We have previously been against anti-Sharia law legislation that has been floating around in various shapes and sizes at the state level over the past couple of years.
We have an American justice system enshrined in code and culture: Right to a trial by a jury of our peers, a speedy trial at that, and the given of guilty until proven innocent is how we roll and though not perfect, it best fits us as Americans and remains better than anything anyone else has come up with. Enacting anti-Sharia laws would then seem to extemperaneous and subject to grand-standing.
Then... then we read the following from Andrew McCarthy:
I have made a transcript of the Pennsylvania case in which state judge Mark Martin, a Muslim convert and U.S. Army reservist who served in Iraq, relied on a sharia law defense (as well as some evidentiary contortions) to dismiss an open-and-shut harassment case against a Muslim man who assaulted an atheist activist at a Halloween parade.
The victim, Ernest Perce, wore a “Zombie Mohammed” costume and pretended to walk among the dead (in the company of an associate who was the “Zombie Pope” — and who, you’ll be shocked to learn, was not assaulted). The assailant, Talag Elbayomy, a Muslim immigrant, physically attacked Perce, attempted to pull his sign off, and, according to police, admitted what he had done right after the incident. The defense argued that Elbayomy believed it was a crime to insult the prophet Mohammed (it is, under sharia law), and that because he was in the company of his children, he had to act to end this provocation and set an example about defending Islam.
As you will see, Judge Martin did not lecture the defendant about free speech or how disputes are resolved in a civilized country. He instead dressed the victim down for failing to appreciate how sensitive Muslims — including the judge himself — are about Islam. The audio of Judge Martin’s remarks can be heard on YouTube (The audio, beginning at around the 2-minute mark on the YouTube clip, lasts about 7 minutes. Martin has reportedly threatened to hold Perce in contempt for recording and publishing the judge’s statements, which were made in open court. Perce says he had permission to make a recording as long as it was only audio, not video.) Here is the transcript:
Well, having had the benefit of having spent over two-and-a-half years in a predominantly Muslim country, I think I know a little bit about the faith of Islam. In fact, I have a copy of the Koran here, and I would challenge you, sir, to show me where it says in the Koran that Mohammed arose and walked among the dead.
[Unintelligible.] You misinterpreted things. Before you start mocking someone else’s religion you may want to find out a little bit more about it. That makes you look like a doofus.
And Mr. Thomas [Elbayomi's defense lawyer] is correct. In many other Muslim speaking countries – excuse me, in many Arabic speaking countries – call it “Muslim” – something like this is definitely against the law there. In their society, in fact, it could be punishable by death, and it frequently is, in their society.
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. F’Im a Muslim, I’d find it offensive. [Unintelligble] aside was very offensive.
But you have that right, but you’re way outside your bounds on First Amendment rights.
This is what — as I said, I spent half my years altogether living in other countries. When we go to other countries, it’s not uncommon for people to refer to us as “ugly Americans.” This is why we are referred to as “ugly Americans,” because we’re so concerned about our own rights we don’t care about other people’s rights. As long as we get our say, but we don’t care about the other people’s say.
All that aside I’ve got here basically — I don’t want to say, “He said, she said.” But I’ve got two sides of the story that are in conflict with each other. I understand — I’ve been at a Halloween parade, I understand how noisy it can be, how difficult it can be to get a [unintelligible]. I can’t believe that, if there was this kind of conflict going on in the middle of the street, that somebody didn’t step forward sooner to try and intervene — that the police officer on a bicycle didn’t stop and say, “Hey, let’s break this up.”
[Unintelligible]. You got a witness.
[Unintelligible response. Judge Martin then continues:]
The preponderance of, excuse me, the burden of proof is that the defendant — it must be proven that the defendant did with the intent to harass, annoy or alarm another person — The Commonwealth, whether there was conflict or not — and, yes, he should be took [sic] putting his hands on you. I don’t know — I have your story he did and his story that he did not.
But another part of the element [of the offense charged] is, as Mr. Thomas [the defense lawyer] said, was — “Was the defendant’s intent to harass, annoy or alarm — or was it his intent to try to have the offensive situation negated?”
If his intent was to harass, annoy or alarm, I think there would have been a little bit more of an altercation. Something more substantial as far as testimony going on that there was a conflict. Because there is not, it is not proven to me beyond a reasonable doubt that this defendant is guilty of harassment. Therefore I am going to dismiss the charge.
Well, there you have it, folks: a cut and dry assault case and we get a religious sensitivity lecture invoking Sharia law from the judge and a dismissal from the same because he couldn't determine whether there was sufficient intent to harass, annoy or alarm (as if any of that matters).
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,...
It's apparent that this judge doesn't get out a whole lot nor watch much late night cable comedy.
And is it unfortunate that people use the 1st amendment to deliberately provoke others? Why is this judge in the business of determining what sort of speech is offensive to someone else as he doing in this case.
And our founders established the 1st amendment precisely to afford protection to those whose speech others, particularly the government, might find offensive, provoking or dangerous. Protection from getting the crap kicked out of you because of your t-shirt would seem to fall under this broad category.
This instance is a case model in 1st amendment/free speech protection and the judge gets it completely ass-backwards.
We still might not believe we need anti-Sharia laws but we'd be fine with the occasional tarring and feathering and riding out of town on a rail a hopelessly un-qualified judge.
Consider this just one more nudge (shove?) of ourselves into free speech extremism.
And because we (still) can:
Yes, Judge Martin, thank you for allowing us this existential 1st amendment moment and the attendant potentiality of pissing off someone.