Monday, April 28, 2008

Polygamists

All right, I’ve tried to bite my tongue, but I can’t take this any longer.

What the State of Texas is doing to members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is wrong. Firstly, there is no indication yet that the phone call which prompted the raid was legitimate. When investigating a battered woman call, if the woman isn’t battered (or if she doesn’t exist), it seems to me you have no case.

Now, I understand the whole idea of, “Well, I went to their house because I thought they were bank robbers but I found pot, so now they’re under arrest for drug possession,” but what actual crime did law enforcement find when they went looking for a woman who wasn’t real? So far it appears the only crime is Parenting While Freaky, which, coming from Texas, the state that gave us mothers hiring hitmen to take out rival cheerleaders and family reunions-cum-baseball bat beating deaths, caries an incredibly high burden of proof.

Is this how Texas responds to all teen pregnancies? Or just the ones that make you want to gossip about them?

Secondly, today the news story is that 31 of the 53 teenagers in state custody have been pregnant at least once. That’s 58%. So a high teen pregnancy rate is grounds for removing all children from a group? This story also carries the first mention of a real crime, the fact that in Texas girls under 17 can’t consent to sex. However, it wasn’t until the state seized the children (and one would suspect did medical examinations) that they could even begin to speculate which teenage girls have been pregnant and which haven’t. While no one has been charged, the state felt free to conduct DNA tests. I thought I remembered something about “illegal searches and seizures,” but the government agent standing over my shoulder has just assured me that it’s a false memory.

Ultimately, what legal authority do parents have to instill a belief system in their children? I was baptized in my church when I was eight years old; were my parents “abusing” me? I’m not arguing against last year’s conviction of the FLDS leader: I believe that girl didn’t want to participate yet the church leaders and her family agreed to allow her husband to force her to participate. But this is a case of Texas seizing children who, by all indications, wanted to participate. I’m sure Texas will say, “Well, they don’t know they can choose to disagree,” or, “They have been intimidated into compliance,” but even so, don’t you have to have a victim press charges? How strong of a case is this? “When investigating a hoax, we found non-victimized victims, non-perpetrating perpetrators, and decided this belief system was too dangerous for children.” Since when does Texas get to decide what religious groups get to have children? There are people in the world who think it is abusive to teach children to believe in God. Is the only thing keeping them from taking away your kids the fact that they don’t represent a majority (yet)?

I know everyone hates abuse, but how do you fight abuse while protecting freedom? And when those two goals conflict, which wins?

5 comments:

JT said...

I have been reluctant to post about this as well, but since the gate is open I will take advantage.

With the exception of abuse (which each state defines differently), I have some significant problems with the state intervening in this case. If polygamy is illegal in Texas, then these other wifes are, in the state's perspective, simply living in in adulterous relationships. If spiritual marriage constitutes a real marriage, then you have to define that for the state. This begs the question of state involvement in any sexual relationship that produces offspring. Hence, a set of women who live together and share a man (while he can only be legally married to one of them) is no different than a man who impregnates multiple women who may or may not know each other, let alone live together. So is it the living together that is the problem for the state? What if a pseudo polygamous (only pseudo because they cannot get legally married to each other) family unit shared the same street block, but not the same house? The man has only consolidated his adultery to the same block wherein he can see all of his offspring more easily. I don't buy that polygamy is any more detrimental to our moral climate than a philanderer who hides his behavior. At least the polygamous is overt and all of the participants have transparency.

You raise a point that I had not thought about... the consensual sexual relationships of minors. Should the state conduct periodic checks of all tweens and teens to determine their virginity? (How would they do that with males? You couldn't jst check out the chicks because that would be discrimination.) What about taking custody of 'the youngest grandma's ever' because they established a pattern of abuse?

I think that the answer lies in bringing back the chastity belt. But, who gets the key?

The Man Your Husband Is Worried About said...

Well, I think, obviously, I could be trusted with the key. A copy of the key? Can I just SEE the key and spend some time fantasizing about having it?

You did a much better job than I explaining the state's shaky grounds for condoning adultery but condemning polygamy. Thanks.

I also think it lent your post some gravitas to through the word "chick" out there in the middle. That's the type of book-learnin' that only comes with one of them there fancy PhDs.

JT said...

Sorry about the use of "chicks." I often use chicks and dudes when I refer to males and females. I have given up on saying gender and now only use the word sex to indicate their status at birth. Saying chick and dude relieves the pressure of misstating gender or sex. Nobody argues with chick and dudes.

The Man Your Husband Is Worried About said...

Hey, I'm all about the chicks and the dudes, except when proper decorum necessitates the use of the word "babes."

Erik said...

Dude..?! the poliger Tejas topic is a tough one to swallow, the thing that still gets me is that no one has been "charged" or served papers, yet all the kids have been carted of to foster homes controled by the state. I would be pretty suprised if I were to assume that even given the compoundish nature of the Zion ranch that you could put 400 some odd kids into better homes via the foster program. I really do think that Texas messed up big time on this one.