It’s Not Against the Law to Be Stupid. Should It Be?

September 9, 2010 by cloften  
Filed under Family and Parenting

I’ve discovered something.  If I put the word stupid in the title of a blog post, it gets more hits, especially if the implications are that Christians are doing something stupid.  People like that.  I will let you decide for yourself why that it is.  Nonirregardless, I like to give the people what they want.

I was blogging earlier in the week about the 1st Church of the Doofus in Florida that is planning a Quran burning on Saturday.  Read that rant here.  The rant was mostly about the undue, overhyped media attention to this group (which apparently I am not helping by blogging about it twice.  I’m literally inciting dozens) and hate as a evangelistic strategy.

However, talking about this quickly turns to the question of religious liberty.  Is what this group doing protected free speech and the free exercise of the freedom of religion?  As with most political and/or spiritual matters, this is not as easy a point as we would like to make it.  If you think about it (”Wait! What? Think about it.  I’m more inclined to have emotive knee-jerk reactions to things.  If you are going to ask me to think deeply, I’m out.”  No problem, I’m sure there are plenty of cable news shows on right now where at least 3 people are shouting at each other.), there is a slippery slope but it slopes both directions.

Clearly not all religious acts are protected.  The attacks on 9/11 that Pastor Mustachio are “commemorating”  are an example of that.  To them that was a deeply religious act that they committed.  So at least one principle that restricts freedom is if it does someone else physical harm.  Well, it is not hard to imagine that the net result of this act in Florida will result in great physical harm to many people.  Is the threat of a violent retaliation to soldiers, missionaries and relief workers around the world enough? Is their “right” to burn these books worth the deaths of some soldiers that signed up to serve in order to protect those rights?

I am typically conflicted internally about such things.  My default political position is pretty libertarian when it comes to such.  On the other hand, that is balanced by a desire that there really should be laws against stupidity (Did I ever tell you that my chemistry teacher my senior year called my friends and me “intellectual snobs?”).  I think such anti-stupid laws would help traffic flows and patterns tremendously.  However, other than me, whom would I trust to be the arbiter of such laws?  Whom would you trust?  Do you trust the government to make those determinations? Or are you more comfortable with unfettered freedom?

Let’s say it a different way, would you be willing to give up some of your freedom in order to potentially spare the lives of innocent people in Muslim countries around the world? Would you trade some of it in order for the name of Jesus to not receive the huge “black eye” that it is going to get?  Or do you believe that that would move the gov’t one step closer to banning the teaching what you believe if some panel declares what you say to be “intolerant” or “incendiary?” I would suggest that the path to the answer is not an easy one.  What say you?

(Read I Corinthians 6, Colossians 2, Galatians 2, I Corinthians 8, if you are interested in reading some passages that talk about our individual freedom and liberty that we have and how to be cautious with it)