Monday, February 27, 2012

Muslim Chokes Atheist, Judge dismisses case.

In case you haven't read about this case yet, the picture above is a picture of Ernest Perce dressed as Zombie Muhammad in a Halloween parade where he was attacked by a Muslim by the name of Talag Elbayomy.  

Talag admitted to police at the scene that he had assaulted Ernest Perce in order to remove the sign from Ernest's neck and defend Islam.

It seems like a fairly open and shut case.  One party exercising his free speech rights and another assaulting that party because he wanted to silence that.

However judge Mark Martin dismissed the charges against the Muslim and admonished the atheist that free speech didn't give him the right "to piss off other people and other cultures."

You can hear the entirety of the ruling here. 

The judge seems to admit that he is a Muslim himself while handing down the ruling, (something he has since denied) but irregardless he said several things which show that he does not understand the law nor should he be a judge.
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.
This statement in particular is rather absurd, free speech must necessarily protect speech that someone finds offensive.  If people only said things that never offended anyone then we would not need a first amendment.  To "speak our mind" can potentially piss someone off.

He goes on to say:
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.
I think many atheists are well aware that Islam is joined at the hip with a lot of the cultures especially in the middle east, we just don't care.  Just like Christianity or any other religion one could name, Islam is simply unproven.  Beliefs, no matter how ardently believed, deserve no respect except that they can earn that respect through evidence, something that every religion I have ever investigated has lacked.  However, in this case it doesn't even matter, even if Islam had been proven to be the true religion it was still the right of Perce to criticize any view he wishes without fear of physical reprisal.  As a skeptic I find this right to be invaluable, how can find the truth of things if we censor peoples ideas?


  1. Excellent point on the "if people only said things that never offended anyone then we would not need a first amendment."

    I find it interesting that a guy dressed as Muhammad was attacked when there were (in all likelihood) women walking around in slutty nurse/witch/bumblebee costumes. Shouldn't that incense a Muslim as well? Some of those women were probably walking around without a male escort, should they have been attacked and would the court still back the religious defense? If we kowtow to even a few facets of the Muslim religion simply because we fear retaliation, we are essentially allowing them to force their religious beliefs on us. Maybe they're not allowed to draw a picture of Muhammad, but I should be able to do so. While wearing a tank top. And sitting on a sidewalk at night without a male escort. All of these should be equally offensive to Muslims yet I should be afforded protection to do each within this country.

    On a related note, it struck me not too long ago that the Bible has that whole "no graven images" commandment. "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth..." Okay, stop right there. If I cannot create any image of anything or anyone in heaven, does that extend to God and Jesus? Yes, it goes on to say you shall not worship these images, but it starts by saying you shall not create them. Think of all the Renaissance art, the statues and necklaces of Jesus on the cross, the medals of the catholic saints (to which people pray, and that seems forbidden according to this commandment).

    My point being this: because the monotheistic religions are all six-of-one-half-a-dozen-of-the-other it's not a leap to think that Christianity had a hard and fast rule about not creating images of God because it would show him as less awesome than he really is. The full scope of this commandment was probably lost in translation when the Bible made it to Europe and artists began depicting biblical events.

    Interestingly, the Quaran does not expressly forbid depictions of Muhammad. In fact, there is a lot of art from as early as the 1300's that show images of Muhammad. This whole controversy is a very recent development.

    Sorry, that was a little disjointed (and long). I'll try to keep my posts shorter lest I be instructed to get my own damn blog.

  2. Feel free to post as long as you want.

    And on the 2nd commandment about graven images the point you make was not lost on the protestant reformers in the 16th century. One of the unfortunate side effects of the reformation was the defacement and destruction of lots of medieval and renaissance works of art for precisely that reason.