Beard Cutting “Amish” Trial Begins

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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.

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The Discussion


  1. I think both sides of the coin would have done differently, had they know what they do today. The beard cutters never expected to be reported by the Amish and arrested and sit in jail for nine months and then to face this trial…

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  2. I’m with you on hate crimes. Why is it worse to be assaulted if I am, say, Hispanic, than if I’m Caucasian?

    On the other hand, is it really a good thing to have government define who is Amish and who is not? Shouldn’t the Amish themselves be the ones doing that?

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  3. The whole situation is so sad and by taking this into the court system, who is
    going to do the defining? There are some different groups of Amish, so will
    some legislators be defining or will they turn to the Amish themselves? And
    suppose some aspect is overlooked in writing this definition, then some lawyer
    or prosecutor will jump on that omission at some future date? I think lawyers/
    legislators are becoming too self-important.

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  4. Barbara Weber says:


    Maybe “they” as the, American Indians,do, have their own courts?.

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