So, there's apparently some preacher somewhere in the South who plans to have a Koran burning ceremony on September 11. (I could google his actual name and location, but these details seem unimportant to the point I'm about to make.) His plans have drawn the condemnation of a lot of people, including General Petraeus, who argue that this is going to be offensive to Muslims and unhelpful to America's image abroad.
I argued that conservatives were wrong to protest the building of the so-called Ground Zero Mosque. To me, the prevailing rights were that people should be free to do what they wish with property they own, as long as they comply with reasonable zoning regulations, which seems to be the case. The argument that the mosque might stir bad memories or hurt feelings didn't particularly sway me. To me, protecting rights is a higher value than protecting feelings.
And, the same is true of this Koran burning. This is America: If you are free to burn a flag, you should be free to burn a book. Now, rest assured, I will think less of you for burning the book (or the flag), and so will a lot of other people. But, so what? If you can take the heat, light the fire. (With, of course, due regard to public safety; presumably a fire extiguisher will be on hand.) People who support the mosque in the name of free speech and religious liberty have no leg to stand on in opposing this action.
Every human activity is going to offend someone. Islamists may find it offensive to burn a Koran, or draw a cartoon of Mohammad, but certain Islamists also will find offense in my walking through a park holding the hand of my girlfriend. (Or, in my girlfriend driving us to the park. Or my girlfriend being able to read the signs along the way.) Curtailing American freedoms in the name of sparing the feelings of a few people overseas, or even hundreds of millions of people, isn't a trade worth making. But, I also hope that the Americans who agree with this particular argument will also see that the same logic applies to the mosque builders of Manhattan. The fact that millions will take offense is no reason not to say what you wish to say and do what you wish to do in a free society. I wouldn't have it any other way.