Whole lot of kerfuffle in the Mainstream Media and upon the Internet concerning some folks off to burn some copies of the Qur'an.
I'm not going to get into the military/political/sociological/diplomatic ramifications of this issue -- countless others (more qualified than Your Humble Scribe) have opined at length on this subject -- but I will offer my general Thoughts Upon The Subject.
As usual, I'm of multiple minds concerning this.
On one hand, the idea of burning a book -- any book -- leaves me cold. A book is knowledge made tangible; it is far more than just ink, paper, glue and leather: it is ideas, dreams, hopes, fantasies ... it is all those things that make us human -- those that separate us from animals -- distilled into an object one can touch.
To burn a book is to spurn those ideas, those hopes; to reject those things that do separate us from animals, and to symbolically reject at least a small part of our humanity.
Christian Johann Heinrich Heine, in his 1821 play, Almansor, uttered a stark, uncomfortable truth:
"Das war Vorspiel nur. Dort, wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen."
(Loosely) translated thus: "That was merely a prelude. For where they burn books, they will ultimately burn people."
It is a small, small step to go from destroying the ideas of people, to destroying the people who have ideas.
Are there books that inflame the passions, and may influence the small-minded into criminal actions? Hell, yes, but so do many other things: Speech inflames and influences the small of mind far more than any book -- but we do not condone gunning down a man in the street for a hateful speech.
On the other hand, a book is nothing more than ink, paper and glue. Burning one book is not going to remove the knowledge contained there-in from history. Especially a book as widely-printed as the Qur'an. You could -- if you so chose -- burn every Qur'an in the Western Hemisphere, and you would make less than the tiniest dent in the numbers of that book.
To burn a book -- or a pile of them -- is, quite literally, useless for any purpose other than symbolism or to ensure the livelihood of those who will -- inevitably -- print more books to replace those you have incinerated.
As long as the books you are burning are yours to burn, have at it. For all the fire, and all the rhetoric, you will have accomplished ... what? A pile of ashes you now have to dispose of? A symbolic gesture that you can hope someone else actually gives two hoots in hell about?
The publishing companies, however, will thank you -- there is that.
On the gripping hand ...
... I wasn't born in Texas; sometimes I don't sound like I'm from Texas, but I am Texan.
There is a short list of people who can tell me to do any-sodding-thing with my own property, and Abdul the Moderately Rabid isn't on it.
You can ask me to do (or not to do) something with my property, or you can explain why it's necessary to do (or not to do) something with my property, but you gods-damned well don't order me to do it (or not).
And, son, if you threaten me about anything -- and you're within bad-breath distance -- you'd better be on Good Terms with your Dear and Fluffy Lord ... because I'll strike the bloody match on your snaggle teeth if I have to, and I'll gladly slide into Sessrúmnir with you in a choke-hold if that's what it takes to make sure you don't ever pull that sort of crap again.