Vail Daily columnist Richard Carnes: Deleting common sense |

Vail Daily columnist Richard Carnes: Deleting common sense

I recently downloaded a copy of the Koran, in English, to my main computer at home.

After opening the file, confirming it was indeed the Islamic holy book, and doing a quick search for the words “peace” and “kill” (guess which one is used three times more than the other?), I chuckled, and then hit the “X” in the upper right-hand corner to close the document.

I looked to my left, scanned cautiously to my right, and then again clicked the file name, only this time I held down the mouse button and carefully dragged the file over to my toilet icon, which in my case is the infamous “Recycle Bin,” where all digital files go to die.

After a few minutes I realized that maybe, just maybe, I was still surrounded by glorious silence because the Recycle Bin does not actually erase the file, but keeps it until emptied (in my case, flushed) just in case of the proverbial “operator error,” which means the moron using the computer accidentally deleted a file that they had meant to keep.

We’ve all done it.

So after following PC protocol, I flushed the entire contents down the digital drain into the cyber sewer system known as “nowhere,” which, if you think about it, is the same metaphorical location as heaven and/or hell, depending upon one’s perspective of theism.

Anyway, again, nothing happened.

No virus (even on a PC!), no immediate flaming emails (which in this case means none have shown any signs of combustibility), and best of all, I felt no dire need to pull a Salmon Rushdie and disappear.

I suppose it’s not as if I drew a cartoon of a bearded man with a towel on his head containing a bomb with the name Mohammed scribbled underneath.

Why did I perform such an apparently foolhardy act, you ask?

Over 20 people died a few weeks ago in Afghanistan because some nutjob preacher in Florida, in a desperate attempt for theistic attention, burned a copy of the Koran to the delight of a few dozen parishioners.

When the burning actually occurred it was only slight blip on a slow news day in the United States, but the America-backed Afghan leader (Hamid Karzai) decided it was too good of an opportunity to pass up, and promptly announced it to his nation as if it were an event attended by 9 out of 10 Americans and celebrated with fireworks, an all-you-can-eat, all-pork barbecue and Toby Keith singing “God Bless America.”

How each of the men, women and children died (there were a few of each) is irrelevant compared to the actual reason they died, which is simply unfathomable to most human beings with even a bare minimum of decency in their bones (i.e., civilized).

This clueless Florida man of (insert favorite deity here) was, of course, proud of his accomplishment and promised to burn more copies, as if doing so would slowly deplete the world of Muslims.

As bad, and downright insensitively stupid as his act was, I am glad to live in a country where any book can be burned for any reason, no matter how insipidly naive the one holding the match.

But it left me wondering what the preacher had thought, or hoped, would be the results of his careless actions.

Did he know innocent human beings would die? Was that truly his objective? Did he believe it would bring on Armageddon, and thus the arrival of (insert son of favorite deity here) and the inevitable slaughter of all non-believers and the rapture of a chosen few up to Never-Never Land?

Either way, the fact that both sides will stoop to such delusional lows all because of ancient superstitions scratched into goat hides by goat herders makes me wish I could click the DELETE button of superstition and rid the world of such nonsense.

Luckily, we’re a patient species.

Richard Carnes of Edwards writes weekly. He can be reached at Comment on

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