Update II: The winding court case of the Amish beard attackers took yet another turn today. According to the AP:
Twelve defendants charged in beard-cutting attacks on fellow Amish in Ohio are challenging the constitutionality of the federal hate crimes law.
The challenges say the alleged attacks aren't religion-based hate crimes but internal church discipline not involving anti-Amish bias.
Update: Father Mullet has spoken.
Sam Mullet, the leader of the breakaway Amish group responsible for the hair and beard trimmings that drew national attention and the father of two of the perpetrators, talked with reporters to explain a few things. Notably, that he didn't order the attacks, but that the attacks were perfectly reasonable and cops should allow his group to dole out the "religious punishment" as they see fit. And they just want to be left alone, you see?
“We’d like to get up in the morning, be left alone, live like normal people,” Mullet told reporters. “They won’t leave us be.”
The best way, of course, to get people to leave you alone is to chop their hair off and then invite reporters to your house.
He said he'd moved his "detractor" group about 100 miles from their original homestead in the hopes of securing that privacy. For some unexplained reason, he still believes that the mainstream Amish were trying to enforce their rules on the splinter group. Thus the justification for the punishment. The AP reports:
“We’re not a cult. We’re just trying to live a peaceful life,” said Mullet, who spoke with occasional bursts of passion for about an hour as children played nearby, a horse tethered to a buggy rested and men and women did chores. “I was hoping I could move here, try to start a group of church people, do things in school and church the way we wanted.”
Mullet said he should be allowed to punish people who break the laws of the church, just as police are allowed to punish people who break the laws of the state.
“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?” Mullet said. “I just let them run over me? If every family would just do as they pleased, what kind of church would we have?”
Last week, a story about a splinter Amish group who were terrorizing their once-brethren by chopping off their beards and hair captivated the nation. You don't often find more fruitful material than that unless a splinter group of Scientologists were out vindictively stealing copies of Top Gun.
Thankfully, justice was served over the weekend and the Amish renegades were brought hauled in by authorities, their lock-chopping ways never more to harm the peaceful cheese-makers.
But the newsworthy details of this horse-and-buggy brouhaha don't end.
The AP reports that four men were arrested in connection with the follicle follies and, get this: two of the men's last names were Mullet. Yes. And one of their first names was Johnny. Yes, Johnny Mullet.
It’s common practice for married Amish men to have beards and the attack on the 74-year-old man in his Holmes County home Tuesday night was believed to be an attempt to degrade and insult him. Likewise, women do not cut their hair based on biblical teaching.
A Jefferson County deputy said authorities arrested 38-year-old Johnny Mullet, 26-year-old Lester Mullet, 53-year-old Levi Miller, and Lester Miller.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the Mullets are the sons of 66-year-old Sam Mullet, who heads the splinter group of several families on a compound in Bergholz in Jefferson County.
They have been charged with kidnapping and burglary.
One other suspect still apparently on the loose: Tommy Trashstache,