Thursday 24 November 2011

Working in Montréal today --Something is Amish!

Good morning good people,
In the "I just can't make this stuff up" department,  7 members of an Ohio Amish community were arrested yesterday on a criminal complaint charging them with cutting off hair and beards of fellow Amish over a religious spat stemming from a division in their group back in 2005.
Seems the men conspired to carry out a series of assaults against fellow bearded Amish chums with whom they were having a dispute, presumably religious in origin?
The 7 restrained several other men, their number a bit unclear and cut off their beards and hair with scissors and battery-powered clippers.  In additional to the hair clipping, other assorted injury was sustained to all concerned as well as others that attempted to stop the attack.
Officials said the attacks were meant to humiliate the victims --no duh!  The attackers have been charged with religiously inspired hate crimes and face a maximum penalty of life in prison.
And now, let's rewind.  "battery powered clippers" ?  This alone makes the story interesting and one wonders about the underlying disputes.  Since the Ohio Amish tend to shun modern technology like the electric toaster and any colour save black and white, one wonders if using the using the battery operated device was a deliberate irony?
One does wonder.
But how about that life imprisonment risk?  I am all for laws that treat racial and religious intolerance harshly but I question the use of this law in this circumstance, let the punishment fit the crime.  Perhaps a beard shaving of the accused upon a guilty verdict accompanied by a yellow lightning bolt tattoo on their foreheads identifying to all that they have embraced the Englishmen's demon electricity?
Speaking of religion in the news.. The courts have reached a decision, Canada's Anti-Polygamy laws are constitutional despite the constitutions provisions for religious freedom.
I think that perhaps some persons are confused by Canada's laws about religious freedom. Our laws don't say that you can do anything your religion dictates without regard to society and acceptable conduct.
Our laws such as the Charter's section 2 and 7 protect your right to your beliefs, and the autonomy of your person, section 1 however allows reasonable limits on those rights as long as those limits are demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society (I think that is the text)  so even if your particular brand of faith requires you to shave the head of your neighbours when in conflict with them, it is a reasonable limit for our laws to say, 'fraid not, your religious freedom ends at the tip of my nose.
Have a good day.

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