The big local news story today is about an ultra-orthodox rabbi who ran a "kidnaping" ring that would nab husbands who refused to grant their wives a religious divorce and torture them until they relented. The methods of these roughneck rabbis sound like something out of the song Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap:
"Mendel Epstein talked about forcing compliance through the use of 'tough guys' who utilize electric cattle prods, karate, handcuffs and place plastic bags on the heads of husbands," said FBI Special Agent Bruce Kamerman shortly after Epstein's arrest.
Karate? Wouldn't Jiu Jitsu be more appropriate? Karate? Why not Treif Kwan Do while you're at it?
Being a pragmatic secular person, the whole notion of a "get" is baffling to me. I know that the forces of tradition are strong, but if you are hung up on a religious divorce that prevents you from obtaining a legal divorce, you need to dump your religion as well as your husband. Seriously, why subject yourself to the tyranny of men when you want to dump the tyrant you married? The description of an "undivorced" woman is something out of a horror tale:
Without a "get", a religious Jewish woman cannot remarry or get on with her life and she becomes an ostracized member of the community called an “agunah” or a chained person.
Even the description of the defense strategy sounds like something that shouldn't be taken seriously in a secular society:
The defense is expected to tell the jury about the oldest interpretation of Jewish law that broadly outlines torture as a legitimate vehicle for convincing recalcitrant husbands to grant their wives religious divorces. Defense lawyer Robert Stahl said during his opening statements that "the process is a legitimate divorce. It's not a criminal conspiracy." He told the jury that ancient Jewish texts endorse the use of coercion and physical torture in an effort to convince men to grant their wives divorces.
Sadly, the use of torture has been normalized in the U.S., but reading of a non-governmental actor engaging in it is particularly disquieting. I know that anti-sharia laws are all the rage in Red State America, what would the proponents of those laws say about the use of torture to coerce religious divorces? Is this sort of thing okay if the practicioners aren't Muslims?