YEAR IN REVIEW #10: Pastor Terry Jones speaks on campus as example of free speech
While Rev. Terry Jones is best known for his controversial burning of a Quran, he also has served as an example of free speech to Central Michigan University students Nov 9.
Invited by Associate Professor of Journalism Tim Boudreau, Jones spoke to Boudreau’s JRN 102: Introduction to Journalism and JRN 404: Law of Mass Communication classes in auditoriums in Pearce and Anspach halls.
Boudreau said he brings in a controversial speaker every year to illustrate how offensive speech is protected by the First Amendment.
Jones, Reverend of Dove World Outreach Center, sparked mass protests after he pledged to burn about 200 Qurans on the 2010 anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks as part of his "International Burn a Quran Day." Jones made no apologies and told students to observe how freedom of speech exists only for mainstream opinions.
“Even if you do not like it, it needs to be tolerated,” he said. “It needs to be thought about without fear.”
Jones said there is currently a $2.4 million assassination contract on his life. After receiving hundreds of death threats, mass protest and objection from both Christian and Islamic groups, and even personal requests from President Barack Obama and General David Petraeus, Jones agreed to cancel the 2010 burning, giving his word they would never burn a Quran.
Jones broke his word on March 20 when he presided as the judge in a mock trial of the Quran at his church. The events were part of Jones' "International Judge the Quran Day." After a jury with no Muslim members found the book guilty, an assistant pastor burned the book in the sanctuary.
Jones said he had not planned to burn the Quran, but he changed his mind.
“I lied,” Jones said. “It was not on purpose, but I lied.”
The mock trial was streamed live and resulted in international outrage, including mob protests in Afghanistan in which about 30 people were killed and about 150 more injured. President Obama heavily criticized both the burning and the violent protestors.
Jones said he believes President Obama is a Muslim who was not born in the United States.
Rochester Hills junior Kelsey Houghtlin said she was glad Boudreau brought someone to campus with an interesting perspective.
Although Houghtlin, who attends His House Christian Fellowship, 211 W. Broomfield St., said she does not agree with Jones’ actions, she does believe he has the legal right to protest and burn the books.
“I think he has the freedom of speech to do it, but I don’t think he’s right,” she said. “It doesn’t demonstrate Christian beliefs.”
Jones has filed to run as an independent for president in the 2012 U.S. election. His campaign, Stand Up America Now, has a seven-point platform, including deporting all illegal aliens, reducing military spending and reducing corporate taxes.