So, the Dove World Outreach Center, the little church with the Orwellian name, plans to burn a copy of the Qur'an on September 11th. I'm not sure why, but I think it's something along the lines of "sending a message to those who attacked us".
The President has asked them not to proceed with the burning, asking the pastor to listen to his better angels and saying "You know, part of this country's history is people doing destructive or offensive or harmful things. And yet, we still have to make sure that we're following the laws. And that's part of what I love about this country".
I've criticized Obama for too tepid a response on any number of things, but I think this is exactly the right proper way to act. He hasn't mobilized the National Guard, he hasn't urged Congress to make the act illegal. He has said, as one human being to another, "Dude, it's not against the law, but don't be an asshole."
I'm a fairly strong atheist, but I manage not to be a dick about it, so I get along fine with most people of different faiths. I think it's abhorrent that someone wants to burn the Qur'an, but when you start banning distasteful activities for nebulous public safety reasons, that's a slippery slope.
Every now and again, the issue of a Flag Burning amendment comes up and every time, I remember what Rep. John Conyers said about such a law, that it "elevates a symbol of freedom over freedom itself,"
I don't know if Voltaire originated the quote or merely credited with popularizing it, but "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."
I'll leave you with a quote from A Man for All Seasons:
More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get at the Devil?.
Roper: I`d cut down every law in England to do that.
More: "... And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you - where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's, and if you cut them down -- and you're just the man to do it -- do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!"