Civil Liberties

First They Came for the Toddlers…

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The FLDS raid in Texas looks more ludicrous every day. Writing in the Dallas Morning News, Scott Henson takes aim at Judge Barbara Walther:

Excuse me, Judge? You issued a sweeping, house-to-house search warrant based on a highly questionable anonymous call that turned out to be phony. You refused to allow individual hearings for children, grouping them together like cattle. You accepted the testimony of an expert on "cults" who only learned about FLDS from media accounts, rather than an academic who'd studied them professionally for 18 years.

You've ruled the existence of five girls between 16 and 19 who were pregnant or had children was evidence of systematic abuse, even though in Texas 16-year-olds can marry with parental consent. You've ruled young toddlers are in "immediate" danger because of their parents' beliefs or what might happen 15 years from now, not because anyone abuses them.

From the evidence presented publicly, I do not believe that the children have been sexually abused or physically harmed. Allegations of forcible rape turned out to be bogus, and only five girls 16 to 19 years old were found pregnant or with children—probably about the same ratio you'd find if you rounded up all the kids in my neighborhood….

In Eldorado, no one alleges YFZ parents are themselves abusing children. Instead the allegation (in court, at least) is that they're teaching their kids that a woman's highest calling is giving birth and raising children and that it's acceptable to get married at an early age. Even if it were true, and the allegation was disputed, can this really be enough to seize children from their homes?

Hanson has been covering the case heavily on his excellent blog. Also invaluable: The Polygamy Files, a blog by Brooke Adams of The Salt Lake Tribune, who has been on the fundamentalist Mormon beat for years. One piece of good news: Judge Walther has reversed her decision to separate FLDS mothers from children less than 12 months old.

And yes, it may turn out that there was some genuine sexual abuse in that community. If so, it should be punished. But even then, the approach the government has taken would be deeply harmful overkill, for reasons expressed pithily by Les Jones:

Imagine that some parents in a school district were accused of child abuse. Now imagine that the authorities took every child from the elementary, junior high, and high school away from their parents and put them in foster care. That's a rough analogy of what's happening in Texas.

The difference, I guess, is that the FLDS parents belong to a "cult." And once you've applied that label, it's just a quick step to assuming they do everything en masse.

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  1. How can anybody say the “rapes” are bogus. If someone who is an adult(over 18) has sex with a minor(under 18), it is statutory rape.

  2. The difference, I guess, is that the FLDS parents belong to a “cult.” And once you’ve applied that label, it’s just a quick step to assuming they do everything en masse.

    Dude, have you even seen those ladies’ hairstyles? They *do* do everything alike.

  3. Not in a majority of US states.

  4. If someone who is an adult(over 18) has sex with a minor(under 18), it is statutory rape.

    “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is. If the–if he–if ‘is’ means is and never has been, that is not–that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement…. – W.Jefferson Clinton

  5. How dare they believe in something ridiculous, other than the ridiculous thing that I believe in!

    Take away their kids! The Wiccans too! I bet their children are possessed!

  6. If Mormon fundies are cultists, why aren’t Catholics cultists? What about the altar boys? Take all the little Catholic children and put them in foster homes. And then there are the Hindoos; who knows what crazy shit they believe, with their elephant-headed graven images and such.

  7. It appears that in 29(including DC) states the age of consent is 16, regardless of the age of the partner. I bunch more have it at 16 based on age of the partner/age difference.

  8. Mr. Murphy, two points. Age of Consent varies by state. Many, if not most, states have not updated their laws regarding sex within marriage, and therefore any sex between husband and wife (regardless of the use of force) cannot be considered rape.

  9. It’s sad that prosecutions can turn so easily into persecutions in this country. Next they’ll be taking my kids to make sure they’re not fed peta funded vat grown meat.

  10. If the Scientologists were smart they’d be paying for these people’s lawyers. Xenu!

  11. How exactly do these people differ from the insular, strangely-dressed, different-values-holding Hasidic communities in Brooklyn and other parts? I definitely see girls in their very early 20s (if not younger) with at least one child riding the subway all the time.

    It’s either their wealth or the fact that they’re Jews and not “cultists.” And as a relatively wealthy Jew myself, either reason disgusts me.

    I’m not saying the Hassidim should be rounded up and put in shelters. I’m just saying the caprice of The Man knows no bounds.

  12. It’s not a compound … it’s our ranch, it’s our home …
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tICf7MaXyKs

  13. And it happens again.

    You guys should read Under the Banner of Heaven before you start acting like those FLDS people are harmless.

    Well, this should guarantee them another 50 years to abandon young boys on the highway and marry off young girls to 80 year old guys.

  14. If the Scientologists were smart they’d be paying for these people’s lawyers. Xenu!

    Natch, if the Scientologists were smart, they wouldn’t be Scientologists.

  15. I really haven’t been following this incident all that closely, but color me suprised that this is all coming out the way it is.

    Poor and biased coverage by the MSM? Judicial overreach in the name of the chill’un? Scary religous nuts at the center of the chewy career advancing nuget? Say it ain’t so!

  16. I think 16 year olds can get married in Texas with parental consent, but the age of sexual consent is 17.

  17. Whats happening is disgusting, tearing kids away from their parents without being tried in court first. What is this Nazi Germany?

  18. Well, this should guarantee them another 50 years to abandon young boys on the highway and marry off young girls to 80 year old guys.

    Well, here’s the problem.

    It’s legal for 16 year old’s to marry old guys.

    It’s legal for parents to teach their kids any time of ridiculous religious nonsense they want.

    Trying to make these two things illegal when they occur together instead of singly seems to me to be fundamentally unfair. Even if the FLDS people are gross.

    That leaves us with the plural marriage aspect. I guess you could argue that no marriages within the sect are valid other than first marriages, so claiming that these old guys are “married” to these teenagers is immediately invalid, and therefore the standard statutory rape laws should apply.

    But even if you do that, that still only justifies the arrest of certain of the men in the group. It doesn’t justify taking all the children away. Because basically the children are being taken away because the parents are telling them that they don’t have to respect the statutory rape laws, and hell – every parent of a teenager in the US who knows their underage kid is sexually active but considers it just part of “growing up” also isn’t really encouraging their kids to obey those laws.

  19. There have been some really hilarious comments on the thread so far but. ladies and gents, this is THE WINNER:

    if the Scientologists were smart, they wouldn’t be Scientologists.

    I guess Kerry is right. [Big Sigh]

  20. Someone must pay for this.

    I mean that.

    Seriously.

  21. Besides the charge of polygamy, how is this different than the women in some parts of the country who have children at age 16 (or younger), or men who have 8 or more children with various women?

    Cause they ain’t protestants?

  22. Actually, one of the smartest people I know was a Scientologist for many years. He’s out now, but he still will stick up for them now and again if the subject comes up. It is a huge cognitive dissonance for me as we share many values include the wine habit.

  23. marry off young girls to 80 year old guys.

    It worked out pretty well for Anna Nicole What’s’ername.

  24. why can’t we just have more federal laws to keep people from doing things i think are icky…i mean come on, i am only worried about THE CHILDREN.

    mike

  25. So what’s the background on the rape charge that Jeffs is wanted on?

    There is no question in my mind that the old guys are getting the sweet end of the deal in marrying these hot little 16 year olds. The entire polygamy/religious angle is just a very elaborate facade to isolate themselves from the disapproving mainstream culture and to put a legitimate face on what many regard as aberrant sexual behavior.

    And what about the Amish? Is it abusive to bring your children up in 1800’s where they’ll be completely unprepared to deal with the 21st Century?

  26. Not in Texas.

    Not in many states..

    Age of consent is often 16

  27. And, speaking of the Papist cult

    The body of the popular Italian saint, Padre Pio, has gone on display in a glass coffin in southern Italy.

    Padre Pio was said to have had stigmata, or bleeding wounds of Jesus, on his hands and feet.

    His body was exhumed in March on the 40th anniversary of his death. He was canonised by Pope John Paul II in 2002.

    I rest my case.

  28. You guys should read Under the Banner of Heaven before you start acting like those FLDS people are harmless.

    Yep, you should read a book written by a guy who knew nothing about his topic before he started on the book and that has been roundly criticized by scholars of religion who actually do know something about the topic. Because he’ll give you the real deal, unlike everyone else.

    There are problems with FLDS (and with Catholics and-horribile dictu-atheists, Hindus, Moslems, Protestants, guys named Fred, women named Sandy?).

    The point is that Krakauer’s book starts out with an assumption that something about their belief made these folks particularly nuts and he never entertains the option that the particular bombers he talks about happened to be nuts who had certain beliefs that they chose to emphasize to justify what they wanted to do. In short, he argues that correlation is causation. Use that method and you can prove any randomly selected group is particularly prone to violence.

    So no, Under the Banner of Heaven happens to be a particularly bad way to try to understand the FLDS.

  29. Frankly I’d care a lot more about these FLDS if they were not using my tax dollers to fund their little “compound” through welfare fraud and government benefits to “single mothers.”

  30. What I’d like to know is how they didn’t know this before this happened. The call wasn’t even from the same state. Don’t they trace the phone numbers? Wouldn’t that number help locate the alleged victim? The whole thing is a damn setup and the media is in full blown Waco mode again. If I ever see Nancy Grace in public I am going to kick her in the nuts.

  31. kinnath, Well what about polygamy itself, which is illegal in all 50 states? Not to mention that the head of this cult is a convicted felon on the loose from several state police agencies.

  32. This whole case makes me sick. I was at the gym and saw (didn’t hear because I was listening to Metallica) that dipshit Dr. Phil going on and on about those poor children. Then some jackass today saying of course the kids want to be with their parents but one should keep in mind that most abused children want that.

    It’s disgusting that they have ripped these kids from their families and every authority involved and supporting talking head on TV should be publicly flogged.

  33. Actually, one of the smartest people I know was a Scientologist for many years…

    You should get to know smarter people 😉

  34. Frankly I’d care a lot more about these FLDS if they were not using my tax dollers to fund their little “compound” through welfare fraud and government benefits to “single mothers.”

    I know they did that in other jurisdictions. Did they do it in Texas, too?

    Needless to say, the government’s behavior in this case was wrong either way. And of course, putting a bunch of kids in foster care isn’t exactly taking them off the dole.

  35. I wish more of the outrage at the abuse by prosecutors and the judge here didn’t come along with semi-defense of the FLDS. It’s not a “cult.” It’s actually a cult. The commenters here act like their worst crime is welfare fraud. It’s a well-documented fact that the cult leaders arrange marriages between underage girls and middle-aged men, many of whom are related in some way to their “wives.” The women are often married without their consent and then they’re held in the compound against their will. Just because they might be physically able to escape doesn’t mean they’re free to go, when you’re talking about children. And every one of the families that allowed their young son to be kicked out of town for the crime of being male should be prosecuted for child neglect.

  36. You should get to know smarter people 😉

    LOL (drink-new rule)

    Like I said, cognitive dissonance. So, like my leftie friends, there are some things we just don’t talk about.

  37. Fucking Texas

  38. “Well what about polygamy itself, which is illegal in all 50 states?”

    Are they legally married? Do they have state certificates? Because what I’d like to know is what separates them from philandering inner city males that I see here in DC and the same for the redneck town I grew up in. They have numerous kids by multiple mothers but the difference between them and the FLDS is that the FLDS actually take care of their kids and the kids actually have more than one parent. In many cases of the former, the one parent doesn’t even really qualify as a parent from what I can see.

  39. Not to mention that the head of this cult is a convicted felon on the loose from several state police agencies.

    You mean he escaped from jail? Because last I heard he was under arrest waiting trial as an accessory to rape (arranging an illegal marriage of some old guy to a minor).

    Look, I agree that the FDLS is a pretty creepy cult. Much of what they do is abhorrent and wrong. However, the problem is caused by the laws against polygamy, which forces members of the group to be at war with the outside world. Repeal the laws, and members of the religion would not have to cluster under their feudal lord’s protection anymore. Once they fear the outside world less than they fear their leaders, the members will start sticking up for themselves.

  40. Well, Lurker, I think you’re right. The whole thing smells, it’s just a question of how bad and if there is criminal activity.

    And, as I pointed out upthread……

    There is no question in my mind that the old guys are getting the sweet end of the deal in marrying these hot little 16 year olds. The entire polygamy/religious angle is just a very elaborate facade to isolate themselves from the disapproving mainstream culture and to put a legitimate face on what many regard as aberrant sexual behavior.

    And don’t get me started on the Jehovah Witnesses.

  41. that dipshit Dr. Phil going on and on about those poor children.

    If anybody ever deserved to be whacked mercilessly with a bamboo stick, “Dr” Phil is that person.

  42. Thanks Tarran, I had asked about the rape charge, being I was too lazy even for google. 🙂

  43. Oh, there was crime all right…a crime against fashion.
    That compound needs a Bravo Network makeover.

  44. …whacked mercilessly with a bamboo stick, “Dr” Phil is that person.

    I hate that guy…….

    Oh, and by criminal activity I certainly don’t mean polygamy. My old buddy Gonz tried desperately for years to get his two girlfriends (Maryanne and Little Goat) to marry him. He wasn’t Mormon either. It was both pathetic and funny. Eventually they both dumped him.

    FYI, we called her Little Goat cuz her legs were as hairy as Gonz’s.

  45. I’m from northern Utah and had some of these fundy polygamists living in my neighborhood. They are not nice people with a few strange religous practices. They support their oversized families with welfare fraud and various other schemes of varying legality. They use religous dogma and a closed society to provide a few high status men with unlimited females and abandon 4 out 5 of their sons to a world they have no experience in.

    This makes sense since in the pre-industrial age, polygamy was a rational choice for a woman since 10% of a rich man was better than 100% of a poor man. But the industrial age has raised the wealth of even the poor man that he can compete with the rich man for females. But these guys have found a way around it with God and Moroni and golden plates.

    All that said, this Texas case is a good example of why they don’t do much about the polyamists there. It is just too much of a hassle to break up large extended families and have mothers begging for their babies on TV.

  46. Here’s my thought experiment. Texas has common law marriage. So if I fulfill the requirements of a common law marriage with two women simultaneously, how is this not effectively polygamy? If I avoid the legal system completely by not getting a valid, state approved marriage I have done an end run around the system prohibiting polygamy.

    I am guessing in the absence of children, the state will declare whichever woman first met the requirements as common law wife is my actual wife and the subsequent women are just SOL.

  47. Blue, that’s all well and good, but the answer is to get rid of the welfare benefits, not to start sending stormtroopers into private homes. Personally, I’m no big fan of polygamy, but the law should be silent on the issue.

  48. T, under Texas law, you are guilty of bigamy if you hold yourself out as being married to more than one spouse at a time, even you if have only gone though the bureaucratic hoops with one of those spouses.

  49. For all who have commented, Warren Jeffs is currently serving a sentence of 10 years to life at the Utah State Prison. He’s hardly “on the loose from several state police agencies.” But tarran already corrected that.

    He is also sheduled to go on trial in Arizona.

    Between the two states I think you can be pretty sure he’s not going to be doing much marrying off old geezers to child brides.

    Oh, and miche,

    …saw (didn’t hear because I was listening to Metallica) that dipshit Dr. Phil…

    I’m no medical expert or nothing but I’m pretty sure that combination can lead to serious derangement. I know I started to feel perfectly demented just from reading that.

  50. Debate about the validity of polygamy laws aside, the government doesn’t have the right to take kids away from people who haven’t committed crimes or abused their kids. Living in an environment that is prone to danger is not a crime, or else many times being poor itself would be a crime. Go after these people for the crimes they do commit, and nothing more. Let the public shun and criticize them for the cultish ways on their own.

  51. There are plenty of reasons to think that polygamy is a bad idea but I’m hardpressed to find any reasons for it to be illegal.

    Frankly once issues of non-consent and welfare fraud are removed what business is it of anyone?

    I realize that the closed, authoritarian communities surrounding the practice raise questions of how consensual the practice is but that can be said of many practices within many narrow communities.

    And, what Robbie just said.

  52. I think the State of Texas is being heavy handed and isn’t giving enough due process at this point. Having said that, I don’t have a lot of sympathy for this group.

    I live in Mohave County, Arizona where is one of the compounds that the FLDS live at. Ironically, if they has stayed in Arizona, they would not have been raided like this because the CPS system here in Arizona could not have handled these kinds of numbers.

    The men treated the women like chattels. That is fine with me if the adults are consenting, but the FLDS treated 13 year olds as chattels and there would be hell to pay if your didn’t hand over your dauthers.

    And, as has been pointed out, they support themselves not like the Amish, whom I think support themselves, but by welfare fraud against the State.

    Boys have been kicked out because the old geezers want to keep a certain girl to guy ratio.

    Oh, and Warren Jeffs is located at the Mohave County Jail here in Kingman. He isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

  53. Why do I get the feeling that Andrew Murphy is getting a lot of secret pleasure out of this whole escape and afterwards ‘punishes’ himself for his sinful thoughts?

  54. under Texas law, you are guilty of bigamy if you hold yourself out as being married to more than one spouse at a time, even you if have only gone though the bureaucratic hoops with one of those spouses.

    So as long as you refer to the other women as “mistress” you are a-okay in texas?

    Seems a subtle and difficult to prove distinction. Barring fraud, of course.

  55. Troy, don’t all the Mormon whackjobs live on the other side of the Grand Canyon up by Colorado City, thereby cutting them off from scrutiny by the authorities in Mojave County?

  56. Yep, some of the FLDS members are creepy. Is anyone here for arresting people for doing stuff that is creepy but legal? Is there even one person here who has never done something that someone else, however wrongly from your POV, might consider creepy? If we don’t stand up for the civil rights of the FLDS when they’re being violated by the government, we effectively lose those civil rights for everyone else.

  57. It worked out pretty well for Anna Nicole What’s’ername.

    No, it didn’t.

  58. I read Under The Banner of Heaven a while ago. I would hardly call it scholarly, but they had one story, where a girl was giving birth to a baby that was so inbred it came out as what was called “a blob of protoplasm.” That was the first time i dropped a book out of horror. And i thought ‘two girls one cup’ was a picnic

  59. It’s a well-documented fact that the cult leaders arrange marriages between underage girls and middle-aged men, many of whom are related in some way to their “wives.”

    That doesn’t make it a cult, that makes them aristocrats.

  60. From the linked blog in the Salt Lake Tribune:

    “I have heard from several FLDS people who do not live at the ranch as well as former members who would like to provide homes for their relatives’ children. One is a monogamous woman with four children but also a sect member. Since the state has made much of the group’s belief system, I doubt she will be successful.

    One person involved in the placements joked that it might help if a foster home candidate showed up in court clad in a black leather skirt and red bustier. High heels are optional.”

  61. And every one of the families that allowed their young son to be kicked out of town for the crime of being male should be prosecuted for child neglect.

    And if they kept him there they’d be prosecuted or child abuse. Maybe you just have a prosecution fetish.

  62. Isaac,
    My husband is a medical expert (ok, highly trained doc)and he will concur that Metallica is the best to listen to while trying to run very quickly away from Dr. Phil. He will also say that I’m deranged without the combo.

  63. “…a black leather skirt and red bustier. High heels are optional.”

    High heels are NEVER optional when wearing a black leather skirt and a red bustier.

  64. Is anyone here for arresting people for doing stuff that is creepy but legal?

    Speaking of which, Balko was namechecked after he posted the H&R piece on the “creepy” guy who was arrested for talking to The Children?.

    Widespread ire over decision to arrest Folsom man

    Readers up in arms over arrest of man who talked to kids

  65. Well what about polygamy itself, which is illegal in all 50 states?

    Andrew, without defending FLDS . . . I see no rational, constitutional argument for banning plural marrige, or gay marriage, or inter-racial marraige, or whatever kind of marriage consenting adults choose to engage in.

    Consenting minors becomes problematic. It starts to depend heavily on whether the legal guardians (i.e., the parents) allow the minor to marry; or encourage the minor to marry; or demand the minor to marry; or outright force the minor to marry.

    The problem with every effort by society to ban “undesirable” behavior is that it drives that behavior underground where opportunities abound for those with bad intent to take advantage of those with good intent.

    Not to mention that the head of this cult is a convicted felon on the loose from several state police agencies.

    Totally irrelevant to the events taking place in Texas.

  66. This seems to have brought out one of libertarianism’s few blind spots.

    Why the assumption of 16 year olds? As far as I know (please correct me if I’m wrong) their policy is “when you start bleeding, you start breeding”. The mothers may agree with this because they’re brainwashed, or they may just be too scared not to go along, but this isn’t okay for children to be put through. The women are obviously terrified of not obeying the men though, they couldn’t even answer any interview questions that they weren’t prepped for.

    It’s not about polygamy, it’s not about “creepy” behavior, it’s about abuse (you know, violating other people’s rights). The men there are abusing the women and children. I honestly haven’t been paying much attention, so if this hasn’t been proven, i’ll back off. But I thought it was pretty obvious.

  67. Oh, and Warren Jeffs is located at the Mohave County Jail here in Kingman. He isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

    It should be noted that there is no age of consent for a minor in AZ. Sex between adults and minors is always illegal. Sex between two minors is always llegal.

    Warren Jeffs was prosecuted for enabling an illegal marriage between an adult and a minor. Since the marriage is not legal, sex between the “husband and wife” is by definition statutory rape.

    AZ managed to capture, try, and convict Mr. Jeffs without hauling every minor in the cult off to state custody.

  68. Why the assumption of 16 year olds?

    Because TX allows marriage of 16-year-olds. If the state of TX does prove that a marriage occurred between an adult male and a girl under 16, then that adult should be arrested.

  69. As far as I know (please correct me if I’m wrong) their policy is “when you start bleeding, you start breeding”.

    Is this true?
    There are many girls who start menstruating at the age of 10, some as young as 8. In fact, in modern society, women are menstruating at a younger age than before. So, those who spout “old enough to bleed, old enough to breed” think it’s perfectly fine for these young girls to engage in “consensual” sex or be married?

  70. This seems to have brought out one of libertarianism’s few blind spots.

    There have been many vigorous discussions on H&R about when minors are capable of making informed decsions and therefore have the same right to autonomy as adults. These discussions have included the topic of when a minor can give informed consent to have sex.

    There has never been a consensus on these topics, but I don’t think that constitutes a “blind spot”.

  71. but this isn’t okay for children to be put through.

    That could be construed as another type of brainwashing.

    The sexual urge is far too strong to be controlled by a society’s infantilization of people under an arbitrary age. The sexual urge is also too strong to be subjected to an other society’s attempts at control – in this case the “cult’s” attempt at control via arranged marriages at a certain arbitrary age.

    This isn’t a libertarian blind spot. There’s a restriction of freedom based on arbitray age. THAT is what is wrong. Pitting one society’s stupid restrictions versus another society’s stupid restrictions without accepting a third possiblity is the blind spot.

  72. Invisble finger, you reason like a kiddie perv.

  73. jorge,

    Minors need OB-GYN’s, too 😉 Or we could restrict them to Christian Scientist medical care.

  74. There are many troubling facts about this case that makes me think the State is really after something else besides the welfare of children:

    1) If the State proves that a few girls became mothers at an earlier age than the age of consent, then they are victims of sexual abuse. So why are they being punished by taking THEIR children away?

    2) If the DNA testing proves that the other young mothers are NOT related to the supposedly abused girls, then why were their children taken away? What was the exact nature of their crime? Just being there?

  75. There is no question in my mind that the old guys are getting the sweet end of the deal in marrying these hot little 16 year olds. The entire polygamy/religious angle is just a very elaborate facade to isolate themselves from the disapproving mainstream culture and to put a legitimate face on what many regard as aberrant sexual behavior.

    aberrant sexual behavior?

    Speaking in a biological sense their sexual behavior seems to me to be highly successful.

    How many breeding aged women are pregnant again?

  76. Invisble finger, you reason like a kiddie perv.

    I’m sort of new to all this, does this count as being “Godwinned”?

    And am i supposed to drink?

  77. “””As far as I know (please correct me if I’m wrong) their policy is “when you start bleeding, you start breeding”.”””

    One could argure that it is God’s policy. God is saying it is ok because he is allowing the mechanics to happen. Not that I agree, but if God is an intelligent being who designed everything with purpose, then there is a purpose for bleeding at 12. Otherwise, either God is not intelligent, or he is not one of purpose. But that’s not the real issue. I think Scott Hanson has it right.

    I don’t think many churches have made the connection but the so called abuse as testifed by an expert was authoritative religious indoctrination of a minor. What church isn’t guilty of that? It’s really an attack on almost all religions.

  78. And when I refreshed this page, ads by Google served up this little ditty.

    Polygamy Forums
    One Wife Or Three? Find Forums about Polygamy. Search With Twing.
    http://www.Twing.com

  79. “And, as has been pointed out, they support themselves not like the Amish, whom I think support themselves, but by welfare fraud against the State.”

    Having lived among the Amish, yes, that is true. They work very hard on their farms and in their shops. They also treat their animals like gold. Oh, and their kids — when old enough — are free to hitch up a wagon and travel as far as the hourse will go. They engage strangers in conversation. I often think Jefferson would have approved of their lifestyle.

  80. There is no question in my mind that the old guys are getting the sweet end of the deal in marrying these hot little 16 year olds. The entire polygamy/religious angle is just a very elaborate facade to isolate themselves from the disapproving mainstream culture and to put a legitimate face on what many regard as aberrant sexual behavior.

    That “aberrant” behavior was the western norm for centuries. Women were married off shortly after menses (14-16 in earlier years when diets were presumably poorer and less hormone-filled) to avoid illigitimate pregnancy. Men married later in life, when they had a stable income capable of supporting a family and had already sown their oats.

  81. “So, those who spout “old enough to bleed, old enough to breed” think it’s perfectly fine for these young girls to engage in “consensual” sex or be married?”

    I go with the smoking metric: Old enough to smoke, old enough to poke.

  82. Invisble finger, you reason like a kiddie perv.

    You could say that of anyone who thinks our society has become too obsessed with teenage sex. I’ll come out and say it, though. There are worse things that have happened to me than getting laid at 17, but not many better.

  83. “then there is a purpose for bleeding at 12”

    So they can be little crazy terrors while 13.

  84. So as long as you refer to the other women as “mistress” you are a-okay in texas?

    Seems a subtle and difficult to prove distinction. Barring fraud, of course.

    Not that subtle. If I had an open marriage and openly had one or more girlfriends in addition to my wife, I would not be engaging in polygamy, for the simple reason that I’m not claiming any of the benefits of marriage with those other women.

    The issue gets thornier when you deal with the issue of common-law marriage. In many Latin American cultures (and even historically among Latinos in the USA), it’s not uncommon for one man to have two or more separate families and lead ‘dual lives’. Even though the macho dude in question is only technically married to one woman and doesn’t pretend to the world that he’s married to the second, his actions in having a second family household could conceivably function as a common-law marriage in some states, and thereby violate bigamy laws.

    AFAIK, bigamy laws are usually only prosecuted against the type of scam artist who attempts to legally marry a whole bunch of women at the same time for fraudulent purposes.

  85. BTW, the crazy nature of all these hypotheticals sounds to me like a good reason for the state to get out of the marriage business altogether.

    Age of consent is a whole different issue, on which reasonable people can disagree–and which has nothing inherently to do with polygamy, as we’ve seen in some of the recent statutory rape cases involving teenaged couples.

  86. That “aberrant” behavior was the western norm for centuries.

    That’s tacos and Josh, two people who blame me for making an observation about general values. I didn’t say it was aberrant I said the whole facade of religion and polygamy is an effect designed to get around the fact that old men sleeping with teen age girls is not always socially acceptable in our modern world.

    And, Tacos, it wasn’t just western civilization that started young, it was worldwide. Seems like the ME had a pretty good thing going with those harems.

    I am a firm believer that biology is a fair indicator of adulthood. Not in our culture, of course, because we have systematically pushed good sense off into twenty-something over the last century, but really, there isn’t any other good reason why 14-15 shouldn’t be the age of adulthood. Contract, guns, booze, voting, property, driving.

  87. And, Tacos, it wasn’t just western civilization that started young, it was worldwide. Seems like the ME had a pretty good thing going with those harems.

    And not just for the men. I imagine most women were better off being the sixth wife of a rich man than the only wife of a very poor one.

    The issue with polygamy has always been what to do with the excess men. One suspects that this was one of the functions of primogeniture. As for how this ties into latter-day fundamentalists, I don’t think that the whole thing is a scam just to get 16 year old tail, but I imagine that’s one of the perks.

  88. And what about the Amish? Is it abusive to bring your children up in 1800’s where they’ll be completely unprepared to deal with the 21st Century?

    This immediately puts me in mind of a piece of dialogue from Evelyn Waugh’s “Scott-King’s Modern Europe,” in which the headmaster is speaking to the classics master:

    “Parents are not interested in producing the ‘complete man’ anymore. They want to qualify their boys for jobs in the modern world. You can hardly blame them, can you?”

    “Oh, Yes, I can and I do….I think it would be a very wicked thing indeed to do anything to fit a boy for the modern world.”

  89. kinnath and Invisible Finger – by blind spot, I didn’t mean the age of consent thing. I meant that these girls possibly (or probably, depending on how you view the “cult” aspect) weren’t giving consent when they were impregnated, and (libertarian) people were mad that the State rescued them. People are saying 16 olds can consent (which i basically agree with), but they’re not asking whether THESE 16 and younger year olds did. If they didn’t, they were living as sex slaves right? Which is a violation of their rights?

    Tricky Vic – Thank you for bringing that up. I’ve always found it adorable that it’s religious conservatives who are so outraged when young people have sex, but they never even ask why the f*ck God would give humans bodies that have sexual urges and can physically procreate long before they are “emotionally ready”.

    To quote Christopher Hitchens, “Some design, and some designer.”

  90. Age of consent in Texas is 17, not 16. However , “…It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under this section that the actor…was not more than three years older than the victim and of the opposite sex…(and) did not use duress, force, or a threat against the victim at the time of the offence.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ages_of_consent_in_North_America
    “16-yr with parental consent” marriage laws don’t matter in this case, because such marriages under 18 require a court order, which I’m sure few if any have, in addition to parental consent. There is zero legal defense for an 80 year old sleeping with a 16 year old. Some women in these cases are even younger.

    There is little to no consent involved in these relationships anyway. I have no problem with polygamy between consentual adults, but I also have no problem with the government cracking down on what are essentially children being forced into arranged marriages and raped. If you don’t agree to the marriage, young women are beaten and threatened with your life. Some have even been killed. Also, the whole cult, as mentioned above, is basically a scheme funded by government welfare anyway.

    I don’t understand how any libertarian could tolerate this. My big fallout with libertarianism has been over the misguided belief that the government is the primary evil in society, ignoring that individuals, societies, religions, groups and corporarions could be as, if not more, violating of individual liberties than the government. You can’t say most things the government does are wrong, and then turn a blind eye to other violators of the rights of others. Look at anarchist Somalia. This is why libertarianism can actually be inconsistent with maximizing liberty.

    Back to this case, the problem is that the cult is so secretive and closed that it is difficult to prove wrongdoing. I think the government also took it too far in removing children from their mothers (or even their fathers) until due process takes place. I don’t believe that a phone call about one incident gives the government the license to raid the whole compound, divide up families, etc.

    So I guess my opinion tows the line between recognizing the rights of families to teach their kids any crazy religion they want to and receive a fair process before having their kids torn away just because they live there, and recognizing that these societies ARE indeed rife with abuse, sexual slavery and forced marriages and should be opened up more for investigation. The government should have gotten legal warrants and investigated each case on a one-by-one scenario instead of doing a massive raid and destroying families who may not have done anything wrong because of one phone call.

    Freedom of religion is not a defense here. Forcing children to marry and, in many cases, be raped has little to do with religious freedom. It’s like NAMBLA – they have the right to believe whatever they want about sex with children, but actually molesting children is not a right protected by the freedom of thought or belief.

  91. To clarify my first paragraph, the quotation is about statutory rape cases (there is an exception if the older person is within three years of age of the younger person.)

  92. kinnath and Invisible Finger – by blind spot, I didn’t mean the age of consent thing. I meant that these girls possibly (or probably, depending on how you view the “cult” aspect) weren’t giving consent when they were impregnated, and (libertarian) people were mad that the State rescued them. People are saying 16 olds can consent (which i basically agree with), but they’re not asking whether THESE 16 and younger year olds did. If they didn’t, they were living as sex slaves right? Which is a violation of their rights?

    This claim is belied by the fact that the women of the compound are complaining about the raid and want their kids back and want to be left alone. This is not the behavior of rescued slaves.

    I have no problem with polygamy between consentual adults, but I also have no problem with the government cracking down on what are essentially children being forced into arranged marriages and raped. If you don’t agree to the marriage, young women are beaten and threatened with your life.

    If this is true, why didn’t the state of Texas introduce evidence to this effect at the mass hearing?

    They chose instead to put an expert on the stand to testify that the religious instruction the cult engaged in was somehow coercive in and of itself, which is of course absurd. If these “marriages” were the result of physical violence, where’s the evidence to that effect?

    “I got married because they threatened to beat me to death,” is a statement that provides evidence of coercion. “I got married because God wanted me to,” is not. Neither is “I got married because my parents would be angry if I didn’t,” also is not. If you consent to something for a stupid reason or because of social pressure, guess what – you consented.

  93. Andy, this case has received non-stop coverage in the press. As far as I know, there hasn’t been a single documented instance of physical or sexual abuse presented to the judge.

    To pull hundreds of children, including breast-fed infants, from there families without evidence is flat out government abuse.

    That being said, if the state of Texas actually proves that old geezers were raping girls under the age of 16 I would have no problem those old geezers taking it up the ass in prison.

    Innocent until proven guilty. Once proven guilty the punishment should match the crime.

  94. Andrew Murphy wrote: “Well what about polygamy itself, which is illegal in all 50 states?”

    And the state has the power to outlaw polygamy because . . ?

    And this is a problem for you because . . ?

    For perspective, a guy can shack up with 20 women, have kids by all of them, and the state leaves them all alone.

    . . .unless he says he’s married to more than one at a time.

    I guess it’s not sex or parenthood that’s illegal, just MARRIAGE.

  95. Polygamy and hoaxes
    Polygamy is nothing new – quite the opposite. Moses prescribed it as duty: Under the hard conditions of the desert life, men’s lives didn’t count for much (so, what’s changed?) and a widow’s wouldn’t last long without support – so, the brother had to take on his dead brother’s wife – and if several brothers died, ?

    It served as life insurance. Mohammed also came from that desert region, and he took over the Pentateuch in full, as faithful Son of Abraham.

    As for more recent times: the Christian churches grown in the States are mostly more Old-Testamentarian than Christian (maybe, some more “lost tribes” of Erez El? – I understand that some of them believe that.)

    Thus, for Josef Smith et alios, who also had the experience of expulsion and a hard life, it was, at first, quite natural to follow the Judaic forebears.

    In these days, when people can rely on social services, such a support seems not needed any more (although in the US – one doesn’t really know). Mind you: if people wanted to? We have protection for all sorts of “gender orientations” – “consensual between adults” etc ?? This liberalism seems, however, a bit selective in some places – especially the other orthodox Bible-Belt.

    We have seen Waco. And now?? The tanks were there again – but why? It turns out: the “HELP!” cry by an under-age forced “wife” was a hoax – actually, there was a whole plethora of hoax calls. But the Forces of the Law were there as if they had waited for it. – Tat looks a bit like: They were waiting for it?!

    Who else would have fabricated that sting operation (evidence acquired in such illegal ways is not admissible in any decent Court of Justice (but: we’re only about the US Judiciary – so what?).

    There is one other possibility: the NOW or some other ‘Women’s Rights” organisation. That would not be new: Think of Roe vs. Wade, the perjury before the US Supreme Court which has legalized 30 million feticides by now: Norma McGovern, alias Jane Roe, was put forward as stooge with a false claim of rape and wish of abortion. Only: she was never raped and never aborted her child – and she has thrice asked the Supreme Court to annul that decision, which she is deeply ashamed of.

    And it’s not only US – here in Hong Kong we had the “Evidence is a Luxury Bill” passed under a definitely false claim of similar proportions. All that is sad because our moral sense should have developed far enough to tell us that the dictum “the aim justifies the means” is, maybe, enough for a scoundrel, but should be far from us. So: Whodunnit?

    Dr. J. Boost

  96. “Congress shall make no law establishing a religion or prohibiting the free expression thereof” unless it truly nauseates the sensibilities of southern Baptist snake handlers who send off their hard earned money to televangelists who mail them back a magic healing handkerchief.
    In MOST societies throughout history,women marry within two years of attaining puberty. Also, in most human societies throughout history polygamy is an acceptable custom. For example, the Powhatan Indian princess, Pocohontas, was 12 years old when she seduced Captain John Smith. Her father had several wives. Methinks the prosecutors are just jealous because their strange religious beliefs won’t let them have more than one wife.

  97. “In MOST societies throughout history,women marry within two years of attaining puberty. Also, in most human societies throughout history polygamy is an acceptable custom. For example, the Powhatan Indian princess, Pocohontas, was 12 years old when she seduced Captain John Smith. Her father had several wives. Methinks the prosecutors are just jealous because their strange religious beliefs won’t let them have more than one wife.”

    Just love it. Can we bring the issue back into modern society now?
    Yup, MANY things were customary before the 21st century. I’d like to know how many of these societies CURRENTLY have “women marry within two years of attaining puberty” as the NORM. I’m sure we may find a few tribes in Africa, but that would be it (and most of these tribes are very poor examples of free societies). For the most part, societies have evolved to no longer NEED young women married to old men with other wives. Why? because it is no longer in her best interest to do so. A century ago, as some have mentioned, it was better to be the fifth wife of a rich man than the only wife of a poor man. That is not the case today. Women can make a living for themselves and are not as dependent on men. I thought most of you guys were happy about this? (I can recall Guy Montag bitchin’ about buying women dinner- imagine if he had to be financially responsible for 3 wives and all of his offspring?)- sorry, Guy for using you as an example 🙂

  98. For example, the Powhatan Indian princess, Pocohontas, was 12 years old when she seduced Captain John Smith. Her father had several wives.

    While Powhatan had several wives, there is no evidence that Pocahontas ever “seduce[d]” Captain John Smith, or had a romantic or sexual relationship with him at all. Maybe you were thinking of John Rolfe (whom she married at the age of around 18 or 19), or maybe you just don’t believe heterosexuals of different sexes can have a strong friendship without it becoming a sexual one.

  99. Side note:
    It’s threads like this that explain why there are not many liberatarian women.

    I was so close to go running to the feministing website- a new low point for me – but resisted the urge (I wouldn’t be able to trade-in my stilletos and short skirts for flannel shirts and birkenstocks)

  100. I want to congratulate the state of Texas for this Texas-sized screw up. Instead of planning their legal options carefully, they busted in with itchy trigger fingers. Now that the legal and child protection systems have been overwhelmed, the adult men and women are free to go back and breed some more.

    Unless they plan to do massive raids every couple years, in two decades things will be right back to the way they were. All debates about polygamy and age considerations and child abuse aside, the state of Texas handled this in the worst possible way. This is the state that leads the nation in death penalty executions, BTW. How many of those were railroad jobs too?

  101. Its not uncommon for the US Goverment to “protect our children”. Its only a pretext by which the Department of Social Services in the name of “protecting children” complies with the US Goverment?s policies to manipulate and control the American Familyand people. The abuse,pain and suffering caused by the Department of Social Services to American Families is a policy to keep control over Americans, and a big bussinees equally with its judicial system where justice is only accessed with money.Justice in America is a falacy. My son Phoenix Villamizar was taken from his mother Rodica Villamizar and I in 2003, because the Cuban-american mafia who controls the Department of Social Services in Miami, are now in the busssiness of telling everyone else when a parent abuse its children and when children must be taken away by the goverment. The case of the so called “monogamist cult”, is just another justification for the US Goverment to take care of those who criticize its corruption and power. Where is the so called “Freedom in America”?Fredown to do what?In america only the media outlets are the only ones to have free speech, the rest of the population are muted by the mass media. Where is the freedown and equal rights? Equality what is that? Blacks and Latinos are a cheap labor force to make the rich, richer and pay taxes to the Goverment to make war against indefence countries where the US Goverment leaded by trasnational Corporations control the US Goverment.Where is the Freedom in America?Gerardovillamizar001@yahoo.es

  102. “16-yr with parental consent” marriage laws don’t matter in this case, because such marriages under 18 require a court order, which I’m sure few if any have, in addition to parental consent. There is zero legal defense for an 80 year old sleeping with a 16 year old. Some women in these cases are even younger.

    That’s not accurate. See Tex. Fam. Code sec. 2.102. A court is involved is if the person who is assenting to the marriage is not the parent; then the court must grant them the right to approve of the marriage. Or a court can be involved if the minor seeks to marry against the wishes of their parents. See. Tex. Fam. Code 2.103.

    Additionally, these laws do apply in this case. While some of the marriages that took place in the compound are certainly invalid, the first marriage certainly is still valid so long as there was no force, coercion or duress in procuring the marriage. That may be the case in some of the marriages in the compound, but it would be irresponsible to speculate that such is the case with ALL of the marriages. Additionally, I don’t see how taking children away from the care and protectin of their mothers, who as far as I can tell are not the ones suspected of abusing them, helps alleviate the alleged underlying wrong-doing.

  103. I suggest strongly to anyone who doesn’t believe that many of these marriages and pregnancies are coerced upon underage girls under threat of physical violence, and that many of these girls are raped against their will, often by family members, please read “Under the Banner of Heaven” by Jon Krakauer. There’s plenty of evidence of wrongdoing to convince libertarians that perhaps this cult should be investigated, not for their beliefs but for their actions, which go completely against individual freedom and human dignity. In the Colorado City haven, the police, the lawmakers, everyone is under the influence of a cult leader (Warren Jeffs and his predecessors) to ignore or advocate rape, coerced marriages and physical violence against women who try to escape. Someone who can turn a blind eye to that kind of tyranny is no friend of liberty.

    They brainwash their children into thinking rape is normal and acceptable. I’m sure pedophiles would also love to have a society of their own, where it could just be them and the children and where policemen happen to be pedophiles too. They could teach the children that molestation is normal and that they shouldn’t talk to outsiders, lest their cover be blown. The Mormon fundamentalist societies are not significantly different from this, they are just hiding under the guise of religion.

    Of course the government mishandled it in many regards, but an investigation and in many cases an intervention is necessary in this case because the evidence is overwhelming. I don’t think they should seize any children until there is a strong case, but I also won’t pretend that this is a harmless society practicing consentual actions, either.

    And more than half of you on this blog sure seem to think so, which is so sad…why don’t you do more research before you casually sit back and lambaste the government any time they do something?

  104. Quick comment that the State of Texas allowed 13 year old females to be married with parental consent up until 9/1/2005. I guess we should round up the children from all the parents in Texas since they were parties to this ‘child rape’ law.

  105. Another quick comment:

    2,000 years ago, it was common in Jewish communities for parents to arrange marriages (betrothal) of girls with older men. The typical age of marriage was 13 for girls and 18 for men after a period of a few years of this betrothal period (aka “spiritual marriage”).

    On this basis it is likely that Mary was married to Joseph when she was 13, became impregnated by God at about that time and bore Jesus at the age of 14. Given the widespread celebration of that act by many churches, I propose that a warrant be issued to investigate the background of all Christian parents and remove their kids from this potentially dangerous environment until they prove that they are not abusing their kids.

  106. isnt it interesting that the alledged VICTIMS not the alledged RAPIST/ABUSERS are being removed from their homes and separated from their children? when and where were those menfolk removed from and transferred to? given the nature of polygamy, it would be a short bus.

  107. the reason the young girls are married off to old as dirt men is because they can financially afford to care for them and their offspring. it’s not about love per se, it’s about serving what they believe is their purpose in life according to god. which is to be a wife and pop out babies. the parent’s of the young bride must truly care for their child by setting her up with the man that has the best chance of supporting her for the rest of her life.

    how is it that arranged marriages exited all over the world for centuries!

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