To be or not to be … a Muslim

Mark Martin is the Pennsylvania state court judge I referred to in two posts (here and here) yesterday — the jurist who, on sharia grounds, dismissed a harassment case against a Muslim man who assaulted an activist atheist whose “Zombie Mohammed” costume the assailant found insulting to Islam.

I reported that Judge Martin is a convert to Islam, based on a published report corroborated by the audio of the court proceeding (quoted in the published report), in which the judge seemed to assert (while lecturing the victim about his purported provocation of the assault), “I’m a Muslim, I find it offensive.” 

A member of the judge’s staff yesterday stated without equivocation that Martin is not a Muslim. So why did he say otherwise in the court proceeding? I now believe, though I’m not a hundred percent certain, that he probably did not say otherwise.

The audio sounds clear enough on YouTube streamed through your computer. But I’ve now listened to the sentence in question many times, wearing a good set of earphones with the volume amplified a bit. Based on that, it’s entirely possible that what Martin said was, “F’Im a Muslim, I’d find it offensive” — as in If I were a Muslim, I would find it offensive. The “F” sound before the word “I’m” is almost inaudible, even with good equipment; the “d” sound that changes “I” to “I’d” is more perceptible, but you have to work a bit to hear it. 

I want to thank our reader gargal who raised the possibility of an erroneous transcription in the comments section of the transcript post. After many listenings, I don’t agree with gargal’s transcription, “I’m not a Muslim, I find it offensive.” There is no utterance of the word “not”. What did it for me was the “d” at the end of “I’d”.  But gargal is right that, in context, it makes more sense that Judge Martin is talking about how he would feel about the “Zombie Mohammed” bit if he were a Muslim — not how he does feel, as a Muslim. For example, at the start of his soliloquy, Martin says, “I think I know a little bit about the faith of Islam,” and he attributes this not to being a Muslim but to “having had the benefit of having spent over two-and-a-half years in a predominantly Muslim country.” (Judge Martin is an army reserves officer who has done tours in Iraq.) I’d further note that the judge tends to garble some words and to interrupt thoughts with other thoughts, which are interrupted by still others, so he is not always the easiest guy to follow.

One other point on this. In many court proceedings, an official court transcript is made, and most good judges take the time to read it before authorizing its publication to minimize transcription errors, which are common. In this case, not only does it appear that no transcript was made; the wayward judge is reportedly threatening to hold the assault victim in contempt for making and publishing the recording the judge would prefer that the public did not hear.

In any event, I will put appropriate edits in the prior posts.

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