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Editor’s note: Michael Ackley’s columns may include satire and parody based on current events, and thus mix fact with fiction. He assumes informed readers will be able to tell which is which.

Public officials and religious leaders all over the United States were wringing their hands last week over plans by a publicity-seeking Florida pastor to hold a Quran burning. “How will the Muslim world react?” they worried.

Silly people. Didn’t they know the “Muslim world” would react as it always does when anybody in the West sneezes in its direction? Effigy burnings and anti-American chants were under way well before the Rev. Terry Jones could consider striking a single match.

Ultimately, Jones decided against the inflammatory action. That said, here’s how we wish the media circus had gone:

Jones (addressing his congregation of 50 and an audience of 4,231 news media reporters and commentators): Well now, all you good Christians – and you media folks, too – we have here a big stack of Islam’s holy text, the Quran. And over here we have a can of kerosene and a box of matches.

As you know, we planned today to pour the kerosene on the Qurans and set them afire, to illustrate the inimical characteristics of Islam. But I’ve changed my mind.

Cries from the media: What! We came here for nothing? You can’t do this to us! The public has a right … ! We need action to videotape! We sold commercials based on this!

Jones I’ve decided it’s more important that people understand Islam, so I’m asking members of my congregation to take these Qurans, read them, and pass them on to their friends and neighbors.

Cries from the media: Why? Why?

Jones: Because reading these books will do more to help understand and counter the spread of radical Islam than burning them.


Meanwhile, in the Islamic republic: The planned stoning death of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani has been “suspended” by Iranian authorities, who apparently do respond to Western indignation at its application of Shariah law. (Moderate Muslims explain that Iran, like Saudi Arabia and other large swaths of the Islamic world, is one of those nations and cultures that somehow have misinterpreted Allah’s words in the Quran.)

Said an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, “The verdict regarding the extramarital affairs has stopped, and it’s being reviewed.”

Ashtiani also is accused of participating in her husband’s murder, but officials had disposed of the more important adultery charge first.


Fighting for literacy, one word at a time: Like so many linguistic abominations, the verb phrase “advocate for” likely started with television news, but this solecism also has crept into print. The word comes from the Latin ad – in this case meaning “for” – and vocare, to call. Merge the two words and you get “to call for.” Therefore, saying somebody “advocates for” is to say that person “calls for for,” a screaming redundancy. (Of course, if one is using “advocate” as a noun, it is altogether proper to say “he is an advocate for … )

For the literate, hearing or reading “he advocates for” is like discovering sand in your tuna sandwich during an otherwise pleasant beach excursion.


Meanwhile, in California: Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich released statistics on the cost of welfare payments for the children of illegal immigrants. According to the Los Angeles Times, the payments make up 23 percent of 2010′s projected welfare and food-stamp assistance of $600 million. Won’t anybody step up and demonstrate how illegal immigrants more than pay their way?


On the campaign trail: Gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman wants to reduce the state payroll by 40,000 jobs. Let us suggest she start by advocating (not “advocating for”!) a return to a part-time Legislature. It would affect only120 people – Assembly members and state senators – but it would be a start.


Sen. Barbara Boxer, in a tough re-election battle with former Hewlett Packard executive Carly Fiorina, opposes California Proposition 19, which would legalize marijuana. Unfortunately, the word didn’t get through to her senior economic adviser, Marcus Stanley. According to the Politico, Stanley was busted for weed possession by Capitol Police after he allegedly tried to “‘remove and conceal’ a leafy green substance” at a Hart Office Building checkpoint.

Senior economic adviser, huh? Perhaps this explains Boxer’s hallucinatory approach to fiscal matters.

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