Thursday, 19 August 2010
#30 Intercourse, PA.
Sandwiched between the various grand cities of the East Coast, Pennsylvania Dutch Country is home to the assorted weirdos collectively known as the Plain People. The Plain People settled in Pennsylvania after fleeing from Switzerland due to religious persecution. Now, Swtizerland is a country of closet Nazis whose main exports are watches, chocolate bars and knives. Imagine what kind of unreconstructed oddball you have to be to be persecuted by them.
Sure enough, the Plain People - most famously the Old Order Amish, but also various other Amish sects, the Mennonites, the Hutteries, and so on; all Anabaptists, meaning they practise adult baptism - are to weird what the the lion is to the jungle. The Amish (I will talk about the Amish, though much of the same applies to the other Plain People) have refuted various bits of material culture, technology, and so forth, which they see as threatening to their way of life. They live by a strict and pious code known as the Ordnung. They are only permitted to marry amongst themselves. (Always an error, that one. You only need look at European royalty to see how inconveniently cretinous inbreeding makes you.)
Every time a new piece of technology of obvious merit comes along (the telephone, the plough), the Amish fall out about whether it is permissible. Usually those that think so split off into a new sect, and the Old Order continue their tediously, unenhanced lives. That noted, the Old Order have permitted firstly telephones (but not in the home, so instead of interrupting meals by chatting on their cells they interrupt meals by running down the street) and, hilariously, secondly, batteries. Yes, batteries. Electricity is only an unspeakable sin if it is wired directly into your house, and not if you buy it at RadioShack.
The Amish justify their bizarre Ordnung by saying that the objective is to preserve their culture, which is a reasonable argument, but for the fact that their culture of social pressure and the suppression of the individual is not worth preserving. The whole of Pennsylvania Dutch Country is under the illusion that they must humour these knuckle-dragging imbeciles, probably because they bring in a fair wad of tourist dollars.
But let us not forget the redeeming feature of the Amish: comedy. They put celery decorations out at weddings instead of flowers. They speak a bastardised, degraded version of German known as 'Pennsylvania Dutch' (the 'Dutch' is a corruption of 'Deutsch'), which is essentially the kind of German you hear in Carry On films: 'Ich bin ein bit tired, ich muss schleep', that kind of thing. And best of all: most of them live in a town called Intercourse.