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Free speech under fire - Comments

Misfire's Avatar Comment 1 by Misfire

I'm offended Mark Martin was dressing up like a judge--I take it he's fair game?

Mon, 12 Mar 2012 01:08:07 UTC | #926299

Neodarwinian's Avatar Comment 2 by Neodarwinian

One notices this defense of the right of free speech comes from those with the right of free press. As long as we can protest these excessive suppression of free speech, however few, in a free press then we will have a fighting chance. As stated in the article one does not need free speech to protect popular opinion, but to protect the right of someone to wear a " zombie " Mohamed costume. ( whatever that is! )

Mon, 12 Mar 2012 01:12:31 UTC | #926302

Paul the Pretentious's Avatar Comment 3 by Paul the Pretentious

But which Muhammad? How can Muslims be expected to identify their Prophet when they call for the deaths of those who draw him? There are a lot of Muhammads in the world. Chances are good that if the zombie apocalypse ever actually happens, there will be millions of zombie Muhammads.

Mon, 12 Mar 2012 02:09:10 UTC | #926308

aquilacane's Avatar Comment 4 by aquilacane

Religious violence is ok. Just ask Judge what's her fuck, the EX PM's wife. Double standard bullshit. Violence is violence.

Mon, 12 Mar 2012 02:18:17 UTC | #926310

aroundtown's Avatar Comment 5 by aroundtown

Common sense seems to be losing these days. When the lunatic fringe spouts outrageous utterances we don't need a law to muzzle them, simply take it for what it is and move on without whining about every little thing that doesn't match your ideals to perfection. Do we need the courts to define every word and potential uses in context? It's gotten to the point with cases like this one that you wonder where we are headed. Seems like a train wreck when a Judge can utter complete nonsense like this, it is not his job to denounce the man who wore this costume, it is either legal or it is not, just because a Muslim finds it offensive is not a case that should have been brought into court. These Muslims are a thin skinned lot to be sure as we are clearly seeing it in just about everything these days when something doesn't match their ideals. I wish they would stay in their own countries if they cannot assimilate into free societies and withstand the situations they are likely to encounter that runs counter to their cultural norms and morays.

Mon, 12 Mar 2012 02:40:51 UTC | #926313

aroundtown's Avatar Comment 6 by aroundtown

Comment 4 by aquilacane Religious violence is ok. Just ask Judge what's her fuck, the EX PM's wife. Double standard bullshit. Violence is violence.

You will get no argument from me on your observation aquilacane. Seems like it should be a no brainer to make that distinction and somehow they can turn the tables and offer another view point. Crazy how that happpens.

Mon, 12 Mar 2012 02:45:11 UTC | #926315

zengardener's Avatar Comment 7 by zengardener

The comment that I tried to leave on the LA times was, " I thought the first amendment was supposed to protect people who say things to piss other people off."

Of course, in an article about the first amendment, I am not allowed to type "piss people off."

Mon, 12 Mar 2012 03:52:14 UTC | #926320

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 8 by Premiseless

"But your honor, this costume affords me direct access to under 10 year olds, why would you defend it?"

Mon, 12 Mar 2012 05:04:20 UTC | #926325

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 9 by Premiseless

From the celestial (laughably human invention) dictate to openly human dictate; it seems power has no solution to rulership that is not vindictive and intolerant.

This explains why we never see education as a norm; a rational and logical universal truism!

I still perplex as to why it is humans insist on pretending otherwise, as if a truism were their absolute motive, when in fact , by definition and imposition, of ALL authority, it cannot exist.

Mon, 12 Mar 2012 06:04:55 UTC | #926332

sbooder's Avatar Comment 10 by sbooder

I'm offended Mark Martin was dressing up like a judge--I take it he's fair game?

Do you mean something like this

Mon, 12 Mar 2012 06:38:11 UTC | #926338

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 11 by Jos Gibbons

In America, Islam is seen in a bad light when juxtaposed with the well-respected religion that is Christianity, whereas atheism is hated even more than Islam. Therefore, I wonder whether the same verdict would have resulted had the atheist who was assaulted instead been a Christian (which could easily have happened, as the same criticisms of Islam could still have occurred to him).

Mon, 12 Mar 2012 06:51:25 UTC | #926339

strangebrew's Avatar Comment 12 by strangebrew

OP

"way outside your bounds of 1st Amendment rights."

And the Westboro Baptist Church uses offensive and derogatory language and sentiment when they picket the funerals of fallen USA soldiers...an attack not just in taste and decency on an American families grief but on the memory of a patriot that died for his or her country.

If such an abomination to a fallen servant of the state was even enacted at a Saudi..Iranian..Somalian funeral for one of their own you can bet that Sharia would say something about that too.

But of course they are not atheists are they?

"Oh what a gift from their god it would be they could see the them that others see!"

Mon, 12 Mar 2012 07:28:32 UTC | #926340

GPWC's Avatar Comment 13 by GPWC

Comment 5 by aroundtown :

Common sense seems to be losing these days. When the lunatic fringe spouts outrageous utterances we don't need a law to muzzle them, simply take it for what it is and move on without whining about every little thing that doesn't match your ideals to perfection. Do we need the courts to define every word and potential uses in context? It's gotten to the point with cases like this one that you wonder where we are headed. Seems like a train wreck when a Judge can utter complete nonsense like this, it is not his job to denounce the man who wore this costume, it is either legal or it is not, just because a Muslim finds it offensive is not a case that should have been brought into court. These Muslims are a thin skinned lot to be sure as we are clearly seeing it in just about everything these days when something doesn't match their ideals. I wish they would stay in their own countries if they cannot assimilate into free societies and withstand the situations they are likely to encounter that runs counter to their cultural norms and morays.

Quite so. Personally, I don't mind people taking the law into their own hands within reason, but I understand the law really does have a problem with it. So I would have expected the judge to first require the defendent to justify his actions by asking what law was broken by the Zoombie Mo?

Mind you we have to be careful with commenting on these sorts of cases. We usually get a wildly inaccurate and partial account of events.

Mon, 12 Mar 2012 07:29:49 UTC | #926341

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 14 by Premiseless

Comment 11 by Jos Gibbons :

In America, Islam is seen in a bad light when juxtaposed with the well-respected religion that is Christianity, whereas atheism is hated even more than Islam. Therefore, I wonder whether the same verdict would have resulted had the atheist who was assaulted instead been a Christian (which could easily have happened, as the same criticisms of Islam could still have occurred to him).

Atheism is hated because it educates with equitability.

Authority, by definition, detests equitability with its every sinew. It requires obedience no matter what the instruction. It requires belief without explanation. It requires urgent attention and response without education. A recipe ripe for religions.

Essentially we are in a world where authority only respects authority and all its inherited perversions: perversions that are fully ripened through religion; perversions that crime then mirrors due religions propagation.

Thus free speech, logic and rational argument get demoted to a taboo, due the inevitable clash with every authoritarian agenda. The age old dirty old minds rule supreme and wield their stick over equitable aims.

Mon, 12 Mar 2012 07:47:51 UTC | #926342

Vorlund's Avatar Comment 15 by Vorlund

A protracted period of dissensitisation is needed. Those so easily offended need to get out more and be offended until the effect wears off. It's for their own good.

The police and judiciary need to get some education on the claims made by religions.

Mon, 12 Mar 2012 08:17:39 UTC | #926345

strangebrew's Avatar Comment 16 by strangebrew

It is an official pretence of tolerance and exclusivity in society.

It is trying to stick a fractured suspicious fearful society together using sellotape and spit.

Needles to say it will fail through one facet of the drive for a non-discriminatory policy...that is and always has been that minorities will suffer...they always have.

The only reason there are not lynch mobs on the streets cos a white boy got trashed by a Moose,lym' is that white boy is an atheist...wait until a good 'ole jeebus fan gets the Sharia treatment in a country where Sharia is not yet the law?

Then see just how fast the same judge can back peddle from a previous ruling...no doubt because 'other circumstances' are to blame for the abrupt about face. What those 'other circumstances ' actually amount to will be the mystery ingredient and probably withheld by the court...i.e Judge dread Martin !

And that game will have only one winner...and it won't be no god-hatin' jihad inspired scary moose,lym.

Seems at the moment atheists are expendable and have less rights then a violent and possibly unbalanced Islamic 'doofus' besides society would be all the better without the abomination of a non-believer in the way of a theocracy!

Bet ya bottom dollar on that pile of subjective detritus!

Mon, 12 Mar 2012 08:52:31 UTC | #926350

Kurt75's Avatar Comment 17 by Kurt75

I think this is the video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUJHy5vH4Bo

Also, there are some stories saying the judge has been temporarily relocated due to massive criticism.

Mon, 12 Mar 2012 08:55:48 UTC | #926352

RDfan's Avatar Comment 18 by RDfan

In Tort Law (where an act is not necessarily illegal and yet there may be harm done to the victim), as opposed to Criminal Law, there have been attempts at defining acts that amount to emotional distress on a victim. Such an act would have to be "outrageous", "intentional" or "reckless", and the "emotional distress" has to be "severe". The distress also needs to have occurred soon after the "offense" or what is called "proximate causation". These quoted words all have their legal definitions, as see in the link above.

The point I wish to stress here is: the liability or otherwise of someone accused of harming another, for example by wearing a Mo Halloween Outfit or calling the other person names, "does not extend to mere insults, indignities, threats, annoyances, petty oppressions, or other trivialities"...but only to conduct so extreme and outrageous "as to go beyond all possible bonds of decency, and to be regarded as atrocious, and utterly intolerable in a civilized community."

Naturally, there is no way to determine beforehand whether wearing a Mo Halloween Outfit just when a Muslim happens to pass by goes "beyond all possible bonds of decency, and to be regarded as atrocious, and utterly intolerable in a civilized community." I would rather think that it did not. I mean, a "civilized" society, I would hazard to guess, is one that is robust enough to withstand an individual walking around wearing an outfit that some in the community might find offensive. Right? Others wise, is there no end to the amount of offense one can cause?

Mon, 12 Mar 2012 09:22:55 UTC | #926354

drumdaddy's Avatar Comment 19 by drumdaddy

Amazingly, religious groups don't like to be mocked. Judge Martin understands this, but he doesn't realize that mockery is part of the learning process for those who are slow to break away from absurd beliefs. Mockery, when not overdone or intentionally hurtful, can help to sever the umbilical. I think that the judge meant well, but acted badly, similar to a doofus. Oops, was that mockery?

Mon, 12 Mar 2012 09:42:55 UTC | #926355

Ramases's Avatar Comment 20 by Ramases

What an incredible beat up!

My first reaction on reading this was to take the side of the alleged "victim" and think some travesty had taken place. Having heard the recoding of the court room proceedings (available here) and the video of the so-called assault (here) I have changed my mind completely.

The judge was quite right in acquitting the defendant, not because his beliefs justified assault (which the judge never said), but because there is insufficient evidence to support the charge. It was a "he said, he said" situation. This video is unclear, and to convict someone on that would be a travesty. What it does make clear that if anything did happen it was very very brief, and would not rise to the standard of what any reasonable person would call harassment. This, by the way, is the reasons the judge actually gave for dismissing the charges, and I think he was right.

I think the comments of the judge were inappropriate, over the top, and covered matters irrelevant to the case. The fact that people may be executed for religious reasons in some countries is a massive human rights abuse, and should not be used to attack rights of free expression in the US or anywhere else.

Ernest Perce had a perfect right to wear the costume he did, and if he really HAD been assaulted, and there was sufficient evidence for it, the assailant should have been convicted. This was simply not the case in this situation.

Although I disagree with much of the judges' comments, having had a look at the evidence I don't have a great deal of respect for Ernest Perce either. He seems a bit of an idiot with a very thin skin - someone who can give it but not take it. If we atheists are to attack irrational religious beliefs, as I think we should, I think we should at least get our facts right, and I am quite sure the Koran does not say Mohammad rose from the dead (as Perce claims in the court proceedings). Perce also seems to have acted in a very petty and vindictive manner in perusing such a charge for such a trivial incident. I have been in demonstrations in which I have had minor encounters with opponents such as that described (if it were true) and like most in some situations I have taken the attitude of live and let live. Shit happens. Get on with your life.

Perce describes Talaag Elbayomy as a “violent Muslim" but he was clearly only a guy out with his family who got a bit emotional for a moment. A conviction could have serious impact on Elbayomy for the rest of his life, and could perhaps also impact upon his US residency. Ernest Perce should have acted like an adult and given the guy a break.

Mon, 12 Mar 2012 10:06:04 UTC | #926361

mmurray's Avatar Comment 21 by mmurray

Comment 20 by Ramases :

I am quite sure the Koran does not say Mohammad rose from the dead.

I wondered about this as well but it says

Perce was marching in a parade with a fellow atheist dressed as a "Zombie Pope"

so I think the zombie bit didn't carry an implication of risen from the dead like a zombie jesus might.

Michael

Mon, 12 Mar 2012 10:08:58 UTC | #926363

Ramases's Avatar Comment 22 by Ramases

Comment 21 by mmurray :

Comment 20 by Ramases :

I am quite sure the Koran does not say Mohammad rose from the dead.

I wondered about this as well but it says

Perce was marching in a parade with a fellow atheist dressed as a "Zombie Pope"

so I think the zombie bit didn't carry an implication of risen from the dead like a zombie jesus might.

Michael

Michael, listen to the recording of the court proceedings. Perce says he depicted Mohammad as a zombie because the Koran says Mohammad rose from the dead. Nothing wrong with making fun of religon, but as I said I think we need to get our facts right if we do. Perce is an idiot.

Mon, 12 Mar 2012 10:17:18 UTC | #926364

mmurray's Avatar Comment 23 by mmurray

Comment 22 by Ramases :

Comment 21 by mmurray :

Comment 20 by Ramases :

I am quite sure the Koran does not say Mohammad rose from the dead.

I wondered about this as well but it says

Perce was marching in a parade with a fellow atheist dressed as a "Zombie Pope"

so I think the zombie bit didn't carry an implication of risen from the dead like a zombie jesus might.

Michael

Michael, listen to the recording of the court proceedings. Perce says he depicted Mohammad as a zombie because the Koran says Mohammad rose from the dead. Nothing wrong with making fun of religon, but as I said I think we need to get our facts right if we do. Perce is an idiot.

Ah OK sorry. I take it all back.

Where is the recording of the court proceedings ?

Thanks - Michael

Mon, 12 Mar 2012 10:26:57 UTC | #926366

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 24 by Premiseless

Comment 22 by Ramases :

Nothing wrong with making fun of religon, but as I said I think we need to get our facts right if we do.

This is the elephant in all religious discourse.

Religion: "How dare you make wild accusations about my beliefs!"

Unbeliever: "Oops sorry, looks like I'm the one without legal sanction."

Mon, 12 Mar 2012 10:36:08 UTC | #926369

brainsys's Avatar Comment 25 by brainsys

"Ernest Perce had a perfect right to wear the costume he did"

I'm not sure about perfect rights. For instance if I was to don a Nazi uniform plus Hitler moustache and goosesteped around the German Embassy I would expect to be 'escorted away' and if words were insufficient, be prosecuted for inciting hatred/being a public nuisance. Whereas with the same uniform and the same actions parading outside the Embassy of a country that had a terrible record of state sponsored murder, racism and threats to neighbouring countries - then it is a justifiable political statement. Or even to a fancy dress party as long as I wasn't planning a political or monarchical career ;-)

The rub is who should decide what is unjustifiable hatred making and what is justified protest. In the end the safest place is the judicial system. Albeit not perfectly particulary in the lower courts. And if this guy was acting like an idiot then a judge/magistrate should have the right to say so. As we have the right to say the judge's words/analogies were poorly chosen this time around.

If had jailed or fined Perce - that is a very different matter.

Mon, 12 Mar 2012 11:12:59 UTC | #926371

Ramases's Avatar Comment 26 by Ramases

Comment 23 by mmurray :

Ah OK sorry. I take it all back.

Where is the recording of the court proceedings ?

Thanks - Michael

The link is in the first paragraph in my post above, as is a link to the video of the event.

For the former you have to scroll down a bit to get to the recording of the court proceedings.

Mon, 12 Mar 2012 11:48:51 UTC | #926374

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 27 by AtheistEgbert

It seems to me nowadays that freedom of speech is only freedom of speech within the bounds of what Mohammed says is okay.

Mon, 12 Mar 2012 11:49:09 UTC | #926375

Tintern's Avatar Comment 28 by Tintern

It's clear that free speech is losing because good people don't band together and use the threat of violence with the least provocation - as in, provocation made up from whatever's handy because provocation itself is the endgame; it's nothing to do with what caused it.

Mon, 12 Mar 2012 12:20:04 UTC | #926379

brainsys's Avatar Comment 29 by brainsys

It seems to me nowadays that freedom of speech is only freedom of speech within the bounds of what Mohammed says is okay.

Was that statement supposed to be helpful or just paranoid?

Mon, 12 Mar 2012 12:30:05 UTC | #926381

DallasDad's Avatar Comment 30 by DallasDad

Judges often lecture or admonish from the bench. It's a long-held prerogative, and not likely one to be given up soon. Courtrooms are tiny fiefdoms. One says, "Thank you, Your Honor," and lets it go -- a judge's opinions beyond those of law are effectless and irrelevant.

Mon, 12 Mar 2012 12:58:49 UTC | #926383