Amish Beard-Cutting: Gang Gives Rival Amish Unwanted Haircuts

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By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on October 12, 2011 6:44 AM

Four suspects in an Amish beard-cutting attack were arrested in Ohio this week. The four men are from the small community of Bergholz.

Authorities say the attacks were perpetrated by a rival Amish group. The victims were held down against their will and given unwanted cuts to their beard and to their hair.

Why is beard-cutting a crime in the first place?

It can be assault and battery. Assault and battery occur when someone physically strikes another or puts someone in a fear of an immediate harm.

For the victims, having a rival group of Amish hold you down and snip off your hair probably does put you in fear of an immediate harm. And, they're physically touching you in the process.

Not only that, but battery usually doesn't require body-to-body contact. Battery can also occur if someone touches something that is closely connected to you. For example, if you're wearing a hat and someone swings a club and hits your hat, they're guilty of a battery. The hat may not be a part of your body, but it is closely connected.

And there's almost nothing that's more closely connected to someone than their hair.

Plus, there's a religious significance to the attacks. Many Amish don't shave as part of their beliefs. Cutting or shaving someone's hair becomes a serious insult and is considered very degrading.

That's why many consider these Amish beard-cutting attacks especially degrading. What's next for the suspects? They're currently being held on a $250,000 bond. Authorities expect to make more arrests soon.

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