Florida Pastor Won’t Burn Quran: Prediction—Late Posting!

I wrote this Wednesday night, and only learned of Jones’s reversal early Friday morning. Since it is now too late to write anything new, I give you my prediction, which was verified before I could make it!

Start of Prediction

When asked about his inflammable intentions, Pastor Terry Jones of Gainesville, Florida, said Wednesday,

As of right now, we are not convinced that backing down is the right thing.

These, I think obviously, are weasel words; of the same kind used by politicians from time immemorial. And Jones is a politician, because theology is not practiced by press release except by politicos.

No true hell-and-brimstone preacher will start any sentence in the passive voice, especially in words that practically shout “Spontaneous” Change Of Heart On Horizon. And again, no religious leader who, as it has been reported, has his congregation wear t-shirts bearing the ungrammatical slogan “Islam is the Devil”, will temporize that “backing down” is not the “right thing.”

Given this, my prediction is that Jones will not burn his Quran. (Incidentally, when did we stop spelling it “Koran”?) Further, I think that he will announce his intention to shelf his matches just before the burning is scheduled.

Seeing the world’s cameras on him, he will step up to the bank of microphones, conveniently provided by reporters with J-school “degrees” but not sense, and he will say something like the following: “I do not need to burn these Qurans. I have proved my point.”

And, in part, he will be right.

Now, the world is already ablaze, rhetorically speaking, from Jones’s threatened stunt. Ad my guess it is this conflagration is the only one he ever intended.

Mayor Bloomberg, perhaps recalling his public vituperation against critics of the near-Ground-Zero not-quite-a mosque, was forced to say that Jones had a right to flick his Bic. He also said that Jones wasn’t a wise man, words he did not use for the not-quite-a mosque builder Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf.

Bloomberg wasn’t the only one forced to chew on his own tolerance. Everybody from the ACLU, to even some folks at MSNBC, all echoed the line that Jones had the “right” to warm himself by burning the Quran. But all these people then said he had the responsibility not to.

They’re right, of course. Jones does have a moral responsibility not to act like an ass. But Jones’s behavior is not of interest. For we can now ask why those people who so vehemently supported the right of Imam Rauf to build his not-quite-a mosque did not also say that the grand Imam had a moral responsibility to consider the feelings of others?

End of Prediction

I chopped off the end of the prediction (mostly about how Muslims are “outraged”), because the story in yesterday’s news has made it all obvious.

Pastor Jones has claimed victory, as predicted, by saying that Imam Rauf has “agreed” to move the not-quite-a mosque to a new location. From the New York Daily News:

“We have agreed to cancel our event,” Jones said. “We are, of course, now against any other group burning Korans. We would right now ask no one to burn Korans. We are absolutely strong on that.”

“It is not the time to do it,” Jones said, before veering off into his claims that his threats had caused the New York mosque developers to blink.

“The American people do not want the mosque there, and of course, Muslims do not want us to burn the Koran,” said Jones. “The imam [Rauf] has agreed to move the mosque,” he said.

Once more, if you did not know that Jones was a Pastor, you would never guess it from his words, which sound like what you would hear from any politician. Except that one of the reasons Jones gave was that he had a “sign from God” to stow his matches.

We may never learn, since the event has been canceled, and given the attention span of the media, but I believe as I originally predicted, that Jones never intended to go through with this plan. I say this because, even yet, Jones says, “[W]]e are not canceling the event, but we are suspending it.”

This, of course, is the standard way a politician milks publicity, trying to squeeze out every last second of coverage he can. He believes that by holding onto the kerosene, he’ll have a flock of reporters asking him his opinion of everything from US-Afghanistan relations, to President Obama’s choice of vacation destinations (no shallow topic, that).

He’s wrong. Seven or eight days from now, people will have forgotten Jones. And even if he sets another burning date, people the world over will realize that they overreacted the first time, and will thus ignore him.

That’s what he gets from playing with fire.


  1. “…if he sets another burning date, people the world over will realize that they overreacted the first time, and will thus ignore him. ”

    Unfortunately, the old lesson we’ve taken from terrorist movements throughout history is that for the next date, Jones will have to step up his game with something even more repellent, like burning a mosque, or a Muslim.

    This kind of behavior isn’t going away, either. We’ve had a generation where the Progressives and their pet monkeys have freely insulted, intimidated, and even assassinated Christians. Extremists like Jones want revenge along with notoriety. Payback’s gonna be a bitch. (Or, as the Pythons would say, “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!”)

  2. JH

    For we can now ask why those people who so vehemently supported the right of Imam Rauf to build his not-quite-a mosque did not also say that the grand Imam had a moral responsibility to consider the feelings of others?

    Perhaps the intentions behind them are different?! Pastor Jones can burn as many copies of Quran as he wishes, I don’t really care. America has many great characters, but that it’s a religious country and that religion has caused frictions among its people were culture shocks for me. I neither heard of Jesus nor thought about God before landing in America. So the concept of separation of church and state in the US was also new to me many years ago.

  3. Bernie

    Pastor Jones was probably trained by the Jesuits.

  4. bob

    I pretty much agree with Briggs. In retrospect the whole thing was predictable, and if we believe him, Mr. Briggs did just that.

    This must not have been a Black Swan event as characterized by Taleb. From my recollection Taleb specified (in part) a Black Swan is an unexpected event which, after it takes place, will be reported as having been predictable if we would have just connected all the dots.

    I don’t know how to audit Mr. Briggs timing on his prediction, but I believe him even if he is from New York.

  5. Does anyone else find it incredibly mind-boggling how over-reaching has been the public sector’s reaction to Jone’s original threat? From Gen. Petraeus right on down to the Gainesville, FL, city council, their public reactions have only served to fuel the frenzy. All in direct violation of Rule #44. “When someone says he is going to be stupid, ignore him. It’s too late. He already is.”

    My favorite headline in all this: “FBI mad at Jones”. Wakes me up at night, laughing so hard at the thought of ‘sulking suits’.

  6. Briggs


    Finally, the New York Times comments with a headline, “Coverage of Koran Case Stirs Questions on Media Role.” They said,

    Mr. Jones was able to put himself at the center of those issues by using the news lull of summer and the demands of a 24-hour news cycle to promote his anti-Islam cause.

    These are poor explanations; at least, they are incomplete. They have forgotten reportorial ignorance and the desire of reporters to stir up stink.

  7. DAV

    when did we stop spelling it “Koran”

    Probably about the same time that potatoes became po-taw-toes and aunts became awnts. IOW: at the time the speaker wants to take on airs. I see that the NY Daily Time retained its low class roots by clinging to Koran. They probably say Munich instead of München. Who has final say on transliteration spellings anyway?


    Re: NYT comments

    I think the NYT explanation was the whole enchilada. WTOP, Washington’s number one all yap station, yesterday had a headline about the stand down and finished: “We are working to get more details”. Which of course immediately brings the question, “what more is there possible to say that would make it clearer?” Definitely a slow news day. All filler welcome.

  8. Dav, we tried to do our part out here in CA but the durn back-hoe was too slow breaking through the outer layer of the gas main. Sorry. Next predictable “slow news day” we’ll use dynamite.

  9. robert61

    “As of right now, we are not convinced that backing down is the right thing.”

    That’s not the passive voice. And what’s ungrammatical about “Islam is the Devil”?

    Hats off for your prediction, which was prescient, but be advised that “ungrammatical” is not just a classy synonym for “f—in’ stupid”.

    Edited by blog owner for content.

  10. People will realize that they overreacted? I’m sorry but that’s a prediction with extremely low probability.

  11. Briggs


    You might check with your sixty previous incarnations. One of them might be able to describe to you the difference between the active and passive voice. Plus, “Islam” is a belief, not a personage, and a belief cannot be the Devil.

  12. Smoking Frog

    Mr. Briggs:

    Robert61 is wrong about passive voice, but passive voice is appropriate in this case, for two reasons: (1) The passive voice lifts the recipient of the action (“we”) to prominence, and that is what should be prominent in this case. (2) Using the active voice would mean saying, “[someone/some people] have not convinced us…,” but the would-be convincers are many and various, and surely “they” would not be a superior choice.

    He is right about “Islam is the Devil”; it is not ungrammatical.

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