Attorneys for a group of Amish men and women found guilty of hate crimes for cutting the hair and beards of fellow members of their faith are arguing that the group’s conviction, sentencing and imprisonment in separate facilities across the country violates their constitutional rights and amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, according to recent court filings.
The filings in federal court in Akron seek the release of seven of 16 Amish convicted in September in the 2011 eastern Ohio attacks, which were meant to shame fellow Amish they believed were straying from strict religious interpretations.
I confess I’m mostly highlighting this story because it gives me a chance to share the priceless police mug shots of the Amish gang members who committed beardicide most foul:
Do you have a favorite? Mine is the guy in the top right corner. He reminds me of the character on Gentle Giant’s first album cover. The likeness would be almost perfect if only he’d turn his frown upside down. C’mon, why so glum, chum?
On with the article:
The Amish have been sent to different prisons across the country, placing an overly harsh burden on their relatives, who, because of their religion, cannot travel by plane and have to hire drivers for car travel, the group’s attorneys argue.
Correction: it’s not that they “cannot travel by plane.” It is that for reasons that are entirely their own, they choose not to. I’m sympathetic to Mrs. Mullet, who, in order to visit her husband and sons, has to travel to Oklahoma, Louisiana, and to two prisons in Minnesota that are 160 miles apart. That prison authorities separated her family members, and sent them to be incarcerated in far-flung places, does add to her burden, and I wish that the Bureau of Prisons had made less onerous accommodations. (I also happen to think the “hate crime” convictions and their associated prison terms were, in this case, well outside the bounds of fairness).
Still: that Mrs. Mullet finds herself encumbered by the travel requirement has less do with the United States government, and more with the fact that the Mullets and their brethren think it’s spiritually icky to drive a car or clamber aboard a big metal bird.
Prosecutors, in their response filed on Friday, pointed out that Mullet has unsuccessfully argued to be released five times throughout the case, and they cited comments from federal Judge Dan Polster that Mullet showed no remorse for the attacks and “enjoyed receiving prompt reports about the violent assaults, and even received a bag of hair as proof that one such assault was successful.”
The arrest and trial of the Mullet clan was far and away the best religion story of the last couple of years. I mean no disrespect to the victims, who suffered the terrible trauma of a free trim, but the real reason I’m sorry the attacks occurred is because a crime of faith so Pythonesque and preposterous won’t soon be equaled, let alone topped.