Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Muslim assaults atheist, Judge dismisses case

According to the CNN blog entitled Judge’s dismissal of atheist's harassment claim against Muslim makes waves,

The judge also scolded Perce, saying he’d been needlessly provocative on an issue sensitive with Muslims.

"You have that right, but you're way outside your bounds of First Amendment rights," Martin said, according to a recording Perce made of the court hearing. "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."

The judge went on to point out that in many Muslim countries, ridiculing Mohammed could warrant the death penalty under Islamic law.

Critics say Martin's lecture shows he used Muslim cultural grounds to excuse a deplorable assault, and failed to defend an atheist's First Amendment rights.

"That's greatly disturbing to people that believe in free speech," said George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley. "You can say things that are hurtful to others. We hope that you don't, but you most certainly can be protected. People like Thomas Paine spent his entire life ticking off people across the colonies."

Former terrorism prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy, writing on the blog of National Review, accused the judge of allowing the Muslim suspect to invoke a "Sharia defense – what he claimed was his obligation to strike out against any insult against the prophet Mohammed."

Atheists.org also issued a blog in response to the attack and the judge's actions, saying

This reeks of those cases we used to read about where a woman is blamed for her own rape because she “was asking for it” by virtue of the clothing she chose to wear, and then having the Judge set the rapist free.

Blaming the victim: religions are pretty good about that. This case does make it feel like atheists, although a much bigger minority than Moslems (atheists are believed to make up about 18 % of US citizenry these days), are one of the few minorities whose freedoms and rights it's okay to violate, who when attacked by religious zealots do not deserve protection from the state and from the law. I should close by citing the First Amendment of the foundational document of the United States of America.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

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