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5.16.2005

Flushing the Koran Down the Toilet

It's obvious to everyone that this is official US policy, right?

Same as with torture, I think it's commonplace, and when you get down to it, popular -- irrespective of whether or not it's efficacious policy. Otherwise the president would simply say "torturing men and women is an illegal outrage which Americans shan't allow, even in wartime," and "as a man of faith I would never allow the desecration of a Holy book as military policy, even for the lowlifes at Guantanomo."

So what's the big deal? The Newsweek story is even true, as far as I can tell -- the source just just said that the evidence was in a paper other than the one it appeared in. Does Glenn Reynolds even question that this is an interrogation tactic while he calls for the abolition of the free press?

Let me know if Scott McClellan or George Bush ever says the reports that US soldiers desecrate Bibles, Korans, etc. as a questioning technique are wrong on substance.

8 Comments:

At 3:45 PM, Blogger Miguel said...

In fact I should add, that while I believe desecrating the Koran is a poor choice, I think it's a much better policy than occupying foriegn lands, and would be sad to see an official no Koran-desecration policy put in place to ease our imperial adventuring.

 
At 5:00 PM, Blogger Ivan said...

The white house has asked that newsweek retract the story.

The point is that it has not been corroborated, and journalistic standards imply an assumption of falseness for un-corroborated stories. Glenn Reynolds got it right in saying that they chose to ignore those standards because the story made the US government & military look bad.

Also, he has never called for a less free press. If anything, he advocates more free, more distributed media. [note that it isn't a "freedom" to withhold information on a crime -- at worst it's aiding and abetting -- and this is totally different than withholding information about a source who points out criminal abuses. The difference is almost as striking as those who claim there is none]


There have been a few people, but not enough, who looked at this story and said "WTF?!". It's newsweek's fault for riots? What about the rioters?

If you're going to kill someone because you're sensitive about paper getting wet, you don't deserve the respect and empathy of anyone.

 
At 5:27 PM, Blogger Miguel said...

Newsweek still claims they have a source who says government documents claim Koran desecration; the error was in the name of the document. The point of my post was that the desecration is undisputed, by the White House or blogger-morons.

Glenn Reynolds says (over and over): "As I've warned before, if Americans conclude that the press is, basically, on the side of the enemy, the consequences are likely to be dire."

Sounds a like: "nice freedom of speech you enjoy; be a shame if anything happened to it..." to me.

If the government does propose wartime speech restrictions (as were in effect during WWs I and II) I doubt he'd have much to say to his huge readership except that liberal writers were asking for it. For now he seems content to say "that reminds me... John Tierney says newsmedia oughtn't report bad news about Free Iraq." I read the Republican position to be: pooping on the Koran is alright but reporting on it is near-treason. Thanks for all the freedom fighting, President Bush.

 
At 6:05 PM, Blogger Ivan said...

The dire consequences are lower subscriptions & readership. Business is hurt.

As for denying the story, the presumption is of non-guilt in America.

That's why I can't just say, "NYT eats babies and shits liberal news".

 
At 6:27 PM, Blogger Miguel said...

I don't think that's what he meant by dire consequences; market-revealed preferences are a good thing, as free market believers like you and he know well.

instapundit.com, about a year ago:
Freedom of the press, as it exists today (and didn't exist, really, until the 1960s) is unlikely to survive if a majority -- or even a large and angry minority -- of Americans comes to conclude that the press is untrustworthy and unpatriotic.

He says he's sad about dire consequences, but suggests them nonetheless.

I was thinking of the liberal paper The New York Times in relation to this discussion, as well. Is a retraction like this what the White House wants? It was printed on the 10th page of the Paper of Record, long after after a series of misleading and poorly informed articles ran in its pages.

The presumption of innocence applies to government imposed punishment, by the way. It is not a part of the guarentee of freedom of the press.

Really, though, I can't imagine W et all actually want a retraction, based on my main point: that this policy does exist and that any retraction would once again emphasize the content of the story. The retraction would apply to a specific document, but have to also include the relevant fact that in addition to vindicated detainees, a knowledgable official is claiming that Korans have been put in the toilet.

I suspect that the debate I was hoping to have in this thread -- should the US be allowed to desecrate holy books in questioning -- is being had in the White House as we speak. Pros: may work, actual torture now frowned upon. Cons: our subjects in the Muslim world are sensitive about it.

 
At 7:36 PM, Blogger joŇ°ko said...

Someone explain this to me:

http://i.a.cnn.net/cnn/2005/WORLD/asiapcf/05/16/newsweek.quran/top.1716.newsweek.india.ap.jpg

One sign-- "Newsweek Deserves to be Banned."

The second sign-- "Bush Should Apologise for Desecratiion of Quran."

I mean, they seem to believe the Newsweek story, right? ..And yet, they're so mad they wanna punish the messenger?

That's asinine.

 
At 9:30 PM, Blogger Miguel said...

Bush should apologize for the desecration of the Quran, unless it certainly didn't happen (which I find highly doubtful, and as repeated in this thread, haven't heard anyone more politically simpatico to Mr. Bush claim.) If it didn't happen, having an underling issue a strong denial would be OK.

Newsweek should not be banned.

 
At 9:57 PM, Blogger Miguel said...

Here it is

http://instapundit.com/archives/023026.php
I don't think there's anything immoral about flushing a Koran (or a Bible) down the toilet
.

(Agreed, btw, also, like Mr. Reynolds, I wouldn't up and say it's a good idea.)

I think that the survival of free expression depends on the responsible behavior of businesses in the media field.

But what could be more responsible? Not only is the story obviously true, it came from a trusted and previously reliable source, who later retracted. Is he suggesting that American news outlets should print stories only so long as they don't bother these guys? Or that stories critical of the government should be cleared by the government? I don't know which is more offensive.

 

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