Amish Mugshots

‘Eight members of an Amish sect were jailed by a Kentucky judge after they refused to pay fines for failing to affix orange safety triangles to their horse-drawn buggies.’

- Fox News


As you will see, I have removed the images from this post. I have done this because, whatever one’s perception of photographing the Amish, these specific men were clearly very uncomfortable with being photographed, and would be / will be very unhappy to have the images promulgated further. I apologise to them and to those people who have been upset on their behalf

- Chris

43 comments to Amish Mugshots

  • Sarah May

    Hi, I generally love your website but am uncomfortable with these. Many Amish people refuse to have their photos taken and have religious aversion to doing so. In this case their beleifs have been overidden – essentially for a parking offence. Is it right to perpetuate that by including them on your website?

    all the best

  • von

    I find this interesting…I think maybe you’re thinking too deeply about it Sarah.

    also…I know vanity is a sin but…those haircuts!!! sorry to be so trite.

    saw a thing the other day and one of the Amish men had no idea why they didn’t have moustaches, one would hope people who follow faith so strongly would know their history!!!

  • John Kennedy

    Dear RN,
    I’m in complete agreement with Sarah. I view and share your site though I’m uncomfortable for many reasons.

    The photos seem rather recent so why is it ‘retro’? I am from the UK where we do have different laws regarding photography of convicted people though I wouldn’t say ‘better’ laws so that’s why they might stick out for me. Though that said it feels like an invasion of privacy and ask yourself this question…

    “if the where of any other religion would you have put them on your site?”

    Keep up the good work otherwise.



  • John Kennedy

    p.s. See middle comment from Von. Slightly what I was afraid of…

  • Chris

    Thanks Sarah. As far as I am aware, Amish do not have an aversion to being photographed per se. My understanding is that some Amish have an aversion to sitting or posing for portraits as this could result in pride or self-admiration on the behalf of the person being photographed.

    No doubt some people will see publishing these images as ridiculing the Amish, though that is certainly not my intention. What interests me about the images, and why I think they are powerfully Retronautic, is that they show an extreme clash of two versions of ‘now’ existing simultaneously. There is no implied judgement as to which version of ‘now’ is the superior.

  • Devlicious

    Interesting pics! And it’s only fitting that they got arrested. Just because they choose to have a religion doesnt give them the right to special treatment i think. Their horse-drawn buggies need to meet safety standards just like every other vehicle on the street. You’d get arrested, i would to!
    The interesting thing about the pics is that these are usually people who won’t end up at a police station… sorta funny!

    Nice addition!

  • wurdnurd

    I’m going to have to agree that this is totally inappropriate. It’s from last week, not last century and, it seems, that the only purpose of this post is to ridicule the members of this religious sect who stuck to their beliefs. The fact is that these guys are being religiously persecuted…that’s not really the kind of “retro” I would hope to find on this site.

  • John Kennedy

    Dear Chris,
    Sorry to labour the point but I can see how the Amish in their way of life and religious belief etc can be termed “Retronautic” though “an extreme clash of two versions of ‘now’ existing simultaneously” your scraping the bottom of a deep barrel. Ok they wouldn’t adhere to a state bylaw in the 21st century. You identified “No doubt some people will see publishing these images as ridiculing the Amish”

    Please would you remove these out of common decency as you already see the point yourself and I’m sure you are a decent person.


  • Devlicious

    Please do NOT remove these! Censorship!? really!?

  • wurdnurd

    And, having just spent the weekend watching docs about this fascinating culture, many Amish are extremely averse to having their picture taken directly (though being in a crowd for a non-posed picture is often ok), due to a strong adherence to the Second Commandment (thou shalt not make graven images).

  • John Kennedy

    @Devlicious, not censorship, decency! and religious tolerance.

  • John Kennedy

    @Chris, see the FB comments

  • Devlicious

    I don’t see any reason to take these pics off, or not to take mugshots when they broke the law… They’ve chosen their way of life and religion, but also to come into the modern world where rules also apply. A belief is no right, don’t want to take part in the modern world? Then don’t! I’ve lived around amish country and they come into the stores, sell things there and along the road.. they choose to be in modern times, and to break the law.. these pics are public record so there’s no reason not to publish them.
    Most importantly, if you take these off, where’s it gonna stop? either everything is ok, or nothing is…

  • Devlicious

    Btw John, religious tolerance? Where’s that when i try to sleep in on a sunday and the church bells start blasting at 9am!? Or the jehova’s witnesses who come and annoy me? Or when i’m just minding my own shopping and some christian group decides to stop and talk to me about their god? Or when the mosk around the corner blasts their prair yells?
    I think the religious should learn a little more respect for those who think differently…
    Sorry, this is off topic, but it annoys me that we should have tolerance for people who don’t have it for those who don’t share their beliefs….

    I still think this is a great addition, somewhat funny to! :D

  • John Kennedy

    Devlicious, Where is going to stop? It’s not as if the creators of this site take pictures off here ad the contagion spreads across every site. the requests above are tolerant in they’re question and quite expansive in the reasoning.

    Who knows maybe they came across an overzealous state trooper or local sheriff. Thing is everything isn’t ok sometimes… you’ve experienced life so I’m sure you understand that.

    Keep or Remove Retro’s choice

    Like I said earlier “keep up the good work”


  • Winterous

    How are these guys being made fun of for their religion? How are they being religiously persecuted?

    Their photo was taken because they refused to follow the law, if that is a direct result of their religion then they DESERVE to be made fun of for it, but I highly doubt that it is. Why would their religion prohibit the paying of fines?

    John, why is it ‘indecent’ to allow people to misinterpret things?

    He’s made it quite clear that he isn’t making fun of them for their religion, so you could say the same bloody thing about someone posting a f**king BLACK JOKE!

    The reason they are ‘retro’ is blatantly obvious, as well.

    What you’re trying to do is censor something you perceive as distasteful, and that isn’t alright.

  • John Kennedy

    @Devlicious, I have experienced these things and have become quite annoyed but the techniques are available to reduce them.

    Where all entitled to our views.


  • Devlicious

    If i got arrested my pics could end up on a site… Nothing i can do about it… Don’t break the law i guess…

    about not everything being ok sometimes, guess you’re right on that.. I just don’t believe this counts as not ok..
    They got arrested for not paying a fine, it’s interesting because they are amish… Issnt journalism all about capturing the interesting?

    Do you think the little girl running naked and burnt from napalm bombing in vietnam had any say or wanted her pic to be viewed by the world? I don’t know, i do think it was good journalism though…

    And yes, if you start to cencor things, more people will want more things cencored.. at least on this site.. And that would possibly deprive us from more great additions to this site!

    I’ll agree with you on this though: Keep up the good work! (maybe click away if there’s something you don’t want to see?:D )

  • Sandy

    Judging by their haircuts I’d guess they are Swartzentruber Amish. It is actually forbidden for them to put the orange triangles on their buggies. If they do so, they could actually be excommunicated. That doesn’t excuse paying the fines, of course.

  • Devlicious

    I’d like to know the reasoning for that! Is safety not an issue with these people? I would think any god would approve them trying to be safe right?

  • nameless

    reason, logic or simple common sense and religion never fits together.

  • John Kennedy

    Thank you for the accusations. I asked Chris to remove them as I’m sure your aware they are promoted with the particular religion in the title of the post, which is a bit of a give-away really. Notice I asked politely for him to remove them giving him the choice. I didn’t go into one and from what I’ve read above and on FB people have made fun out of and critiqued the individuals based on their specific belief.

    My point being Chris wasn’t / isn’t making fun etc but people will so he has a responsibility.

    The ‘retro’ is that obvious? Ok they belong to a sect that follows a particular interpretation of the bible but apart from that?

    I’m only trying to encourage religious tolerance, as we know only too well in this day and age and from history the opposite has a habit of hurting people.

    Where all entitled to our views.


  • Catfizh

    Oh please! If you must comment then do so with benefit of a dictionary and a rudimentary knowledge of grammar. Your points may be valid but if you can’t articulate them then, as the Irish say, you come across as an ‘eejit’.

  • Devlicious

    As any other group in the world, religions will be subject of jokes… i say either grow a sense of humor and live with it, or don’t have any contact with anyone, throw out your tv, internet, phones etc…. I guess the amish got it right, they threw all of that out… And i can honestly say i have never heard a good joke from an amish person.. so i guess that’s why…

    Oh and btw, whenever they tell me i’m going to hell, or i’m living a sinnfull life, or that i’m an infidel dog, i just laugh it off… Eventhough that’s very hurtfull! where’s the tolerance there?
    Let’s go for all around tolerance for the people who want to do things their way? And maybe even releasing that stick that’s up so many people’s you know where’s….

  • Melissa Wells

    That first guy looks like Grumpy from Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs ROTF!!!

    These guys look crazy! I’m sorry, they need some proper hair cuts and perhaps a razor lol….

    @Sarah If they didn’t want their photo taken, they should have behaved themselves and obeyed that law! Everyone knows that mugshots become public record, besides, I think you’re taking this waaaaaaay too seriously….

  • sylvia

    Are those their heights in centimetres at the right? They seem like quite a short bunch…not meaning to discriminate anybody, of course :D

  • Devlicious

    Nah those would be inches… I’d be surprised if they used cm in Kentucky… They’re actually quite tall! most of em taller then me…

  • Liutgard

    Winterous, if these pictures were of any other traffic/parking offenders, no one would be interested in then. The *only* reason why they are interesting is because they’re Amish, and they look ‘funny’ to outsiders. If they were dressed like the rest of us, the pictures would not be here.

    The issue is not whether they broke a law or failed to pay a fine. The issue _here_ is whether these pictures are appropriate for this forum. I believe that they are not. They are only of interested because they ‘look funny’ to people, and the reason they look funny is their religion. Keeping them up here is WRONG.

  • Devlicious


    You think keeping these pics up here is wrong, that doesnt make it wrong… Speak for yourself…
    I think it’s fine to have them up here, the amish live and look like it’s 100+ years ago, so quite retro… ;)
    There’s pics on here of other things that only look old, nobody’s crying out for those to be removed!?

    Today there was also an addition of youth in the 50′s, who also look funny to us now.. is that wrong?

    Personally i think these pics and the story is indeed funny, and also interesting! And yes, being amish is part of that. What’s wrong with that?
    Besides, if they, as you say, where dressed like the rest of us they would still be interesting. Because they were arrested for not putting safety triangles on their horse Drawn BUGGIES! That is funny dammit! And also a safety hazerd!

    Click on i say, just like with the tv, you don’t HAVE to look at it!

  • Chris

    Thank you to everyone for the comments they have made.

    We will soon publish an article describing what a Retronaut is, and therefore what Retronaut the site is all about. Although, as John note,s ‘Retro’ is a part of that, the site is not essentially about ‘Retro’. Rather, it is about changing the way we think of time.

    In that context, Retronaut is not necessarily interested in what we think of as ‘the past’, although we do, of course, use that term in our strapline. Rather it is interested in ‘other versions of now’ – whether that version is from last century or last week, as WurdNurd commented.

    I wrote that I was interested in these pictures because ‘they show an extreme clash of two versions of ‘now’ existing simultaneously’ and John commented that this was ‘scraping the bottom of the very deep barrel’. I appreciate that my description of why the pictures interested me may sound unusual, or even spurious, yet I can assure John and others that I am quite sincere in what I wrote. Others, of course, may view the images very differently.

    I can see that some people will definitely view the images, and view the posting of the images here, as ridiculing the Amish. However, although I can recognise that view does not mean that I subscribe to it. I do not.

    Liutgard comments that the only reason the images are here if because they look funny to outsiders. Its certainly true that the Amish dress differently to many people, but difference alone would not make the images interesting to Retronaut. What is interesting is the clash between a way of life, and dress, that appears to us to be anachronistic on the one hand, and the very modern nature of a mugshot on the other.

    For example, it would be very possible to post a capsule of images on Retronaut of the Amish living their own community life – many sites and other media channels have done so, very powerfully and successfully, and with great integrity. This would not fit within Retronaut’s remit. Because many people are aware of the Amish, and the nature of their life, such material would not disrupt most people’s model of time. It is the context of the images above, the clash of two versions of now, that make these images Retronautic.

    Retronaut makes no comment at all about the nature or content of Amish religion, or of its relationship to the very secular world which many of us inhabit.

    I am sorry that some people have been upset by seeing these images on Retronaut. I can understand the interpretation they place on the posting. I can also sincerely say that their interpretation is not mine.

    As regular users of Retronaut will know, the site has featured images in connection to many very highly controversial subjects. We do not do this to be controversial, rather because we think that the material has a Retronautic quality – by which we mean it challenges the model of time that most people possess. It is important to say that Retronaut will almost certainly feature other controversial or disquieting material in the future, should it come across ourt virtual desk. We find it can act as a very powerful disruptor to the linear model of time in common use.

    As an aside, I would like to thank everybody who has commented, even those who have very clearly objected to the post, for doing so in measured and constructive terms. We will soon be publishing comment guidelines as to the tone we support on Retronaut – a tone which all commentators to this post have very much maintained. Thank you.

  • Melody

    I agree that it is very inappropriate to post pictures of the Amish, who generally do not believe in having their pictures taken. Photographs constitute a “graven image,” which is forbidden by the Ten Commandments. I’m disappointed these photos are still up on your site (and probably others).

  • Miss Azura

    These pictures, and the reasons for their taking, are fascinating. The Amish will always be regarded with curiosity, as they choose to live so very far outside the ‘norm’, and I think these pictures do belong here, not to laugh at (I didn’t, and I think it’s arrogant to assume that the hundreds , maybe thousands, of people who follow this site all will) but to give pause to think about how such a ‘retro’ lifestyle can come to clash with the world outside. Do the Amish like this sort of attention? I doubt it, but thats for them to deal with, as its their beliefs that set them at odds with mainstream society, and beliefs are not a thing that can automatically demand respect. They are free to believe what they like, but no-one should be free to not have their beliefs held up for scrutiny, criticism, and yes, sometimes even ridicule. To do otherwise, and afford all beliefs ‘respect’ and keep them out of the light of day is deeply dangerous. What if they were Christian white supremacists? Do their beliefs, no doubt deeply held, deserve respect? Are there degrees of respect? Who decides who is more deserving? You? No-one is trying to actively prevent them from living as they choose, other than the odd brush with traffic police due to safety laws. Claiming that publishing these pictures is ‘religious persecution’ is coming mighty close to a Godwinning, and deeply disrespectful to those whom have faced genuine persecution that has put their lives in peril, not just maybe upset them a bit.

    Apologies for any glitches, phones aren’t designed for this length of comment…

  • Chris

    As you will see, I have removed the images from this post. I have done this because, whatever one’s perception of photographing the Amish, these specific men were clearly very uncomfortable with being photographed, and would be / will be very unhappy to have the images promulgated further. I apologise to them and to those people who have been upset on their behalf. Chris.

  • John Kennedy

    Dear Chris & all contributors,
    I have been enlightened by the dialogue above and by all comments both positive and if it deserves the term negative. Though it’s through conversation that issues are brought to the fore and dealt with.

    We have all had our chance to contribute and that is thankfully an ability which others don’t have and I hope we have all benefited in some way.

    In finishing I’d like to thank all who make and distribute ‘retronaught’ as it is a window on a very unusual world.


    John Kennedy

  • Ruby Lee

    Bravo, Chris! You’re a gentleman.

  • johnnyzero

    Much of this site is concerned with the past. I lived during this period and I object to the past being used for amusement and merriment. Please, in the future, can you only post flivolous subjects that are yet to happen?

    Yours sincerely,
    Brian Dohhhhh!

  • Devlicious

    I understand, but to bad… it was an interesting post…

  • mike

    You are mis-informed. It is not a parking offense. He we have a true dillema. In Tennessee around Ethridge is the 4th largest population of Old Order Amish in the US. The local statute requires the safety triangle to be affixed to their buggys and carriages. The drive on the shoulder along the roads, and the triangle reflector is to make them more invisible. Every so often, a whole family will be killed when a careless driver plows into them. They are permitted to drive on the roads even though they are potential safety hazard. I am very carefule when i see them. It is a horrible tragedy when this occurs. The are the most righteous people you will ever meet. If you have them as a neighbor, they will prove to be the best neighbors you’ve ever had. They are pacifists but that doesn’t mean you can take advantage of them. They are strong and upstanding citizens, hard working and enterprising. This is both humorous and sad.

  • mike

    I have no idea why this typing is so screwed up. Sorry for the spelling errors. WTF! the word should be visible. duhhh.

  • Jimmy

    It was fascinating to read these comments. Thank you to all the very articulate and polite contributors.

    In Australia, if you published mugshots of Aborigines in custody you would never, ever live it down. Ever. I think it’s a good instinct for a society to have – to protect the dignity of its less-enfranchised populations. And while I do see exactly why they fit the ethos of this site – which I absolutely adore, by the way – I think your decision to remove them was very decent.

  • Ray Martin

    Well, I for one am disappointed. I did not get to see these photographs and I see once again that religious stupidity wins the day. I’m sick to death of the notion that “we have to respect their beliefs” and that it’s wrong to say anything against religion. It’s sickening to me, that so many people in the 21st century still slavishly follow such patent nonsense.

  • Sarah May

    Wow, what a lot of interesting comments! For once, reading them has made me understand the issue more fully. Thanks Chris for taking them down. As you say, these men didn’t want their photos taken and its great that you can respect that. As a born and bred Atheist I don’t understand this view, but I think that my amusement doesn’t override their right to it.

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