The blog is a view of life, science, politics and education from an engineering perspective. As engineers, we are taught to view the world objectively. We can hope, believe and calculate a particular outcome, but natural laws are inflexible and pay no heed to who we are or what we believe. We must approach the objective dispassionately, while compensating for our own distorted perceptions. Balance is also a key element; balancing between the ideal and the pragmatic, balancing cost and functionality, balancing analysis with action, etc.
Scheduling routine critical self-analysis is the foundation to objectivity. If we do not fully understand and compensate for our own failures, tendencies, habits and skewed thought processes, we will not see the world as it is. Without a regular critical self-analysis we will see the world as we are and then fall prey to self-delusion.
Failure is a great teacher. When failure is coupled with perseverance, it produces the fruit of patience and humility. An engineer, fresh out of engineering school is typically set up for failure early and often. The failure breaks the new engineer of any ideas of self-importance, arrogance and book smarts. Only then can the new engineer be formed and molded into a productive element in the industry.
Revised, based on old information that was new to me.
I haven't posted anything in a while and I thought of launching my 2014 blogs with commentary on an old story.
American Atheists’ Pennsylvania State Director Ernest Perce was assaulted for wearing a “zombie Muhammad” costume and proclaimed that he was the Prophet Muhammad risen from the dead at the Oct, 11, 2011, Zombie event in Mechanicsburg, Pa. A “zombie pope” was also featured in the parade that night.
The Scranton Atheism Examiner reports that Perce participated in the event when Talaag Elbayomy, a Muslim, stormed out of the crowd and assaulted Perce, grabbing a sign around his neck and pulling until the strings choked him.
Talaag Elbayomy was pulled off of Perce and arrested by nearby officers. Elbayomy – who said he believed it was illegal to mock Muhammad – was charged with harassment. He denied touching Perce at trial, but Officer Bryan Curtis said Elbayomy admitted grabbing Perce’s sign and beard the night of the incident. Witnesses also claim seeing Elbayomy attack Perce.
Mechanicsburg Police Officer Bryan Curtis told Pennsylvania’s WHTM-TV, “Mr. Perce has the right to do what he did that evening, and the defendant in this case was wrong in what he did in confronting him.”
The case of Perce vs Elbayomy was brought before District Judge Mark Martin. Following a short trial, Judge Martin dismissed the case against Elbayomy.
The lawyer for Perce was shocked by the verdict. He said, “I believe that I brought a case that showed proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and the case was dismissed, and I was disappointed.”
At the reading of the final verdict, the judge took the opportunity to lecture Perce, Officer Bryan Curtis and the prosecuting attorney.
"Well, having had the benefit of having spent over two-and-a-half years in predominantly Muslim countries, I think I know a little bit about the faith of Islam. In fact, I have a copy of the Quran here, and I would challenge you, Sir, to show me where it says in the Quran that Muhammad arose and walked among the dead. I think you misinterpreted a couple of things. So before you start mocking somebody else’s religion, you might want to find out a little more about it. It kind of makes you look like a doofus. …
In many other Muslim-speaking countries, err, excuse me, many Arabic-speaking countries, predominantly Muslim, something like this is definitely against the law there, in their society. In fact, it could be punished by death, and frequently is, in their society.
Here in our society, we have a 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 our forefathers intended. I think our forefathers intended to use the First Amendment so we can speak with our mind, not to p— off other people and cultures – which is what you did.
I don’t think you’re aware, Sir, there’s a big difference between how Americans practice Christianity – I understand you’re an atheist – but see Islam is not just a religion. It’s their culture, their culture, their very essence, their very being. They pray five times a day toward Mecca. To be a good Muslim before you die, you have to make a pilgrimage to Mecca, unless you’re otherwise told you cannot because you’re too ill, too elderly, whatever, but you must make the attempt. Their greeting is ‘Salam alaikum, wa-laikum as-Salam,’ uh, ‘May God be with you.’
Whenever it is very common, their language, when they’re speaking to each other, it’s very common for them to say, uh, Allah willing, this will happen. It’s, they’re so immersed in it. And what you’ve done is, you’ve completely trashed their essence, their being. They find it very, very, very offensive. I’m 'NOT' a Muslim. I find it offensive. I find what’s on the other side of this [sign] very offensive. (Editor’s note: Reverse of sign said, “Only Muhammad can rape America!) But you have that right, but you are way outside your bounds of First Amendment rights. …
I’ve spent about seven 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 hear it referred to as ‘ugly Americans,’ because we’re 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."
The judge later added, “Because there was not, it is not proven to me beyond a reasonable doubt that this defendant is guilty of harassment, therefore, I am going to dismiss the charge.”
Carl Silverman of the Parading Atheists of Central Pennsylvania told WHTM-TV, “We understand that Muslims are extremely sensitive. But this is America, and you need to get over the sensitivity and take out your opposition in peaceful ways – not by attacking people physically.
Officer Curtis is Catholic and claims he didn’t even consider attacking the person wearing the ‘Zombie Pope’ costume. “But if I did assault that person, I would not have received the preferential treatment that Mr. Elbayomy had received… even if the Judge was Catholic.”
This judge did Muslims no favor by removing any standard of basic human conduct. By allowing objectivity to be trampled and excusing conduct that is below expectations of human decency and civility, he is encouraging more of that behavior.
Life lesson: The greatest gift that you can give your fellow man is to hold them to high standards of behavior, thought and conduct.
Some of the comments on YouTube were insightful. To paraphrase: Tthe judge would have been compelled to do the same as the defendant did in this case. His closing statement celebrates the assault and justifies violence in the name of Islam. It belittles the victim and praises all those who are terminally incapable of critical judgment and self-restraint. Why didn't the Judge ask the Muslim, “why did you, a devout Muslim, go to a pagan parade and not expect to end up religiously insulted?” It’s like hanging out at a bar and then claiming to be offended by alcohol and attacking the bartender.