Crystal Koran-o vs. Piss Christ

|

Is the flushing of a prisoner's Koran the equivalent, give or take, of Piss Christ? Matthew Bargainer draws some distinctions:

[There's a] critical distinction between activities one finds distasteful and activities one is forced to participate in. Since I always like to help lost sheep, I offer the following handy pocket-sized guide to consent and coercion.

Taking a photograph of one's own justly acquired religious item in bodily fluids: Highly offensive to many, but no coercion involved. OK from a purely libertarian standpoint.
Holding, say, a born-again Baptist against her will and forcing her to watch you excrete bodily fluids on the Bible: Offensiveness to anyone but the non-consenting party is morally irrelevant—after all, rapists don't find anything icky about rape. Not OK by any decent standard.

Eating pork: OK.
Dousing an Orthodox Jew or Muslim with pig blood: Not OK.

Humiliating oneself as part of a fraternity initiation: OK.
Building nude pyramids at gunpoint: Not OK.

Smoking cigarettes: OK.
Tying a suspect to a chair and putting out cigarettes on his flesh: Not OK.

Physical intimacy with a willing adult of the same sex: OK.
Sodomizing a 17-year-old, then shooting him 11 times: Not OK.

Whole thing, including links to some of the above, here. I'll only add that I for one don't think a good Koran-flushing or coerced Christ-pissing is "torture," and I don't know many people who do. It would seem to be a rather counter-productive activity, unless you used it to successfully defuse one of those non-existent "ticking time bombs" we've heard so much about, but then I've never been a big believer in the quality of information extracted under duress.

NEXT: South Park Republicans?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. How about we smear a Bible with Santorum, show the photos in the Middle East and Central Asia, and call the whole thing even?

  2. In a world dominated by electronic media how much longer are Muslims going to be able to define a book as a holy object? Mass reproduction has already undermined the aura books once had in the middle ages, in an electronic world multiple Korans are readily available at any time. Now I assume a Muslim would say that is not the physical book itself that is holy, since that smacks of worshipping an object, it’s the text – then what happens when one downloads the Koran onto one’s computer? Would it be blasphemous to delete an electronic Koran from one’s laptop? Is flushing a computer disc with a Koran on it less offensive than flushing a book? If so, why? If the World Trade Center buildings contained some copies of the Koran, which is highly likely, than was it a sin to burn them down?

  3. With sufficient duress, you can obtain just about any information; the quality of which is highly dubious.

  4. Eating pork: OK.
    Dousing an Orthodox Jew or Muslim with pig blood: Not OK.”

    So is it “OK” or “Not OK” to douse in pig blood people of unspecified religious affiliation?

    If it’s “OK”, I’m going to start promoting it as a spa treatment.

  5. What if I flushed your Bill James Baseball Abstracts? One by one?

  6. ANOTHER UPDATE: Dave Price offers a prediction:

    Released detainees current and future will falsely claim the Koran-flushing happened, just as their Al Qaeda training manuals instruct them to do.

    Why are we releasing them if they’re Al Qaeda members? Isn’t Reynolds, or Dave Price, more concerned that their government is fighting the so-called War On Terror by releasing Al Qaeda members?

    I swear, Reynolds gets dumber every day.

  7. Does this count as the Friday Fun Link?

  8. Well, piss christ was a problem because this guy was financed by taxpayers through the NEA. So, we all paid for his “art.” If he paid for everything himself, then fine. However, that was not the case.

  9. Berman — Even America-hating Fifth Columnists surely know that the Abstracts were too large to fit into even a Turkish (a.k.a., French) toilet….

  10. The comparisons to Piss Christ have only come up relative to comparisons of how Christians in the US reacted to it vs. how Muslims in the Middle East reacted to the alleged Koran flushing. So differentiating the two acts according to the coercion/non-coercion angle is only relevant if one assumes that the non-coercive destruction of the Koran would not have lead to the same level of reaction.

    Suppose that had Newsweek instead written an article along the lines of “An unnamed source at the Defense Department recounts an unusual pasttime among troops stationed at Guantanamo prison. Apparently in their off duty hours, the guards have taken to purchasing Korans from the base commisary and flushing them down the toilets in their barracks.”

    Do you seriously believe the subsequent rioting would have been any less severe because there was no coercion involved?

  11. In a world dominated by electronic media how much longer are Muslims going to be able to define a book as a holy object?

    Probably as long as a Virgin Mary cheese steak sandwich is reveared by a certain group. Or at least as long as a defamated Virgin Mary piss stain in some dark alley results in the offendor getting a jail term or probation.

    …then what happens when one downloads the Koran onto one’s computer?

    The book industry version of the RIAA will come knocking.

    Would it be blasphemous to delete an electronic Koran from one’s laptop?

    Only if you are eliminating the evidence the book industry RIAA came knocking for.

  12. Christian looks cross-eyed at a Quran and Muslims riot and die.

    Muslim burns a Bible and Christian yawns, scratches himself and changes the channel.

  13. Flushing pages of Satanic Verses offends me at least as much as flushing pages of the Koran does people in Afghanistan or Iran.

    But calling for the murder of the author offends me more.

    The following causes me great concern:

    The Pentagon, which administers the detention facility, says it is investigating the matter and determined to punish anyone found to have been involved in such conduct. (VOA News)

    I have nothing but disdain for the entire Guantanamo fiasco. But what law is there that protects paper in the US? Since when is blasphemy an offence?

  14. ps – I don’t believe Newsweek’s retraction for a minute.

  15. How about we smear a Bible with Santorum, show the photos in the Middle East and Central Asia, and call the whole thing even?

    Abysmally uninformed question: Don’t Muslims consider the Bible to be holy scripture also? (As Christians include all or part of the Torah in the Bible?)

  16. Well, piss christ was a problem because this guy was financed by taxpayers through the NEA. So, we all paid for his “art.” If he paid for everything himself, then fine. However, that was not the case.

    We paid someone to pee?

  17. This thread is representative of the discussions of the flushing the Quran, and is similarly beside the point.
    It’s not a matter of doing a Mexican hat dance dos-a-dos on the line in the sand.
    It’s a matter of backing way away from the line. Way away.

    Is it because the Hatfields and McCoys were my people that I can recognize the insanity on both sides?

    Who brought us to this impasse? How can we move on?

  18. ed,

    I’m not a Muslim or a Christian, but I think the Muslim view of the Koran is different from the Christian view of the Bible. It’s not just that the Koran is “the word of God.” Muslims believe that the Koran is the actual, exact words God used when he spoke to Muhammed. Word for word. So reciting the Koran is actually repeating God’s words. That’s why it’s seen as so goddamn holy.

  19. thoreau,
    How spreadable is “Santorum”?
    (If you’ll pardon the mere suggestion.)

  20. How spreadable is “Santorum”?
    If I may, would it not depend upon the contributors daily fiber intake?

  21. To Bargainer’s last not ok point; what is it that pushes it over the top? Would 3 shots be ok or some other number? Does it depend on the fiber intake of the shooter or the shootee?

  22. The normal consent vs coercion distinction doesn’t apply to prisoners. They are forced to do many unpleasant things that they do not consent to, and I think the vast majority of us here would agree that prisoners should not have the same liberties as people in general.

  23. As Omar the K didn’t say, “Keep all the libraries, but flush that goddamn book.”

  24. I think that, if “Piss Christ” had instead been named “Christ In Amber”, it’d be a hot seller in Christian bookstores.

    It’s kinda ridiculous. Piss has probably been used on all manner of religious sculpture and architecture over the years. For example, as a way to generate a patina on metal, or as an ingredient in a pigment.

    I’ve seen one reference on the web to an art restorer who considered urine the best substance for cleaning a painting, because it doesn’t discolor the varnish.

    There may be works of Christian art for which urine was a crucial part of their creation, or their maintenance over the centuries.

  25. I’d also add that, if the artist who created “Piss Christ” had only wanted to create something that said “Ha! I’m pissing on Jesus! Fuck you, Christians!”, he could have done a picture of a crucifix in a squalid urinal, being pissed on. Now *that* would be cause for offense.

    Instead, a photograph was created which is visually striking, and as I suggest in my prior comment, would probably be a market favorite if the details of creation were ignored as is usually the case with the arts. The liquid could just as easily be Trappist beer, or honey from a monastery’s beehives thinned with holy water.

    If the artist is being provocative, it’s mostly in his choice of title for the work.

  26. “Do you seriously believe the subsequent rioting would have been any less severe because there was no coercion involved?”

    I think so. I think that’d be considered less of an act of confrontational humiliation, than a flushing which is done specifically for the ‘benefit’ of a Muslim.

    By comparison: American flag burning laws are intended to stop flag burning in a particular context – acts of protest, presumably with an audience.

    Supporters of American flag-burning laws are not trying to stop flag-burning that follows the traditional procedure for retiring worn-out flags. Nor would they be particularly incense about some people who burned flags in private.

  27. “How spreadable is “Santorum”?”
    “If I may, would it not depend upon the contributors daily fiber intake?”

    Eddy,
    To me, you sound as if you’re confusing Mr. Santorum with his “product.”
    In Mr. Santorum’s case, that would be an easy trap to fall into.

  28. Matt, I don’t think I was supposed to LOL. But that was really funny. And spot on.

    Jon, your points are well taken and had Andres Serrano used his own money to finance his art project I wouldn’t care.

    I propose that the NEA pop for 150 grand to finance an art project called PISS CURAN. It will be a photograph of a copy of the Koran submerged in a glass beaker of urine (or better, being flushed down a toilet at Guantanamo). We’ll put it on a road show for a couple of years and display it in most major cities in the US. It will be popular with a lot of people who are still pissed (pun intended) about 9-11.

    -crickets-

    -gasps-

    Why you can’t do that you’ll offend the entire Moslem world.

    See why Christians think the secular lefties have it in for them?

  29. “Why you can’t do that you’ll offend the entire Moslem world.”

    And quite a few of them are batshit crazy.

    Note that Buddha doesn’t get a whole lot of respect in the US, what with “Funky Buddha” nightclubs and whatnot.

    “See why Christians think the secular lefties have it in for them?”

    Yeah, and in their position of weakness, they need to worry. Oh, wait, they run the sole superpower. They’re not weak, they’re extremely powerful. So what are they bitching about? Vast power isn’t enough, they need to have everyone kiss their asses? It isn’t enough to have the nuclear launch codes and control of the Treasury and FBI, they’ll be unhappy until everyone treats Christians with infinite reverence?

    What next, Christians are going to whine that they are being persecuted because they haven’t been given ponies?

    Fuck that. Whiny “they’re picking on us!” Christians need to grow some balls and quit complaining about nonexistent persecution when they’re on top of the damn world. Fucking pathetic diva complex is what that is.

  30. It’s kinda ridiculous. Piss has probably been used on all manner of religious sculpture and architecture over the years. For example, as a way to generate a patina on metal, or as an ingredient in a pigment.

    I’ve seen one reference on the web to an art restorer who considered urine the best substance for cleaning a painting, because it doesn’t discolor the varnish.

    There may be works of Christian art for which urine was a crucial part of their creation, or their maintenance over the centuries.

    Comment by: Jon H at May 21, 2005 02:05 PM ,

    In Girl with a Pearl Earring, there is a reference to Vermeer using cow urine as a pigment in painting. Not for that particular painting, but for an earlier one.

  31. “In Girl with a Pearl Earring, there is a reference to Vermeer using cow urine as a pigment in painting. Not for that particular painting, but for an earlier one”

    Yep, apparently, a common pigment called “Indian Yellow” was obtained by feeding cows little but mango leaves, and collecting the urine.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if there was cow piss all over the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling.

  32. Jon if christians were running the country you’d be in jail for saying ‘fucking’ and ‘piss’ on a public bb.

    Checking under the bed for Jerry Falwell regards, TWC

  33. “Jon if christians were running the country you’d be in jail for saying ‘fucking’ and ‘piss’ on a public bb.”

    I believe James Sensenbrenner has called for such legislation. He’s a Christian, and he’s part of the majority running the country.

  34. FUCK PURITAN ISLAM…

    THE PURITAN ISLAM IS THE MOST FUCKING STUPID RELIGION AND OUT OF BRAINS FANATICS IN THIS WORLD…

    ALL HUMANS ARE COMING FROM THE GREAT APES FAMILY…HOWEVER THE FUCKING MUSLIMS ISLAM IS THE BEST EXAMPLE OF MONKEY SEE MONKEY DO… KILL ALL YOURSELF MOTHERFUCKERS IN THE NAME OF ALLAH…

    FUCK ALL OFF YOU STUPID MOTHERFUCKERS…
    SIGNED: A HUMAN

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.