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Monday, April 21. 2008
The comments on this Mormon fundy polygamy piece are pretty good.
So what's the issue? Polygamy? Or the under-age marriages? Or the arranged marriages (which are not illegal at all)?
Moslems quietly practice polygamy in the US without being hassled. Single teen-age pregnancy is of epidemic proportions in the US, so why is teen pregnancy within marriage worse?
I am confused, not about the moral issues, but about the legal issues.
Polygamists Might Get Their Kids Back
A Texas appellate court says that the removal of the kids from their moms is unlawful. I wonder if that means the 15 year old moms married to 50 year old men, too. Holy f*ck what a disgusting mess. There...
Weblog: Right Wing News
Tracked: May 22, 17:53
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The legal issues are not about criminality, since no one has been charged with anything, but about the state taking custody of every single child from the group (400+) on the basis that some harm might possible occur to them at some point in the future (the only evidence of abuse is five pregnant girls, age 16 and 17). It is looking like they will all be sent to foster homes for their "safety," now.
This is worse than criminal charges in a way, though, since it basically destroys their entire society.
Meanwhile polygamy, teenage pregnancies, physical abuse and female genital mutilation are rife among African immigrants in New York - these are documented abuses - and the New York Times reports the city turns a blind eye to them:
I do not understand why the courts think it is a good idea to separate these children from their siblings and their mothers and place them in an overworked foster system. It is a complete abuse of the State's power.
Please read Jon Krakauer's
"Under the Banner of Heaven".
I'm not saying that the action in this case was particularly well accomplished and I'm not saying that there isn't reprehensible behavior among other members of this society. But numerous wrongs do not make a right. And in my opinion this country and certainly the women, no matter their age, in that cult/sect would be better off were that society (FLDS) to fade into history. We long ago decided in this country that humans were not to be chattel. And whether the process is carried out by chains and whips or psychological brainwashing, the end result is the same. Slaves. To be used or abused under the guise of 'religious freedom'... I call bullshit.
Luther - if the FLDS group raises their children to believe that they should marry young, obey the men, practice polygamy, and shun the outside world, who are we as a society to tell them they cannot? Where is the illegality? If the children say they are happy and want to return, and the state refuses on the grounds that they are simply "brainwashed," and do not realize they are slaves, who is abusing who?
Not to be rude... but are you asking a serious question here 'Dylanologist'?
But before knowing your answer I will say this...
There were shrill trumpet's of superior 'Morals' being blown about here yesterday. Now today we're concerned about whether something is 'legal' or not. Evidently morals only count when they can be used to denigrate those who hold to no particular religious belief. But when 'religious freedom' is in play then it is secular law that becomes the concern. Nice play.
I asked a legal question, Lther, not a moral question. The State has to operate within the law.
Yes BD, you did. And polygamy and child abuse are against the law. It is known that polygamy occurred but we will have to wait for the results of the DNA testing before knowing the extent of the child abuse.
But there are larger issues at play here... read Meta's comment. That is where morals enter the discussion. And that is where serious thought need take place about religious freedom allowing the existence of cults such as the FLDS.
I strongly suggest, if you haven't, that you read the book I mentioned above. And if you are not outraged when you have finished it... well, then I guess we have nothing to discuss.
And BD... it really is about the children.
About polygamy: it requires that a man be officially married to more than one woman at the same time - i.e., that a state or states issued multiple marriage licenses. This did not occur among the FLDS, there was one "official" marriage and the rest were just live-in wives. And from a legal standpoint, Texas would not prosecute polygamy even if it were occurring since the Supreme Court would almost certainly find the law against it unconstitutional (remember Lawrence v. Texas?).
And as for the abuse, what was it and who was doing it? We have people commenting that they are incredibly secretive and shun the outside world, yet everyone seems to know exactly what types of horrible things were going on inside there. How about facts before judgment - the whole innocent until proven guilty thing?
Fine, anything goes unless strictly and specifically proscribed by law. But instead of worrying about something being illegal... let's just go ahead and make it legal, we'll institute Sharia law... that let's everyone off the hook. Not only is polygamy encouraged and legal, the legal age (at least in Egypt) for 'women' eligible for marriage is nine years old. That way there's no more gray area that might trip someone up.
Read that book, see how closely what I describe is the foundational bedrock of the FLDS.
" And as for the abuse, what was it and who was doing it? We have people commenting that they are incredibly secretive and shun the outside world, yet everyone seems to know exactly what types of horrible things were going on inside there."
The abuse? How about rape? Who was doing it? The men. The incredibly secrecy? How secret were the charges against Warren Jeffs? How about the women who escaped and told their stories?
Everyone seems to know exactly..... You must not pay attention to the reports of these cults. What types of horrible things go on inside.... You only need one: Young girls being raped.
What's your point? That 'married' fourteen-year-olds don't matter as long as they're in a cult? Or to be really asinine - that maybe we should shut down social services and all women shelters in the country because it's okay for the FLDS so it should be no big deal for women and young girls in the rest of the country.
Go read a few books on this 'church'. You'll make no more fatuous remarks about 'what's the big deal, man?'
Ok, if there is rape going on, then charges should be filed. If it is so prevalent among the group the evidence should not be hard to find. But that is a matter to be determined by courts and juries.
And while I never said anywhere that I did not think it was a big deal, I do fail to see why these people arouse such astonishing moral indigation when Texas has tens of thousands of teenagers giving birth each year (and God knows how many abortions besides). Thousands of those girls were technically "raped," too. I hate to say it, but even rape comes in shades of gray - think of a guy jumping out of the bushes and violently subduing a woman, vs. a 20-year-old having consensual sex with a 14-year-old. Both "rape," technically, but our gut instinct tells us there are two very different things happening in both those cases, reflecting different societal concerns and requiring different penalties.
Whatever happened among the FLDS, and I do not pretend to know, I do not believe that "rape" is a word that should be used casually toward anyone, especially on the basis of hearsay evidence. I trust law enforcement and the legal system to do its job, which is enough for me.
If there is rape going on......... Social Services is going through the arduous process of DNA testing to find the parents of the 413 kids from this compound. There's a hint for you. As for the courts, here's something to broaden your scant knowledge of the FLDS:
"From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Warren Steed Jeffs
Born December 3, 1955 (age 52)
Charge(s) Rape as an accomplice (two counts)
Penalty 10 years to life
Status Incarcerated at Utah State Prison
Occupation Leader of Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
Warren Steed Jeffs (born December 3, 1955, in San Francisco, California) was the leader of a controversial Mormon fundamentalist polygamist sect known as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS Church) from 2002 to 2007. Jeffs' position in this organization was reportedly that of absolute ruler.
Jeffs gained international notoriety in May 2006 when he was placed on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution on Utah state charges related to his alleged arrangement of extralegal marriages between his adult male followers and underage girls. He was arrested in August 2006 in Nevada, and agreed to be taken to Utah for trial. In May and July of 2007 the State of Arizona charged him with eight additional counts—including sexual conduct with minors and incest—in two separate cases. His trial, which began early in September of 2007 in St. George, Utah, lasted less than a month, and on September 25 the verdict was read declaring him guilty of two counts of rape as an accomplice. On November 20, 2007 he was sentenced to imprisonment for 10 years to life and has begun serving his sentence at the Utah State Prison.
Jeffs resigned from the presidency of the FLDS Church on the day he was sentenced. There are also reports that Jeffs admitted his position of prophet in the FLDS church was false in a conversation to William E. Jessop, and declared that "Brother William E. Jessop has been the prophet since [my] Father's passing" in a conversation to his brother Nephi Jeffs, though Jeffs' attorneys have claimed he misspoke.
As for out-of-wedlock births, Texas ranks in the top five for reducing such births and for reducing the number of abortions.
"Both "rape," technically, but our gut instinct tells us there are two very different things happening in both those cases, reflecting different societal concerns and requiring different penalties."
Your point? Girls under the age of 18 forced to 'marry' an older man for sex and the production of spawn? That's not rape? These girls don't know what sex is as it is not talked about, so their first experiences with it must be pure passion, right?
"Whatever happened among the FLDS, and I do not pretend to know,...."
Then why speak so vehemently about it? It is very easy to find out the facts.
"I do not believe that "rape" is a word that should be used casually toward anyone, especially on the basis of hearsay evidence."
Once again, a little knowledge goes a long way.
"I trust law enforcement and the legal system to do its job, which is enough for me."
Good for you for not yukking it up about freedom of religion. The legal system is working hard to look out for the innocents.
"Your point? Girls under the age of 18 forced to 'marry' an older man for sex and the production of spawn? That's not rape? These girls don't know what sex is as it is not talked about, so their first experiences with it must be pure passion, right?"
Well, the age of consent in Texas is 17; in most states it is 16, but ranges from 13 to 18. Marriage is possible at 18, without parental consent, 16 with it (changed from 14 as recently as 2005), and 15 and younger only with a court order. Arranged marriages are not illegal at all. So there are several different issues going on here in the context of laws which vary a lot between states - the issue of individual consent, parental consent, and the contrast between ages of consent and the permitted age of marriage (marriage being a defense to statutory rape in some places).
Saying that the girls were automatically too young to give consent just begs the question. All I am trying to say is that while the law is hardly clear-cut, there is even less room for moral certainty on this issue. Especially in light of the fact that 1/4 of all girls have their first sexual experience before the age of 16 anyways.
No more of this, but I will address this as you seem to insist these girls of the FLDS are the same as girls everywhere:
"...there is even less room for moral certainty on this issue. Especially in light of the fact that 1/4 of all girls have their first sexual experience before the age of 16 anyways."
Most girls do not have their first sexual experience and 'marriage' with an old man who already has five or more wives. Nor is the average girl expected to have a baby every two years. As well, most average girls choose to have sex and choose their sexual partners.
You simply cannot gloss over choice versus forced fake marriage, forced sex and childbirth on demand. It doesn't work by any kind of twisted logic.
Who is abusing who? The state is abusing its mandate to 'rescue' any young girl from an abusive situation. If you think a 58 year old man 'marrying' a fourteen-year-old, or even younger, and having sex with her is not abuse, then there is no arguing with you. In those compounds young girls are carefully watched for their first period. After that they're fair game.
As for the brainwashing, the kids are so backward they are hard to place in foster homes. Is that a good thing - to have backward children? Of course they say they're happy - they're brainwashed. They know nothing else.
It is a serious task for authorities to place these kids in foster homes. But the authorities looked the other way; now they are paying long overdue dues.
That 'who are we as a society' is farcical given we step in at the hint of abuse in any other situation. If a teacher suspects abuse and doesn't report it, she is liable. What the hell - who are we to care about the welfare of our youngest? I know - we are civilized.
If Janet Reno were still A.G. Does anyone think she would be fighting hard to put these children back with their parents , like she did for that little Cuban boy; for some reason I think not. Has anyone seen a picture of the supposed victim Sarah? I think the state of Texas has grossly oversteped their leagal authority, and deserves to have their ass sued off.
There's a lot of questions on this thing, but surely the first one has to be "are children being mistreated"? I know -- define "mistreated" -- but the difficulty of the question doesn't make the question invalid.
Meta, you seem to have inside info. Where did you read or hear about some of those practices? Are they reliable sources? Admittedly, I haven't been keeping up with the story.
I spent six months studying the FLDS cult. I have two close friends who lived close to these places and told stories I had trouble believing. There are several books out by women who have escaped the cult, and many articles on the Internet. One cannot study the cult and not come away with the belief that this is all about self-sanctioned pedophilia. Why do they live in compounds? Why are they shunned by the LDS? Why do they hide out and not allow the inhabitants the freedom to roam?
Calling this 'religion' is an insult. I don't think Jesus promoted this kind of slavery.
Jon Krakauer's book, "Under the Banner of Heaven" is excellent. Even he admits, as an investigative journalist, that he was blown away by what he found. He writes a personal account of his shock at the end of the book.
The state has to err on the side of protecting the innocent. It grinds my bones to say that, but in cases like this -- what else is there?
It will always be a mess, but at least we have the civil courts to fix things as well as they can be fixed -- and to lay the rules for both sides next time.
Meanwhile, whether it's letting a WWII era transatlantic steamer full of fleeing Jews dock stateside, or this case before us now, the error has to be on the side of the weakest and most threatened individuals.
Accept the lesser injustice in fear of the greater.
The legal issue paramont was to get the unemplyed Texas lawyers some work.
And the social workers were bored and the foster care givers needed some cash, too.
I figured Buddy and Habu, who went missing at the time, were called up to the Texas Rangers when Texas began this mass kidnapping.
I was wondering when MF would get a bite on this mass insanity.
Was the call, or calls, that led the Texas authorities to pounce upon women and children placed by a thirty-three year old black woman in Colorado Springs?
Texas Rangers were checking her stuff, there.
My view as someone from Canada on this issue will be irrelevant I am certain.
However, once very young girls have been "siezed and saved those about to be married" has not the state provided the safety it has promised?
The court appointed DNA tests ordering all those involved to provide DNA samples will eventually be ruled illegal since it goes to the right not to willingly incriminate oneself.
This is a basic right.
Those DNA tests will be used to create "lists" of families and show who has been bedding whom.
There seems to be an issue on this site as to whether the rule of law vs the rule of "experience or heresay" is valid.
We are a society ruled by laws.
Polygamy is illegal. So is marrying underaged women.
Byt it is hard to "prove" polygamy hence the DNA samples.
Once proved then people will have to sort out the relationships as to who is legally married to whom and who is a common law wife. And who has legal children and who has not.
Texas runs the risk of making polygamy legal if it loses its case as it surely will as this moves to higher courts.
The real losers will be the children seized and separated from their families.
Does this action warrant separating families and siezing children? The moral imperative seems to think that in Texas which is the home of ultra-religious Christians that the state can rewrite law to popular sentiment or run roughshod over the rights of people to fuel popular sentiment.
The lawless Texan law does run roughshod and this is but one occurence times 5 or 6 hundred.
Court orders are not going to be struck down.
Count on it.
Sorry to intrude but I am a Texas Christian (midwestern reared) and was searching the web for the penalty for polygamy in and it brought me to your quaint group here.
I believe polygamy hasn't been legalized in this country (maybe in Cali.) and when these people were settling in their new home there was talk but no action.
That was the legal system's first mistake. Everyone was well aware of what was going to take place within the walls of their compound. The legal system, and citizens of neighboring communities failed to run "roughshod" over this dispicable group to keep them out.
For the welfare of everyone involved, the MEN should have been removed from the compound and women and children left in their home. It would have accomplished the safety of the women and children and prevented some MORE deep emotional scarring.
I would ask you all to take a minute from your debating and slurring to say a prayer for all the people in this group; men, women and children. They are all God's children who need to be saved from the evil that reigns their total existence. After all, that is the crucial issue here.
Thanks for lettin me stop in on y'all but i gotta go jump start the old pickup truck and git ta town - im down to my last 12 pack and got bout 2 pinches left on the old Skoal.
Remember, ALL of your thoughts and words have power. Be aware of where your power is going when you write here.
Have a blessed day and use your power for a glorious outcome for all the people involved in this Texas Mess.