Several additional points that did not fit into my column today, "'Rushdie Rules' Reach Florida":
(1) In contrast to Terry Jones and his miniscule band, British Muslims twice burned copies of The Satanic Verses in public during 1988-89, attended by crowds of 1,000 and 7,000. One hardly needs point out that the government did not apply pressure on the ringleaders to desist out of fear of violence resulting.
(2) In contrast to the permission to use the Bible as toilet paper, Muslims rioted, causing at least fifteen deaths, over an incorrect report in Newsweek that interrogators "flushed a Qur'an down a toilet" at the U.S. detention center at Guantánamo Bay.
(3) The change in U.S. policy signaled in the Jones case fits a larger context of Obama administration willingness to shut down free discussion of Islam, as signaled by its endorsement of a United Nations Human Rights Council resolution proposed by the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
(4) By threatening Jones' life, Islamists also benefit by potentially bankrupting him. Pretty clever. Details from the Gainesville Sun:
The cost of policing the Dove World Outreach Center for the planned Quran burning that never happened is expected to come to about $100,000 each for the Gainesville Police Department and the Alachua County Sheriff's Office, officials say. And Gainesville City Manager Russ Blackburn said the city intends to present a bill for the costs to the church's senior pastor, Terry Jones.
Sheriff Sadie Darnell said she also is considering billing the church. … Sheriff's Office spokesman Lt. Steve Maynard said 242 deputies were on duty Saturday, 160 of whom were working specifically because of the planned protest.
Total costs for security are actually higher when adding in the participation by other agencies including the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and several sheriff's offices that provided support such as bomb sniffing dogs and detection devices, officials said.
Blackburn said he isn't sure how realistic it is to expect the church to pay or how much legal authority the city has to compel the church to pay. City Attorney Marion Radson said from his observations, the city was providing a "direct service" to the church.
(5) Several copycats did burn Korans on September 11, for example two pastors did so in Michigan, Tennessee, and Australia. The case of Derek Fenton got the most attention because a video of him burning pages turned up in YouTube and in consequence, his employer, the New Jersey Transit Authority, fired him.
(6) In "Is Koran Burning Protected by Free Speech?" the Legal Project's Dan Huff looks at the legal implications of what he calls the "Petraeus defense":
The Constitution permits the government to censor speech if necessary to achieve a compelling government interest. This is a very high standard, but the fact that the nation's top commander made a rare public appeal for restraint will be cited as strong evidence that avoiding offense to Muslims is essential to the national interest. Once this dangerous premise is accepted, the door is open to court injunctions against speech that inflames Muslim sentiment in strategically important locations.
(7) In "Terry Jones, Asymmetrical Warrior," David Goldman of First Things offers the most original take on this incident. "L'Affaire Jones demonstrated that a madman carrying a match and a copy of the Koran can do more damage to the Muslim world than a busload of suicide bombers.… What's the dollar value of the damage from a used paperback edition of the Koran, available online for a couple of dollars?" Goldman goes on to speculate that non-Muslim intelligence services might be drawing conclusions from the impact Jones had and might decide to use his methods to throw the Muslim world into chaos, then he offers some thoughts on what those initiatives could look like.
(8) The heavy pressure on Pastor Jones contrasts with the U.S. military's readiness to burn bibles, which I document at "Military burns unsolicited Bibles sent to Afghanistan." (September 21, 2010)