I responded in the comments section, and I am posting these comments here:
In reading through the original post and then the comments, I have to say I am torn about the whole electronic filing fee/fine and whether the Amish are making too much out of it. Perhaps they should be more discerning in picking their issues.
I am actually struck much more by the comment “The public for the most part views Amish society as one collective group–so if conservative Amish are making an issue out of a minor point, this becomes a complaint coming from ‘the Amish’ as a whole.”
Whose responsibility is it that people view Amish society as one collective group? The Amish are very aware of the diversity among their groups. Why is it okay for us to lump them together? Perhaps the responsibility for those of us who know about Amish diversity and have public fora, is to speak out against the generalizations that are normally made about “the Amish.” Erik, I feel you have done the opposite here — you actually used a generalization to make your point. Especially when you used the following example:
“To illustrate this point, I got an email from someone this weekend dissatisfied with what he described as poor work done by an Amish construction crew. As a result of the bad experience he stated that he has lost his respect for ‘the Amish’, and would never hire an Amish person again. One experience with one Amish group becomes ‘the Amish’ as a whole.”
There is no other ethnic/religious group in this country in which we could get away with such a statement. If we replace ‘Amish’ with Hispanic, African-American, Roman Catholic, or Jewish and then say we have lost respect for that whole group because of a single experience, wouldn’t we think of that as prejudice? Most of us would — and rightly so. I certainly hope this was your message to the person who emailed you. If not, you missed the opportunity to get the message across that we cannot generalize about the Amish — any more than we can about any other religious or ethnic group.