This principle is really applicable to a lot of groups out there; I'm framing it in terms of Jews because that's how I started seeing it, because of current events.

With the nomination of Joseph Lieberman as Vice-Presidential candidate, an Orthodox Jew has been thrust into the public eye in a new way, and people who have never even seen a Jew are suddenly learning that they're all over the place, and how some of them have such seemingly strange customs, and yet they can be so normal and part of everyday society. Hence the principle, here framed in terms of Jews:

The Axe-Murderer Principle: Jews are like axe-murderers. They look just like everybody else.

The point of the whole thing is bringing home the reality to people that Orthodox Jews, whom they may only have heard of as some weird folks who live elsewhere, can really be "normal" people, engage in "normal" professions (teacher, bricklayer, Senator, etc) and generally seem like perfectly "regular folks" in today's society. There was a big article about it in the New Jersey section of the New York Times last fall (1999) (I know, there was a picture of the back of my head in it). All about these normal people doing normal jobs... but they don't know what traffic is like on Saturday because they never drive then! (imagine!) The nomination is showing more people this principle.

As I said, this of course applies to a lot of groups that "normal" folks sometimes have trouble relating to, like gays, lesbians, Wiccans, bondage fetishists, yes, even Fundamental Christians. They're all like axe-murderers; one might be the guy over in the next cubicle at the office and unless you got to know him you'd never know.

Note: the analogy made here between Jews and murderers is purely for shock/humor value. I'm an observant Jew myself. The same for the other groups mentioned above (well, not that I am one, but that I don't intend that they share any of the bad aspects of being an axe-murderer.) The phrasing was inspired by a scene at the end of one of the Addams Family movies (I think the first), in which Wednesday, dressed in her normal clothes on Hallowe'en, says she is going as an axe-murderer, because they look just like everyone else.

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