Part of me is really interested in the whole beard-cutting trial which began yesterday in Cleveland, part of me is bored with it. I personally think the government overreached when they charged these people with “hate crimes.” That doesn’t mean I don’t think they should have been charged with crimes, I just am not a big fan of the “hate” statutes. It sounds as if one is legislating emotions. Hate is a horrible emotion, but it shouldn’t be an illegal one. If someone acts on their hate and commits a crime,then that crime will be covered under regular laws already on the books. I think these Bergholz Amish should have just been charged under normal assault statutes. Now one interesting angle to this trial, though, will be that we may get a definition – an official court-sanctioned definition – of what it means to be Amish. The government is alleging that Sam Mullet and his Bergholz clan are not Amish and therefore can be charged under hate crime statutes. The defense is going to argue that Mullet’s group is absolutely Amish and therefore the crimes can’t be charged as “hate” crimes which do not cover “within group” crimes. Read the latest here.