I just received a CNN Breaking News update indicating that Terry Jones has cancelled his Quran burning event scheduled for the weekend. This comes on the heels of another pastor, this one from Tennessee, indicating he would be holding his own Quran burning event. From what I gather, Jones has a following of about 50 people, begging the question that other people have stated better than I ever could: Why do the plans of some random nut constitute news?
I have 400 twitter followers...should I release a notice to the press that I plan to proclaim myself Queen of the World over the weekend? Would CNN and the NY Times come to my house and set up a round-the-clock vigil as I name my court and start handing down edicts? Actually, that sounds kind of fun, but you see my point.
Gail Collins argues persuasively in her editorial for today's Times that we give far too much power to the approximately 5% among us who are off their rockers. Why should our soldiers overseas be in even more danger than they already are as a result of Jones' ridiculous notions? Let him have a YouTube tirade, but here's an idea...when crazy people make crazy pronouncements, don't report them as news.
If you walk down a main street in most large cities, you're likely to see some crazy person trying to convince people of the end of the world. Do you stop and listen to his apocalyptic ramblings, or do you turn the other way - or perhaps cross the street altogether - to avoid him? Why do we treat people like Jones any differently? Before the advent of the Internet, before the advent of the 24-hour news cycle, we didn't.