If a tree falls in the woods and there is no one around, does it make a sound?
It is a fun philosophical question, but the answer, of course, is yes. You just can’t hear it. Here is a better question: If a jackass brays in Florida and the media ignores him, would he make a sound?
The answer again is yes, but he would be irrelevant.
When I call Pastor Terry Jones a jackass, I don’t mean the animal; I mean the Jackasses that will jump off a roof or sit in a runaway shopping cart rushing down a city street; any stupid antic to get attention.[SIGNUP]
Pastor Jackass would fit right in with Johnny Knoxville and Bam Margera, in that they all have proved they would do anything to get noticed. But there is one big difference: In the movies, jackasses only hurt themselves, but Pastor Jackass may hurt Americans around the globe.
His announced stunt — to burn the Quran, the most holy book of Islam, on 9/11, the infamous date of the attacks inspired by the most extreme interpretation of that same book — may end up being the worst publicity stunt in history. Even though the Pastor doesn’t have enough members in his Gainesville, Florida congregation to fill the Eagles roster, the media dutifully clamored to give the jackass a bigger pulpit than he could have ever imagined.
The Pastor gets more airtime than Flo from the Progressive Insurance ads.
It is the worst effect of the far-reaching tentacles of the monster known as cable news that needs to be fed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The competition and the appetite for something new and different is so great that the loudest and the most extreme, who used to be ignored, can become news stars. And once cable news dubs them as such, traditional newsmakers follow on a cable conga line of righteous indignation. General Petraeus, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Vatican, the FBI, even Angelina Jolie, lined up to take a whack at the Pastor or warn of the consequences of his action. And every one of them unwittingly gave the Pastor credence and the media another excuse to advance the story.
And we are not off the hook either. Our morbid interest in the dangerously stupid not only created the Kardashians and Jersey Shore, but the truly reprehensible Terry Jones.
The sheer hypocrisy of his threatened actions has eluded most media coverage. The pastor says the book burning will expose those who misinterpret Islam and the Quran for their extreme and dangerous actions; and yet he is misinterpreting Christianity and the Bible for his own extreme and dangerous actions.
The You Tube video of the Quran-burning will enrage the Muslim world. It will be used as an “I told you so” recruiting tool by al Qaeda. And, as General Petraeus warned, it will put our military and civilians around the globe at risk.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had a reasonable suggestion when she spoke to the media: “I would hope that if he does it, it wouldn’t be covered.” Even Clinton chuckled when the reporters started laughing at the thought. She then added, “As an act of patriotism.” More laughter.
I, for the life of me, don’t understand what was so funny about that. It seemed like the brief sober moment in this jackass story. But in this backwards world where insanity gets international coverage and sanity gets laughs, the secretary of state shared a chuckle for what once would have been sage advice.
The only heroes in this circus of the bizarre may be the Gainesville fire department who will be ready to extinguish the fire the moment it is lit because Pastor Jackass doesn’t have a permit.
It figures a firefighter would save the day.
If for some reason the Quran does catch fire, we will all be fanning the flames as they spread across the world. We can’t lay all of the blame at the pastor’s feet. If we ignored him, he would have just been another tree falling silently in the woods.