Normally Peaceful People Declare Scheune-wa Against Author

LANCASTER, PA. ( – Outraged Amish leaders stunned the publishing industry today by declaring a scheune-wa against author Gore Vidal, whose new book, Buggy Nights, offers a bawdy, fictionalized account of 17th century Amish movement founder Jakob Ammann.

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Unlike the fatwa issued against author Salman Rushdie for his book Satanic Verses, the scheune-wa does not carry a death sentence, but declares all Amish shall be found righteous in the eyes of God if they refuse to help Vidal raise a barn. (Scheune is the German word for barn.)

Despite the less threatening nature of the decree, a spokesperson for the novel’s publisher, HarperCollins, said Vidal is taking the threat from the rural Amish seriously. “He is hiding in a well-lit, fully-automated building within a major industrial area and intends to stay there for as long as doing so prolongs the controversy and boosts sales,” the spokesperson said.

In Buggy Nights, Vidal paints a scarlet picture of Ammann, implying that he gambled on sheep races, often used the word ‘ain’t,’ and slept with as many as six lamps lit at a time. The book has been widely condemned as blasphemous in the Amish and Mennonite communities, although it was named “Book of the Week” by the Scottish Association of Sheep Shaggers.

Members of the international literary community immediately condemned the proclamation and vowed they would defy the decree by insisting someone build a barn for Vidal.

Simon Jenkins, current chair of judges for the coveted Booker Prize, said he is alarmed by the growing number of anti-literary proclamations from religious and social groups. Ten years after the infamous Muslim fatwa, the University of Alabama chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha issued a fratwa against author Tom Clancy for his disparaging remarks about alcohol poisoning. Earlier this year, the scientific-literary community was taken aback when a flatwa was issued by the Flat Earth Society against the co-authors of a geophysics textbook.

Jenkins said he was particularly concerned by the scheune-wa, which he noted is the first time a group has not attempted to rhyme their proclamation with fatwa.

“This tells me these groups are beginning to get a little restless and perhaps a little too confident, and that makes them dangerous,” he said.

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