Apparently, it is no longer a crime for Muslims to assault ignorant American infidels, so you better watch what you say in public. At least this is what Judge Mark Martin’s recent decision seems to indicate after atheist Halloween-goer Ernest Perce was assaulted by Talaag Elbayomy for dressing up as Zombie Muhammad.

In the case, Elbayomy was tried for harassment stemming from allegations that he ripped a sign off of Perce’s costume and choked him. Judge Martin found that there was a lack of evidence, after ruling a grainy video of the attack inadmissible and labeling the trial a case of “he said, she said.” That ruling would have been fine, but Judge Martin went one step further. He blamed Perce for any scuffle that may have occurred, saying that it was not a crime for Elbayomy to try to destroy his costume because it was offensive toward his religion.

Judge Martin made it clear that he would not find a Muslim guilty of assault if he was doing it as part of his religious duty. In other words, jihad is now legal in Pennsylvania. I wonder if he would rule the same way on crusades, or does he enforce a double standard? Judge Martin wondered if Elbayomy was intending “to try to have [an] offensive situation negated” by assaulting the man who was annoying him. Unless I’ve learned absolutely nothing from my legal studies classes, I’m pretty sure initiating an altercation is not a legally accepted way to diffuse an offensive situation.

The unconscionable decision did not stop at that, though. Judge Martin went as far as to blame Perce for what happened to him, stating, “Before you start mocking somebody’s religion, you might want to find out a little more about it.” He went on to describe how holy Muslims were as a people, as if that justified the assault of nonviolent non-Muslims. Judge Martin’s decision makes it impossible for ignorant people to seek justice if they accidentally insult another culture or religion and are assaulted for their transgression. The bully behind the bench went as far as to call Perce, an assault victim, a “doofus” for his choice of costume and said that he was the reason that foreigners call U.S. citizens “ugly Americans.” This is likened to asserting that rape victims are dumb for wearing short skirts. Actually, since the court ruled that non-Muslims who make fun of Muslims are asking for violent retribution, it is more like BBC’s Question Time the day after the 9/11 attacks, when members of the audience blamed the United States for the largest acts of terrorism ever perpetrated on its own soil.

Judge Martin continued, “It’s unfortunate that some people use the First Amendment to deliberately provoke others. I think our forefathers intended that we use the First Amendment so that we could speak what is on our mind, not to piss off other people and cultures.” Though I do see where the judge is heading with this statement, American court decisions in past do not support this statement. Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15 (1973) allows obscenity to run rampant, which offends many peoples and culture. However, when Christians are offended by blasphemous things, they are not allowed to retaliate. Chris Ofili’s “The Holy Virgin Mary” art piece, which depicted the Virgin Mary covered in animal feces and pornographic images, was defaced by Dennis Heiner, a devout Christian, and he was hit with second-degree criminal mischief charges and a $250 fine. So, if a Christian defaces an extremely offensive painting, the courts punish you, but if a Muslim chokes a man dressed as Muhammad, he is in the right.

Judge Martin’s alarming obiter dicta could have real implications for American society if other courts decide to use it as precedent, which has happened with dicta in the past. If you are an infidel, you may want to tread softly for now.

Adam Ondo :: University of Rochester :: Rochester, New York :: @JoplinMaverick