Commentary: Terry Jones, reality TV and the media

This just in, from a longtime friend:

"If it were not for the media, the pastor in Florida would be just another redneck with a bonfire."


That's the shoe that had to drop sooner or later concerning this on-again, off-again (at least as of Friday) Quran-burning geekfest: It would eventually become The Media's Fault.

And indeed, that can't be dismissed as part of the issue here. Are we now a strain of that plague known as "reality" TV — that is, by virtue of our attention to it, we are part of creating the news we purport to cover?

My first reaction was that this story was newsworthy, and I still think it is. This isn't just about one fresh pockmark on the face of what another clueless gasbag obscenely calls Christianity, or the handful of beta-minus bigots who actually listen to him.

Or, as one British Muslim quoted in the Associated Press called it, "thirty followers and one idiot."

(He added, perhaps not incidentally: "They can go on burning the Quran. It's not going to destroy Islam." That's a principle it would be nice to see taken to heart by lunatics who want to assassinate cartoonists. Or, for that matter, Americans who want to make a constitutional felony out of flag-burning.)

Rather, it's one very conspicuous symptom of something bigger and more widespread, and that can't credibly be denied — a swelling anti-Islamic tide in a country that is supposed to be about something better.

I don't pretend this is an easy call. For one thing, "media" now means something much bigger and broader than it did just 20 years ago. It encompasses not just full-time news organizations, but also bloggers and video posters and websites — including the website of the Dove Outreach Center that planned and originally publicized this. (Don't you just love the name "Dove" in this context? Jesus must be so proud )

To read the complete editorial, visit The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer.