Judge dismisses sectarian assault on Atheist, blames him instead

Imagine you get physically assaulted for speaking your mind, and when it was time for your attacker to face justice, he’s sent merrily on his way by a Judge who shares his specific religious convictions. Would you not regard this as a gross miscarriage of justice?

Well, that’s exactly what happened to fellow non-believer Ernest Perce, who was assaulted last October during a parade. Representing the Pennsylvania Non-Believers, Perce donned a zombie Mohammed costume intent on making a statement about Islam. Talaag Elbayomy (a recent immigrant to the US) saw Perce and immediately began attacking him, convinced that this blasphemy was actually a crime. The incident was caught on tape, and the police officer at the scene reported that Elbayomy had indeed admitted to the assualt. Perce pressed charges, and what should have been an open and shut case instead turned into a farce when the judge threw the case out. District Judge Mark Martin, a recent convert to Islam, refused to allow the video as evidence. He even had the audacity of lecturing the plaintiff on what constitutes an appropriate use of his First Amendment Rights:

Here in our society, we have a constitution that gives us many rights, specifically, First Amendment rights. It’s unfortunate that some people use the First Amendment to deliberately provoke others. I don’t think that’s what our forefathers really intended. 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.

I’m sure the Founding Fathers, a bunch of rebellious intellectuals who decided to overthrow their government to form their own, didn’t intend for people to be offended by free speech. The only form of effective revolution is to politely keep your opinions to yourself, right?

Some of the more dramatic headlines suggested that the Martin had used “Sharia Law” to reach a verdict. I wouldn’t go that far, although I am glad that other serious professionals are calling out this moron for showing a complete lack of understanding of basic principles of free speech. I think this clown allowed his religion to cloud his already shitty judgement, and I believe that despite a miscarriage of justice, we’ve at least succeeded in showcasing how disturbing it is when sectarianism creeps its way into the courts. Thanks for taking one for the team, Ernest!

NOTE: The judge is in fact a Lutheran. The statement he made in court saying “I am a Muslim” was not meant to be taken literally. Thanks Alex for pointing that out.

Comments (6)

  • avatar

    Alex

    I think you might be wrong about the judge being a muslim. I know it sounds like he said that he was in one part of his (ridiculous) speech, but he seems to contradict that a bit later suggesting that when he said “I’m a muslim” he was actually setting up a kind of conditional. (See this blog post for reference http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=3808 )

  • avatar

    Jacob Fortin

    Hey Alex, you’re right. i was basing myself on a transcript from court that seemed to suggest he was calling himself a Muslim. Turned out to be a garbled communication. I’ve corrected it.

  • avatar

    Joseph Scott

    Muslim or not, he’s still a douchebag that should be relieved of his duties.

  • avatar

    Richard Kurgas

    For some reason, I can’t get the video to work. But there has been a strange development, with the judge getting death threats:

    http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2012/02/judge_in_zombie_muhammad_case_1.html

  • avatar

    Joseph Scott

    By his own logic, it’s his own fault for inciting the ire of the people. So I guess if someone follows up on a violent threat, he won’t press charges.

  • avatar

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