The rebuke came from the Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board; the letter does not give more details, but I take it that the Board concluded that the judge’s actions in the Zombie Mohammed controversy were improper. […]
Tag Archives | Zombie Mohammed
From a CNN interview (starting at 2:15):
Interviewer: When I spoke to him over the phone, Judge Martin acknowledged it’s his job to protect the rights of people like the atheist, no matter how offensive they might be.
Interviewer to Judge Martin: … There are some who believe you were failing to protect that right.
Judge Martin: No, I don’t think so. Here’s the thing: It’s a right, it’s not a privilege, it’s a right. With rights come responsibilities. The more that people abuse our rights, the more likely that we’re going to lose them.
But I don’t quite see how this is “the thing,” at least in the sense of an explanation of the judge’s actions at the trial. I don’t think that we’re in danger of losing our free speech rights because some people say things that are offensive to Muslims. I do think that free speech rights are in danger when judges berate alleged crime victims for their anti-Islam speech, and thus convey the message that the legal system may be biased against those who engage in such speech and may fail to protect those people because of such speech. […]
A reader passed along this message that appears to be from the judge in the Zombie Mohammed case:
This story certainly has legs. As you might imagine, the public is only getting the version of the story put out by the “victim” (the atheist). Many, many gross misrepresentations. Among them: I’m a Muslim, and that’s why I dismissed the harassment charge (Fact: if anyone cares, I’m actually Lutheran, and have been for at least 41 years).
I also supposedly called him and threatened to throw him in jail if he released the tapes he had made in the courtroom without my knowledge/permission (Fact: HE called ME and told me that he was ready to “go public” with the tapes and was wondering what the consequences would be; I advised him again to not disseminate the recording, and that I would consider contempt charges; he then replied that he was “willing to go to jail for (his) 1st amendment rights”- I never even uttered the word “jail” in that conversation).
He said that I kept a copy of the Quran on the bench (fact: I keep a Bible on the bench, but out of respect to people with faiths other than Christianity, I DO have a Quran on the bookcase BESIDE my bench, and am trying to acquire a Torah, Book of Mormon, Book of Confucius and any other artifacts which those with a faith might respect).
He claims that I’m biased towards Islam, apparently because he thinks I’m Muslim. In fact, those of you who know me, know that I’m an Army reservist with 27 years of service towards our country (and still serving). I’ve done one tour in Afghanistan, and two tours in Iraq, and am scheduled to return to Afghanistan for a year this summer. During my first
As I note below, I highly disapprove of the judge’s comments in the “zombie Mohammed” affair. But the suggestion that anti-Sharia laws would help avoid this (see also here) doesn’t make much sense to me.
This is not a situation where the judge “applied Sharia law” in any normal sense of the phrase. The judge claimed that he simply didn’t find enough evidence against the defendant. Perhaps the judge was biased against the victim because of the victim’s anti-Muslim speech, but an anti-Sharia law wouldn’t have helped avoid that. More broadly, a law banning judges from “consider[ing] … Sharia Law” (in the words of the Oklahoma anti-Sharia amendment) wouldn’t keep judges from concluding that someone who insults members of other religious groups should be admonished, punished, or even stripped of the right to legal protection — they would just conclude this based on their own notions of refraining from offending other groups.
Even a judge who wants to give a break to a defendant who attacks an alleged blasphemer, on the grounds that the defendant comes from a culture where such blasphemy is illegal, could do that without “consider[ing] … Sharia Law.” He could just consider the actual practices of the foreign country, just as an immigration judge who gives asylum to a convert from Islam who faces a possible death sentence for apostasy back home could make an observation about actual practices in the foreign country without “consider[ing] … Sharia Law.”
The same is true with regard to the rightly infamous New Jersey trial court decision accepting a cultural defense with regard to nonconsensual sex in a domestic restraining order case. (I might be mistaken, but I think this blog was the blog that first reported on that case.) The court there did consider the Muslim […]
The incident in which a judge dismissed charges against a Muslim who attacked a “Zombie Mohammed” parader — possibly because of the judge’s expressed anger at the parader’s expression — reminded me of this episode from 1990 (New York Times):
The Louisiana House passed a bill today that would lower to $25 the fine against those who assault people who burn the American flag. The House voted, 54 to 39, to waive the normal aggravated-battery penalties of six months in jail and a $500 fine in cases in which flag-desecrators are attacked.
I’m glad to say that the bill was never enacted; excusing attacks on those who insult ideological symbols is wrong whether the symbols are religious or political. […]
PennLive.com reports on this case, in which Talaag Elbayomy was accused of attacking a man who was marching in a Halloween parade (alongside a “zombie Pope”), and shouting “I am the prophet Mohammed, zombie from the dead” [UPDATE: and apparently carrying a sign that said “Muhammed of Islam” on one side and “only Muhammed can rape America”]. UPDATE: The video from the parade is here.
The judge concluded there wasn’t enough evidence to convict Elbayomy of the crime, and it’s possible that there was indeed inadequate evidence. A police officer reports that Elbayomy had admitted that he grabbed the parader and tried to grab his sign; but it’s possible that the judge found this evidence to not be credible enough to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Moreover, it appears that Elbayomy was prosecuted for criminal harassment, which requires an “intent to harass, annoy, or alarm,” and a mere physical attack with an attempt to grab a sign might or might not qualify, see the pen-grabbing discussion in this case. The acquittal itself might thus be justified, depending on exactly what evidence was introduced.
But the worrying thing is what the judge (Mark Martin) seems to have said at the trial, based on what appears to be a recording of the hearing: The judge — who stated that he
(the judge) was himself a Muslim and [UPDATE: see below] found the speech to be offensive — spent a good deal of time berating the victim for what the judge saw as the victim’s offensive and blasphemous speech, which seems to raise a serious question about whether the judge’s acquittal of the defendant was actually partly caused by the judge’s disapproval of the victim. Consider, for instance, this statement, at 31:15:
Then what you have done