Tuesday, October 03, 2006


I haven't turned on the TV much since yesterday. I hear the news reports on the radio about what is going on regarding the school shooting. It is so very sad. In the past, anything that happens regarding the Amish makes me uncomfortable.......or rather, sad. Our local stations do a pretty good job of not turning things into a spectacle, but once the bigger metro stations come and the cable news stations....well then it just turns into this huge media circus. Its just constant leering at the strange people in the horse and buggies. Hopefully through this situation, the Amish community is being treated with some respect, but I doubt it.

Last Thursday I was on my way to southern Chester County and decided to go via Route 896 to get there. Having no pumpkins, I knew that there were multiple Amish farms along there that just might have the pumpkins that I wanted. I stopped at a farm in Georgetown. Nickel Mines is less than a quarter mile to the north and the school is just outside of Georgetown. I picked a few pumpkins and looked around for someone to pay as I needed change and there was only an honor box. Laundry was hanging on long lines strung from the second floor porch and one of the barns. There were lots of little childrens clothes, and purple and blue dresses fluttered in the wind. Finally the farmer came out and I complimented him on his pumpkins and we had a short conversation about different varieties and the best way to combat squash bugs (he suggested a fermented tobacco mixture, since he also grew tobacco) and I thanked him and went on my way. His children would have gone to that school. I feel sorrow for the people involved and also shame, that something from our community so grossly infringed on their community.

It's a weird situation here. A large portion of Lancaster County is Amish and our second biggest industry, after agriculture, is tourism. People come because of the Amish. Yet they are many times treated like second class citizens and much is allowed to happen that is essentially driving them out of the county. Property values have skyrocketed and young Amish cannot afford to buy farms when competing with developers. They are frequently hit on the roads, yet speed limits are not decreased and any talk of a small lane to the sideof the road for their travel is met with fierce opposition. Just last week, in an area near the school shooting, a small boy on a scooter was hit and killed and the driver left the scene. Even on the radio this morning, two morning peronalities that I have heard complain about the Amish and their ways were simply gushing with sympathy, naming every Amish person they've ever had contact with. Strange.

So it's really sad. And I hope the coverage that I'm not watching is focusing on them just as people. People that have experienced a terrible tragedy and lost too many innocents from their community. Not coverage where they are being pestered to go on camera, not having their entire way of life splayed out for the country to get a good look at, just not being made spectacles. Of all the communities in which this could happen, they have the most tight knit and will deal with this their way, and they really don't need the rest of the country driving by and staring.


Blogger wurwolf said...

You really spoke my heart here. I grew up on the outskirts of the Philadelphia suburbs and moved to Lancaster county with my husband and kids several years ago when it became evident that the city was encroaching on our area and lives. I have never understood the opposition to the Amish, and even though this latest tragedy didn't target the Amish out of hatred, I still feel so ashamed of the many sins my community has visited upon theirs. You're right about the developers squeezing them out (a particular needling point for me), and about hit and run drivers, and about the general attitude toward the Amish. And now, in the middle of their pain, they have to deal with our prying eyes.

I've been working through a lot of feelings about this, including anger at the shooter. How could he? How could he bring that garbage here? I felt the same way when that kid shot his girlfriend's parents in Lititz and that guy in Leola killed his family. Tragedy can happen anywhere but it's always so shocking to me when it happens here. I don't want it to happen here! I think what angered me (and everyone else in Lititz) about that kid last year is that we pride ourselves on being a "safe", rural community, and how dare he bring that garbage here?

All of this anger, of course, pales in comparison to what our neighbors in the Amish community must be going through. I know they're strong and that they'll pull together and comfort each other. I can only hope that the rest of us don't make it harder for them.

Sorry to ramble. I'm glad you addressed this, though.

2:32 PM  
Blogger meresy_g said...

I loved the coverage of the Lititz killings. They always showed Amish people, like an afterthought. Its like, ahhh, none of them were Amish, why is it even being brought up? And it almost seems like the media takes a certain....glee?....when tragedies happen in bucolic rural settings. Very strange.

3:08 PM  
Blogger wurwolf said...

If they even took the time to take the briefest of glances at Lititz, they'd see that there aren't even any Amish people in the borough, and yet it was portrayed as a crime in an Amish community. My husband and I laughed at the reporters all stumbling over the town name. The best was Anderson Cooper calling it "Li-TITS-its".

I agree that that the media gets extra jazzed when this kind of thing happens in a bucolic setting. Strange indeed, and creepy.

4:01 PM  
Blogger EFB said...

Is it against their religion to be photographed? Somehow I thought it was. This story is getting more and more bizarre as it unfolds. Very sad.

5:19 PM  
Anonymous Sandy said...

I just have been reading about the shootings on the net. Have not seen any tv reports. Can't stand the way networks jump on any sad thing that happens. So, I came to see what you had to say about it, as you know the area.
You feelings are pretty much the same as mine. I do hope that the community will be left alone to grieve.

6:31 PM  
Anonymous Judith said...

Meredith--I was thinking of you when I heard of this tragedy. How your community must be feeling and all the children who attend school in the area, whether Amish or not. Guns are so easily available to any one of us in this country. They shouldn't be. There are countless deaths everyday by gun and a range of scenarios--I live closer to the city where street crime is practically accepted. When violence occurs, as it has recently, in more bucolic environments, we seem to look at it a little harder. Why is that? Your post is a poignant one describing two communities living side by side and the injustices. In this case, I see an angry, sick man with a gun who has committed a heinous crime. The victims of this latest shooting will never be the same, it is shocking and terribly sad. Please visit http://www.bradycampaign.org/

9:17 AM  
Blogger meresy_g said...

I'm not sure if it's against their religion to be photographed. They consider it prideful I think and tend not to volunteer for it. Many don't even give their names to the reporters when interviewed. They have agreed to accept donations for the medical bills as they have no insurance. I'm suprised. And they have already forgiven the man's family publicly. Anyway, the obituaries were in this morning's paper. All five little girls. Two were sisters. An article described what the first responders walked into. Naomi Rose Ebersol was 7 years old and weighed 50 pounds. She had 20 bullet holes in her little body and died at the scene. I simply cannot comprehend the rage, anger, sickness, what?......that would compel someone to shoot a 7 year old girl 20 times. So very very sad.

But thankfully Dr. Phil was on our local news reassuring us last night, as he knows the Amish community well and knows they will recover. How ridiculous. Anybody else want to pile on? I won't be suprised to see Bush and Dennis Hastert in a buggy with straw hats on this evening.

10:00 AM  
Blogger wurwolf said...


I really can't believe this. I am so sickened by this. Does anyone know when the funerals are? I'm considering going there myself to do what I can to keep these people away.

11:19 AM  
Blogger wurwolf said...

Sorry for another reply, but here's an actual link:


11:20 AM  
Blogger meresy_g said...

Oh I forgot to mention. Fred Phelps and his merry band of hatefilled protesters will be picketing the funerals. How lovely. Yes Fred, Little Amish girls were gunned down and almost raped by a heterosexual man because the United States doesn't seek out and execute homosexuals. Loving God you have there Fred.

6:52 PM  

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