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Photographing the Amish

Andrew Steele | 11:51 UK time, Wednesday, 4 October 2006

The execution-style killing of young schoolgirls in rural Pennsylvania has brought the peaceful community of Nickel Mines into the world's eye for all the worst reasons. The small Amish community has been besieged by the media after a milk-truck driver shot 12 pupils in a small schoolhouse before turning the gun on himself.

amish.jpgThe Amish are a reclusive people who advocate pacifism and shun modern life. They do not use electricity and have no television, radio, or computer at home. They prefer to live outside the mainstream, involved in their own world. So the hubbub and trappings of a big story - satellite trucks, film crews, hovering helicopters and 24-hour live shots - have been a further unwelcome jolt to a community already devastated by the horror of random death.

Filming and interviewing the victims of war and violent acts is always a daunting challenge. In this story we raised our threshold, to ensure we respected the views of a grieving community where cameras are barely welcome. Those who were interviewed were willing to do so. Despite the horror, the locals almost unbelievably spoke of forgiveness and redemption. One interviewee wanted to express his views but had qualms about the camera. In the end he agreed to be filmed from a distance that would make him hard to be identified.

But those who didn't want to speak were left alone. In the end we got the story, while respecting the wishes of the local community. I hope we gained their respect too.

The BBC's editorial guidelines state we must always balance public interest against the need to be compassionate and to avoid any unjustified infringement of privacy. As we move on from Nickel Mines and leave the Amish community to grieve in peace, I'm satisfied that this time, despite the difficulties, we achieved the right balance.

Comments

As a former resident of Pennsylvania and portrait photographer of foreign cultures, I commend your coverage of this horrific incident with respect and sensitivity to the Amish community. It is a fine line you walk to bring the world the unbiased information and graphics it craves, while maintaining some semblance of moral restraint for those ravaged by tragedy. You set a good example for other journalists and photographers world wide. I trust you will continue this standard, and proudly stand behind it.

All the best,
Alan

  • 2.
  • At 01:51 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Robert Boles wrote:

Very thoughtful. The dignity of the Amish people speaks for itself.

  • 3.
  • At 01:55 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Orville Eastland wrote:

While it's too late to have suggested it, is there any chance that, for example, news organizations might agree to pool their resources in situations like this? The main news crews could operate outside sensitive areas, but networks could pool their resources and assign, say one or two cameramen and reporters to cover the event, with questions submitted by various reporters. It would take time to work out, and would involve cooperation by other networks, but it might work. Does the BBC have policies to allow this?

  • 4.
  • At 02:09 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Dick Brasco wrote:

Oh thats so nice of the BBC to respect the Amish and their dislike of cameras.

Wow...im so impressed!

  • 5.
  • At 02:10 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Adam Lake wrote:

Just a thought, but cameras aren't allowed in courts (at least in the US, I'm not sure about the UK), so sketches are often used. I think that may have been an easier route than trying to talk someone into consenting for a photo op. I have to say, I was surprised and a little shocked to see photos of the Amish on the front page of the BBC (I grew up in Lancaster county).

  • 6.
  • At 02:58 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • David Gould wrote:

perhaps you should leave them to grieve in peace and respect their traditions.

One question: what good will your exposure do the Amish ?

  • 7.
  • At 03:13 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Janet S. Lahm wrote:

Thank you for respecting these people. I wish your high ethical standards were adopted by the US media. I appreciate your coverage of the news world wide, none of the stupid spin and political nonscence so many of the US media thirve in.
God bless you.

  • 8.
  • At 03:16 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Ed wrote:

David: What good does covering any news story do? Raise awareness, I guess. A person killing 5 children in a school is surely news worthy. I agree that its not really in the Amish's interest though.

  • 9.
  • At 03:29 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Gregory Libera wrote:

It's good that you respected the dignity and wishes of these Amish folk. But, it a great pity that BBC was unable to respect the truth or view of Benedict XVI in a recent BBc programme.

  • 10.
  • At 03:37 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • solly wrote:

DavidGould makes two good points in #6 - the Amish choose to be separate, as is their right.

They have evidenced a kind, quiet, dignity in their dealing with this situation - they do not want the intrusiveness of the media and its desire to wring all it can out of this story for the vicarious thrill of the 'public'.

The public doesn't _need_ to know more than that children are dead, the offender is dead, and the families are dealing with it as they will. To make a soap opera out of it with closeups of grieving individuals, the excessive detailing of what the murderer brought with him, supposed 'experts' opining about theoretical motives and causes, and insensitive interviewers trying to milk-out every possible word they can for later editing is sickening and false.

  • 11.
  • At 03:38 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Charles Carrington wrote:

I thank the BBC for their respectful coverage. I live about fifteen miles from the site of this terrible massacre. The coverage from US news organization, without exception, lacked sensitivity and was driven by adrenalin charged reporters. These organizations delighted in celebrating the horrors of Monday and had no hesitation trying to interview grieving families congregating at the local hospitals. The BBC coverage, both on the web and on the television, by contrast was actually more impactful due to the restraint and dignity given to the subject.

  • 12.
  • At 03:43 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Brenda wrote:

These people who chose to live outside the mainstream of American life are entitled to their privacy. A news person should be considerate of their wishes.

It is always upsetting to me to see news people at the front door of families who have just lost a loved one. My neice was murder five years ago and the news media was at the families front door as soon as possible, to get there, not giving any consideration to how the family was in shock and grieving. One family member went outside and told them to leave as they had nothing to say.

The daugter of the woman killed was only five at the time and has been daunted by classmates even now as a result of all of the media. How would anyone feel to have a small child being taunted because a story was more important that the life of a child?

  • 13.
  • At 04:04 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Tom Ripley wrote:

The camera will steal there soul!. What centuary are you living in???

  • 14.
  • At 04:29 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Vhonda wrote:

Q. Many Amish don't like cameras - so what's a reporter to do?

A. Write.

Some people may have customs that may be peculiar to others. Nevertheless each should be respected for what they believe.
Especially where the belief is not disrespectful, immoral, inhumane or direcly offensive.
My opinion is that the reporter would need, in this special instance, to draw on his writing or speaking abilities to accurately and unbiasedly express the series of events (the where, the what, the who, the how) by using words to reveal the details of the enviroment and mood. Similar to the almost tangible picture one gets from reading a well written, good book.

  • 15.
  • At 05:14 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Cynthia Gilliatt wrote:

The writer who said the Amish believe the camera can steal their soul was mistaken. Their objection to cameras and picture taking is that they see this as a form of vanity and self-glorification. Same goes for the plain clothing; self-adornment is vanity. I live in Mennonite country here in rural Virgiinia, and Old Order Mennonites have similar practices to those of the Amish.

I too found BBC coverage superior to US news media.

  • 16.
  • At 05:19 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Mark E wrote:

In response to Ed:

Yes, the murder of 5 children IS news, however is it worldwide news - by that I mean should the world's media get involved directly?

Wouldn't it be less intrusive if the foreign media like the BBC simply bought the rights to use the local medias footage?

  • 17.
  • At 05:25 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Ken wrote:

The American media could learn a lot from this. Sometimes less is more....

I live in a community populated mostly by Holdeman Mennonites. They too try to "live apart from the world". As a photojournalist, I respect their wishes to not be photographed at community farming events, weddings or other gatherings. Around the world, America in peticular, the media slithers in selfishly and disrespectfully fuelled only by money, sensationalism and exclusive bragging rights. A discusting display of "professionalism" to be sure.

  • 19.
  • At 06:10 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Will wrote:

Whilst I am thankful that the qualities of restraint and sensitivity have been displayed here, the notion that this is unusual enough to be commented on in an editorial says much.

  • 20.
  • At 06:19 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Sheri wrote:

I live in Lancaster County. Your article said cameras are rarely welcomed. In actuality, they are not welcomed ever. They feel it is a graven image and vain. While the rest of the world might hunger for photographs, the Amish would rather continue to live in seclusion. I guarantee you many of the photographs shown were taken from a distance with a zoom lense, without the Amish knowing. It would be more respetful to use sketches.

  • 21.
  • At 06:28 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Matthew Swartz wrote:

Editor Steele, I can't praise your scruples highly enough. I am the grandson of an Amish couple, and I can tell you that many good people would live quieter, more peaceful lives if your sensitivity were copied by my fellow Americans. Also, a note of irony: The Amish (perjoratively) refer to all of their non-Amish neighbors as "The English", and complain when they stop to snap pictures. They would be pleased to know that an actual Englishman has arrived and restrained from indiscriminate picture-snapping!

  • 22.
  • At 06:47 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Rhysa Davis wrote:

Thank you for your coverage of the Amish community and how they are dealing with their grief. I'd like to reply to Mr. Tom Ripley about his comment about 'The camera will steal their soul.' I was offended by his remark. The Amish live their own life and everyone in PA respect them for their values, sense of community, and hard work. While the camera captures an image for all to see, the Amish consider it a 'graven' image. No photos please should be respected not only for the Amish but anyone who declines to have their photo taken. And by the way, their simple life is based on the 18th/19th Century. But what is really important to know is that God is at the Center of their being in all their dealings.

  • 23.
  • At 06:49 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • christi wrote:

The Amish have a declared belief that cameras and photos will steal their souls.

It is important that all of us respect their right to that belief rather than disparaging them for it.

BBC's commendable coverage of this atrocity assisted all of us to understand their way of life.

  • 24.
  • At 07:25 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Karen wrote:

In answer to the question of what has this done for the Amish - well, I for one am praying for them. Also, don't you just have to admire these people? It should make us think about what having electricity and all our other "mod cons" has got us. They have a strength and dignity that comes from their simpler life.

  • 25.
  • At 07:43 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Sally wrote:

Grieving relatives of crime victims have no security force to protect them for years after you put them on the map.

News media often seem to be gleefully trying to provoke additional crimes while they are in a neighborhood. Given the power of new technology, dragging innocent bystanders who could not be expected to have any media savvy into world news pictures may put them at greater risk than ever before. Please focus attention elsewhere.

  • 26.
  • At 08:30 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • brandon wrote:

the media are swine who never consider the victims in the circus they create. Why should the world have intimate knowledge of these children and the possible sexual assaults they endured. Shame on the media on behalf of all the victims! You guys ever heard o TMI?

  • 27.
  • At 08:32 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Chris Roberts wrote:

Please continue to maintain a respectful posture. The most moving reporting I saw was your story about the bereaved people who were concerned for the family of the perpetrator. Thank you.

  • 28.
  • At 08:50 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • michael keohane wrote:

Perhaps rather than wondering at our good or bad coverage of this story we might, instead, pause and wonder at the strength and charity shown by the Amish people themselves, even to the perpetrator of this horrifying crime. Note that they have asked for nothing for themselves. Those of us with some knowledge of the Amish, however peripheral, are not surprised.

  • 29.
  • At 08:59 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Ed wrote:

Gregory Libera: Thats different, being the pope is being a public figure, as such it is in the public's interest that they are informed about them.

  • 30.
  • At 09:26 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Kent Smith wrote:

Your coverage was wonderful. It was tasteful, respectful. You also beat domestic US news sources on both this shooting and the one in Cazenovia, WI by an hour. I turn to you for all my news. However, to clarify. The Amish do not think taking their picture will steal their souls (someone was reading too much old West US pulp fiction and mixed the Amish up with something made up about the Native Americans). Amish just shun modern conveniences and consider their picture being taken as vain.

  • 31.
  • At 09:27 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Kari wrote:

As a current resident of Lancaster County I was very surprised to see any photographs of the Amish in the papers and on the news. The local newspaper here had an interview of an Amish woman. From what I understand, Amish children can be photographed, as the have yet to become full members of the 'church'. I greatly hope that no one in the media took advantage of this fact, and I hope they didn't offend any of the Amish in general by being there.

  • 32.
  • At 09:28 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Acad Ronin wrote:

Bit self-congratulatory aren't you. I'd be more impressed by an Amish testimonial. By the way, have you found any more secret Vatican documents on the Vatican website?

  • 33.
  • At 09:54 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • John Smith wrote:

This is a tough problem that is simply expressed. The mainstream British and Americans have a defined way of doing things and expect others to respect that. The "golden rule" of "do unto others" applies and we should expect to hold ourselves to equal respect of the cultures of others. That seems simple enough. There are, however, problems. Our needs/wants may conflict with their needs, norms and standards. We don't always know what their needs, norms and standards really are. And, most importantly, how do you remain neutral and impartial when you are - by definition - immersing yourself into the surroundings and the story?

I would say the BBC does a better job than most, and probably many do genuinely appreciate that. But I think the problem creates enough conflicting requirements that simple answers will always be too simple. This isn't something that will ever be done with both sensitivity and honesty without a very careful think about what these really mean and what journalism is really trying to achieve. (Beyond ratings, that is.)

  • 34.
  • At 10:51 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Stuart Thompson wrote:

I live and work with Amish in northwestern Pennsylvania. I can tell you that they are not afraid of the camera stealing their soul. They don't want their picture taken because it could bring them above other members of their community and give them cause to boast. At least that was the way it was explained to me. That is why the Amish gentilmen said that the picture could be taken at a distance so that he could not be identified. It is why they ware simple clothes so that none of them may boast over any other. They are a simple folk who make wonderful neighbors, just ask anyone who survived a turnado near an Amish community. We could learn a lot from thease simple folk, lets leave them alone and alow them to grieve their loss, and lets check our information before we make a comment like this again.

  • 35.
  • At 11:13 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Roy wrote:

The world can learn so much from the Amish attitude to life, especially those who advocate war and revenge. If we all had more humilty, humanity and forgivenss in our hearts, like the Amish do, perhaps the world be a better place. Is that too much to hope for?

  • 36.
  • At 11:49 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Padraig Carty wrote:

I agree wholeheartedly with Vhonda. the BBC talks of finding the 'right balance' between respecting the privacy of these reclusive people and serving the so-called public interest. What exactly defines public interest? I personally am fed up of hearing the media use this term to abuse and exploit other people's intimacy and then lay the blame squarely at the door of the reader, viewer, listener by claiming that after all they are only doing it for us. I think we are, most of us, capable of understanding the horror and gravity of this incident without having to have the full colour pictures to go with it.

Probably a centuary where one might spel correctly Tom.

And perhaps also where people thought before opening their mouths.

It has all to do with the second commandment. I'd disagree with their interpretation, but respect it.

  • 38.
  • At 12:31 AM on 05 Oct 2006,
  • Jayne W wrote:

Yet another occasion where UK (BBC) coverage was streets ahead of the US networks. I was in the US last year in the days following Katrina, and was amazed that the coverage of a US event was so poor and repetitive, esp compared to the BBC network presentations.

  • 39.
  • At 12:36 AM on 05 Oct 2006,
  • Fred Maggiore wrote:

For Mr. Ripley of post #13, a couple of issues.

1. I believe you meant to say, "....their soul!" not "...there soul!" THEIR indicates belonging to a person(s). THERE indicates a location.
Unless you have solved the age-old problem of the location of a soul on more than a metaphysical basis, use their and not there.

2. They have chosen to live without modern items. That puts them effectively in the early 20th century at the latest. They don't try to impose their will on you. Please return the same kindness to them.

  • 40.
  • At 01:57 AM on 05 Oct 2006,
  • galen manapat wrote:

I have a vegetable farmer friend who farms in Willard Ohio, 20 miles north of an Amish group. He has introduced me to his Amish friends.

All I can say is these people are so special, and I mean it it a positive way.

They possibly commit the fewest crimes of any group in America. They grow the finest food; and they are honest and hospitable.

I personally do not feel they are "weird." I think they are more Christian than most of us. I think they are among the finest citizens in America today.

  • 41.
  • At 04:10 AM on 05 Oct 2006,
  • Charlene Vickers wrote:

The Amish community around Lancaster is the single largest supplier of puppy-mill puppies to American pet stores. The parent animals are kept in horrific conditions; breeding is done very haphazardly. 25% of puppies die before they get to the stores due to the filth they are raised in. They're often infected with serious conditions such as parvovirus and distemper long before they arrive at the friendly neighbourhood pet store, and up to one-quarter of the survivors carry birth defects.

Maybe the BBC and other broadcasters should be paying more attention to the Amish so that people realize the horrors they perpetuate on animals (and their owners!) in the name of greed.

  • 42.
  • At 05:16 AM on 05 Oct 2006,
  • Kari Snyder wrote:

I'm sorry, but this editorial is disengenious as long as there are pictures of the faces of Amish people on your website.

Picture 5 of the story in pictures clearly shows the faces of two Amish men. Generally, the Amish will tolerate their pictures being taken from a distance, provided their faces are not seen.

In your editorial you ask what the media is supposed to do in this situation? Well, you could start by asking the local Pennsylvania media about their policies, or media from other areas where Plain Peoples live. For example, CKCO TV, a CTV affiliate based in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, Canada could give you some advice. They cover events regarding the Amish and the Old Order Mennonites all the time.

And just to clarify: the Amish do not believe that cameras will steal their souls. The believe that making a picture of a person is a violation of the 10 Commandments, as they view it as making a graven image. They also object to photos because they see them as a symbol of pride. Much of the things that the Amish do that set them apart from the general population have to do with avoiding the sin of pride.

Kari Snyder

  • 43.
  • At 05:54 AM on 05 Oct 2006,
  • Zedaker wrote:

I agree with Vhonda. While getting permission to film them was commendable, perhaps a purely audio interview, or, as Vhonda said, a written story read by the anchor would have been more respectful.

  • 44.
  • At 10:50 AM on 05 Oct 2006,
  • robert wrote:

At one time i often visited Philadelphia and one weekend I went over to Lancaster County with the intent of photographing the Amish. In the end I couldn't. I felt intrusive and rude whenever I raised my camera. It was purely spectator sport on my part and they were unwilling participants.
The same thing happens to me whenever I take a photograph and strangers are the subject rather than friends or associates. I can't do it as I am clearly trying to capture a part of them for myself, something they may not want to give.

  • 45.
  • At 11:55 AM on 05 Oct 2006,
  • Kari Snyder wrote:

To Charlene Vickers,

This is neither the time nor the place to discuss puppy mills but your assertion that the Amish are greedy is laughable. They are a farm people, struggling to make ends meet with low commodity prices, and insanely high land prices. Many Amish can no longer afford to get farms for their adult children in Lancaster, and Amish are having to take factory jobs to support themselves.

Also, the Amish are not a monolith any more than any other group of people. There are Amish in a number of U.S. states, plus in Ontario, Canada. They are not collectively responsible for the actions of a few members of their community any more than any other community where puppy mills occur.

  • 46.
  • At 12:10 PM on 05 Oct 2006,
  • Steve wrote:

The Amish do not like public exposure. Fair enough, and it's important to respect the wishes of an individual or group of people as far as possible. Sometimes though it's not always right. For instance, say there was a case of child abuse going on, but the community was covering it up. In that case, privacy might be best for the community but not for the child being abused...

  • 47.
  • At 12:12 PM on 05 Oct 2006,
  • iram wrote:

Thank you for being so sensitive and respectful of the Amish community .I just wish the world could be as sensitive towards all faiths

  • 48.
  • At 01:30 PM on 05 Oct 2006,
  • Phil Topping wrote:

"Execution-style killing"? I'm not sure what you're getting at here. Does this somehow make this this worse, or is it just a bit of cheap sensationalism?

  • 49.
  • At 06:55 PM on 05 Oct 2006,
  • K. Briggs wrote:

As an American and as a not-so-recent recipient of a Bachelor's degree in Journalism, it is absolutely essential that this story be given global-wide attention, although it goes (or should go) without saying that tastefulness and discretion in news coverage should most definitely be the order of the day. This story is timely, newsworthy & relevant, not just for non-Amish, but for all of Western civilization, particularly in the wake of mounting school violence-related incidents. What the Amish (and other groups such as the Mennonites, et cetera) have to gain is the awareness that incidents such as these can happen at any time, in any place, and to any given group of people. Their isolationist way of life should certainly be respected, but there is a discernable difference between isolationism and ignorance. This is not at all to imply that the Amish are in any way ignorant, but given the current climate of increasing, random, and illogical violence in which we all live, it is prudent for all persons to be vigilant and knowledgeable of those entities which threaten peaceful and respectful co-existence. However, it is equally crucial for the threatened/at-risk to be resourceful of the necessary means to properly and positively address violent/potentially violent scenarios (if and) when they occur. When dealing with situations involving firearms-related violence, in the end, knowledge is the best tool with which we all can arm ourselves.

  • 50.
  • At 11:00 AM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • Reeze wrote:

Yes, they choose to live their lives this way; but respect for culture is mutual, not just in the favour of minority groups. The Amish community must also realise and accept that they are living in the 21st century, and that news coverage is something that happens.

As the editorial explains, the BBC were sympathetic to their wishes, surely this shows that they were not merely camping on doorsteps? Obviously, some of the community were happy to be interviewed and have their photos taken....

  • 51.
  • At 03:26 PM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • Mark E wrote:

I feel that I have to disagree with Reeze, we are talking about a people who left Europe centuries ago for the wish to live their lives the way they wished to.

They have chosen to live a life away from technology. It is true that the world has changed around them, however they still wish to live their life away from this. We should do all we can to respect their beliefs and try to avoid imposing upon them. Their ways existed before our modern ways.

  • 52.
  • At 07:25 PM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • Cindy K wrote:

Perhaps rather than asking whether the Amish should be treated differently, we should use this controversy to ask ourselves why it has become so normal to have close-up pictures of shocked and grieving people in the news in the first place? Surely informative but respectful pictures can be taken from a greater distance, which would make it much easier to give privacy to those who do not wish to be identifiable in photographs whether for religious or personal reasons.

I grew up in Lancaster County and have been following this story with interest and sorrow. I'm shocked to note that even the hometown newspapers, who should know better, have run photos of identifiable Amish men and women on their website!

  • 53.
  • At 07:41 PM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • jerry bahe wrote:

A resident of Lancaster, the Amish use the technology up the age where they have to choose weither to join the Old Order Amish or to become English(aterm used by the Amish as Americanized). I have seen Amish teens changing their work clothes to English clothes and hop into their trucks and the cruise the country side and party with other Amish teens. Amish are good carpenters and work with local construction companies, and use modern tool, such as air nail staples, laser levelers, scaffels, and even ride to work in gas driven trucks. You seem to paint a different picture to what i see.

  • 54.
  • At 05:22 AM on 07 Oct 2006,
  • Kari Snyder wrote:

To K. Briggs,

The Amish and Mennonites are not ignorant when it comes to violence. Beyond our history of being of martyrdom in during the Reformation, there are many modern examples of violence against the Amish.

Bryan Byers, a criminal justice professor at Ball State University in Indiana looked into hate crimes against the Amish in the United States. This is what he had to say:

"In talking with the Amish, we found they have been targets of hate crimes for hundreds of years of their history," Byers said. "They have been easy targets for groups of young males who want to create mischief by forcing buggies off roads, throwing stones at Amish farmers and tossing fireworks at their horses. Assailants think nothing about attacking an Amish person or stealing from their farms. For many non-Amish residents in northern Indiana, harrassing members of the religious sect is a way of life."

Prof. Byers paper can be viewed here: http://ccj.sagepub.com/cgi/reprint/15/1/78

Such violence is not limited to attacks against the Amish in Indiana, but occurs to some extent in all areas where there are Amish communities.

The attacks are not well publisized since the Amish do not typically report such incidents to the police.

  • 55.
  • At 01:18 PM on 12 Oct 2006,
  • Reeze wrote:

Mark, I wasn't intending to suggest that we should just walk over their views and beliefs, but merely that mutual respect is what is needed: in the same way that immigrants to any country must accept that its traditions will be going on around them, and that atheists must respect that people will celebrate religious festival. Personally, I was under the opinion that the editorial was suggesting they weren't imposed upon.

Somewhere along the lines of what Jerry was saying; I believe there was recently a reality tv programme which involved children from an Amish community attending a normal high school {correct me if I'm wrong,I invariably avoid reality TV}. Surely this highlights something of a shift in attitude?

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