We live in a crazy world. True, every generation has said that since time immemorial, but previous generations were only exposed a few pockets of weirdness in their communities, the typical town freak, a few prominent mental cases countrywide, and world famous eccentrics.
Nowadays, the great leveler – the internet – has given exposure to all manner of crazy. From kids filming their friends doing all sorts of dumb things on camera to blogs dedicated to everything on, above and beyond earth. Most of the time, all this information is relatively harmless. Sometimes, things can get a bit carried away. On other occasions though, one can only sit back and wonder if Warhol’s 15 minutes of fame were such a grand thing after all.
This is painfully true in the case of Pastor Terry Jones, leader of a tiny Florida church, who decided to commemorate 9/11 with a big old bonfire consisting entirely of copies of the Koran. In a different era, Terry Jones would have burnt the books (perhaps felt better about himself) and the rest of the oblivious world would have blissfully gone on none the wiser. In today’s world of instant media communications, this man’s unfortunate idea has given a nasty stir to an already foul-smelling brew.
The Pastor, whose church attracts no more than 50 people, has become famous and relevant enough to receive heavy criticism from the White House, the Vatican, US commanders in Afghanistan and Iraq, the UN secretary, and even Angelina Jolie. Needless to say, all this “bad publicity” has done nothing but to increase his media visibility. Try writing “Koran” in the new Google Instant and results of “Koran burning” already come on top when you’ve written “kora”.
On top of all this, of course, outraged Muslims all around the world are warning the Western World of serious reprisals if their holy book is burned. It is truly a sign of our times that people half the world away can be passionately disgusted by what another man does a million miles from them. It goes to show how much a single man can do by himself in today’s world.
When the scattered pockets of civilization surviving in a stone-age future try to piece together Humanity’s past, they will scratch their heads in bafflement trying to discover the identity of the great and evil leader that rose to prominence to initiate the apocalypse.
But perhaps a disconsolate few will still remember with longing and regret that once upon a time there was a global network that allowed humans to share words and images instantly all around the planet. They perhaps will recall with bewilderment that the apocalypse was brought about by a completely powerless unknown that, on a hot day of early September, decided to convince his congregation of less than 50 parishioners that it would be a good idea to burn a bunch of foreign books and tell the whole world about it.