Morning Poll: Should Florida Preacher Go Through With Quran-Burning?

Media pundits across the country chastise the Reverend Terry Jones for his planned "International Burn-a-Quran Day." Yesterday, the Obama administration had General David Petraeus weigh in on Jones' upcoming "event," with the commander of forces in Afghanistan warning that a public Quran-burning would put the lives of American service personnel in danger. Then White House spokesman Robert Gibbs went to the press to repeat what Petraeus had said.

Jones, a 58-year-old minister of a small church, won't back down. He's taken to wearing a .40-caliber on his hip.

For sure, Jones should never have dreamed up this viral marketing scheme. Everyone knows that Muslims are extra sensitive about such things. Extremist Muslims fly into a rage over editorial cartoons, declaring violent fatwas against artists and holding signs like "Behead Those Who Insult Islam." Burning a Quran? Yeah, that's inviting violence for no good reason.

On the other hand, the media has undoubtedly fanned the flames here. Without news coverage, this event would be nothing but a few fanatics and a campfire. Now, Jones has his back up. Thanks especially to Fox News, Jones' bigotry has turned into a Clash of Civilizations -- not just between Muslims and Christians, but within America's left and right wings.

If Jones doesn't go through with it, liberal-minded political correctness will win -- and critics will argue that First Amendment principals have kowtowed to Sharia law. The critics will have a point, too. During the 2005 and 2006 cartoon crisis, most American newspapers failed to publish the very cartoons they were writing about, thus sacrificing their own values in an attempt to avoid appearing racist.

Burning a book is stupid, and we'd never encourage it. But burn a Bible, burn a Quran, or burn the latest Stephen King novel -- you're still just burning paper. The act of burning a book is nothing compared to cutting off someone's head because of a burned book. If some Muslims believe that, when the book in question is the "sacred" Quran, the two acts are in any way equivalent -- they're wrong.

What do you think? Should Jones keep his promise, just on principle? Or should this troublemaker slink back to his double-wide and keep his religious bigotry to himself?

Before we give you the poll, let us first acknowledge the embarrassment that occurred yesterday: Your morning poll questions were sliced like a kid's art project, and the questions were cut off.

Yet, miraculously, the questions received 81 clicks and skewed the way we figured it would -- with most of you answering that Steve May and Jim Weiers ought to be strung up by their nards for recruiting sham Green Party candidates. But not everyone felt that way: Fifteen percent of the responses supported the First Amendment rights of May and Weiers to game the system, while 8 percent think Democrats ought to shut the fuck up.

Here is your morning poll:

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.