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The Polygamist Witch Hunt

April 29, 2008

You don’t have to be a polygamist advocate to shiver at the ongoing battle for public sympathy that is taking place in Texas. Truthfully, under normal circumstances, I choose to have nothing to do with something as reprehensible as polygamy. Polygamy is not in my vocabulary. I am a biased person where polygamists are concerned because I resent their interpretation of Biblical theory and what seems to be their overweening need for power over their adherents. It’s chilling. There are charges that their goal is to “bleed the beast”. In this case, child abuse is the charge. Unfortunately, arrogance is not in short supply where polygamy and religious beliefs are concerned, especially within the United States. The writing and analysis of this case in the press has reached a level of abuse that would make most sensible people foam at the mouth. Unfortunately, I am not seeing evidence of foam. The perceived suspicious character of the rebellious religious sect seems to override their Constitutional Rights. Is there any hope for the United States?

What fomented my ire was an article by CNN that was penned in a highly prejudicial and ignorant manner. The appearance is that the editors forgot to review the article before it was printed or posted on the worldwide web. The article is incomplete in scope, slanted at best and outright graft where the presentation of constitutional rights for Americans is concerned.

The article starts with a very realistic conclusion. The Texas seizure of more than 400 children has caused the FLDS sect to open up to outsiders after decades of seclusion. The author, Mr. McLaughlin goes on to explain that in the minds of FLDS members, their personal salvation is at jeopardy. He then goes on to explain his point using hackneyed and obviously misapplied quotes in an effort to keep the article going as he hops back and forth between points. The religious points are clearly made in ignorance in what can only be explained as a hodge-podge of disconnected ideas from Hinduism and Catholicism with a little Mormonism mixed in for good measure. Whether this article is truly correct respecting the beliefs can only be guessed at by any but the most knowledgeable. The author failed to shed any light on the FLDS belief system beyond the natural longing for their children. It doesn’t look good either way for the children of FLDS members except for the fact that they are still breathing.

The CNN article continued to explain that FLDS members in Texas have recently held news conferences and allowed journalists on the compound. The public has seen this in the news for weeks, so that much is old news. The mention of a new FLDS website may not be common knowledge.

The article presents quotes from W. John Walsh, heralded as an expert that mentions FLDS members have a paranoia complex that caused them to close themselves off from society because of past persecution. According to the article, FLDS attorney Rod Parker had previously explained to KSTU-TV that a website was launched because society is ignorant about the sect. Their website effectively gives them a voice to the world. In fact, the sect is described later in the article as “computer savvy” and knowledgeable about the outside world. Strangely, the press has indicated just the opposite is true. That reality seems strange in light of the portrayal of the FLDS people.

Most readers are well aware of what appears to be a bogus report that attracted legal authorities’ attention to the “FLDS ranch” to begin with. After almost a month later, the authorities have completely failed to make a case except to indicate they have found evidence of child and sexual abuse. In the interim, the state continues to move the children around like cattle in a giant governmental ponzi scheme as they hope to make their case. The odds are in their favor as the child victimization rate based on government generated figures was reported as 12.1 children per 1000 in the latest figures from 2006. If the FLDS children meet the statistical norms, we can expect to see 5 cases of substantiated child abuse using traditional standards. The state believes that it will be able to make its case based on that number at the minimum. Whether the state will be able to make a case at some point down the line remains a question. The chances of abuse in foster care are deemed at less than 2% nationally. Statistically, the state considers the children as safer in foster care than in their home situation. The safety of the latest childhood rights battle comes down to statistics.

The article continues, “The FLDS is only as open as it needs to be. Everything church members offer — the news conferences, the interviews, the tours of the YFZ compound, even the Web site’s name — has been scripted to elicit sympathy.” If you were in the same situation, what would you do? Undoubtedly the same sort of things would be on your mind, but the difference according to the article is a lack of genuine feelings of remorse in their compliance. These people, like most child abusers are rotten to the core. Where is the concept of innocent until proven guilty? Since these people are adulterers on a mass scale, they are already guilty. Now the state will make the case.

The CNN article mentions that the FLDS website “also includes a timeline with subject lines such as “officers force their way into homes,” “sacred site desecrated,” “children’s innocence threatened” and “mothers and children torn apart.’” Would you picture your family being torn apart or your children being torn from you any differently? How would your feel? The imperious attitude of the state shows mostly physical regard for the children. Their other needs, including the norms that these estranged children have been subjected to, remains as largely unconsidered.

Fear clearly motivates both sides. The CNN article compares the FLDS event with the Branch Davidian Waco incident. There is a big difference. Of primary importance is the fact that the people are different with a different set of beliefs and second; the FLDS opted to live by not burning down the complex or a building full of people because they value life and family. The article almost insists that manipulation is the order of the day. The fact is that both the FLDS members and the state want to be seen sympathetically. If you call that manipulation, then so be it. Everyone wants the backing of the American public.

The circumstances of the case argue that the men of the compound have behaved terribly by trying to block cameras with their vehicles and that the men are guilty by their lack of appearance in the public eye. Men are always regarded suspiciously by feminist fearmongers. The idea of suspicion is purported as sufficient cause even though several men have been interviewed at the compound as well as “lost boys” away from the ranch. All appear to be unfailingly polite and meek natured on the surface. The presentation makes the argument that because Americans are so shallow with their feelings, that FLDS members and religious sycophants are no different.

Ultimately, the constitutional rights of all Americans are at stake. The removal of the children may have seemed to be the best for all since dead children are an abomination. However, the FLDS members present the idea that they are law-abiding members of society other than the fact that they practice a fashion of family-building that has been illegal since the 1880’s. The fact that these people in the view of the state have violated the law does not remove their civil rights as natural-born United States citizens or the constitutional rights of their children. The concept of due process has been thwarted with the concept that the polygamists are guilty until proven innocent because they decided to avert the law and create their own set of civil rights through polygamy.

You don’t need to feel warm and fuzzy about polygamy to realize that the rights of both adults and children are under attack, presumably for the greater good. The judge in the case made a decision to keep the families apart. The State doesn’t make it easy to be sympathetic. FLDS members have not been given the opportunity to prove themselves or their case. They have acted within a certain realm of responsibility and allowed the evacuation or the women and children to take place despite visible tension. Despite the tension, peace was maintained.

Whether an attempt to reunite the broken families will take place is debatable. In the eyes of the state and a multitude of America, the families of these children are already broken. No harm and no foul, especially if the state can prove that many children were “adopted into families” without genetic lineage or other scams were perpetrated. The case that polygamy is blight to society can be permanently and officially made using new DNA technology. That is the final goal of government officials and the hope of those that favor the rights of children over the rights of American citizens. At least the witch test isn’t being held under water. During the Salem witch trials, when a woman was drowned under water, she was determined to be innocent. Unfortunately, the constitutional witch test isn’t much better.

E. Manning

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