The Daily Mail in the United Kingdom, a rather sensationalistic rag on a good day, has taken quite an interest in the Bergholz Amish beard-cutting incidents. Yesterday The Daily Mail published an article about the six women indicted in the beard-cutting conspiracy along with mug shots of the ladies.
The photos of the women are telling. They are dressed in very plain, conservative clothing with their dresses fastened by straight pins. It’s a misconception that no Amish ever have buttons on their clothing, that varies from settlement to settlement. Some Amish use buttons, others permit metal “snaps, while more conservative orders prefer straight-pins. Interestingly, the men photographed do have buttons on their shirts, but they are wearing a shirt that only buttons halfway. I haven’t seen that before. The black head-coverings also are indicative of a very conservative sect. That said, should the photos be published in the first place? The photo to the left is of Lovina Miller, one of the ladies. Most Amish object to being photographed, so should the photos be published? The Amish have been in the news a lot lately and there have been other incidents of “Amish mug shots.” I am a HUGE proponent of innocent until proven guilty. Last year I posted mugshot photos of some of the Amish men arrested for not obeying Kentucky’s orange triangle laws. In cases like that – non-violent citations where someone is practicing civil disobedience for religious rights – I probably would say respect their religious rights and don’t publish.
Click here to see all the photos on the Daily Mail’s website. What do you think, should the media publish such photos? These are people accused of a violent crime and while THEY refer to themselves as Amish, I’m not sure that other Amish would say they meet the definition. Interestingly the courts will sort this all out in a fascinating legal argument. Attorneys for the Amish say that this is not a hate a crime since this is “Amish on Amish”. The Associated Press photo above of Amish sect leader Sam Mullet was obviously taken with his consent, so I have no problem republishing it here.