"one lone idiot pimping an 18th century brand of community terrorism" is how Jason Linkins characterized the now media-famous Terry Jones (he of the fundamentalist religion and collector of 80s porn moustache), and his campaign to burn the Quran on Saturday, the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on New York. What a fucking idiot, but how, did this guy get so much press? I have resisted making any comments but as this thing continues to play out I think I have to weigh in a little. I suppose we are experiencing the downside of living in a mediated age--anyone and everyone can get their opinion, ideas, thoughts etc. to the public on an unprecedented scale, particularly if, through sets of circumstances (and I would love someone to chart the developmental arc of this media clusterfuck) the media somehow grabs hold of their story. All of this apparently threads back to the debate that has been raging lately over whether or not to build a mosque at Ground Zero etc. Although it isn't actually at Ground Zero, its a couple of blocks away, and there is already a mosque down there anyway, so who cares?!!! This stuff is so inane and doing absolutely nothing to aid my growing frustration with religion. I don't want to make it all about me, by any stretch of the imagination, I have been having many conversations with people and this stuff comes up without any nurture--people seem utterly perplexed by the sheer level of ignorance that is permeating this issue. There is no real discourse just sound-byte sloganeering. As Linkns writes, "As soon as the media saw themselves a shiny shiny shining thing shining shinily in New York City, they pounced! How perfect! Something for us to talk about during the slow-news summer! I mean, we could talk about the nation's unemployment crisis, but that would mean we'd have to talk to poor, jobless people, and there's no currency in having access to a bunch of poors. Right away, they accepted the premise that this was a "Ground Zero mosque," when it wasn't. And so, by the power vested in the media, things that weren't in fact true were accorded the privilege of being "one side of a great debate" and "an interesting point of view."
All week long a line from Imagine, John Lennon's classic peace epic, has been floating through my head--and trust me, I seldom find Lennon's lyrics in my head--"above us only sky"--I think this will be the title of my adieu to religion and the beginning of my journey towards a world without god--or at least the kind of gods that seem to fuel this kind of madness. As for the media, what can be said? in the chase for dollars, something of value has been lost and what has replaced it is, well, I don't even know where to begin. Jones leads a church called Dove World Outreach Center I believe. 50 or so people in Florida, with ambition to reach the whole world--well with the media's help they sort of succeeded and I don't feel particularly happy about it. Linkins offers these words towrds the end of his worth-reading article,
"They got played, and played badly, by a dude with 14th-century religious beliefs, 19th-century facial hair and ultra-modern media savvy. Terry Jones has essentially blackmailed some of the most important people in America, with the assistance of the media.
Let's remember that all of this paralysis was caused by 50 people who wanted to burn a book that's available for free, on the Internet!"