well, its kind of counter intuitive on your point. The govt is "out of control" because it had guidelines on hate crimes, and it is also "out of control" (according to you), for applying some judicial consideration in making the LEADERS sentence, something lesser.
The religious traditions and symbols of the Amish are sacred to them and, while you dismiss the crime when you compare the severity of the punishment ofr each member, you must remember the symbolism that Amish beards represent. Suppose these vandals had invaded the sacristy of a Catholic Curch and had defiled all the communion as a means to "make a point", or suppose they invaded a sanctuary, stole the Torah and then burned it in front of the synagogue. Those are clearly hate crimes no?
The AMish dont have a lot of visible trappings of their religion (Hell, they dont even have churches and professional clergy) , so those few symbols they do have,(Like maintaining hair length and wearing the bonnet by women and maintaining the beards of married and BAptised men) are the ones they consider as sacred to their "Separatist" religious lifestyles.
Their entire lives are considered a religious practice to them. The jury deliberated, gave their punishment reccomendations, then the judge listened to lawyers from both sides of the case, then he gave a sentencing.
Of course itll be appealed and the guidelines challenged.
SO, insted of demonstrating a "govt out of control" , Im amazed at all the time we invest in such cases to assure that some semblance of justice is delivered.
I guess we will agree to disagree Bill (and HAwkee)