Home/Rod Dreher/Judge: Attacking Atheist OK (UPDATED)

Judge: Attacking Atheist OK (UPDATED)

Remember Ernest Perce? I wrote about him last fall. He’s an atheist jerk who paraded down a Pennsylvania street dressed as “Zombie Muhammad,” and was assaulted by a Muslim man in the crowd. I said at the time that I didn’t feel sorry for him, even though I believe that he had a right to be a public ass without being physically attacked.

Well, Perce’s attacker has faced the bar of American justice — and the judge, an American convert to Islam, let the attacker off scot-free. More:

The Judge neglected to address the fact that the ignorance of the law does not justify an assault and that it was the responsibility of the defendant to familiarize himself with our laws.  This is to say nothing of the judge counseling the defendant that it is also not acceptable for him to teach his children that it is acceptable to use violence in the defense of religious beliefs.  Instead, the judge gives Mr. Perce a lesson in Sharia law and drones on about the Muslim faith, inform everyone in the court room how strongly he embraces Islam, that the first amendment does not allow anyone ” to piss off other people and other cultures” and he was also insulted by Mr. Perce’s portrayal of Mohammed and the sign he carried.

This is a travesty. Not only did Judge Martin completely ignore video evidence, but a Police Officer who was at the scene also testified on Mr. Perce’s behalf, to which the Judge also dismissed by saying the officer didn’t give an accurate account or doesn’t give it any weight.

Interestingly, the Harrisburg paper, in reporting the ruling, says nothing about Judge Martin’s religion, nor gives any background including the judge’s outrageous courtroom lecture. You can here that lecture by clicking on this link, and forwarding to around the 28-minute mark.

The atheists are right: this really is a travesty. That Perce was the victim of a travesty doesn’t make him a gentleman. But he was wronged here by a judge who ought to know that you don’t have the right to assault people in this country because you don’t like their peaceful speech. Judge Mark Martin ought to be strongly disciplined for his courtroom remarks. Unbelievable stuff.

UPDATE:Andrew McCarthy has a full transcript of the judge’s remarks. An excerpt from Judge Martin’s lecture:

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 don’t think you’re aware, sir, there’s a big difference between how Americans practice Christianity – uh, I understand you’re an atheist. But, see, Islam is not just a religion, it’s their culture, their culture. It’s their very essence, their very being. They pray five times a day towards Mecca. To be a good Muslim, before you die, you have to make a pilgrimage to Mecca unless you are otherwise told you cannot because you are too ill, too elderly, whatever. But you must make the attempt.

Their greetings, “Salaam alaikum,” “Alaikum wa-salaam,” “May God be with you.” Whenever — it is very common — their language, when they’re speaking to each other, it’s very common for them to say, uh, “Allah willing, this will happen.” It is — they are so immersed in it.

Then what you have done is you’ve completely trashed their essence, their being. They find it very, very, very offensive. I’m a Muslim, I find it offensive. [Unintelligble] aside was very offensive.

But you have that right, but you’re way outside your bounds on First Amendment rights.

Something tells me Judge Martin, peace be upon him, is about to be taken to school by his judicial superiors. Incidentally, McCarthy reports that Judge Martin is allegedly threatening to hold Perce in contempt for releasing an audio recording of the remarks he made in open court. McCarthy adds:

 But one’s “attitude toward Muslims” is irrelevant to one’s right in America to walk the streets and express opinions people may find offensive without being physically attacked and intimidated. And the fact that sharia governments kill people over such expressions of opinion means that they are barbaric, not that we should tolerate additional constraints on our (diminishing) liberties.

UPDATE: Andy McCarthy reports that Judge Martin denies being a Muslim (something our reader John E. reported here yesterday after calling the judge’s office). If you listen to the audio recording of his courtroom lecture, it sounds like Martin is clearly saying “I’m a Muslim.” But McCarthy concedes now that it’s possible Martin meant by those words, “If I am a Muslim.” I’ve changed the headline of this blog entry to reflect this information. It does not change the wrongness of Judge Martin’s ruling.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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