The Koran burning in Florida on its own is just an ugly incident, but one thing that's really been frustrating me recently is hearing people compare it to the mosque in New York. You often hear that both are legal but people should have the decency not to do either.
Why the Koran burning is legal but offensive is obvious. The pastor intends to be offensive, so there's not much discussion there. To consider the Cordoba Center offensive, though, you have to assume that Muslims are the same as terrorists. It's the only way to take offense at all, which means that you have to be either an idiot or a bigot to put them on the same playing field. Or, as Jon Stewart has recently put it, you're saying that burning a Koran and reading one are equally offensive. It's precisely this sort of understanding of what's "offensive" that leads people to burn Korans in the first place.
All this made me wonder - was I wrong in supporting "Draw Mohammed Day" several months ago (for the record, Evan was less supportive of it)? I don't think so. Even considering the offensiveness of the Florida pastor, I think I'm still confident in the decision, and the decision to post the winners of Draw Mohammed Day on this blog. In the end, I think there's a difference between satire and intimidation, and I think intentions and context are important. When you see a cartoon mocking the backwardness of al Qaeda or Ahmadinejad, for example, that's very different from a broader mockery of Muslims. You also have to consider what is being responded to. Choosing to draw cartoons specifically, in the aftermath of the threats to South Park, seems very different from choosing to burn Korans, in the aftermath of the Cordoba Mosque controversy. One is clearly directed at people who kill in response to cartoons, because of their fundamentalism. The other is clearly directed at the simple act of building a mosque, and the medium is a more general FU to Muslims. It's not targeted to terrorists or radicals in any discernible way.
You don't arrest a court jester or a satirist for treason. Why? Intent and context.
It does seem like a slippery defense - I'm OK but the Florida pastor isn't because I didn't intend to be offensive to Muslims generally. Does that work? Or was I wrong? My gut tells me it's fine, but I'm interested in others' thoughts.