Warren Richey
The Christian Science Monitor
October 1, 2010

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t
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When a Florida preacher announced his plan to burn copies of the holy Quran at his small Gainesville church, he hoped the symbolic act of desecration would create more than just a pile of ashes. His aim was no less than to spark a conflagration between two of the world’s great religions – Christianity and Islam.

The Rev. Terry Jones had important allies in his fiery gambit; free speech protections enshrined in the First Amendment, an ability to exploit the Internet, and a voracious 24-hour cable news cycle willing and able to send a hateful message around the globe in a single, shocking instant.

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The strange tale of Mr. Jones and his fistful of matches cuts to the heart of the American ideal of free speech – that toler­ating expression of even the most ugly and hurtful ideas is a protection in a democratic country.

But has it gone too far?

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