From Fox News Channel, a little before 7:30 Monday morning, August 9.
Tease for the next segment. The anchor says – “All right, coming up straight ahead. A woman sexually assaulted, her attacker allowed to prey again, all because an American judge cited Islamic law in his ruling…”
What’s being shown: Muslims praying.
The segment itself: As it begins, the title under Gretchen Carlson reads that the judge ruled the man acted “under Shariah law.”
According to Fox’s own website, no such thing happened. The distinction is subtle only if you’re really not paying attention. Here’s the Fox website on the judge’s ruling:
In considering the woman’s plea for a restraining order after the couple divorced, Charles ruled in June 2009 that a preponderance of the evidence showed the defendant had harassed and assaulted her, but “The court believes that [defendant] was operating under his belief that it is, as the husband, his desire to have sex when and whether he wanted to, was something that was consistent with his practices and it was something that was not prohibited.
In other words, the judge ruled on the man’s state of mind, something judges have been doing for a long, long time.
(Read the entire post here.)
That, however, didn’t stop Carlson from going on to talk about people being afraid that Shariah law is taking hold in America and this being an example of it.
Also missing from the segment: any attempt at fairness. I’m sure Fox would argue that since it was only using an expert, in this case a former federal prosecutor, it had no obligation to get either side into the studio to talk. It was their own ‘analysis.’
But if you watched the segment, you’d see the need for another voice.
To its credit, the Fox web story at least quotes a spokesman for the Council For American Islamic Relations calling out the whole thing as a ‘fantasy.’
I read the appellate court decision linked off the Fox News story and it’s hard not to reach the conclusion that the judge was dirt stupid in this case.
That said, there is no citation of Shariah Law, no using it to ‘defend’ the man. In fact, the judge’s reasoning for not granting a restraining order is pretty old-fashioned in its wrongness:
In this particular case, this court does not believe that a final restraining order is necessary under the circumstances. There’s no need for the parties to be associated with one another. They are divorced now. They don’t live together. They don’t have to be together. . . .
[T]his was a situation of a short-term marriage, a very brief period of physical assault by the defendant against the plaintiff and it’s now a situation where the parties don’t live together, won’t be living together and won’t have a need to be in contact with one another.
Under those circumstances, the court finds that a final restraining order is not necessary to prevent another act of domestic violence. The Court will not enter a final restraining order.
You should read the full decision, linked off the Fox story. It’s a great plank for Fox and talk radio to beat on Islam with, because you really can’t argue the judge made sense. What you’re left arguing is that the ruling was not what Fox & Friends made it out to be, a sign that Shariah law is creeping into American law.
In fact, the ruling goes further and cites cases involving Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists as reasons why the first judge was wrong. This is an argument about broad principle, not one specific religion.