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Stranger Than Fiction

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Balladeer
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0 posted 02-27-2012 10:06 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer


In a shocking case out of Pennsylvania, an American judge has thrown out an assault charge against a Muslim immigrant based on Sharia law.

The assault victim was the head of the Pennsylvania chapter of American Atheists, Ernest Perce V, who was marching in a Halloween parade as “Zombie Mohammed” next to a fellow atheist dressed as “Zombie Pope.” The former depiction didn’t sit well with Muslim onlooker Talag Elbayomy, who then attacked Mr. Perce. And with an admission of guilt by the assailant and video of the incident, it should have been an open-and-shut case.

But that’s not how it turned out.

As Andrew McCarthy at National Review reports:

Magistrate Judge Mark Martin, a veteran of the war in Iraq, ruled that Talag Elbayomy's sharia defense — what he claimed was his obligation to strike out against any insult against the prophet Mohammed — trumped the First Amendment free speech rights of the victim.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Al Stefanelli of American Atheists provides some more information, writing:

The defendant is an immigrant and claims he did not know his actions were illegal, or that it was legal in this country to represent Muhammad in any form. To add insult to injury, he also testified that his 9 year old son was present, and the man said he felt he needed to show his young son that he was willing to fight for his Prophet....

The Judge not only ruled in favor of the defendant, but called Mr. Perce a name and told him that if he were in a Muslim country, he'd be put to death.
http://www.thenewamerican.com/opinion/selwyn-duke/10998-pa-court-muslim-judge-uses-sharia-law-to-free-muslim-assai
Denise
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1 posted 02-28-2012 06:02 AM       View Profile for Denise   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Denise

Shameful.
oceanvu2
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2 posted 02-28-2012 10:29 AM       View Profile for oceanvu2   Email oceanvu2   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for oceanvu2

My goodness, a judge who makes a foolish decision!  Why, there should be a law against sharia law!  Oh wait, someone is trying that!  Good on them.  Maybe we should have laws that left us vote judges out of office when they do something particularly stupid.  Oh wait, we have them, too!

I did have to laugh at this, and it is strange.  Can't tell if the judge was being stupid while trying to be politically correct, as was just stupid.  Put them both in the pokey for a couple of days and make them listen to Katie Perry.  That'll show'em.

Best, Jimbeaux
Ron
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3 posted 02-28-2012 11:25 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
And with an admission of guilt by the assailant and video of the incident, it should have been an open-and-shut case.

There was no admission of guilt, quite the contrary, and the video was ruled inadmissible. The case was therefore dismissed for lack of evidence. It was "one man's word against the other's." Here's a somewhat more balanced report.

Do I think Martin was within his purview as a judge? Absolutely not. His findings "may" have been justifiable, but his public comments show a very clear and very inappropriate bias. I think the incident is contemptible.

I also think the incident is contemptible enough without trying to spin it into something more than it is. The incident has absolutely nothing to do with Sharia Law or even Islam. The details don't matter. Any other judge would have been just as wrong, just as contemptible, had he allowed his Christian roots to overtly influence his official behavior. Twisting the story to be an indictment of Islam is, in my opinion, little more than religious prejudice.

I think it's a real shame that these kinds of stories can't be reported more accurately and without undue sensationalism. They become so much more powerful when the reader is allowed to form their own opinion instead of simply becoming a reflection of the writer's own apparent, and seemingly misinformed, rage.


Grinch
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4 posted 02-28-2012 02:35 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch

quote:
His findings "may" have been justifiable, but his public comments show a very clear and very inappropriate bias. I think the incident is contemptible.


Hmm.

I listened to the audio of the trial and I don't think there was much wrong with either the judge's findings or his comments.

He rambled a bit but the comments were all pertinent to the evidence and testimony provided though, taken out of context, I guess they could easily be misconstrued.

.
Essorant
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5 posted 02-28-2012 03:28 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

I think I agree with his decision.   You can't go out parading mockery and insolence toward a religion and not expect confrontation by those that believe and take their religion seriously, even extremely seriously.    Physical retaliation is rarely justified, but it doesn't sound like the victim was physically injured.  They both got to insult or offend each other and managed to come out of it fairly safely.  What more do they want?
 
oceanvu2
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6 posted 02-28-2012 07:14 PM       View Profile for oceanvu2   Email oceanvu2   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for oceanvu2

Hi Ess -- Uh, actually you can go out parading mockery and insolence.  It's one of those free speech things and one's right to behave like an ass is legally protected.  It's one of those just because you can doesn't mean you should things.

Best, Jimbeaux
Huan Yi
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7 posted 02-28-2012 09:20 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

.


Can the KKK
in a similar fashion
brandish its racism
in Harlem?


Is it legally acceptable
for atheists to desecrate
images of Christ in a Hispanic
immigrant neighborhood?


.
Balladeer
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8 posted 02-28-2012 11:06 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

Jimbeaux, you are absolutely right. Ess, you are absolutely wrong.
Balladeer
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9 posted 02-28-2012 11:07 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

John.....yes - yes. Extremely stupid but legally acceptable.
Balladeer
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10 posted 02-28-2012 11:11 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

Grinch, assault is assault. In the penalty phase, the judge could give the muslim a slap on the writst or suspended sentence but what he did was against the law...period.

Perhaps you feel the contract out on Salman Rushdie's life for his book was also acceptable?
Balladeer
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11 posted 02-28-2012 11:21 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

Interesting link, Ron. I'm sure you read this part..

In an audio recording of his ruling released by Perce this week, Judge Martin said: 'I think our forefathers intended that we use the First Amendment so that we could speak what's on our mind, not to p*** off other people and cultures, which is what you did.

'You are way outside your bounds of First Amendment rights.

'You've completely trashed their essence, their being. I'm a Muslim. I find it offensive.'


The judge is saying that if our comments irritate people then we don't have first amendment rights to say them???

Isn't it also interesting that the judge is also a muslim? WOuld a non-muslim judge have made the same decision, do you think?

A KKK march would certainly irritate people. Would it be legal to assault them for parading? A demonstration against gay marriage would certainly irritate gays. Do the marchers not have first amendment rights to march then?
Balladeer
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12 posted 02-28-2012 11:37 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdI_HTRJWEw

According to the police officer, the muslim admitted the harrassment.
Grinch
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13 posted 02-29-2012 07:19 AM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch

quote:
Grinch, assault is assault


But in this case it wasn't Mike.

The charge was harassment and there was insufficient evidence to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant had harassed the plaintive.

quote:
Isn't it also interesting that the judge is also a muslim? WOuld a non-muslim judge have made the same decision, do you think?


If the judge had even a basic understanding of the law and the evidential requirement to render a fair decision - then yes, a non-Muslim judge would have returned the same verdict.

quote:
According to the police officer, the muslim admitted the harrassment.


No he didn't. The police officer said that he asked the defendant after the incident whether there had been physical contact, the defendant said that there could have been, in court the defendant repeated that there could have been - that the plaintiff may have pushed him. The officer, for some unknown reason, didn't take a written statement from the defendant and was relying solely on his recollection of a reply to an ambiguous question that could easily have been misconstrued.

In his summation, the judge accepted that there may have been incidental physical contact but, quite rightly in my opinion, pointed out that there was no evidence that an assault or harassment had taken place.

The judgement was sound in my opinion.

.
Balladeer
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14 posted 02-29-2012 07:27 AM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

"He admitted grabbing Perce's sign and beard.." from the officer.

Mentioning that Perce would be put to death in muslim countries....what relevance does that statement from the judge have?

I'm glad you are not a judge here, grinch
oceanvu2
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15 posted 02-29-2012 10:55 AM       View Profile for oceanvu2   Email oceanvu2   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for oceanvu2

John -- your questions brings up the right of the KKK to march in Skokie Illinois, the artist/provactuer Andres Serrano's right to exhibit a crucifix in a bottle of urine.  

These weren't theoretical occurrences, and they were legally protected. The Skokie rally attracted 22 KKK's, the protestors numbered in the thousands, as I recall. Serrano's "'Blank' Christ' sold much later for $162,000.  Both events made odd comments on our culture.

In the movie "Mississippi Burning," the fictionalized account of the murders of young civil rights workers Schwerner, Cheney, and Goodman, the underlying point was that the FBI did not set out to destroy the Klan,but to capture and prosecute the murderers.  To this extent, the movie was accurate.

Freedom of speech must be protected as a fundamental element of democracy even when it is manifestly offensive to a given majority or minority.  The Rick Santorum's of this country, for example, need to be able to run even though they offend, uh, me, for example.  In turn, I can freely bad mouth and not vote for folk of his ilk.

Jimbeaux
Grinch
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16 posted 02-29-2012 11:54 AM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


quote:
"He admitted grabbing Perce's sign and beard.." from the officer.

Without corroborating evidence, that's called hearsay Mike.

Even if the officer had done his job properly and obtained a signed statement or collected the names of independent witnesses it still wouldn't necessarily prove assault or harassment.

quote:
Mentioning that Perce would be put to death in muslim countries....what relevance does that statement from the judge have?


Perce, in his testimony, claimed that he had no intention of causing offence, the judge pointed out that dressing up as a zombie Mohammed and carrying a sign proclaiming that "Only Mohammed can rape America" would be terminally offensive in some countries.

In that context the statement seems quite relevant.

None of that was pivotal to the case though - the question before the court was whether the defendant had harassed the plaintiff and even a blind man on a fast horse could see that there was insufficient evidence to prove that charge beyond reasonable doubt.

quote:
I'm glad you are not a judge here, grinch


So am I.



In the UK if Perce was carrying a sign like that he'd have been arrested, tried and convicted under the Public Order Act 1986 for incitement.

It's the equivalent of shouting "FIRE" in a crowded theatre - freedom of speech should have boundaries.

.
Grinch
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17 posted 02-29-2012 01:40 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch

By the way the judge is a Lutheran not a Muslim.

Essorant
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18 posted 02-29-2012 02:15 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Is he still a Lutheran?   In the article Ron linked to it says: "Judge Mark Martin - a recent Islam convert"

Grinch
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According to Judge Mark Martin and officers of the court he's never been a Muslim, he's a Lutheran and was a Lutheran during the trial.

Perce made the claim that Martin was a Muslim in a YouTube video which was picked up by several news sources and repeated without being verified - some of them corrected the reports once they discovered their error.

.
Huan Yi
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20 posted 02-29-2012 05:13 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

.


At what point do such actions
become incitement?


.
Ron
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21 posted 02-29-2012 06:51 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
It's the equivalent of shouting "FIRE" in a crowded theatre ...

The two are not at all equivalent, Grinch. Creating panic under false pretense puts people in danger of physical harm. Ridiculing someone creates no such potential for harm.

quote:
... freedom of speech should have boundaries.

Freedom of speech can't have boundaries, or at least none that are imposed from without. You don't want us to ridicule Muslims? Mike doesn't want us to ridicule Republicans. I'm not too crazy about people making light of drunks. The minute you accept the need for boundaries you automatically accept someone else's definition of what those boundaries should protect. And that gives them power, power not just to shape your words but also your thoughts.
Bob K
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22 posted 02-29-2012 08:11 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K


     My understanding is that Freedom of speech does in fact have boundaries, and that those boundaries are are political.  The first ammendment is a generous thing, and rightfully so, but was not, as I understand it, designed to protect non-political speech.  It is particularly broad in its protections about people in public life.  You can get away with saying a lot of things about people in public life that are not true without legal sanction.  

    I think that's probably a good idea.

     I do believce that the notion that there should be no limits on freedom of speech is not what the founders intended.  Honor was a fairly important concept to them, and while the notion of law suits to recover damages may not have been as widely popular then as it is now, the notion of dueling at least in some circles was.  You might not be able to bring charges against somebody who insulted you, but you might be able to have a good chance  of killing him, and that was on option that was taken on one or two occasions in the American political theater.

     Aaron Burr and Andrew Jackson were both political duelists.  Burr was a vice-president and Jackson was a President.  I may be incorrect in remembering it as being John C, Calhoun who beat an anti-slavery Representative to death on the floor of the House for words spoken against slavery, but it was somebody with a political grudge.

     It sounds like the Government has tried to win a case without benefit of actual evidence, and that the judge has not allowed them to do so.  The judge is supposed to not only protect citizen against criminals, but also to protect citizens against the more grandiose impulses of the government itself.  When it comes down to protecting citizens against the Police powers of the Government, Right and Left tend to look at each other nervously, just as when it comes down to protecting the people against  the great Economic Powers and Surges of history.

     Right and Left tend to retreat to armed, defensive and mutually suspicious camps at those points; — exactly at the points when it's most important that the channels of communication stay open.
 
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