I was quite sad all
day yesterday after I learned that the rights of
a Hindu family in a small town in upstate New York had been
trampled upon. It seems that in every direction that we gaze
these days someone else in America is losing a fundamental right
that our founding fathers believed in and bled for. In this case
it is the right to bear cows for protection. The New York Times
recently reported on this gripping story:
and Linda Voith,
cows at their home on Main Street in Angelica, N.Y., a tiny
rural village, is a central facet of their Hindu beliefs.
To local officials, though, keeping the Voiths’ growing herd
outside village limits is a matter of law, not religion.
Appellate Division of State Supreme Court in Rochester
recently agreed, upholding a lower court ruling that
prevented a lawyer for the couple from raising the issue of
religious freedom when the village won an injunction against
them. In 2003, an acting State Supreme Court justice
found the Voiths in violation of a law against keeping
livestock on parcels smaller than 10 acres.
“We’re being denied our right to practice our religion,
because it seems like such a threat to the status quo in
this country,” Mr. Voith said, calling attention to
a dairy farm across the street behind their home.
The village attorney, Raymond W. Bulson, said the law does
not single out any religion and described the dispute as a
“You move to a village because you want the amenities,” Mr.
Bulson said. “If you move there to have those amenities,
you don’t want a cow next door. I’m sure
their religious beliefs are sincere, but that was never an
aren’t even ashamed. They just come out and say it. “You don’t
want a cow next door.” I guess it doesn’t even matter to Mr.
Bulson that the cow in question is both young and in love. This
isn’t just a story about religious discrimination but also one
about forbidden love.
dispute began after the Voiths bought a house in
1999 on two and a half acres in Angelica, about 80
miles southeast of Buffalo. They initially boarded
Chintamani, on a neighbor’s farm, partly inside
the village but exempt from the livestock ordinance
because the farm predates the 1986 law.
In 2001, after
Chintamani was impregnated by one of the farmer’s
bulls, the Voiths took her and her offspring to
their house and leased a 12-acre field down the
street for grazing.
The Voiths and their cows soon became a frequent
sight on Main Street and in the village square.
Some neighbors complained about odors,
while the Voiths said they were harassed for their
religious beliefs. [Link]
now it becomes clear. You guys can see the bigoted
subtext here right? The local all-American bull
impregnates the smelly “idol-worshiping” cow and the
God-fearing townsfolk want none of it. Bullshit I say.
Deepa Mehta needs to bring THIS story to the big screen
next instead of some story
about a ship full of Punjabi immigrants in Canada.
Luckily both the
Hindu American Foundation and the
World Hindu Council filed amicus briefs on behalf of
couple has kept the cows
in accordance with the Hindu belief of goraksha (cow
protection) and for a religious procession known as
a padayatra. In traditional Hindu society,
bovines are kept on private property only for
agrarian purposes. Cows which are used for religious
ceremonies are housed in special constructed
goshalas or cow protection shelters…
purpose of HAF’s efforts in these proceedings was to
ensure true religious freedom for all faiths,
including Hinduism,” said Nikhil Joshi, Esq, member
of the Hindu American Foundation Board of Directors.
“The governmental restrictions that have severely
limited the Voiths’ right to foster and protect
their cows casts an unconstitutional
prophylactic blanket upon the Voiths’
ability to espouse freely their religious beliefs…”
a temporary setback in the battle over California
textbooks, but THIS battle isn’t yet over, not while
“unconstitutional prophylactic blankets” are being cast
about with impunity, and not while there is a drop of
milk in Chintamani’s udders or a drop of blood in the
fingers that I use to blog awareness about this issue.
If any of
you drive through Angelica, N.Y., roll down your window
and yell “Mooo.” Yell for all of us.