By now you've probably heard of the formerly obscure church in central Florida that plans to burn around 200 copies of the Koran Saturday on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
You've heard of pastor Terry Jones not because he wields much influence, or even has much of an audience. You've heard of him because, in many ways, as the NYT points out, he's as skilled in viral marketing as the creators of that famous fake girl who quit.
Jones, head of the several-dozen-member church the Dove World Outreach Center, has been making inflammatory remarks and staging anti-Muslim demonstrations for years. This year, due almost exclusively to our saturation in and the disseminating power of the Internet, his idiocy has reached even the ears of the Vatican and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, both of whom have publicly condemned the burning. (Gen. David Petraeus has even spoken out, voicing concerns that the demonstration could endanger American troops in Afghanistan).
And of course, Angelina Jolie has decided she needs to chime in as well.
Whether giving Jones the attention he so obviously craves is a good or a bad thing is hard to say, and unimportant. Here I am, adding to his Google news record as we speak.
I think of it as my grandfather did: That's the thing with free speech. You have to listen to a lot of crap, but at least you know who the assholes are.