Breakaway Amish Group on Trial for Hair-Cutting Hate Crimes

The Amish people may have a reputation for being peaceful folk, but that doesn't mean they won't throw down.

And for the Amish, sometimes throwing down means nonconsensual beard-cutting.

Turns out there are splinters in the Amish community fairly often, which is what happens when a group trying to hold onto a traditional lifestyle of simplicity is confronted with inescapable modern technology. (Some Amish even use electricity like the rest of us heathens.)

But a group led by Samuel Mullet Sr. may have crossed the line from breakaway group to Amish gang. Mullet allegedly had sex with married women, allowed beatings of dissenters, and orchestrated a hair-cutting attack that left some of his critics beardless.

In Amish culture, cutting someone's beard without his consent is very offensive. (It's also frowned-upon by people who aren't Amish.)

Mullet is going on trial with 15 other Amish men and women for the de-bearding and hair-cutting incidents, which he claims he allowed but didn't order. And he stands by his right to do so as an Amish community leader.

You have your laws on the road and the town — if somebody doesn't obey them, you punish them. But I'm not allowed to punish the church people? I just let them run over me? If every family would just do as they pleased, what kind of church would we have?

I don't know, but probably one in which you can't beat and shave people who don't agree with you. Sounds like an improvement to me.

Mullet claims the hair cuttings were in response to criticisms that his group was too strict. Because holding people down and snipping away with a scissors is always a great tactic to show your leniency. Maybe next time settle for a good old-fashioned shunning?

[Image via AP]