a flag then Joe will stab some people to death. How would ALA respond to that? If they followed the model with the Quran there would be this headline on LISNEWS - "If They're Burning Flags, ALA Says 'We'll Fly Flags'

Don't you think the correct response would be, "Hey Joe Patriot don't stab people to death." And the correct response to the muslim extremist is "Don't kill people if someone burns the Quran."

It was not just going to be "his" or "a" Quran, but many - even heard hundreds being reported.

I don't see the equivalence of your statement. You're comparing a book that is the center of someones faith to an object that represents a country. Although both are important, they don't have the same value, not that one is more important than the other, but that they are incomparable to eachother. The burning of the Qur'an would be comparable to someone burning The Holy Bible.

If a group burned the bible would ALA have bible readings?

My guess would be they wouldn't have bible readings because ALA is so rediculously liberal.

If a group was burning bibles and radical Christians threatened to kill people would public opinion be against the bible burners or the radical christians? I would hope they would back the bible burners.

I find it VERY unsettling that the Pentagon opposes burning the Qur'an as they burned more Bibles than this church is planning to burn - where was the ALA then? My interpretation is that the ALA is not consistent in their treatment of religious issues.

For those that want verification -


ALA could not have done anything about the Bible burning because it it was leaked by the media well after it occurred.

But despite that, soldiers are held to very different standards when on duty than you and I.

I'd say they have the right to burn the Koran (assuming it's done safely), though I see no way that it will in any way help their cause.
No one will give up Islam because of this, just like burning a flag will not make people give up their political beliefs. In fact I wouldn't be suprised if the profits from the purchase of the books (I'm assuming they are buying copies to burn) goes to put free copies in the hands of the poor or inprisoned, just like the profits from bibles.

Yes, this is about freedom of speech. Yes, Rev. Jones has the right to burn whatever he wants. The point is that by doing so, he has not only angered many Islamic nations, he has endangered America even more and made America an even larger Target.

If you read the article, it is about fighting Rev. Jones way of Freedom of Speech, with their own way of Freedom of Speech (and practice) by reading the Quran. Rev. Jones is trying to smite out and distinguish an old religious belief that thousands have practiced for centuries. He is a religious extremist just like those who were involved with the terrorist attacks at 9/11. Neither side makes any sense and only harms innocent people.

This is no different than what Hitler tried to do in WW2. Rev. Jones is a very selfish and unwise individual who is just making a ruckus to make his name heard. By doing this, he is making it clear that he is not a patriot of America, nor a defender of Christianity - as none of his actions portray a true Christian, or a true American.

the Koran (Qur’an) that you deserve to die, or that you will be killed and that you were stupid to do it. there is no comment I can find that does not mention retaliation for the burning, that we've all just accepted that there will be terrible violence.

if Terry Jones is trying to make a statement about Islam and violence then he's already made his point, or we've made if for him.

My 4th grade US History Teacher once defined Freedom to our class as follows:
"I can swing my fist all I want and nobody has the right to stop me. Once my fist collides with somebody else's nose then I have to stop because I have violated another human being's rights and freedoms."

Basically, you can believe what you want to believe. Burning any book can be taken as a violation of anybody else's right to read that book. (Not to mention it's offensive.) Personally, I believe flag burning (any country's) is offensive and ignorant. But a flag is a symbol. A book is knowledge. I can still love my country and I can still believe in it whether or not I have that symbol. Burn the book and you have taken away my ability to read what is in it. Book burning is censorship, hands down.

I'm not worried that we're under threat of terrorist attack because some nut-job was burning their holy books. But I am worried about what image this projects to the rest of the international community. It makes Americans look like we've reverted back to the time of the Salem Witch trials. It's ignorance, fear, and hatred at work.

There is no way this is censorship. The book burner in this case is not burning all copies of the book. He is burning his copy. If I don't let someone read my copy of Steinbeck is that censorship? No. I just didn't let someone use my book. And if I burn my copy of Steinbeck have i censored Steinbeck? No.

Definition of censorship: Censorship is the suppression of speech or other communication which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or inconvenient to the general body of people as determined by a government, media outlet, or other controlling body.

This guy is not a government, media outlet, or other controlling body.

He's the leader of a Church. How is that not an "other controlling body"?

And please, stop being obtuse. Of course the man can't burn all the copies in the world. But the point of destroying something is to obliterate it from existence and render it no longer available to others. And people of faith believe their holy books are the words of God. Burn a Koran, a Bible, or the Torah and you are suppressing the words of God. Sounds like the "suppression of speech or other communication" to me.

Ok maybe he is a controlling body of 10-12 people. (Making your controlling argument crazy weak) But there is no proof that the burning of the Quran was to keep those 10-12 people in his church from reading the Quran. The controlling body has to be trying to keep the people under their authority from reading the Quran. That is not what is happening here. The burning is speech not censorship.

Where did you get your definition? And are you taking a legal, moral, or common belief on censorship.

I also do not recall ever seeing an "amount" that must be met to qualify as censorship.

Brian C. Gray

This comment above is laden with logical fallicies: Burning any book can be taken as a violation of anybody else's right to read that book.

What right do you have to read anybody's book? If I own a copy of a book you have no right to read it. I have a copy of a book that I will not let you read. Bring suit against me and claim you have a RIGHT to read the book. No court will find any RIGHT so in that regards you are wrong.

Can I just come over to your house and read any of your books? No of course not because I have no right to read your books. If you refuse to let me read the books are you a censor?

I think it's supposed to be a philosophical stand point. Not a strictly legal one. The man that is willing to burn a book is willing to keep his fellow man down.

The Qur'an burning isn't about censorship, it is about superiority - spreading hatred of a certain religion, enforcing the idea that, that religion is the cause of terrorist attacks and enforcing a speedy end to the belief of Islam.

Jones is doing this because he strongly feels that Islam is bad, even evil. That Muslims are all terrorists and that everyone should join him in this ignorant thought. This is a clear attack on Islam and that is why so many Islamic countries have spoken out and burned American flags and "Death to Obama" in response.

I don't think many of you realize that countries like Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, are all Islamic States. Meaning, Islam is their Government, along with their religion. They have no free choice of religion, it's Islam or death. That if you burn the Qur'an, it's not only saying F&^# you Islam, but also F*&^ you Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq.

Remember what makes this country (America) so great and never forget that our Open-Mindedness, Tolerance and Diversity is what gave birth to this great nation.

And burning the American flag is saying FU America and they have no problem doing that.

And the flag is a symbol of a nation, not a religion. There is a difference between burning the symbol of a nation and effigies of national leaders and burning the scripture of a religion and burning effigies of religious leaders.

And if the terrorists and the radical Muslims have no problem with it, does that mean we should do the same thing? If so, how are we different than them? It's the old, "If your friends jumped off a cliff" argument. Just because they burn things doesn't make it right or mean we should do the same thing.

So what is the difference between these two? Flags and scriptures?

You realize to many people scriptures are just works of fictions. Flags represent actual countries. Scriptures are fictional works that lunatics think are real and are willing to kill people over.

I'm saying there is a difference in what a flag and a book of scripture represents. One represents a nation and is political. The other represents faith and is religious. Sure, we could argue all day long about whether they are either or both works of fiction. That's not the point. The point is this particular pastor is attempting to burn Korans as a statement against a religion, not a country.

Any culture that riots and kills people because a book is burned, even a sacred book, is inferior to a culture that doesn't riot and kill people because a book is burned.

I am pretty sure the Nazis burned books and I doubt anyone would think they were superior to those that fought back.

What about countries that riot and kill people because whites and blacks started using the same water fountains? I would think that would be a stamp of an inferior country also using your simplistic argument.

Greetings from Gainesville, Florida -- home of Pastor Jones' Flying Media Circus.

Does anybody remember the old chestnut about "falsely shouting 'FIRE' in a crowded theater"? That's the kind of "free speech" this pastor wants with his threatened Quran burning. Its inflammatory and dangerous.

In a civilized society, we respect each others' religious beliefs, and we don't burn each others' symbols of faith. Are we a civilized society?

I have been happy with the response of the ALA and my local library: http://www.aclib.us/about/blog/september-11th-day-peace-and-unity

The ALA is doing the right thing by using Banned Books Week to oppose the Koran burnings. Yes, that’s right, I do this occasionally when deserved, the ALA is doing the right thing in this instance, so I am praising the ALA.

Now, if only the ALA would show balance by not censoring Robert Spencer again.


Yes, that's the problem. They need to be more welcoming to ALL points of view. I agree with the Safe Libraries viewpoint.

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