Ernest Perce and Muslim Judge Martin
The article linked above involves an incident occurring last year on Halloween, where central Pennsylvanian Atheist Ernest Perce dressed up as Muhammad on Halloween and was assaulted by an angry Muslim.
Long story short: he recorded audio from the court room which involved a Muslim judge dismissing the case, blaming the Atheist for provoking the attack, threatening that in an Islamic country he would have been sentenced to death for that provocation, and attempting to debate the Quran in a court of law.
The judge did not recuse himself of his position for fear of bias. He ran with the bias and held Sharia law over the US Constitution which does not excuse angry Muslims from barring others their freedom of speech.
This is a matter of ethics, politics, and law. What are your views on what happened?
Hopefully Mr Perce will appeal this ruling. Does any one know if the State Attorney Generals Office can step in or is that out of their jurisdiction?
This is a blatant disregard on the judges behalf in rendering a decision based on the laws that are on the books. He should have recused himself if he wasn't able to separate his personal religious views from those as an officer of the court. I would hope that in addition to his verdict being thrown out, he will face some kind of punishment from the judicial review board.
I agree with this sentiment. I hope he faces a fierce reprimanding or is asked to step down. Since this is a violation of Perce's constitutional rights, he can pursue this as far as he wants to. And I know him - he has a lot of vigour and I'm sure he absolutely WILL do what he can with the situation.
I'm not sure about the State Attorney General. Someone else would have to chime in on that.
Interesting, sounds like a "panic defense." It's been a thorn in the paw of the LGBT community for many decades, with well established precedent unfortunately. This idea that somethings are just so rage-inducing ("OMGZ a gay man hit on me!") that any reasonable human would flip out and assault someone in those situations :-P Though i feel like panic defenses are usually used to reduce sentancing, not to throw it out altogether.
Legally speaking, i worry such defenses creates a "two wrongs make a right" legal system -- which is a very dangerous precedent to set. Ideally in such a setting, if there are two wrongs hopefully there are two laws to charge both parties with. In this case, if someone committed an assault and the other committed some kinda hate crime, then let them both get their day in court and let the system decide appropriate penalty, if any.
But of course there is no hate crime. It's a way for biased judges to penalize people that don't actually break any laws for behavior they personally find unacceptable.
The problem is the judge regarding Perce's actions as a 'wrong' at all. He's legally within his right to dress up for Halloween whatever he wants that is PG appropriate.
The above article addresses the aftermath of the case and the over 470 death threats Mr. Perce has received since the trial was dismissed. The fact is that the judge dismissed the case based on the idea 'he couldn't tell if anyone hit anyone'. An officer testified that Perce was in fact hit, but the judge purposely ignored his testimony to avoid having to put the Muslim in jail or otherwise reprimand him for assault or harassment (the charge should have been assault, not harassment). His messed up interpretation of the constitution through the filter of the Koran is illegal and he should be removed from his seat - the one from which he should have recused himself to begin with.
I'm confused by your response. Did you mean to reply to my comment or is this general followup?
To clarify my previous comment: there is a legal precedent that has been used to let our (LGBT community's) murders and assailants walk with minimal-to-no penalty, all totally legal. There's a chance it is being used here as well. That would make this part of a much larger legal issue, and a potentially interesting point of view on the case that i assume we would like to prevent in the future.
I think there are a great many problems with this trial, not just one. As with most injustices, usually a number of social wrongs and institutional failures intersect.
I was partially replying and following up at the same time. Sorry for the confusion^.
This was my blog entry on this case:
According to the CNN blog entitled Judge’s dismissal of atheist's harassment claim against Muslim make...,
The judge also scolded Perce, saying he’d been needlessly provocative on an issue sensitive with Muslims.
"You have that right, but you're way outside your bounds of First Amendment rights," Martin said, according to a recording Perce made of the court hearing. "I think our forefathers intended that we use the First Amendment so that we can speak our mind, not to piss off other people and other cultures, which is what you did."
The judge went on to point out that in many Muslim countries, ridiculing Mohammed could warrant the death penalty under Islamic law.
Critics say Martin's lecture shows he used Muslim cultural grounds to excuse a deplorable assault, and failed to defend an atheist's First Amendment rights.
"That's greatly disturbing to people that believe in free speech," said George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley. "You can say things that are hurtful to others. We hope that you don't, but you most certainly can be protected. People like Thomas Paine spent his entire life ticking off people across the colonies."
Former terrorism prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy, writing on the blog of National Review, accused the judge of allowing the Muslim suspect to invoke a "Sharia defense – what he claimed was his obligation to strike out against any insult against the prophet Mohammed."
Atheists.org also issued a blogin response to the attack and the judge's actions, saying
This reeks of those cases we used to read about where a woman is blamed for her own rape because she “was asking for it” by virtue of the clothing she chose to wear, and then having the Judge set the rapist free.
Blaming the victim: religions are pretty good about that. This case does make it feel like atheists, although a much bigger minority than Moslems (atheists are believed to make up about 18 % of US citizenry these days), are one of the few minorities whose freedoms and rights it's okay to violate, who when attacked by religious zealots do not deserve protection from the state and from the law. I should close by citing the First Amendment of the foundational document of the United States of America.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Thank you for sharing that. :) This is getting more and more attention gradually.
As an update, the Judge has received threats and had to move his practice temporarily. Perce pointed out though that he doesn't feel sorry for the Judge, who has done nothing for the nearly 500 death threats Perce himself has received from outraged Muslims.