If, like me, you only really understand something when you understand it visually you will love the RSA Animate series of illustrated lectures. The one linked above is the philosopher Slavoj Žižek talking about how the new ethical consumerism perpetuates poverty and how charity in general can "demoralize and degrade". Check the RSA website for more, there is an excellent one from Mathew Taylor about 21st century enlightenment.
Pastor Jones saw the light and called off his Qur'an burning but according to reports there were others who decided to commemorate the 9/11 attacks by burning or ripping-up the book sacred to Muslims. Leaving aside the idiocy of these actions it's interesting to note that the US media seems to have agreed on a near complete black-out of images from any Qur'an burnings. There was already an understanding that had the event in Florida gone ahead the networks would not have covered it, I suppose the news media extended the decision. Lives have already been lost over this whole sorry affair and it's not hard to imagine how provocative the images would have been, it's quite possible that more people would have died in further protests and even possible that attacks against US targets would have been provoked.
So when do we decide to look away? And when does denying a crackpot the oxygen of publicity become preemptive appeasement? Should I refrain from photographing something that someone will find offensive if that offense might lead to violence?
In the case of the Qur'an burning it seems like the media had already magnified the significance of the story to the point where any reporting of the actual event would be dangerously charged. The frenzy surrounding the personal opinions of a pastor with a congregation of under 100 built like a perfect media storm over the last few weeks, feeding off the reactions of outraged Muslims and counter-outraged islamophobes. In these circumstances I wouldn't have wanted to shoot it, not just because of the effect of the images but because the story was no longer about the burning, the story was about the story. Had there not been the crazy build-up I think I would have felt differently, then the story would have been about a marginal anti-Islam extremism in small-town Christian America, a loon and his bonfire.
This case shows up one of the problems with the way that news clusters around stories: how can you report on the insignificance of something when everyone is looking at it? One of my working maxims is "illustrate the general with the particular" but this can lead to minorities representing more than they should. Pastor Jones surely does represent a part of the American population, hopefully a very small part, but the coverage he got might lead you to believe he spoke with the voices of millions.