I just feel that I have to make one more comment, well several actually. If someone owns a book and wants to burn it, they have every right to do so. If someone can buy a property and establish a place of worship, they have every right to do so. If they are doing something to make a statement and annoy other people, that is their right, at least in the United States. These decisions just make them jerks.

I am personally glad that the Koran burning did not happen. I also hope that it never does. Back in the 1950, when zealots took books from schools and public libraries to burn, that was a crime of theft and destruction of public property. When they go out and buy copies of the Koran to burn, that is just bad taste and poor economic choices.

As far as the Mosque goes, I tried to do a little research. There is very little hard data for the religious demographics of Manhattan or for that matter, the number and location of Mosques. Based on a Columbia University study, and Google Maps (neither professes to be a good source), there are roughly 102,000 Muslims in Manhattan with 17 Mosques. There are roughly 1,029,000 Christians in Manhattan with 173 churches. That seems to be parity. The existing Mosques and Churches are pretty evenly spread around the island, with only 1 Mosque on the southern tip, but 26 churches in the same area.

As far as parity goes, are we claiming that only Christians who work in the financial district deserve easy access to their places of worship? This would seem rather presumptuous. Is it bad taste to open one that close to ground zero? I don’t think so since there is one even closer according to Google Maps. Is it rude to make it a 13 store building and name it Cordoba House (referencing the first major victory of Islamic conquest in Spain)? To me, this starts pushing to towards jerkdom, regardless of how reasonable and calm the good Imam sounds on CNN.

We have to remember, we are in the United States, and that means anyone can act like a jerk any time they want as long as they do not actually harm anyone. This is not true for other countries. For example, in Canada, you can be put in prison for hate speech if you quote the Bible against homosexuality (interestingly, quoting the Koran for the same purpose has not resulted in prison yet, but give them time). In Saudi Arabia, bringing a Bible into the country can result in prison time, and opening a Christian church is forbidden (except in military bases for foreign armies and at foreign schools).

I feel very fortunate to live in the Unites States, where anyone can stand on a corner and expose all of their prejudices for the entertainment of the all who will listen.

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Martin writes about writing in his weekly column Ramblings from Martin.

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