This is what happens when a modern, militantly anti-religious ideology runs headlong into an iconophobic religious doctrine that Gutenberg made obsolete. Basically, the Muslim judge dismissed a case brought against a Muslim man who assaulted an atheist dressed as a zombie Muhammed because the man’s costume was offensive.

It goes without saying that “The Parading Atheists of Central Pennsylvania” are probably an obnoxious bunch, and I fail to see the point of their protest. But the case raises some interesting questions – not about free speech, the man clearly has the right to wear a sign, green face paint and a fake beard unmolested. Should the judge, a Muslim, have recused himself?

Based on this account, he probably should have, and retired from the bench entirely too based on his totally incoherent justification for dismissing the case, of which this excerpt was a part:

“Then what you have done is you have completely trashed their essence, their being. They find it very very very offensive. I’m a Muslim, I find it offensive. But you have that right, but you’re way outside your boundaries or first amendment rights.”

So should a Muslim be shielded from prosecution because the person they assaulted offended them? A sort of defense-by-religious-hysteria? Clearly not.

I don’t want to get into the theological weeds of what Islam does and doesn’t prohibit, but there is no way a religion that prohibits any depiction of their prophet can coexist in a country with modern values of free expression, especially in an age when, thanks to the internet, an image can be created and reproduced indefinitely without cost. Reconciling those two value sets is a difficult thing, but the Parading Atheists aren’t helping. Maybe it’s a stupid intolerant fantasy of mine, but I’ve always wondered what a group like that would do if they were given the resources to drop leaflets of Zombie Muhammed or some similarly offensive image over Muslim countries or neighborhoods. I suspect it would just incite violence rather than make them question their ridiculous Medieval doctrine.

For audio of the court case, click here. The judge starts speaking around the 2:00 minute mark.