We’ve heard a good deal about Sharia law lately. There are a lot of American Christians who fear it and who believe it is creeping into the United States legal system. Some believe there is an active conspiracy to accomplish this. At the same time, there are a lot of Christians who want to institute a kind of Christian Sharia law that will require everyone in the country — Christian and non-Christian alike — to live according to the teachings of the Christian faith. To most reasonable Americans, it seems unthinkable that either could happen here in the United States, a country founded in part on the idea that government and religion should not mix.
It’s not unthinkable. If you don’t believe me, watch the video above, a report from WHTM 27, a Pennsylvania ABC affiliate.
In 2011, a man named Ernie Perce, Pennsylvania State Director of American Atheists, participated with members of the group in a “zombie walk” as part of the annual Halloween parade in Mechanicsburg. Perce, who captured the event on video, dressed as the prophet Mohammed — zombie Mohammed, to be precise — and was accompanied by a zombie pope. A Muslim man named Talaag Elbayomy rushed from the sidewalk and physically attacked Perce for mocking the prophet.
“He grabbed me, choked me from the back,” Perce said, “and spun me around to try to get my sign off that was wrapped around my neck.”
Perce found a police officer and told him what had happened. Elbayomy admitted to Sergeant Brian Curtis that he had physically attacked Perce. Elbayomy, who also had tried to call the police because he believed that Perce was committing a crime by mocking Mohammed, was charged with harassment.
“Mr. Perce has the right to do what he did that evening,” Sgt. Curtis said, “and the defendant in this case was wrong in confronting him.”
This seems pretty clear cut. Physically attacking someone is illegal. I am neither an attorney nor a legal scholar, but as far as I know, there are no laws that qualify such an act. It’s not okay, for example, to attacked someone because he really, really, REALLY offended you. No matter what the attacker’s stated reason, it’s simply illegal, not tolerated and typically punished. But Magisterial District Judge Mark W. Martin does not agree.
Judge Martin dismissed this case and gave Perce a stern, condescending and utterly clueless lecture:
“Having had the benefit of having spent over two and a half years in predominantly Muslim countries, I think I know a little bit about the faith of Islam. In fact, I have a copy of the Koran here and I challenge you, sir, to show me where it says in the Koran that Mohammad arose and walked among the dead. I think you misinterpreted things. Before you start mocking someone else’s religion, you may want to find out a little bit more about it. It makes you look like a dufus and Mr. Elbayomy is correct. In many Arabic-speaking countries something like this is definitely against the law there. In their society, in fact, it can be punishable by death, and it frequently is in their society.”
Judge Martin is an Army veteran who served several tours of duty in Muslim countries. It seems he liked what he saw there. Apparently the idea of executing someone for offending a person’s religious sensibilities is something he finds appealing. Of course, he can’t do that here in the United States. YET. But he did the next best thing when he dismissed the case.
Elbayomy had admitted to Sgt. Curtis that he attacked Perce, but in the courtroom, he denied ever making physical contact with him. Judge Martin did not believe Sgt. Curtis. Perce had been shooting a video when Elbayomy attacked him from behind, but Judge Martin did not allow the video to be admitted as evidence. Martin also gave Perce a stern, condescending and utterly clueless lecture about the Constitution and the First Amendment:
“Here in our society, we have the Constitution, which 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 intended. I think our forefathers intended that we use the First Amendment so that we could speak what’s on our mind, not to piss off other people and cultures, which is what you did.”
In Judge Martin’s America, the First Amendment gives us the right to speak our minds, as long as what we’re saying doesn’t “piss off other people and cultures.” Do I have that right? What if what happens to be on your mind pisses off other people and cultures even if that’s not your intention? Would our forefathers, who deliberately pissed off the entire nation of Great fucking Britain, want us to keep it to ourselves? Were our forefathers, who flipped the bird to the goddamned King of England, really losing sleep over the fact that the First Amendment might result in someone being offended? Am I clear on this? Or does it mean that we can speak our minds just as long as it doesn’t piss off religious people? Or is it specifically Muslim people we’re not supposed to piss off?
Am I alone in thinking that, so far, this judge hasn’t made a fucking bit of sense? You can listen to the audio of the entire trial here. Judge Martin’s lecture series begins at about the 28:30 mark. And speaking of lectures, he gives Perce another one — stern, condescending and utterly clueless again — on the Muslim faith:
“I don’t think you’re aware, sir, that there’s a big difference between how Americans practice Christianity — 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 told you cannot because you are too ill, too elderly, whatever, but you must make the attempt. Their greetings, salam alaikum, wa-laikum as-Salam, uh, ‘may god be with you.’ … When they’re speaking to each other, it’s very common for them to say, uh, Allah willing, this will happen, it’s, they’re so immersed in it. And what you’ve done is, you’ve completely trashed their essence, their being. They find it very, very, very offensive.”
All of this raises the question, SO FUCKING WHAT?
This is a United States judge sitting in a United States courtroom, telling a United States citizen who was a victim of assault that the Muslim religion is more important than his safety and Constitutional rights, that Muslims are somehow holier and more deserving of respect than Perce, his freedom of speech, and even people of other religions, that the Muslim religion is more than just a religion, and exalting the laws in Muslim countries that would result in Perce’s execution were he to express himself there. And I think it’s fair to say there’s a definite anti-American flavor to his words. How can this be? Why on earth would any judge say and do such things from the bench? Judge Martin explains:
“I’m a Muslim. I find it offensive. … But you have that right. But you’re way outside your bounds of First Amendment rights.”
Ah! He’s a self-proclaimed Muslim! Well! How about that? Of course, maybe that’s got nothing to do with this — maybe Judge Martin suffered a small stroke on the bench. He seems unsure of what he wants to say here. First he says Perce has that right. Then he says Perce does not have that right. In the same breath. I see that as a sign of conflict. Conflict of interest, perhaps? Conflict of cognition? Does he understand that Perce was not marching in a Muslim country? Does he understand that he does not live in a Muslim country? Does Judge Martin understand that while he is a Muslim by faith, he is a judge by profession and as such is expected to be fair and impartial? When he was serving in the military, did he understand why? Like I said, maybe he had a stroke!
But I don’t want to interrupt the judge. I feel another stern, condescending, utterly clueless lecture coming on.
“This is what — and I said I spent about seven and a half years living in other countries. Uh, when we go to other countries, it’s not uncommon for people to refer to us as ‘ugly Americans.’ This is why we hear it referred to as ‘ugly Americans.’ Because we are 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.”
Now I’m starting to wonder if I’m having a stroke. Don’t take my word for this — listen to the audio at the link above. Listen to the man himself say these things. Out loud. In a courtroom. If it doesn’t chill you to the bone, you need to ask yourself these two questions:
Am I a Muslim?
Am I having a stroke?
Judge Martin made no attempt to begin making sense as he rendered his verdict.
“All that aside, I’ve got here, basically … I don’t want to say he-said-she-said, but I’ve got two sides story [garbled, slurred ... drunk?] that are in conflict with each other.”
Oh, Judge Martin, I think you’ve got a hell of a lot more in conflict here than the two sides of this story. You’ve got your religion very obviously in conflict with your job, and listening to you talk, I’m guessing you’ve got one side of your brain in conflict with the other.
“I understand, and I’ve been in a Halloween parade, and I understand how noise can be, how difficult it is to get a pulpit, and I can’t believe that if there was this kind of conflict going on in the middle of the street and somebody didn’t step forward to try and intervene, that the police officer on the bicycle didn’t stop and say, ‘Hey, let’s break this up.”
Read that again. Listen to it. And then listen to it again. First, he said he understood how noisy a Halloween parade can be and “how difficult it is to get a pulpit” — which, if it means anything at all, means that he knows how difficult it is to get anyone’s attention in all the noisy activity. That’s what he said. He said it! And then … he said he “can’t believe” that if Perce were attacked as he described, no one else noticed and tried to intervene. In the noise and activity. At the noisy and pulpitless Halloween parade that Judge Martin claims to “understand.” And then his Freudian slip starts showing.
“The preponderance — excuse me. The burden of proof is that the defendant — ”
Aaah-hah! You were going to say “the preponderance of evidence!” Just a slip of the tongue? Or is Freud giggling in his grave? You know you had “preponderance of evidence” on your mind because that’s what you had right in front of your babbling, semicoherent face — a preponderance of evidence that Talaag Elbayomy was guilty as charged, a preponderance of evidence that Ernie Perce was attacked for exercising his Constitutional right of free speech within the law and in a perfectly appropriate setting. And we have a preponderance of evidence, Judge Martin, that you have no business being a judge. I’ll let him continue:
“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 it was a conflict or not, and yes, he shouldn’t be putting his hands on you. I don’t know. I have your story that he did and his story that he did not.”
And a police sergeant’s testimony that Elbayomy admitted he’d put his hands on Perce, you don’t want to forget that, do you, judge? Or would that interfere with you jerking off all over yourself for being such a good Muslim by taking a hot, steaming crap on the United States Constitution? Wouldn’t want to harsh your boner.
“But another part of the element, as Mr. Thomas (defense attorney) said — was the defendant’s intent to harass, annoy or alarm? Or was it his intent to have the offensive situation negated? If his intent was to harass, annoy or alarm, I think there would have been a little more of an altercation, something more substantial as far as testimony going on that there was a conflict. Because there was 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.”
I don’t spend a lot of time in courtrooms, so I don’t know — is this the best we can do for judges these days? Are we down to the gibbering religious fanatics now? Or is there “another part of the element?” (What the fuck does that mean?)
There are so many things wrong with this that trying to get them all in the proper order of severity would be like trying to teach a musical synchronized swimming number to a bunch of cats. But before I could even try, I stumbled onto an update on this dark farce by Chelsea Hoffman at Gather News:
“Judge Mark Martin was not available for comment on Wednesday of this week, or today (Friday). However, his receptionist who goes by the name Rita, was able to answer this simple yet important question.
Is Mark Martin a Muslim?
Well! How about that? Maybe he didn’t have a stroke after all — maybe he’s just having some kind of breakdown. Listen to the audio. He says it at 31:28. “I’m a Muslim.” But Rita, his receptionist, says he’s not a Muslim. What the hell’s going on here? Hoffman writes:
“Rita answered the question exclusively for Gather News after just a small amount of coaxing. Magistrate Judge Martin doesn’t want Rita to be too communicative regarding this increasingly high-profile issue and that is to be expected. She stuck her neck out to give this answer, but it was more than necessary when so many news outlets and blogs are reporting him as a Muslim judge.”
The reason so many news outlets and blogs are “reporting him as a Muslim judge” is that he is a judge who said, on the record, “I’m a Muslim.” If he’s not a Muslim, why did he say he was? If he is a Muslim, why is his receptionist telling people he isn’t? Was she told to lie and say he’s not a Muslim?
Is Judge Mark Martin under investigation yet? If not, why not? Somebody needs to check his record to see if his Muslim fanaticism — or whatever the hell is wrong with him — has moved him to yammer nonsensical explanations for his contempt of the law in the past. Someone needs to check his blood to see if he has a substance abuse problem. Somebody needs to check his military record to find out which side he was fighting for. And somebody should probably check his pants to see if he’s shit himself because I still think there’s a good chance this guy isn’t well.
Hey, I try to think the best of people, to give them the benefit of the doubt. And right now, the best I can possibly think of Judge Mark W. Martin is that he suffered a small stroke on the bench, soiled himself and blathered nonsense for a while. All the other explanations are disturbing.
Do not make the mistake of thinking this is an atheist issue, or a Muslim issue, or a religious issue of any kind. This is a freedom issue. Here we have a United States judge essentially trying to enforce blasphemy laws in a country that does not have them. And so far, he’s gotten away with it. How would you like it if the next time you slammed your toe into a table leg and shouted, “Jesus Christ!” you were arrested, dragged before a gibbering idiot judge like Judge Martin, then thrown into prison to await execution? That seems to be a trait that Judge Martin finds admirable in Muslim nations. Judge Martin, a self-proclaimed Muslim who we’re told isn’t really a Muslim at all, finds it so admirable that he chewed out a victim of a physical attack as if he’d committed a crime, and then he let the Muslim man who had committed the crime go — and he’s even threatened the victim with contempt for posting the audio of the trial on YouTube.
There are plenty of Christians trying to do the same thing for their religion in the United States. It wouldn’t really matter if it were Muslim law or Christian law that was legislated — either way, this would not be the United States of America anymore.
Remaining silent about this would be dangerous. If this concerns you — and holy crap, if you’re an American, it should concern the hell out of you, no matter what you do or do not believe — then you need to let Judge Martin know. If his office isn’t being flooded with complaints about this, it should be. There’s no need to be rude, just tell the man what you think of his anti-American comments and anti-Constitution decision and his wildly inappropriate and pig-headedly wrong lectures to a victim he victimized again in the courtroom. And if you’d like to be rude, just refer him to this terribly rude article and I’ll take the heat for you. Here’s his contact information:
Magisterial District Judge Mark W. Martin:
507 N. York St.
Mechanicsburg, PA 17055
You can face Mecca all you want, Judge Martin — or not, if it turns out that, for whatever bizarre reason, you lied about being a Muslim — but right now, you need to face up to the fact that you dropped a great big smelly turd on the bench in this case. Now somebody has to clean up your mess, you pinhead.