By Dr. Richard Swier of Redcounty
I was part of an intense discussion among individuals from France, Austria, Holland, England, Germany, and across America on the Qur'an burning. All of them are all experts on Shariah Islam and the cultures of the countries in which they live. All of us have been reading about Gainesville based Pastor Terry Jones' burning of the Qur'an. Dozens of people from the President on down have given their opinions about what Pastor Jones did and its aftermath. Most of the comments I and other have read have revolve around how out of proportion the reaction to the burning in Afghanistan were. One view has not been covered by anyone to date. Please bear with me as I explain.
The fundamental question is: What did Pastor Jones burn?
The answer is: His property. Pastor Jones bought a copy of the Qur'an and then burned it. It does not matter where you live in the world, property ownership is fundamental to human freedom and individual rights.
Unlike religion, which is personal, ownership of property is universal in its nature.
Some have argued that Pastor Jones' burning of the Qur'an is protected under the First Amendment to our Constitution. While that argument makes perfect sense here in America it does not hold water in most of the world, especially in the Middle East. Even in Europe, First Amendment rights as you and I understand them are not recognized. In Europe they have laws against "hate speech". This is problematic as these laws at times are used to actually suppress free speech. Recently any criticism of Shariah Islam in particular has been singled out for prosecution as hate speech. However, property rights are a completely different matter and should be so.
Man has been arguing over property rights since he began walking on two feet. Wars have been fought to obtain or regain lost property. Laws have been enacted to address ownership of property. Class warfare, as posited by totalitarian regimes, has always revolves around property. The more totalitarian the regime the more property, and thereby the individual, is controlled and ultimately owned by the state. The more free the government the more property is in the hands of the individual. In freedom loving countries the state's role is to protect property at all cost. Property or "the pursuit of happiness" is an unalienable right in America. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness cannot be separated. If these rights are torn asunder then no one is free, except a privileged few rulers or bureaucrats.
What Pastor Jones did is burn his property. It was legally his, an idea embedded in our Constitution and an idea held universally. European serfs fought lords and kings to obtain what? Not freedom but ownership of their property - whether land or the fruits of their labor. That is what drives mankind today and drives the major political conflicts we are seeing not only in the Middle East but across the globe. Who has the right to encumber our property via taxes, regulation and laws. Or at the extreme, confiscation by a few dictators, kings, potentates or oligarchs.
I humbly suggest that Pastor Jones can do what he will with his property.
Those who killed innocents in Afghanistan committed the ultimate crime - the taking of lives, the ultimate property. Those in Afghanistan who rioted were attacking the idea that Pastor Jones owned that book, not what that book represents religiously. That is my take on this issue. I humbly ask for your comments.