Sunday, October 28, 2007


From the comment section on a forum in Topix

Richard Laird was a tattooed, loud-mothed biker who self-medicated
for his untreated ADHD and organic brain damage with small quantities of meth. He had far more problems than Ed Gingrich had. Laird and Chester both got the death penalty. Yet, this Amish man - Ed Gingrich - who abused his wife and ended up beating her to death and then proceeded to gut her like a deer on the kitchen floor in front of their children got a slap on the wrist. He served less time than people who write bad checks!

La de da, tum de dum, nothing wrong here, birds singing, crickets chirping, keep on smiling, keep on smiling!

Saturday, October 27, 2007


From the NYT

“In the evangelical church in general there is kind of a push back
against the Republican party and a feeling of being used by the Republican political machine,” he continued. “There are going to be a lot of evangelicals willing to vote for a Democrat because there are 40 million people without health insurance and a Democrat is going to do something about that.”

Now where is the Mea-culpa from my peeps? Where is the local press on this? They were willing to cover the Amish fawning over Bush. Are they going to ask the Amish if they still support him, and if they will vote for Giuliani? BWAA HAA HAA


What does the Ed Gingerich case tell us about how the Amish fit into our society? Is it an anomaly or does it point at larger fundamental flaws about the Amish , nonAmish relationship?

Ann Rodgers at the "Pittsburg Post Gazette" did an extensive piece on Gingerich in April 2007.

Edward, a paranoid schizophrenic, kicked his 29-year-old wife Katie
to death. His children Enos, 4, and Mary, 3, watched, while 5-year-old Danny ran for help. Ed Gingerich gutted his wife's body like a deer carcass, removing her internal organs with a kitchen knife.

In 1994 he was convicted of involuntary homicide but mentally ill
and sentenced to 2 1/2 to five years in a prison psychiatric ward.
In 1998, with his condition brought under control by medication and his term served, he was released from state prison. His terrified Brownhill Amish community asked that he be locked up forever. Other Amish, saying he should be forgiven for a crime that he committed while insane and that he deeply regretted, helped move
him to an Amish mental health facility in Michigan.To outsiders, all seemed quiet until April 18, when his daughter Mary, now 17 and living with her grandparents, was reported hijacked from a buggy. Five days later she was found safe with her father and other members of her family in McKean County.

Mary is back at her grandparents farm. Her father, 42, is jailed on charges of conspiracy, concealing the whereabouts and interfering with the custody of a minor. If convicted, he could be sent back to jail for up to 22 years, according to the Crawford County district attorney.

If someone were to write a novel based on this case and do it from the perspective of the seventeen year old daughter, what kind of social critique could be made of the Amish and the non-Amish? My scripture recall isn't very snappy, but somewhere there's something about being judged by how we treat the most vulnerable among us. I can't imagine the verdict on this one is going to be pretty.

Friday, October 26, 2007


How does the Eli Stutzman case compare with the scenario in my last post?

Gregg Olsen on the Stutzman case. found here

Olsen said he is convinced Stutzman killed his wife,

"There are so many people there who wanted me to solve this crime
(of Ida Stutzman"s death),

Olsen continues to harbor hostilities against Wayne County
investigators, who, he said, listened to Stutzman and initially ruled the fatal fire was an accident.
Then-coroner Dr. J.T. Questel "really let Ida down," Olsen said. "She
deserved a full investigation. It makes me really angry."
Olsen maintains had Stutzman been convicted of killing his wife, he would not have had the opportunity to kill others.

The relationship between the Amish and our government is clearly, whatever happens to be convenient at the moment. Which brings me to the police response to the Nickel Mines school shooting. Can we please, review this incident in a way that will remove any question that this incident was handled and processed as if it had happened to your child or mine. More on the Stutzman case here


From the Cleveland News

While police elsewhere in rural Ohio focus on meth labs and wife-beaters, Middlefield's cops have a curious fetish for busting the Amish.

In 2000, Geauga County Amish leaders asked police to help curb public
drinking. Albert, now a Geauga County Commissioner, was happy to take the job. "He'd always cuss out the Amish when they were caught drinking," Tina says. If an Amish kid walked into Albert's courtroom, he or she could be sure to spend a weekend in jail. Albert says he was simply honoring elders' wishes.

The Anabaptists who gave their lives for their faith (largely due to an unhealthy "church, state" relationship) must be turning in their graves.

On the other side; what about all of those who gave their lives for the idea embodied in our constitution?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


From the A.P., at TPM

University of Florida police were justified in using a Taser
against a student who refused to stop questioning Sen. John Kerry on campus last month, according to a state investigation released Wednesday.

If we believe we need the police to forcefully intervene each time some jerk is obnoxious, we have truly crossed a line that we will regret having crossed. If I wanted to live under an authoritarian regime I could have stayed Amish.

Monday, October 22, 2007


By Amishlaw

So, it was that I found myself at O'Hare Airport this weekend with
a need to use the bathroom. And I found myself being reluctant to go in there, now that my eyes have been opened as to what's really going on in airport bathrooms. Might I discover that some of the noises I hear are not coming from the relief of flatulence but baser activities? And what if some undercover cop spotted me doing something that I didn't realize was a secret code? Maybe putting soap on my hands before I wet them is some kind of signal that I didn't know about.

Read the rest here.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Tim Wu on our laws.

just because they are laws we shouldn't forget that they are also,
in the end, experiments. They're like furniture in the living room of the
nation-state, they are supposed to make our lives better.

But if they don't
work, they should be abandoned, or changed.

Conservatives have used the Amish to advance their "less government is better" agenda. I don't disagree in principle with the idea that less is more. Growing up on a farm and being the youngest of eight boys, the first thing my father taught me was to stay out of the way. It's good advice, not just for the sake of safety, but also for the sake of productivity. If something is working don't f**k with it! That said, It's under Republican leadership that the Amish are using more farm subsidies than ever, which begs the question. Who is the bigger phony?
But my real concern is the guise under which the legislative "hands off" approach has been sold. Which is along the lines of, the less the Amish have to deal with the government, the closer we are to what America was meant to be. The problem is that these laws are only for the Amish, and as Wu suggests, they're just experiments. Who's going to pay the price if it turns out they were a dumb idea. Could it be that Republicans are guilty of what they scorn democrats for, social engineering?
Might a little opposition be a good thing, so Rep. Pitts thinks things through before he fucks with my people?


From the Sunday News

Montagues and Capulets?
Her star-crossed lovers belong to the Fisher and Yoder clans

In her latest novel set here, Lancaster County native Beverly
Lewis mixes sect history with the usual chaste romance that is the trademark of this Christian writer."The Parting," Book I in her new The Courtship of Nellie Fisher series, is set in the midst of an actual church schism that occurred in the 1960s.

The Romeo and Juliet similarity is appropriate if Lewis is willing to portray the brutality that's inherently a part of these schisms. If not, then it's just a shameless attempt to associate her work with pop culture for financial gain. Oh right, that's not any different from what she does with the Amish.
How does it feel, to have your cultural reference points frivolously degraded and marketed for personal gain?

Thursday, October 18, 2007


I'm the proud grandfather of two pre-school age girls, who in the near future will, very likely, attend a small church sponsored school. As a citizen of Pennsylvania, should it be of any interest to me whether the Nickel Mines incident has been reviewed, and what ever lessons that may have been learned, will be implemented?

the Amish and our laws

There's an article in Slate about the Amish that details their relationship with our legal system. Here's a line that defines it all for me.

It is by nature messy, awkward, and informal.

Sounds like a train wreck waiting to happen. With the Amish population increasing and a growing fondness for more and more exemptions, the pooey is going to hit the fan at some point.

Smart Remarks also posted on this

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


From the New Era
Demand grows for raw milk, but is it safe?
·As ag panel reviews regulations, some farmers, health professionals debate safety of unpasteurized, unhomogenized products.

Let the debate be fair and thorough.

Some Plain-sect farmers even fear their religious beliefs are
threatened by the requirement to get a permit to sell raw milk.

Our government has taken a carte blanche approach to religious freedom and the Amish in the past. Let's not repeat that.

Here's how an exemption to child labor law was handled

The minority views attached to HR 221 reveal no hearings were held where opposition views could be presented, the Department of Justice was not given enough information to make a decision on the constitutionality of the proposed legislation and it was stuck onto the end of the year Omnibus appropriations bill (HR 2673) which ruled out debate and an up or down vote on its own merit.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


From the updates and needs page of "Light Of Hope Ministries

In October or November there will be a team of people taking healing and hope to Iraq. When the team was there in April of this year, the people from Kurdish Iraq expressed an interest in receiving teaching on forgiveness from the Amish.

Am I out of the loop, or is this loopy?


From the New Era
How George W. Bush can learn something from Amish
By DAVID DIETZ, Special to the New Era

We don't need our President to be more like the Amish. What we do need is for people of faith to not allow their faith to be hijacked for political purposes.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


Using the word preach here is an idiotic move if you're trying to make friends with the Amish.

from the
Henry Beiler, an Amish farmer in Lancaster County, has preached the value of the
programs to others since donating development rights to his three farms in 1987.

The article says there is resistance within the community to these programs. Language like this will hand Beiler's opposition an opening to accuse him of mixing the secular with the sacred, (which is the ultimate faux pas.)


Amishlaw writes of a reader who wonders whether the Amish celebrate Christmas. His aunt Tillie responds

I hope, Friend, that you have a Happy New Year, and before you ask, no, I'm not planning on staying up until midnight; I don't have a television so I won't be watching the big ball come down at Times Square and I won't be drinking any champagne. If our throats feel scratchy, (or might be getting ready to feel scratchy,) Abner and I might just have a little nip of Kentucky bourbon before we go off to bed on New Year's Eve, but one nip is it. You don't want to be in bed with a drunken Amishman at my age, believe you me!

Read the rest of here.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


Looks like I'm not the only one.

By Amishlaw, book report; "Girls of Riyadh"
I am sure one reason I liked this book is because, like the Amish,
the conservative Arab society is misunderstood by ordinary Americans, judged
mainly by its severe rules and the pronouncements of its most extreme
practioners. It is refreshing to read a book that does not romanticize its subjects, but shows their common humanity.

Preach it brother.

Thursday, October 4, 2007


From Tom Murse at Capital punmanship

Bush recognizes Christ Blank, an Amish man from Nickel Mines. He
praised the Amish for their ability to forgive and embrace Marie Roberts, the
widow of gunman Charles Carl Roberts IV. “I’m honored you’re here,” Bush said to

No incongruities here. Torture, war, forgiveness, pacifists, it's all one seamless entity.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


It's a bogus story. Come on, say it. It's a bogus story. The media hyped this thing, and now nobody wants to get down off of a pony that rides.

Listen to the dude
From the New Era
Is forgiveness automatic in our society? Of course not. It must be
developed. In any incident, forgiveness must begin through acceptance.

Perhaps the most astonishing subject the media pounced on was the

See, he thinks they pounced. You get that, pounced

Forgiveness must be honest; recycled forgiveness doesn't seem kosher. In
our Amish world, it isn't automatic. Even we can struggle with anger and doubt.
But forgiveness must be granted to continue on in life.

Honest or forced I'm not sure which it is. But, did you get that part about it not being automatic? Or should I repeat it?

Here's my theory. If the non-Amish folks would've kept this story in perspective, as in not going ape shit over some magical hooey like, instant forgiveness, but paid attention on a human level. That would have required some actual soul searching about how we live, but we weren't up for it. So we latch onto something that is completely and totally removed from what we might actually apply in our own lives, allowing us to continue doing what we've always done.


From the New Era

This ought to generate some blow back.

Is it asking too much to put the Lord's Prayer and Bible-reading back in
public schools and teach proper Christian virtues?

Bwaa haa haa haa. Maybe if we stopped jerking ourselves off over how wonderful the Amish are, they wouldn't be getting uppity and telling us how to live. Bwaaa haa haa haa.


From the New Era

Almost overshadowing the shootings, the forgiveness the Amish immediately
extended to Roberts and his family transfixed a world more accustomed to
vengeful responses.

In the wake of massive media interest immediately after Oct. 2, the Amish
feared that writers and filmmakers would sensationalize the story. That has not

Is the first sentence compatible with the second sentence? Ya'll know my opinion on it. History will tell.

Monday, October 1, 2007


From the York Dispatch

"I'm proud of the police because there would have been a lot more people
injured if they hadn't charged the scene," he said

Is this guy an expert on this?


From the Christian Science Monitor

News of the instant forgiveness stunned the outside world – almost as much
as the incident itself did


From ABC News

Even before their own five daughters had been buried, the victims' families
were showing Roberts' family kindness, condolence and compassion.