The Hindu cows won't
be coming home

 
 

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: 

To Stephen and Linda Voith, keeping 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.

The 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 quality-of-life matter.

“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 issue…” [Link]

 

Bigots. They 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.

The 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 their cow, 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]

Ahhhh, 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 the Voiths.

The 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…

“The 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…” [Link]

 

We may have suffered 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.