This beggars belief (and I mean that in both interpretations):
The incident occurred at the Mechanicsburg, Pa., Halloween parade where Ernie Perce, an atheist activist, marched as a zombie Muhammad. Talaag Elbayomy, a Muslim, attacked Perce, and he was arrested by police.
Judge Martin threw the case out on the grounds that Elbayomy was obligated to attack Perce because of his culture and religion. Judge Martin stated that the First Amendment of the Constitution does not permit people to provoke other people. He also called Perce, the plaintiff in the case, a “doofus.” In effect, Perce was the perpetrator of the assault, in Judge Martin’s view, and Elbayomy the innocent. The Sharia law that the Muslim attacker followed trumped the First Amendment.
In the US, mind. This was not shouting “fire” in a crowded theater. These were not “fighting words” to those who do not go looking for words to fight against. The judge’s verdict privileges one faith’s obligation to take offense against the nation’s right to offend.
It’s come to this.
“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”
– George Orwell
Update: The judge defends himself. I remain unpersuaded.
When I asked him why he dressed up as “Muhammad zombie,” he told me that it was because he was reflecting the Muslim belief that Muhammad rose from the dead, walked as a zombie, and then went to heaven. That was one of the reasons I tried to spend 6 whole minutes trying to explain and de-mystify Islam through my own knowledge, and in an attempt to prevent an incident like this recurring in my community. Unfortunately, the message was obviously not received in the vein that I had intended. And, in the interest of full disclosure, I did use the word “doofus,” but didn’t call him that directly; I said something akin to “ if you’re going to mock another religion or culture, you should check your facts, first- otherwise, you’ll look like a doofus.”;
Doofus or not, the 1st amendment doesn’t carry the requirement that free speech be informed speech. And however odious the provocateur’s actions may have been, assault is still assault, and battery remains battery.