A NJTransit worker was fired for burning the Koran. The Daily News reported today (4/23/11) that he has gotten his job back & $25,000 in back pay. The News polled its readers and got these results:
Should the transit worker who was fired for burning the Koran have gotten his job back?
Yes, absolutely, his freedom of speech was violated. 9%
Yes, but he should not have gotten $25,000 in back pay. 2%
No way, he could have sparked a holy war, he's a menace. 90%
Although I disagree completely with Derek Fenton's action. I also believe that if the U.S.Constitution means anything (and from the poll above it clearly doesn't) freedom of political expression is inviolate. If we have the Right to burn the American Flag, the Constitution, the Bible, he has the right to burn The Koran no matter how despicable (and reminiscent of Fascist book burnings) the act may be. Although we have not always held to our own standards as a nation (some might say, "When have we?"), as Fenton says: "This is the very essence of the First Amendment.") The numbers in the above poll are actually far more frightening than his burning of The Koran. It also occurs to me that if the question was firing someone for burning a Christian Bible or the U.S. Constitution, Fenton would probably be in the 90%.