Here's what we have- A guy named Ernest who dressed as the prophet mohammed on Halloween, a zombie mohammed to be specific with a sign around his neck that read 'Mohammed of Islam' . Along with him you have other characters like the pope. It's a parody of religion being performed by an Atheist group in PA. Some of you uptight people out there can save your criticism of the costumes. It's Halloween and if you are gonna get upset about the types of costumes people are wearing there are far worse than these, go complain about them somewhere.If you watch the video below you can see there was an altercation. As the video states a report was taken and as a result charges were filed.
The case came to trial. There are a couple of questionable tactics used by the defense but what would you expect, the guy is trying to get out of going to jail. There really is no question that there was an altercation. the man who had approached Ernest told an officer the evening he had put his hands on Ernest. At trial the officer testified to that fact and Ernest told the same version of events the defendant however testified at trial he did not put his hands on anyone. When the defendant was asked whether he was lying then or telling the truth at trial he responded that he was telling the truth at trial and the testimony of the officer and Ernest were falsehoods. The defendant is an immigrant and had come to the parade with his family. When he saw the costume it shocked him because he had never seen mohammed represented in such a way.
The defendant also testifies that his 9 year old son was looking at him and he felt he needed to do something in order to show his son he would fight for his prophet. The defendant also says "he is not allowed to do that" referring to Earnest wearing the Mohammed costume. He said he approached Earnest and told him to "stop it, you can't do that" and then called police because he thought making fun of Mohammed was a crime. Earnest had no way of knowing what the attackers intent was when he was approached. It would not be unreasonable to assume the man was intent on harming Ernest.at the time.
It seems after the testimony the man was simply trying to stop Ernest from making fun of Mohammed, he was trying to defend his god much like a Christian would try to rip away a sign that had a picture of jesus dressed as a nazi. It is also clear the attacker was ignorant of the law in this country. Ignorance of the law is no excuse but you can see how the guy would act out the way he did, he thought a crime was being committed. The Judge Mark Martin, who also happens to be a Muslim (a fact which was unknown until Judge Martin states it in his decision) finds for the defendant.
Here is the judges ruling-
Here in our society we have the 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 the forefathers really intended I think our forefathers intended that we use the first amendment so that we speak with our mind not to piss off other people and other cultures which is what you did. I don't think you are aware sir there's a big difference between how Americans practice Christianity. I understand you are 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 can not because you are too ill too elderly, whatever but you must make the attempt. Their greetings wa-laikum as-Salâm (is answered by voice) may god be with you.Whenever, it's very common when speaking to each other it's very common for them to say uh this will happen it's it they are so immersed in it.
Then what you have done is you have completely trashed their essence, their being. They find it very very very offensive. I'm a Muslim, I find it offensive. But you have that right, but you're way outside your boundaries or first amendment rights. This is what, and I said I spent about 7 and a half years 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 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....
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 and I've been in the Halloween parade I understand how noise can be how difficult it can be to get a pulpit I can't believe that if there was this kind of conflict goin on in the middle of the street that somebody didn't step forward sooner to try and intervene or that the police officer on the bicycle didn't stop and say "Hey let's break this up" Put your hand down sir you are not a witness (it was in fact a witness) (long pause) The preponderance of, excuse me, the burden of proof. It must be proven that the defendant did with the intent to harass annoy or alarm another person whether there's 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 I have his story that he did not but another part of the element is as Mr __ said was was the defendants intent to harass annoy or alarm or was his intent to try and 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 and something more substantial as far as testimony goin on if there was a conflict. Because there is not he has not proven to me beyond a reasonable doubt that this defendant is guilty of harassment therefore I am going to dismiss the charge
Now this is where the case troubles me. The defendant is teaching his children it is okay to confront a person who is mocking their prophet in some way, the defendant feels it is his duty as a Muslim. The judge only mentions in passing that the defendant should not put his hands on anyone and that isn't even directed to the defendant. It seems it would be a bit more responsible of the judge to at least inform the defendant that he needs to become familiar with this country's laws and it is not acceptable to put your hands on another person in such a manner in order to prevent any other such incidents in the future.The judge does nothing, not a word about that, instead his decision is more like a sermon on the Muslim faith.
I don't know why Judge Martin felt he needed to preach about Islam and inform everyone how much time he has spent in other countries, it's almost as if he felt a need to impress someone as to how strongly he embraces Islam even pointing out that he keeps a copy of the Koran at the bench.
Judge Mark Martin goes on droning about Islam and how no one is allowed to poke fun at Mohammed because it offends a Muslim's "very being". I guess Judge Martin thinks any speech that offends people should not be protected. He says the first amendment does not allow anyone " to piss off other people and other cultures" When you hold a sign that says abortion should be legal you are offending Catholics I guess that isn't allowed either.And Islam gets a special pass because it is part of a culture? I have news for the judge, just about every religion is considered by the people who practice it as part of their culture. He also indicates he believes that Muslims are more devout in their beliefs than Christians when he says " there's a big difference between how Americans practice Christianity" and how Islam is practiced.
I wonder how this would go over with some of the Christians who have Judge Martin presiding over their case.
Judge Mark Martin also feels the need to inform everyone that he too is insulted by Ernest's portrayal of Mohammed and the sign he carries. I don't know why a judge would feel the need to do such a thing. Did he feel it had some importance to the case? The only effect I could see it having is to indicate that Judge Martin is biased. He should have allowed another judge to take the case and is too stupid to keep his mouth shut.
I would think that as soon as the judge knew it was a case involving a religious issue on Islam he would excuse himself from it just to make sure it was a fair trial. Not only did he not do that but he went out of his way to do just the opposite. All judge Martin needed to do was keep his big mouth shut and rule based on the law and a little common sense.
Judge Martin even has the nerve to say that people like Ernest are the reason other countries refer to us as "ugly Americans" That's right, we are called ugly because we don't consider the rights of other people when exercising our own rights. People in other countries are pissed off about this fact and they are calling us names over it. The reason people in other countries call us ugly is not because we value our rights more than we value those of others. There are various reasons for this such as our tendency to become familiar with people too quickly and being too straightforward. Again more commentary that was needless and also incorrect. I can only assume that Judge Martin was blaming Ernest for making us all look ugly because of his bias.
The judge then goes on to say he can't be sure who is telling the truth. An officer testified that the defendant said he had contact with Ernest the night of the conflict. When is the last time any of you heard a judge go against the testimony of an officer who was at the scene? I'll bet it is not very often if ever. Yet here judge Martin basically says the officer didn't give an accurate account or doesn't give it any weight.
There is not any indication the judge even looked at the video footage. I can't believe that he watched it and still worded the decision as he did, saying it was "his word against your word" It's not a real complicated case. What possible reason could there be for the judge not to at least watch the video footage? The defense did go to Ernest's YouTube account to try and show he was biased against the defendant. Even pointing out comments that had been made on the video of the attack.
At one point the judge tells someone to put his hand down because he "is not a witness". The person is Carl from the video. Carl was obviously standing right there. Of course the judge wouldn't know this if he didn't watch the video, but why wouldn't he at least consider any testimony and then decide if it was relevant?
Once again considering the judge is a Muslim, there could be a question of his neutrality. There is definitely a question as to his intelligence when considering how to present his ruling.
Do I think the defendant should be put in jail? No. But I do think he should have been instructed to learn about the laws in this country because that is the way it works for everyone else. Try claiming ignorance of the law in court sometime. About the only time this will work is in Mark Martin's courtroom if you are Muslim Do I think this case was fair? No. I don't think Ernest deserved to be made the the bad guy for expressing his freedom by wearing a zombie costume of Mohammed on Halloween. Like I said there are far more tasteless costumes worn on that holiday that could be considered offensive. I don't think anyone should be putting any laws into place dictating what you can wear on Halloween. I think Ernest was subject to a meaningless lecture about Judge Martin's travels, his religion, and what he sees when he imagines he is Benjamin Franklin. I doubt Judge Martin's rambling had any effect on Ernest's opinion of Islam accept to prove it also causes people to be biased in some cases. I think this case is a perfect example of how religion has an effect on how justice is served. Judge Mark Martin himself gives us the perfect example. It's fine if people want to have a 'personal religious belief' but as soon as you start talking (in this case almost bragging) about it in a public forum it is no longer a personal belief. I think maybe Mark Martin needs to learn a little about how justice should be blind before he tries to provide it to people wrapped in Islam