May 18, 2005

My Newsweek two cents

Newsweek screwed up. They went with a single source on a story, and that source later balked. Oops. Retraction. For me, that's pretty much the end of it. Other people can speculate on Newsweek's motives, or the White House response or what this means for the future of the media going forward. Personally, I have only a passing interest on this one.

Except for one little detail that keeps gnawing at me.

The Koran's a freakin' book! Yes, yes, I understand that there are cultural and religious aspects of this to take into account. Fine. Whatever. But man, it was a freakin' BOOK! People were rioting and killing because a freakin' book was supposedly fed into a crapper. I mean, Jeez. Forget for a moment the sheer power required of a toilet to suck down a religious tome. That's an entirely different issue.

I could take a Bible, tear it apart page by page, make paper airplanes out of each page, and throw each plane into a campfire, all the while taking pictures of the process, and post those pictures online, and I could be reasonably sure no riots would break out. Sure, I'd probably get a lot of hate mail, and people would tell me I'm going to hell, but I tend to think no one would die because of it. Why? Because it's a freakin' BOOK!

Yet, in the Middle East, a suicide bomber can detonate amongst a crowd of innocents, often with the bomber equipped with a Koran, and you'd hear nary a peep about that. Blowing up yourself, a Koran and several other devout Muslims in the name of Allah? That's understandable. An infidel flushes a Koran, and all hell breaks loose, including the killing of fellow Muslims.

I swear, I could live to be 5,000 years old, and I still wouldn't understand this screwy planet.

UPDATE: James Lileks chimes in on this issue as well.

Posted by Ryan at May 18, 2005 11:21 AM


Posted by: Murray at May 18, 2005 01:42 PM

Actually, my first thought when the riots started, before Newsweek said anything one way or the other, was, "Hold on; the supposedly flushed the Koran down the toilet? The whole fucking thing? I don't think so; they would have had to tear it into pages and flush small-ish wads of pages."

Then I tried to picture that in my mind and immediately realized that the story was bullshit. Because the image is stupid. A devout Muslim might freak out when the book was dismembered, but I think even a devout Muslim would find the image of an interrogator carefully feeding the book into the crapper 15 pages at a time to be funny on some level. It certainly wouldn't force anyone to confess anything-- especially not if one of the pages went down sideways and the toilet got plugged.

That said, I think you're protesting a little too much. The issue here isn't just how a book is treated (though that is an issue to a lot of Muslims); the issue here is who's doing it. If someone rips out some copies of the Torah and wipes their ass with it, some Jews are going to be more upset about it than others. If the ass-wiper is a Jew, it'll be more acceptable to more Jews. If the ass-wiper is, say, a German, it'll cause more of an uproar. That's not so hard to understand.

Posted by: Joshua at May 18, 2005 01:53 PM

By the way-- no comment on the Downing Street Memo?

[instert me and Dave's usual observation about the selectivity of your journalistic watchdogging here]

Posted by: Joshua at May 18, 2005 02:22 PM

Honestly, Joshua, that's the first I heard of it. I must now go Google it to see what you're talking about. I mentioned the Newsweek thing because, well, it's EVERYWHERE. Excuse me whilst I go Google.

Posted by: Ryan at May 18, 2005 02:25 PM

Well you can hardly be blamed for that. I only heard about it late yesterday, though evidently the Times broke it on the 1st.

Posted by: Joshua at May 18, 2005 02:38 PM

Uh, that makes two of us.

Posted by: Desult at May 19, 2005 12:55 AM
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