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.
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.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.
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?