Monday, August 8, 2011

Don't We Live In A Free Country?

Say I wanted to walk through a neighboring town, with my friends, take a couple of pictures, and enjoy a nice lunch at a local cafe....what would be wrong with that?  Apparently, a lot; that is, if you walk through the ultra-orthodox Jewish community of Kiryas Joel, in the state of New York. 

According to a small group of friends, who decided to visit this village,
we saw a new-looking sign advising visitors to cover themselves and "maintain gender separation." We did the best we could given that we had walked five miles in 88 degree heat--the one female in our group had brought a long-sleeved shirt just in case, and she put it on before passing the sign.
Once inside the village limits, they began to take a few pictures and were soon stopped by a man, dressed in traditional orthodox garb, who jumped out of a black SUV.  This person, who doesn't seem to have presented the visitors with authoritative credentials, asked for the IDs of all members of the group.  They refused and began walking away from this man, who turned out to be Moses Witriol (a public safety director for the village); Moses then grabbed one of the group by the arm and refused to let go (a clear case of assault). 
See news coverage of the incident:

Read the full story of the group here

It seems to me that we live in a free country.  If I want to visit any town in this great nation of ours, I should have the right to do that.  This kind of seperatism in this country is abhorrent and should not be tolerated.  Just because they want to keep an isolated community does not mean that they can if any of the funds used for the city streets, sidewalks, etc are paid for with taxpayer money. 

This poor group was stopped because they appeared to be "suspicious".  Of what?  Taking in the sights and snapping a few pictures?  Should these communities be allowed to enact a 'police state' where our own rights to walk down a public road are violated?  NO! 

What the hell is this country coming to?

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