New Sherwood

“Don’t Bunch”: FLDS and Intentional Communities

First, the good news of the day: The Supreme Court of Texas has ordered that the FLDS children be returned to their parents. Thanks again to the tireless efforts of The Common Room’s “Headmistress” for such thorough coverage and commentary.

But this comes amidst a tidal wave of bad news for Anglo-American civilization in the Year of Our Lord 2008. In addition to the kidnapping of 464 children by the Texas CPS, we learned that Great Britain is creating animal-human hybrids for research, Catholic agencies in England are being forced to end adoption services (as happened in Massachusetts in 2006), a California appelate court has banned homeschooling, the California Supreme Court has invented a constitutional right to same-sex “marriage”, and today we have news that New York will be recognizing same-sex “marriages” as well. The euthanasia movement continues to pick up steam, the popular media continues to degenerate into a hideous facsimile of Hell itself, visible manifestations of Christian belief have all but disappeared from our public places, the homosexualist agenda seems to be victorious everywhere, the old traditional songs at West Point Academy are going “gender neutral”, and for the first time since Ronald Reagan we do not have a viable presidential candidate who even pretends to be a social conservative. According to commenter and fellow Californian Mark Butterworth at What’s Wrong With the World:

“People, America is over. Buy guns. Practice shooting. Think about moving and starting businesses in remote places with like minded folks. Turn your ploughshares into swords. If you want to be free again, that is … There’s no fixing this country within its present structure.”

I’m inclined to agree, though I hope he is wrong.

But if there is anything to be learned from the FLDS debacle it is that certain kinds of counter-cultural communities – “intentional communities”, as they are often called – will not be tolerated by our new masters.

Dr. Thomas Fleming, a Catholic, surmises that the underlying hostility of the state towards the FLDS was the latter’s commitment to marriage. The teen pregnancy rate on the YFZ Ranch was no higher than an average American neighborhood: the main difference seems to be that pregnant FLDS teens were married, or at least believed themselves to be, and were committed to remaining married. I don’t believe for a minute that Texas CPS was morally outraged at polygamy or teenagers having sex. Polygamy, once correctly understood as morally licentious, is now seen by most as uber-traditional and repressive. That is how far we have fallen. No one who is saturated in the culture of American television sit-coms and popular entertainment – and that means just about everyone these days – is going to be prudish about something as old-fashioned as polygamy. No one who scarcely blinks at Bratz dolls or celebrity fundraising concerts is going to be particularly worried about teenage girls having sex.

I think Dr. Fleming is on to something, but he misses the mark slightly. It is true that the new regime is permeated with feminism, and it is also true that feminism is traditionally hostile to marriage, but today’s feminism has reconciled itself to marriage because modern marriage puts few restraints on the power of female sexuality. So it isn’t a commitment to marriage, necessarily, that upsets the feminist men and women who dominate the culture of Child Protective Services and, indeed, all government services at every level. What upsets them is anything that restrains, restricts, controls, inhibits, represses, or coerces the world’s most powerful social force:female sexuality. That is what lies behind their militant advocacy of divorce, contraception, abortion, and homosexuality – and their opposition to anything that stands in the way. Feminist men have long acquiesced to this arrangement because the liberation of female sexuality confers on them certain … benefits … which they very much enjoy.

That’s why the state of Texas does not remove children from highly promiscuous teenage mothers who are, after all, only exercising their sexual freedom. In stark contrast, the FLDS teenage mothers have sacrificed their sexual freedom for the vocation of motherhood and domesticity, which is the worst of all possible fates in the eyes of feminist women like Judge Barbara Walther, who saw nothing wrong with forcibly removing infants from breastfeeding mothers because, as she put it, “every day in this country, we have mothers who go back to work after six weeks of maternity leave.” The problem is not that teenage girls were having sex on the FLDS compound, but that these particular teenage girls were not given the option of leveraging their sexuality in the larger marketplace.

Back to the topic at hand. If we are to learn anything from the great “El Dorado Roundup” of 2008, it is that traditional, socially conservative communities which are thought to inhibit female sexuality will always be under the microscope and suspected of “abuse”. Individual families scattered about are not a threat because they can’t effectively isolate their children from mainstream cultural influences. They become a threat only when they form communities which are successful at keeping the influence of the world at arm’s length. This must not be tolerated.

There is something of an evangelistic, missionary spirit to modern ideologies, particularly feminism: their adherents must proselytize, and they are deeply offended when anyone is deprived of their liberating message. They feel compelled to bring this gospel of liberation to all children – to your children – because they fervently believe that “choice” is the essence of freedom and personhood, especially the choice of losing one’s innocence, and that having choices is the only thing that makes people fully human, and that the natural family is all about limiting the choices (and the humanity) of children. To such people there is truly nothing more scandalous, or more intolerable, than the presence of a person who has not freely and consciously chosen his own circumstances and is nevertheless happy.

Paradoxically, then, the regime of choice and sexual liberation will not look favorably upon the choices of traditional Christian communities. Such communities will be deemed abusive by definition. A few like-minded families might live together in close proximity without raising many eyebrows, but that is because they still breathe the same toxic air as everyone else; it is insularity that threatens and offends.

Therefore let Waco, Ruby Ridge, and El Dorado serve as warnings to Catholics who dream of rebuilding Christendom somewhere out on the prairie. Lydia McGrew summarizes the unmistakable message:

“It’s like they say about avoiding being a victim of a terrorist’s bomb: Don’t bunch.

These people bunched. They looked odd. They did odd things. (And polygamy is wrong, I want to add unequivocally.) They did them all in one place together. So they came to the notice of the state. And when a report, possibly a hoax, came in about a forced marriage of a teenager going on there, the entire group was torn apart and 400 children thrown to the winds.

Don’t bunch.”

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May 30, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

22 Comments »

  1. It’s sad to have to give that message, but I’m glad it seemed sensible to you.

    I can’t find out for sure from the news stories if all of the children are going back right away or only the 124 who were formally represented in the suit that has gone through the courts. Obviously the same principles would apply to the other children, but I fear that CPS may hang on to them until a suit is brought on behalf of their parents as well, since formally the court order applies only to the children whose parents were named as litigants.

    But the even better news about _those_ kids is that it looks like CPS has caved entirely (or as entirely as the court order requires them to) and is going to give them back if the parents produce proof of ID and promise not to leave Texas. I don’t have the AP link here, but the story was about a “deal” reached between CPS and the parents.

    I only hope they can find the children after having sent them all over creation.

    Like

    Comment by Lydia | May 31, 2008 | Reply

  2. Well, shoot. So the judge shot down that deal because it prevented the parents from leaving Texas _only_ until August 31 (guess she wants to keep them there forever) and didn’t put enough restrictions on them. She wants all 38 parents to sign an agreement to her additional restrictions, including psychological evaluations for the children and heaven knows what-all else. If the children have psychological problems now, it’s because of her, I’d say. This woman judge is a big problem. Grrr. Here’s the new link. (Hope it comes across.)

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080531/ap_on_re_us/polygamist_retreat

    Like

    Comment by Lydia | May 31, 2008 | Reply

  3. I think it may not be as bad as all that: I suspect many people who supported the raid did so out of real moral disgust with polygamy and forced marriage. Their logic is wrong, and that is the problem: people do talk as though polygamy were the ultimate in traditionalism, when in fact it is licentious. If the general public believes polygamy and the FLDS are extremely traditional, it doesn’t help OUR image if we, the real traditionalists, defend the FLDS. Yes, the logic that the enemies of the FLDS used is faulty, and could be turned against Christians in a heartbeat, if the people intended. However, I do think we might have one brief chance to show what a real, traditional, Christian family is like. It would possibly change some people’s minds.

    I don’t know enough about the specifics to know whether the children were in real danger. However, we have no real love for the FLDS. Defending them is sort of like defending the murder of strangers because its somehow not as bad as the murder of family members. Now, I know that neither Mr. Culbreath nor anyone who posts here believes the FLDS is a good thing. However, I can see a wavering, wishy-washy “moderate” seeing traditional Catholics criticize the government for its handling of the FLDS situtation and saying “yeah, all those ‘religious people’ really are the same I guess.”

    Remember, also, the supposed sanctity of individual liberty is enshrined in our laws. Some of the Texas authorities might have been motivated by real Christian revulstion at the perversion and sinfulness of the FLDS, and may have simply explained what they knew was right using liberal language to make it palatable. Of course, that’s still a disaster waiting to happen. However, given that most people aren’t desirous at this time to persecute Christians, perhaps the faulty arguments used against the FLDS would fail if applied to traditional Catholics.

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    Comment by Daniel A. | May 31, 2008 | Reply

  4. “Some of the Texas authorities might have been motivated by real Christian revulstion at the perversion and sinfulness of the FLDS, and may have simply explained what they knew was right using liberal language to make it palatable.”

    This is a way-out conjecture, and I would be willing to bet large sums of money that it is false. If you read even the mental health authorities’ own description of what went on, and especially if you know anything about CPS workers and the way they are trained (I know a bit), you will see the general hostility to religion coming out.

    Please note: They took everybody down to day-old infants on the grounds that the sect married off teenage girls. This is ridiculous. Day-old infants weren’t even alleged to be sexually abused. CPS’s own contention was basically that it was an “abusive culture” and that therefore they needed to break the whole thing up. But legally they were supposed to show a grave and immediate danger *to specific children*, and I’m sorry, but the fact that a newborn baby boy may someday be encouraged to marry an underage girl is not an immediate danger to the newborn baby boy. For that matter, it isn’t an immediate danger to a newborn baby girl. From the perspective both of law and of justice, the _only_ thing they would have been justified in doing, and the _most_ they would have been justified in doing, would have been investigating individual cases of teenage girls who were possibly going to be married, or “married” (polygamously), and making it clear that statutory rape laws applied to these girls, etc. But that would have required dealing with people as individuals or at least as family units. There could have been no justification for sweeping up 400 children in a single raid down to the baby born yesterday.

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    Comment by Lydia | May 31, 2008 | Reply

  5. Day old infants WERE alleged to have been physically abused,if not sexually.

    I do know a bit about the often unreasonable attitudes of CPS, and I know that by no means is it dominated by conservative Christians. However, if it were dominated by conservative Christians, I suspect much the same thing would have happened, given the allegations made against the FLDS.

    Everyone should be shocked at the evil of this cult: yes, of course they were persecuted by the CPS. However, the mere fact that they were persecuted doesn’t mean that they themselves are good (an idea that might appeal to Donatists, but not to Catholics).

    The main problem with what was done to the FLDS is the arguments behind it. I’m merely pointing out that these arguments are appealing to the wishy washy “moderates” who make up most of our society. If it came down to persecuting Christians, even Christians who live “bunched” and isolated, a lot of the people who jumped on the bandwagon to persecute the FLDS would jump off.

    The FLDS really are actually repulsive. I have seen numerous articles contrasting “bad” polygamists with “good” polygamists. The difference these articles usually cite is that the “good” ones are connected with the modern world, and the bad ones are not. That is exactly the argument that must be defeated. They are all bad, polygamy is always bad, as is forced marriage and child abuse.

    I’m simply concerned that if conservative Christians of various kinds seem to defend the FLDS, the clueless, undecided “center” will conclude that all traditional religious people are the same. In fact, traditional Catholics, conservative Protestants, orthodox Jews, and various other extremely traditional religious people should all find the FLDS repellent and, as Mr. Culbreath pointed out above, licentious. Defending them only seems to make us look bad, and doesn’t help them at all.

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    Comment by Daniel A. | June 1, 2008 | Reply

  6. “However, if it were dominated by conservative Christians, I suspect much the same thing would have happened, given the allegations made against the FLDS.”

    Wow, you must have a very low opinion of conservative Christians, then. You must believe that conservative Christians, if they are CPS workers, suddenly become lawless, power-hungry people who think it’s their prerogative to tear babies from their mothers’ breasts, take normal children and separate from their mothers, and scatter them to the four winds and into the highly unhealthy atmosphere of the foster-care system. (Jeff has posted about the Texas foster care system, by the way.) Are you really unaware that the “emergency” provision allowing removal of children from their parents is *obviously not* intended to apply to situations where it is simply the cultural milieu that is bad? There is supposed to be _specific_, _immediate_, _concrete_ danger to *this specific child*. Like, for example, if you find the child starving to death or beaten black and blue or the father threatening to honor-murder his daughter or something. This was obviously an incredible abuse of power and an illegal act. I would certainly hope that being a conservative Christian would not render one entirely unconcerned with the inherent limits on one’s power over others.

    Day-old infants were alleged to have been abused? Like how? What abuse? Beating? Starving? What? Please supply your link and source on that statement. I’ve not followed this case quite as closely as Jeff has, but I have not run across anywhere else any specific abuse allegations regarding any specific day-old infants. In fact, as far as I know, the only minors for which they have found anything specific are 5 teenage girls who were pregnant. Perhaps they considered it “abusive” for a day-old infant to live with his mother in this atmosphere, but that is hardly what most people think is meant by “allegations of abuse.”

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    Comment by Lydia | June 1, 2008 | Reply

  7. Daniel, thanks for your comments. As you have already noted I am not defending the FLDS as a religion. I have even stated on this blog that the FLDS should be legally suppressed, so I don’t know how anyone could get the idea that I’m a defender of this cult per se.

    However, I do not hesitate to defend the rights of FLDS parents, as natural parents, to raise their own children as they see fit, to make them wear prairie-style clothing, to teach them at home, and even to teach them the heretical beliefs of their weird religion. Neither do I hesitate to defend the rights of FLDS children, as children, to live with their natural parents barring an imminent and verifiable danger of abuse or neglect.

    Furthermore, I insist that our magistrates respect the rule of law, and in Texas it is not a crime to be both an FLDS member and a parent.

    Thus far, Daniel, none of these parents have been charged with abuse except for Warren Jeffs, who remains in prison. Social workers have admitted the children are healthy, well-cared for, and emotionally balanced. To my knowledge the only “allegation” of an infant or toddler being abused is contained in a tell-all book by an ex-FLDS member who has also been telling her shocking story on television. The allegation may be true – who knows? – but no charges have been filed, and this allegation was not used by CPS to justify removing 464 FLDS children from their parents.

    I suppose it is difficult to defend FLDS parents and FLDS children without appearing to defend the FLDS itself. But it has to be done. Indeed, when unpopular people are attacked it is all the more important to defend them. I would defend a hippy commune in Mendocino County if the state tried to take their kids away on such flimsy evidence.

    Tangential to this case, but interesting anyway, is the hypocrisy of moral outrage at polygamy, teen marriage, and arranged marriage on the part of most public commentators. These characteristics, in themselves, are far superior to the casual promiscuity and licentiousness of mainstream American culture to which these children would otherwise be subjected. Even more outrageous is the notion that any of these children would be better off in the hellish Texas foster care system.

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    Comment by Jeff Culbreath | June 1, 2008 | Reply

  8. Daniel: You might want to check out this link for information about the false claims made by Texas CPS:

    “To be sure, some are still defending the YFZ Raid, like Bill McKenzie at the Dallas News who inexplicably promotes false and dated statistics that CPS already admitted were incorrect weeks ago. He continues to claim we ‘know’ girls under 16 were impregnated at the YFZ Ranch, when in fact all such claims have been debunked. No one but him (and, alas, readers who believe the Dallas News) think it’s true. As I advised McKenzie in the comments:

    The YFZ Ranch is only 4 years old. Claiming the Bishop’s record shows a 27 year old got pregnant at age 14 (probably in Arizona, if accurate) does NOT demonstrate any underage girls got pregnant at the ranch. KBP’s count is accurate – 5 alleged underage Moms were identified [by CPS] in court. That’s it. The number was whittled down to two when one turned out not to be pregnant and two more turned out to be in their 20s.

    We’re still battling the effects of CPS’ successful public relations campaign against FLDS group, including but not limited to their claims that:

    * 60% of teen girls were pregnant or mothers: To get that number, CPS included 26 adult women who denied they were minors and turned out to be telling the truth, but not until after the agency repeatedly called them liars in the press.
    * 10% of kids had broken bones in the past: It turned out they didn’t really know how many had broken bones, and anyway 10% would be less than the average for kids in the outside world.
    * Male children were molested, although CPS never provided evidence in court for the assertion and dropped the allegation after it made media headlines.”

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    Comment by Jeff Culbreath | June 2, 2008 | Reply

  9. Good distinction, Jeff, between supporting people as parents and supporting them as members of a religion. I’ve posted on this subject with reference to your coverage here:

    http://lydiaswebpage.blogspot.com/2008/06/flds-fiasco-and-lust-for-power.html

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    Comment by Lydia | June 2, 2008 | Reply

  10. Anybody that thinks the actions of the CPS against the mothers and children of the FLDS was right has to be a total lunatic and anti-American. This is the worse case of civil and religions persecution this country has ever known. The FLDS in the eyes of the CPS were guilty and they will never agree on any kind of innocence. We are citizens of the United States of America. We are suppose to have protection for our civil and religions rights under the United States Constitution one being innocent until proven guilty.

    What happened to the woman of 33 years of age that was suppose to be 16 that called in that complaint found to be untrue. She is the one that needs to be prosecuted and thrown in jail. This was all a trumped up deal, false and fake reasons to go into the community of a peaceful self reliant people that wants nothing more than to be left alone and who rightfully does not trust law enforcement and the government.

    This doesn’t have anything to do with anything except our civil and religious rights. And their rights were beyond compare violated. I, like many others, do not believe in polygamy and certainly detest any act of abuse toward children but by damn look at it as individual cases and do not traumatize 452 little innocent children and their mothers.

    Remember Ruby Ridge. If you can’t remember it, look it up and read just what happened to that family that wanted nothing more to be left alone and moved to a remote location. That family was gunned down in cold blood by law enforcement. Look at Waco. Law enforcement burned men, women and children to the ground. This happened in this country. And you can not tell me there was no better way to handle all these things especially where there are literally hundreds of little babies and children involved at the YFZ.

    The children in that community were and are so much better off than 10s of thousands of children in the “outside world.” And much much better off than thousands of children in foster care. Talking about abuse! Take a good look at foster care. Many people are foster people for the money. They don’t give a rat’s ass about the children. It’s all about the money. Do you know how many children are abused in foster care? Do you know how many die in foster care? Do some research. And in the mean time you people supporting what happened in EL Dorado, Texas. Read the United State Constitution and start praying some day you don’t find yourself being persecuted when you are innocent by some branch of department of the government. If you do not stand up for your rights now then you are on hell’s highway.

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    Comment by Bet | June 2, 2008 | Reply

  11. “Anybody that thinks the actions of the CPS against the mothers and children of the FLDS was right has to be a total lunatic and anti-American.”

    Wrong, Bet. You do our side no favors with blanket statements like this. Apart from lunacy and anti-Americanism, there are numerous other possibilities:

    1. Pro-American anti-Mormonism.
    2. An honest difference of opinion.
    3. Simple ignorance.

    Due to the pervasive influence of the media, I think most people fall in category #3. I have a hard time believing that a person in category #2 is without malice, but one must concede the possibility.

    Like

    Comment by Jeff Culbreath | June 2, 2008 | Reply

  12. Thank you, Lydia. I’ve read the post briefly and will try to respond when I can during the week. The case itself does not seem difficult to me, but it does raise some difficult questions.

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    Comment by Jeff Culbreath | June 2, 2008 | Reply

  13. Well now, perhaps I overstated matters. I was under the impression that CPS had substantiated that extremely young children were suffering from broken bones and other injuries. If in fact the only abuse is that teenagers were pregnant and in forced “marriages,” then I suppose taking the infants from their mothers was wrong.

    I would add to Mr. Culbreath’s list of reasons for taking my position, 4. Pro-Christian anti-Mormonism. I am not anti-American, nor am I some kind of triumphalist American who thinks the FLDS are evil because they don’t “act like real Americans.” In fact, I am TOTALLY sympathetic to anyone’s right to homeschool their children (I argue strenuously against ANY attempt to insult homeschooling) dress in old-fashioned clothing, seperate themselves from the modern world, etc. In fact, I believe Catholics should do these kinds of things more often.

    However, I do believe that in a better nation, we would suppress the FLDS on the grounds that they are a dangerous group of pagans. I would not even suppress all pagans, only those whose religious organizations lead them to such evils as polygamy and child abuse. It sort of comes down to pragmatism versus an unrealistic stand on principle. The FLDS, to me, seem no better than our mainstream culture. Our mainstream culture is no better than the FLDS. Of course we can’t hope to remove all children from being raised in such destructive homes as those of the FLDS or modern American society. However, it is difficult for me to worry overmuch when it does happen. I have this sense in my mind that if we were reading about all of this in a history book, and the FLDS had arisen in the Papal States and been thus broken up by the pope, we would be inclined to praise that pope for taking action.

    Yes, the arguments used against the FLDS could be used against anyone else. It might be worth while to defend their rights in order to protect our own rights, but ultimately it will have us defending some highly unpleasant people. I mostly agree with the arguments presented here: certainly “bunching” looks threatening to the mainstream society, and might be dangerous to those who attempt it.

    If there were credible accusations of infant-beating by mothers, then I believe the actions of the CPS are much more understandable. If not, then I must agree that the mothers and children should not have been seperated. As for what to do with the polygamous men, well, that is a difficult matter. However, if they did force women to “marry” them, I would point out that Christianity, especially the Catholic Church, has always recognized marriage as a voluntary state, and not accepted forced marriage as acceptable. If mainstream American society sees a problem with polygamy, I see that as an opportunity.

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    Comment by Daniel A. | June 2, 2008 | Reply

  14. “Of course we can’t hope to remove all children from being raised in such destructive homes as those of the FLDS or modern American society. However, it is difficult for me to worry overmuch when it does happen.”

    Gotta say, I think we should worry overmuch when children are removed from their homes en masse. Definitely a cause for worry, and not a power one human should have over other humans. That’s the point of my free-standing post.

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    Comment by Lydia | June 2, 2008 | Reply

  15. “If in fact the only abuse is that teenagers were pregnant and in forced “marriages,” then I suppose taking the infants from their mothers was wrong.”

    I believe there is only one teenager who is alleged to have become pregnant while underage, in Texas, where the minimum legal age of marriage is now 16 (up from 14 just 2 years ago). Whether or not this “marriage” was forced is another matter and, thus far, has neither been alleged nor confirmed. Keep in mind that Texas defines any sexual activity between an adult male and an underage female as “abuse”, whether “married” or not, whether consensual or not.

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    Comment by Jeff Culbreath | June 4, 2008 | Reply

  16. “Yes, the arguments used against the FLDS could be used against anyone else. It might be worth while to defend their rights in order to protect our own rights, but ultimately it will have us defending some highly unpleasant people.”

    How unpleasant is this?

    “You know, I often think about our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. What did He do when they came against Him? How did He behave Himself when they forced Him even to carry His own cross? How did He respond even when they were taking His life? ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ That is how I want to be. That is my definition of dignity.

    It will take time for our children to forgive and forget. It will take time and commitment and divine assistance to rehabilitate the vulnerable minds of our innocent children. But, I do feel encouraged. The deep and abiding faith of my children has resulted in character that is both resilient and buoyant, as well as pliable, and I believe that everything the Lord has allowed us to experience will add to the growth and increase of character, and will prove to be for our benefit if we trust in Him and not allow ourselves to indulge in a complaining and revengeful spirit. This is my privilege and duty.”

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    Comment by Jeff Culbreath | June 4, 2008 | Reply

  17. “Keep in mind that Texas defines any sexual activity between an adult male and an underage female as ‘abuse’, whether ‘married’ or not, whether consensual or not.”

    I actually do agree with the existence of statutory rape laws that are more or less in this direction. I don’t think consent should be mitigating. The whole point of statutory rape is that it is defined by the age of the people or at least one person involved and not by consent. In a sense, statutory rape laws are some of the only remaining laws in our country recognizing essential nature that cannot simply be tossed aside on the basis of consent, so I think it’s important to hold the line on them. Planned Parenthood routinely ignores both statutory rape and mandatory reporting laws and materially cooperates with underage girls in maintaining sexual relationships that are quite legitimately illegal. Liberals generally are uneasy about condemning underage sex, sometimes even with men much older, usually preferring to make the whole matter come down to one of consent–a very dangerous position that will ultimately (I believe) lead to the legalization of prostitution and perhaps even of minors’ involvement in prostitution.

    So to be consistent, I think that such laws should be upheld in this context. My only remaining question would be whether the statutory rape laws should make an exception in the case of marriage. In some states, they do, so that the age of consent is such-and-such, but only if you are unmarried, and the legal age of marriage is something a bit younger. What is strange about that legal set-up is that it treats persons of a particular age as being able to consent to marriage (and then sex within marriage is of course legal) but as being unable legally to give consent to unmarried sex, which I have to admit seems a bit odd. But it does at least maintain the idea that there is a difference between exploiting a girl for unmarried sex and going to the trouble to marry her before having sex with her. In the FLDS situation, though, even if that distinction were present in Texas law (which I gather it isn’t) it would apply only to a first, legal marriage, not to subsequent polygamous “spiritual” marriages. But that seems correct to me as well, as we should not give legal recognition to polygamy.

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    Comment by Lydia | June 4, 2008 | Reply

  18. All good points, Lydia. I just think it is important that when CPS or the media screams “abuse!” in this case, we should remember that they may actually be referring to:

    1. A consensual marital act;
    2. An act that was not defined as abuse just two years ago;
    3. An act that is not defined as abuse in many other states.

    That’s important because people normally think of much more sinister things when they hear the word “abuse” involving children. Abuse, in Texas, can mean anything from marital intercourse with a 15 y/o bride to things that are too dark even to mention.

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    Comment by Jeff Culbreath | June 4, 2008 | Reply

  19. Well, but she wasn’t a bride, legally, if he already had a wife. And presumably, too, if she was underage to marry, then there was no legal marriage even if he had no other wife.

    So I’m assuming that you mean that it could be a consensual act within what the girl and the man regard as marriage.

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    Comment by Lydia | June 5, 2008 | Reply

  20. Right – although it is theoretically possible (I really have no idea) that the girl was the first wife, and that she was legally married out of state. In other words, let’s keep in mind that what is objectively abusive, and what is legally defined as such, may not always correlate, and that CPS is predisposed to using the word “abuse” very irresponsibly.

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    Comment by Jeff Culbreath | June 5, 2008 | Reply

  21. CPS certainly is predisposed to using that word iresponsibly. I remember the posters at my public high school, urging students to turn in their parents for abuse, and listing several things (i.e. “you feel scared to go home”) that don’t actually constitute abuse as “signs.”)

    I think the worst thing about the whole issue is what our society does in response to the FLDS. Rather than thinking “the problems in that cult(ure) are the fault of their weird beliefs and polygamous lifestyle” most Americans seem to think “wow, they’re messed up because they’re religious, but polygamy’s okay so long as its sufficiently equalitarian and feminist.” Every article and documentary I have seen on the FLDS mentions the “good” polygamists. I would be the real, main problem some people have with the FLDS is the prairie dresses. After all, everything in the past was bad, right?

    Polygamy and forced marriage, however, are despicable. I’m imagining an analagous situation, where a commune of gay men legally adopt and raise young boys from birth, or perhaps even father them and gain custody. Then, the boys are forced to “marry” older men in the commune. In a case like that, much like in that of the FLDS, I would have some trouble working up the will to defend them, even if the government took unjust actions against them.

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    Comment by Daniel A. | June 5, 2008 | Reply

  22. Daniel, I’m sure you agree that homosexuality and polygamy, while both are sinful, are unequal in their perversity. Polygamy was once tolerated by God, seemingly even recommended at times, and tends to follow nature (however fallen); homosexual acts are of a different nature entirely and were obviously never tolerated. A child in the home of practicing homosexuals is in an intolerably abusive situation by definition; the moral danger of living with polygamous parents does not strike me as comparable.

    As for defending polygamists and/or homosexuals against injustice, I hope you wouldn’t hesitate to do so. If you saw a homosexual or a polygamous man being attacked by a mob, without provocation, I’m sure you would intervene to best of your ability. That’s precisely how I view the FLDS situation. It is one thing for the state to enforce laws against polygamy by prosecuting polygamists – that’s entirely reasonable and just – but as you realize it is quite another to act as CPS did, striking at all families en masse, without warning or due process, causing lifelong trauma to hundreds of previously healthy and non-abused children. I defended these polygamists against the state because they are parents and citizens with rights in this country – and because their children need them.

    Like

    Comment by Jeff Culbreath | June 5, 2008 | Reply


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