Sunday, April 3, 2011

Pastor Terry Jones Quran Burning Incites Violence in Afghanistan UN Employees Killed

On 2 Apr 2011, the online version of The Washington Post reported that Pastor Terry Jones had made good on his earlier threat to burn the Quran.  In an act streamed live via the Internet, Pastor Terry Jones and his congregation staged a mock trial which found the Quran "guilty of crimes against humanity."

In an immediate act of retribution, the NBC Miami reported on 1 Apr 2011 that a UN Compound in the usually serene Balkh province of Afghanistan was overrun by protestors resulting in the death of at least 7 UN employees including 2 who were beheaded.

As I explained in my research on Crisis Communications in the Era of Social Media, social media has enabled practically anyone with Internet access to reach out to a global audience. Unfortunately, unlike professional journalists who subscribe to a professional code of conduct, these citizen journalists do not.  Ciftizen journalists are therefore free to pursue personal agendas without regards for the consequences.

Pastor Terry Jones' recent Quran buring act is a prime example of the dangers of allowing the unconstrained use of social media. While I am not advocating Government regulation or censorship of the Internet, I am however advocating that Governments around the world need to enact laws that will enable them to hold netizens accountable for their actions. Such laws, used judiciously (so as not to infringe on the individual's right to expression) will then enable Governments to stop blatantly irresponsible actions against the common good.

While I firmly support the right of free speech, I also believe that the right comes with the obligation to use it responsibly. And, if an individual fails in his obligations, he must be held accountable.

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