Family Issues

Latter-Day Taint

Who will rescue the children of Yearning for Zion Ranch from their rescuers?


I'm not quite as old-fashioned as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), which hews to the early-marriage customs of the 19th century and the polygamous practices of biblical times. But I'm old-fashioned enough to believe the government needs a good reason to pull a crying, clinging child away from her mother and hand her over to the care of strangers.

The possibility that the child might marry an older man 10 or 12 or 14 years from now does not cut it. Citing that long-term, speculative danger to justify the certain, immediate damage it has done by forcibly separating hundreds of children from their parents, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services has violated its duty to take such extreme measures only when there's no other way to prevent imminent harm.

The department took custody of 463 minors who were living at the FLDS church's Yearning for Zion (YFZ) Ranch in Eldorado after an April 3 raid that was based on an abuse report police believe was a hoax. On Monday state officials said the children, who are now living in group homes or shelters, include 53 girls between the ages of 14 and 17, of whom 31 are pregnant or have children.

I don't know whether to believe that. Texas officials have proven unreliable even on such basic questions as the justification for the raid, which was a report of physical abuse from a 16-year-old YFZ resident who apparently does not exist, and the number of children seized, a figure that was revised yet again this week. Just a few days ago, the number of underage mothers was said to be 20.

It's not clear how the government determined the ages of these girls. It says many who claimed to be adults were in fact minors, while FLDS members say many of the girls the state describes as minors are in fact adults.

Furthermore, the age of consent for sex in Texas is 17, while the minimum age for marriage, with parental approval, is 16 (raised in 2005 from 14 with the FLDS in mind). Hence a pregnant 16- or 17-year-old is not necessarily evidence that any laws have been broken.

Even by the government's account, 463 children were forcibly removed from their homes because 7 percent of them may have been victims of sexual abuse. Although there's no evidence that boys or prepubescent girls were abused at YFZ, the minors in state custody include 213 boys and about 130 children under the age of 5.

What is the state's rationale for taking girls who were not pregnant or mothers along with those who were, for taking boys along with girls, and for taking infants, toddlers, and preschoolers along with teenagers? In an affidavit, it asserts "a pervasive pattern and practice of indoctrinating and grooming minor female children to accept spiritual marriages to adult male members of the YFZ Ranch resulting in them being abused." As for the boys, "after they become adults, [they] are spiritually married to minor female children and engage in sexual relationships with them resulting in them becoming sexually [sic] perpetrators."

In short, the whole FLDS culture is sick and corrupt, so anyone raised in that environment is ipso facto a victim of abuse. This theory of collective guilt, which was accepted by Judge Barbara Walther after a chaotic and cursory mass hearing on April 17, is the antithesis of the individualized risk assessment that is supposed to justify taking a child from his parents.

Some YFZ residents say they do not approve of marriage before the legal age of consent, while others say they do not practice polygamy at all. Yet all were tarred with the same broad brush, based on a principle that church attorney Rod Parker aptly summed up this way: "If you're a member of this religious group, then you're not allowed to have children."

© Copyright 2008 by Creators Syndicate Inc.


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  1. My theory is that the state knows it lacks justification but is going to put these people through hell to force them to leave Texas when they finally get their kids back.

  2. The practices at the YFZ disgust most people. But, what can be done about this long arm of the law? Most citizens are slugs and as long as their check keeps coming, they are happy. Until their children are taken because of a false charge. What is to be done?

  3. While few other than member FLDS could fully empathize with the community and its mores, many of us can at least recognize that our own mores might fail the supposed commonality of Americans. Hence, we defend the FLDS.

    We deplore the ‘blanket’ rules. We deplore the assumptions. We deplore the thought that gov’t knows best especially when determined by outsiders.Then we hear the shrill: “But they’re brainwashed!”

    Brainwashing is the most inappropriately overused word I hear. Brainwashing involves torture tactics such as deprivation or waterboarding. Under this current definition it is ascribed widley. In reality it means inculcation, the same process that creates Democrats and Republicans or Libertarians. Kids take on parents values, most of the time.

    Unfortunately, one of the prevailing beliefs of parents is: Jesus H. Christ, my kid is the Second Coming and I must clear the way for him/her, lest he/she get corrupted.

    Yes it’s an oxymoron, but parents rarely give their kids any credit, even when they reach legal age. I hear it all the time…but the children!


  4. Fucking Texas. Mexico can’t take it back soon enough for me.

  5. I’d say the first commenter is spot on. However, once this power has been used, there’s no putting the genie back in the bottle. Homosexuals still aren’t too popular in Texas last I checked.

  6. At this point all children arleady belong to the state and the parents are meerly state authorized caretakers at the whim of the state. I’ve raised 4 children to adults already. The state can and will take your kids for any or no reason and leave you a nearly impossible (without sufficient publicity) task of recovering them.

  7. I see one gang of self-righteous religious nuts using a thin veneer of “the law” for cover under which to fuck with another gang of self-righteous religious nuts.

  8. for the Fundamentalist Mormons…

  9. Warren: You misspelled “Utah”.

    In the long term, this will lower the amount of government interference in our lives.

    Will some innocent kids have to listen to Baptist claptrap about how their version of the invisible sky wizard is better than the Mormon version of the invisible sky wizard?


    But that’s a lesser evil than my tax dollars having to pay for the long term medical care for the polygamists inbred children.

    The polygamists’ right to doink teenaged girls ends at my wallet when they send the girls out to commit welfare fraud to pay for the results.

  10. First they came: Apples and oranges.

    Very few Libertarians send their teenaged “spiritual wives” off to commit welfare fraud to support a bunch of inbred children with expensive medical conditions.

  11. Very few Libertarians send their teenaged “spiritual wives” off to commit welfare fraud to support a bunch of inbred children with expensive medical conditions.

    Well, none that I know, anyway. Look, it is possible to condemn the actions of the state without necessarily approving of the FLDS. The problems with state action are well known at this point. The raid was conducted on demonstrably false pretenses, children have been taken by the state absent any evidence of abuse or neglect, and the state is now making the parents jump through hoops to get the kids back. Regardless of the welfare fraud some FLDS members may commit, the state’s actions are unconscionable.


    There has not been the first mention of welfare fraud in any of the Sate of Texas’ claims against the FLDS. And anyone would be pretty hardpressed to find a justication for seizing 400+ children in a welfare fraud case.

    The FLDS is a tiny crackpot sect. Its impact in this country is miniscule. What affect it has on its tiny number of members is another matter but there’s still a question of whether a raid on this scale is going to help.

    When this whole thing shakes out there’s a good chance it will have the same affect in TX the Short Creek raid did fortyfive years ago in Arizona.

  13. absent any evidence of abuse or neglect

    Forcing underage girls into sexual relationships with relatives might be considered abusive.

  14. Again, if anyone’s forcing underage girls into sexual relationships with relatives then prosecute them. Don’t go on fishing expeditions to find them.

    Notice also that the notion of “underage” is a rather fluid one as the variety of different ages of consent exist in different stares shows.

    Freedom (of speech, religion etc) is not just a privilege for the popular.

  15. The Short Creek raid was fiftyfive years ago.

  16. Soooo… When can we expect the raids on Amish communities to commence? I’d say next year, as Pennsylvania is a swing state and neither party wants to upset the status quo prior to the Presidential election.

  17. The Short Creek raid was fiftyfive years ago.

    And for almost that long the public backlash kept authorities in Utah and Arizona from bothering the polygs. It’s still pretty relevant and the politicos in Texas behind this affair should have considered what happened the last time someone did what they did…

    Forcing underage girls into sexual relationships with relatives might be considered abusive.

    So far all we have for sure are claims by the state that this was done and claims by the FLDS that it was not done. Given the State of Texas’ record thus far in having its claims hold up, I’m not going to give them the benefit of the doubt here. Last time I checked our legal system incorporated the English common law presumption of innocence as a fundamental principle and we are not under a Roman or Napoleonic system. But perhaps Texas is different? or “ed” just wishes it were because he thinks icky, creepy people don’t deserve the protection of the law…

  18. Forcing underage girls into sexual relationships with relatives might be considered abusive.

    Then the state needs to step up and provide evidence this is happening. They haven’t managed it yet. Everybody is throwing out past examples of poor behavior by other FLDS members as justification for this raid. That doesn’t pass the smell test. The state needs to show evidence tied to these specific people, not FLDS members in general.

    Otherwise, as libertarians, we’re all fucked. Some libertarians advocate violent resistance to unlawful authority, therefore we all do. Ergo, libertarians are a threat and should be placed in camps. That’s the same logic being used here.

  19. “Then the state needs to step up and provide evidence this is happening.
    They haven’t managed it yet.”

    You must believe in immaculate conception. How else can you explain all the pregnancies?
    Read the news lately?

    On Monday, CPS announced that almost 60 percent of the underage girls living on the Eldorado ranch either have children or are pregnant. Of the 53 girls between the ages of 14 and 17 who are in state custody, 31 either have given birth or were expecting, Azar said.

  20. Even assuming that there was sex with underage girls, then why were the boys taken? Why were the infants? Why were they taken from their mothers? Why have only the children and mothers been punished here, while the men who are presumably the guilty parties walking around free?

  21. the men who are presumably the guilty parties walking around free

    Temporarily free. I believe the technical term for what’s happening here is called an “investigation.” So far there’s plenty of damning evidence and more is coming to light every day. Expect lots of arrests down the road.


    My tax dollars paying the medical bills for cultists’ kids is abusive.

  23. ed looks at child pornography.

    Now that that’s been alleged, I’m sure he’ll politely step aside for the “investigation”. You’ll get your family, life, and hopefully your job back in a few short weeks.

    It’s for the children.

  24. There are no good guys in this, really.

    The only possible good that can come of this is that the media might focus a bit on the intrusiveness of the state when it comes to child-rearing. Unfortunately, the FLDS is so unsympathetic that some people will undoubtedly use this advocate more intrusion.

  25. If cops come to the door and there’s a naked kid and Ed is in a state of arousal; then, yeah, he should step aside for an investigation.

    That’s what happened in Texas.

    What part of pregnant 14-year-olds that your tax dollars are paying for don’t you understand?

  26. ed,

    I also read the article where the FLDS lawyers say CPS is lying. So who to believe? Hmm. That whole “presumption of innocence” thing again…

  27. Boys who live with these child molesters tend to “be involved in accidents” or otherwise disappear:

    There are a total of 463 FLDS children – 250 females, 213 males – in state custody in Texas. Here is a breakdown of that count:
    * 0-2: 101, 49 females, 52 males
    * 3-5: 99, 46 females, 53 males
    * 6-9: 131, 68 females, 63 males
    * 10-13: 62, 34 females, 28 males
    * 14-17: 42, 27 females, 15 males
    * Disputed age: 26 females, now classified as 17 or younger.
    * Two boys who turned 18 while in state custody also have voluntarily chosen to stay with younger boys.
    Source: Texas Child Protective Services

  28. “What part of pregnant 14-year-olds that your tax dollars are paying for don’t you understand?”

    Wow, you kicked that straw man’s ass! Both the FCLDS and the raid were wrong. The raid scares me much more.

  29. Too bad the State of Texas couldn’t have found a better way to do this. IANAL, but if there were a legal way to obtain documents and DNA of the FLDS cult and work from there I would not feel as bad supporting state action. Then again, I don’t know how they would even go about obtaining that information, especially since the FLDS is hardly forthcoming with those records.

    And once they found those responsible, don’t you think mothers should be prosecuted as well? Say officials found through DNA evidence which men were unlawfully married to underage women, or not even married at all because they are their second or third wife. If those women were minors, then their mothers and fathers should be guilty of not reporting abuse of their children, right? I don’t know the law very well and I live in Texas even.

  30. You must believe in immaculate conception. How else can you explain all the pregnancies?
    Read the news lately?

    Yes, but not so much on this story. How inter-related are the people in that compound? The assumption here seems to be that everyone is related therefore any and all marriages are likely illegal due to incest. Is that really what you are claim ed? That everyone is related and hence it is nothing by one giant nest of incestuous vipers?

  31. Steve Verdon, I don’t think the incest is the whole issue here, but it is one of the major causes of the welfare fraud, as not only do “single” mothers have to take care of many children, but a lot of those children are FUBAR because of the incest. I’m pretty sure Ed is not claiming that incest is the whole problem and that there is more of a problem with not only the welfare fraud, but the old geezers getting it on with girls who could be their great-grandchildren while their parents look on remembering how great it was for them when they were young.

  32. Ok ok… I’m confused… the comments on here seem wholly independent of the actual text of the article.

    1. “Underage” keeps getting thrown about, but if the legal age of consent is 17 and the legal age to be married in texas is 16 – then most of the pregnant girls AREN’T underage. Thus the 60% number is bogus. It’s also bogus to begin with because out of over 400 kids seized, 20-31 pregnant girls or mothers is.. you know… more like 5%.

    So they took away 400+ kids from parents because 5% of which were *possibly* abused!?

    2. What’s all this crap about welfare fraud? If you’re going to have a welfare system, which I think most of us posting at Reason don’t want anyway, then why wouldn’t it cover kids as a result of incest? Kids are kids right? I mean… most of us have some level of incest in our family histories anyway, hell, people married their cousins pretty regularly up to even the last half of the 20th century.

    If there is welfare fraud, I suppose that needs to be investigated case by case – but like a normal investigation!!

    Does the 4th amendment no longer apply to anyone in the US?

  33. Does the 4th amendment no longer apply to anyone in the US?

    Only in rare circumstances, usually determined on a case-by-case basis, retroactively.

  34. “1. “Underage” keeps getting thrown about, but if the legal age of consent is 17 and the legal age to be married in texas is 16 – then most of the pregnant girls AREN’T underage.”

    Except that:
    1) a girl who gives birth 3 months (or 8) after she turned 17 presumably conceived before she reached the age of consent; and
    2) the age to marry with parental consent is irrelevant unless the girl was *legally* married – a “spiritual marriage” in the temle is irrelevant. Unless someone pulls out the marriage license from the state, these girls aren’t married in the eyes of the law.

  35. Today’s revelations include an inordinately high number of broken bones among the children, as well as evidence that many of the boys were also sexually abused. The apologists here look sillier and sillier by the hour.

  36. Well the girls are considered underage if they’re not married, which they technically aren’t to these older men. The whole point is that they’re “spiritual” marriages in order to curtail the law yet they still get to say they’re married to each other in their little cult. Regardless of whether the parents agreed or not at the age of 16, if the marriage was merely spiritual and not recognized by the state, then yes, according to the law they are underage still. The courts should be judging by which girls are under 17 and pregnant and unmarried (“spiritual” marriages don’t count) and all girls who are 17 but are pregnant enough that conception occurred before they reached 17. The 60% number comes from the percentage of girls between 14 and 17 that are pregnant, if you had read the article. Not that I’m flat out condoning the actions of the state, but you are a little confused on the reasoning and numbers behind it.

    Incest isn’t the main issue either. It’s that these men are fathering 3-8 kids on every woman they’re “married” to beyond the first legal marriage and they don’t have to do jack shit to support them because we the taxpayers get to fund their underage fuckparty.

  37. Arizona was handling the FLDS the right way IMO – from the top down. Starting with Jeffs, and then his henchmen, and on down the line.

    Texas handled this in the worst way. Because now, when the dust settles, the legal aged men and women will start breeding again. In two decades the situation will be the same as before the raid, maybe worse because of an influx from Arizona.

    Texas has proven it likes to go in, damn the consequences. And this is the state that by far leads the nation in death penalty cases. How many of those were convictions by fake evidence?

  38. Jacob, anyone with their head screwed on straight can see these are children at serious risk, and that probably the only way to get a handle on what has really been happening is to separate them from their “parents” to determine their true age, actual biological parents, and whether or not they have been abused. I know Reason hates the precautionary principle, but is a few months separation of a child from those claiming to be their parents and from a setting of widespread abuse constitute an unreasonable intervention of the state? I think not.

  39. I see no evidence for welfare fraud in what we’ve seen to date. It’s a false issue. Drop it or show us a source! I’ve seen no evidence for “high accident rate” or “broken bones” by anyone who has actually examined the children, just speculation.

    What legal precedent in Texas or the US justifies taking away 100 children, 5 and below, because abuse may occur for some 10 years from now? Future crime prevention is still Science Fiction and there it should remain according to the fourth amendment.

    Even people whose lifestyles we don’t approve of have certain fundamental rights. (Except in Texas, apparently.)

  40. Today’s revelations include an inordinately high number of broken bones among the children, as well as evidence that many of the boys were also sexually abused. The apologists here look sillier and sillier by the hour.

    Uhmmm no. There is a claim about number of injuries, but no context is provided in terms of say the number of FLDS injury rates relative to the rest of the population of boys, girls and age. Further, they are starting to look for evidence that the boys were sexually abused.

    Jesus ed, are you always this credulous when it comes to the media pronouncements? Yes, maybe the number and types of injuries are cause for concern, but given that we haven’t been given anything to make that determination you are trusting the government and the media.

    This is starting to remind me of the McMartin Preschool case. All sorts of “officials” ended up looking like complete loons after that fiasco. As with this case, the McMartin case started with quite possibly a hoax claim by a mentally disturbed woman and mother. Rather ironic that, the crazy mom who was probably a greater threat to her child than the people she accused was taken seriously.

    1) a girl who gives birth 3 months (or 8) after she turned 17 presumably conceived before she reached the age of consent; and

    You are assuming that this is true–i.e. begging the question or assuming as true that which you are trying to show is true.

    2) the age to marry with parental consent is irrelevant unless the girl was *legally* married – a “spiritual marriage” in the temle is irrelevant. Unless someone pulls out the marriage license from the state, these girls aren’t married in the eyes of the law.

    This is the one place where the FLDS could get into trouble.

    Overall this thing is starting to stink. There may have been some instances of abuse–e.g. these “spiritual” marriages. But the heavy handed response and what now appears to be a search for anything and everything that can be used against the FLDS is making me more and more doubtful that there is a strong case here.

  41. wow. Libertarians are supporting this crap? I thought i liked you bunch of nut jobs because y’all were like, for “liberty”. Now it seems your anti-liberty as well as being tight-fisted scrooges that can’t bear to help their fellow man.

    that doesn’t really leave any redeeming characteristics for someone like “ed”.

  42. Ahh, finally some contextual information from this article,

    Update at 2:42 p.m. ET: Lots of people are focusing on the section of the report that says at least 41 of the children have had a broken bone in the past.

    “We do not have X-rays or complete medical information on many children so it is too early to draw any conclusions based on this information, but it is cause for concern and something we’ll continue to examine,” the state says.

    Fractures in Children, a medical textbook, cites data that suggest 42% of boys and 27% of girls suffer at least one fracture before age 16.

    Okay, using the 463 number used in regards to the number of children, assuming a 50-50 split between boys and girs, 41 might not be such a high number. If you had 231 boys and 232 girls all age 16 you’d expect to have 160 of them having had a bone fracture of some kind.

  43. First, apparently the Texas Rangers never did the basic investigative leg work I’d have expected from even the most bush-league Texas police department before they raided the place. The police didn’t bother to use phone company call records to identify and attempt to find the phone’s owner (remember the girl’s calls came from “a friend’s phone” to a so-called “advocacy group” and the girl “couldn’t get away”, so the friend would be nearby). Nor did they try to trace the call’s records (if there was a call) to identify the cell phone tower where the call originated to see if this call came from Texas… or Alaska. Then there was the obvious problem that the preported “rapist” was apparently available for police questioning and under court-ordered probation two states away from the Texas compound in Arizona and was never even approached by the Texas authorities.

    In other words this is the all-to-usual modern American police raid. As the head of Stalin’s Soviet secret police said “Show me the man and I’ll find you the crime” (or words to that effect). Was there even a Grand Jury involved? Our is the authorization for the raid “sealed”?

    Whatever the sect did the pretext for going in is just that- a pretext.

    Second, I think it is truly unprecedented that habeus corpus has vanished in this case. The mothers are being held… why? To bad for them; if they had only been 150 illegal alien mothers, the Austin American Statesman would have editorials attacking the practice of tearing mothers away from small children.

    Third, unless my math has gotten much worse in my old age, the number of children divided by the number of mothers yields an average of three kids/mother… where are the prophets of yore?

    Fourth, on pregnant 13 year-olds… Ask any teacher at Webb Middle School here in Austin, TX how many pregnant girls they have. The authorities don’t seem in the slightist bit interested. With the school’s high pregnancy rate, why are the police not raiding the school and holding these girl til’ they fess up and name the dads… quite a few of whom will turn out to be over 18. Or maybe the police should just cordon off the whole school, round up all the kids for questioning, ship them off to Lubbock for a few weeks, and, while the boys play baseball, order up some vaginal inspections for the girls (how do you think the state knows hom many of the cult girls are pregnant?). And while they are at it, the Texas police and the helping professions can indulge in a little on-the-fly reprogramming to help the innocent victims of this junior high school Britany Spear’s-motivated unmarried teen pregnancy cult.

    As for welfare fraud, this is the first I’ve heard of it. The local county officials say nothing of it and, in fact, held a press conference in the first day’s saying in effect “Don’t blame us, this is a state raid”.

    The similarities between the present Texas raid and how our ex-Gov got us into Iraq are striking.

    First came the drumbeat of sensational, unverified accusations followed by the quick strike. Then after the strike it turns out the accusations were based on the selective use of suspect information provided by “advocates”. The next phase is the “Well it is too late to worry about that; you should just move on.”, the “Well the people are much better off because we did this.” and finally the “Anyway they were bad apples and deserved it” phase.

    All soon to be followed by the “mistakes were made” period, the rising cost estimates, the collateral damage to women and children admissions and the inevitable law suits in which the perps. who organized the raid will say “But we were operating according to the law and the best information we had at the time”. They might even get re-elected, but I notice our Gov. has remained discretely silent; he’s running for Vice President, not Avenging Angel.

    If the cult had only stockpiled as many AK47s and Rocket Propelled Grenades in the neighborhood as the average Iraqi family did (the Iraqi’s apparently don’t need a Second Amendment to arm themselves), we would soon be hearing about “dead enders”, “illegal elements” and “terrorists” shooting at “our boys”. But luckily for us all, the cult seems to have been a peaceable “mind your own business” crowd, more interested in planting the spring garden and erecting cisterns than planting roadside bombs and making trouble.

    And the last thing that makes this look like the Iraq invasion? The American press.

  44. I know this is heretical on libertarian site, but SOMETIMES government agencies aren’t the most evil actors in a particular confrontation.

    One of the posters complained that we’re at a point where the children belong to the state and the parents are merely custodians…I don’t want the state to own children, but parents ARE custodians NOT OWNERS. Children are not your property.

    If the recent allegations of widespread abuse of these boys–including broken bones at a very young age–turn out to be true, how many of you are still going to be outraged at this “abuse” of state power? At what point does the well-being of hundreds of children outweigh your ideological purity?

  45. If the recent allegations of widespread abuse of these boys–including broken bones at a very young age–turn out to be true, how many of you are still going to be outraged at this “abuse” of state power? At what point does the well-being of hundreds of children outweigh your ideological purity?

    Even if they turn out to be true for some of the FLDS (no one in authority yet has claimed it’s hundreds of them), we can still be appalled by the methods. After all, if you rounded up an average neighborhood in most places you’d find some abuse cases, so should that justify letting the government run roughshod over our rights – just because there are some bad apples out there. That you even asked the question shows that you really don’t understand why we have the Constitution: as soon as we ignore it for “bad” people it will no longer be there for “good” people either.

  46. Okay, just for fun, let’s get a little perspective.

    The age for marrying was 14, until one Texas lawmaker fought to get it raised, SPECIFICALLY targeting the FLDS.

    The state won’t allow multiple marriages. This means that any person applying for a license to marry, when the intended husband is already married, would be committing an act of SELF-INCRIMINATION. If a felon can’t be required to file for a gun permit (Haynes), then a husband can’t be required to file for an additional marriage . . .so not having a license from the state doesn’t mean that the marriage is unlawful. Texas also has a “common-law” marriage statute.

    The majority of FLDS marriages were a young man (18 – 26) marrying a young woman (15 – 19). Many of those marriages, being the first for both, DID take place with a marriage license — thus, some of those “underage girls” are LEGAL WIVES who have been taken away from not only their families, but also their LEGAL HUSBANDS.

    The majority of FLDS are not involved in polygamous marriages. If the ratio is the same as that for Mormons, during the height of the practice in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, then only one person in 15 is in a polygamous marriage.

    So far, we are only getting allegations, and those allegations are becoming weaker and weaker. When they start holding press conferences to tell about children who have had broken bones, you KNOW they’re running well above the PANIC line on the Cover-Their-Butts scale. They took the bait, hook, lie and stinker, and now they have no way to spit out the hook.

    Lastly, remember that you have no claim on any right which you would deny someone else, just because they aren’t like you.

    The FLDS feel that the First Amendment still applies in this country, and thus protects their religion. They have largely withdrawn from society, they aren’t a threat to their neighbors, and they simply wanted to be left alone.

    It is the State which decided to act, and which has placed those kids in danger. Something like 5% of kids in Texas foster homes are sexually abused each year, so statistically that means that 11 of those girls will be molested while in the care of an agency which took them from their homes over a false report that one girl was molested.

    Whether you agree with their beliefs or not, you can’t claim to be a true libertarian if you support what the State has done to these people.

  47. A common sense approach would have been to divide the children into two groups. One, teen or nearly sexually mature girls, and all the others.

    Unless there was clear evidence of physical neglect or abuse, all the boys and smaller girls were quite safe, and should never have been separated from their parents in the first place.

    For the teens, just some good sensible non-threatening counseling to determine they were not being coerced into early sex, then let them choose.

  48. if a girl gave birth at seventeen but concieved before her birthday, wouldn’t the state have to prove that the sex took place in Texas and
    not in one of the many other states where the age of consent is sixteen or lower??????…………………………….and

    if the state were unable to identify the father via dna tests, wouldn’t they have to prove that the father was over eighteen???

    otherwise, it’s just a couple of teenagers screwing, which i’m told is a rather common, everyday occurance………..

  49. So the Libertarian philosophy is to ignore child abuse?

    Figures. You people are freaking idiots.

  50. So the Libertarian philosophy is to ignore child abuse?

    No, but then you can’t read well enough to know that the concern here is state overreaction about as-yet unsubstantiated allegations of child abuse. If you can’t figure that out, despite the numerous folks here who have said that actual incidents of abuse should be prosecuted rather than a blanket seizure of children, then who’s the “freaking idiot”? Let me give you a hint: his handle starts with J and ends D.

  51. It’s strange that they’re acting now too. Why didn’t any of the states where the FLDS cult practices arrest mothers and fathers for abandoning their underage sons on the side of the road? These states ignore the small things they can get on these asshole cultists and instead bungle everything up in a massive raid? So much for the efficiency of government, rearing its ugly head yet again.

  52. then who’s the “freaking idiot”? Let me give you a hint: his handle starts with J and ends D.

    Untermensch — you do know that someone named J sub D posts here, yeah? Please be more careful in tailoring your insults.

  53. Thanks for the corrective. I may disagree with J sub D on many points, but I have never thought he is an idiot. Drive by folks who get hot under the collar without bothering to read or understand, on the other hand?

  54. I understand why we have a Constitution just fine, thank you.

    Comparisons between a hyper-patriarchal religious cult and a “neighborhood” are bogus and disingenuous. Libertarianism is founded to defend individual liberty; the anti-secular/anti-rational collectivism of fundamentalist religion is the antithesis of such a society.

  55. I understand why we have a Constitution just fine, thank you.

    Do you really? Since you seemed to think that the FLDS weren’t deserving of constitutional protection since they are icky or something like that, I had to conclude that you thought it only applied to people you agree with. If that’s the case, then you don’t get it.

    Comparisons between a hyper-patriarchal religious cult and a “neighborhood” are bogus and disingenuous.

    Why? The same type of rationale used to go after the FLDS could and has been used against groups entrenched in a neighborhood, although seldom so openly. How many neighborhoods have been declared blighted and destroyed by government because they thought the people in their were doing the wrong things or were breeding grounds for (pick a social evil)?

    Libertarianism is founded to defend individual liberty; the anti-secular/anti-rational collectivism of fundamentalist religion is the antithesis of such a society.

    Ergo, what exactly? We can force them to change in the name of liberty? I really am wondering what you are getting at here. Libertarianism means I have to defend the right of individuals to choose “the anti-secular/anti-rational collectivism of fundamentalist religion” if they so choose. I don’t see any attempt by the FLDS to impose their beliefs on me or force me to accept them, so I don’t see what the conflict is here. The moment I decide to force them to do something, I have become the antithesis of libertarianism. But you seem to think it’s OK to use a dubious grounds to go on a fishing expedition to force them to change.

  56. I can’t believe I’m taking the time to respond to someone who thinks systematic child rape and child beating is merely “icky” but here it goes.

    Cults are not neighborhoods. If you don’t understand that, it’s really hard for us to find any common ground. This isn’t even a commune, where like-minded people have gathered of their own free will in order to live a non-conformist, alternate lifestyle.

    Children are not property; whether or not the FDLS were imposing their beliefs on outsiders is beside the point. I don’t think the FDLS have the right to do what they will with “their” children any more than I think the Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia have the right to imprison and demean “their” women.

    I do not see a comment from me suggesting that I don’t think the FDLS are deserving of Constitutional protection. What I see is an extremely unusual, and systematic, incidence of child abuse by a paranoid, isolationist group under the unquestoining authority of a, shall we say, “Dear Leader.”

    My point in the final paragraph was simply that MY understanding of libertarianism is that it is an all-or-nothing committment to individual liberty; you seem perfectly OK with a little bit of North Korea right here in the USA, and the people who are unlucky enough to be born into this particular gulag are just shit out of luck.

    I wonder how many of you have any first-hand experience with religious polygamists? You DO understand that the dynamic is very different from people who have chosen to live in unconventional marriage arrangements, don’t you?

    Many people these days CHOOSE polygamy, or group marriages, or open marriages, or what have you. In all these cases, consenting adults agree to create nonconformist unions OF THEIR OWN FREE WILL. They’re not born into a dysfunctional, autocratic world of uncontested male power over women’s bodies and children’s lives. People who CHOOSE unconventional unions don’t, as a general rule, submit their children to forced marriages, abandonment, systematic abuse, and underage sex with older relatives.

    I used to work with two women who were “married” to the same man, and while they weren’t in a cult nor did they live in a compound, their arrangement was religious and patriarchal similar to the FDLS. They were worked like dogs–they both worked 80-hour weeks and had to take the kids to the job site to switch off since “men don’t watch kids”. Of course they spent their ‘free time” attending to his every need as well as the kids. No, he didn’t work anymore.

    Well, surprise surprise–once the older daughter was a teenager, she reached out to the big bad State authorities because Daddy had been raping her regularly for years. And take a wild guess who the Moms sympathized with; it sure as hell wasn’t the little slut who’d besmirched their very own Dear Leader. I don’t know what became of that family, but the Moms convinced the girl to drop the charges and she went back to the bosom of her mind-your-own-business family. I can only imagine what happened to her after that.

    If you’re arguing that the State might try and use the unpopular and unconventional lifestyle of the FDLS as a wedge to force their way further into our homes and bedrooms, that’s one thing. If you’re arguing that mistakes are being made and that it will come out that some things should have been handled differently…well, this is a pretty unusual situation, and I’ve no doubt that some of these officials are “feeling their way.” Fortunately, it’s not every day that an authoritarian cult dedicated to the exploitation of children for sexual purposes pops up in the neighborhood. The perfect is the enemy of the good, and all that.

  57. Above I wrote “I do not see a comment from me suggesting that I don’t think the FDLS are deserving of Constitutional protection.” I mean to say “MEMBERS OF the FDLS”. Considering how rushed my entire post was, I suppose it’s a little silly to correct that one typo while leaving the rest of my hurried, un-edited stuff up, but what the hay.

  58. Kirk,

    If a subject of Kim objects to her lot in North Korea, and wants to leave, she is prevented from doing so by force. I know this for a fact. Same, I presume, goes for abused women in Saudi Arabia, Taliban Afghanistan and whatnot. (Incidentally, after seeing how uncritically even supposedly well informed people lap up fear propaganda about the FLDS, I’m seriously starting to doubt what we’re told about Arab and middle eastern family practices as well. Headline friendly media allegations obviously need not correlate well with objective reality.) A defining feature of a terror regime is armed med to perpetrate its terror.

    From what I gather, the FLDS is militarily rather weak, as is its means of physically preventing individuals from leaving, or, for that matter, communicating cries of help to outsiders. It doesn’t run its own prisons. Neither has it been observed practicing ritual floggings and executions of women. Its members have access to US courts and law enforcement, just like other Americans, should any of them feel the need for protection from their ‘abusive and parochial’ husbands and fathers. Do you really doubt, after what has been happening over the last month, or last few years, or decades, any of them still haven’t figured out which side their armed ‘protectors’ from outside world is on?

    So, this is what we’ve got thus far; none, not even one measly one, from amongst the hundreds of supposed victims at YZR, have indicated they are victims of any sort of abuse at all. Every single one of them insists they are in their relationships by choice, that they are happy with the choice they have made, and that they are well aware of their right to leave should they no longer be so happy. And it’s not as if state authorities didn’t go out of their way suggesting alternative accommodations, like abuse shelters and such. Furthermore, when Arizona staged a similar raid against the FLDS in the fifties, pulling women and children out of their homes and into mainstream society; at first opportunity, the women and children moved back in with their parochial and abusive husbands and fathers, despite having had years of exposure to the supposedly superior ways of the outside world. Do you know any former North Koreans doing that?

    You claim to be a libertarian, yet seem only oh so willing to let an agency of bureaucratic state, put arbitrary limits on what living arrangements a woman can enter into, without disputing her sincerest admonitions its of her own free will. And to uncritically accept same agency’s unproven allegations she is standing idly by, knowingly offering her children up for molestation by perverted old men. Children that are, by all objectively observable criteria, unharmed, cared for, happy and healthy, and none of whom have shown any indication of dissatisfaction with their parents’ home and care. What is it that makes these women so much less capable of speaking for themselves and their children, than other women are for themselves and theirs?

    Libertarianism means putting the individual at the center. At the very least, this requires trusting an individual’s account of her own personal situation, over that of a government agency and its retained army of ‘experts’ and media stooges. It also, most libertarians would argue, requires going quite far out of one’s way to champion an individual’s right to raise her own children as she sees fit, without interference by the state.

    And above all that, libertarianism requires always erring on the side of less state intervention. In cases where one’s knowledge is incomplete, a libertarian will reflexively, unflinchingly and without exception come down on the side of the individual. More than any other trait, this is the defining difference between us and statists/collectivists. Only after spending the effort to educate ourselves to an expert level about a matter, will we even consider siding with the state. From the (unfortunately all too common) lies, half-truths and unprovable allegations littering your post above, I can only conclude you are not even close to reaching that level of expertise with regards to State – FLDS conflicts.

  59. Stuki Moi,

    Thanks for your thoughtful response. There’s a lot there to think about, and I certainly don’t pretend to be 100% correct in my analysis. However, a few points:

    1) I don’t think I actually claimed to be a libertarian. I do consider myself a CIVIL libertarian, but I haven’t quite made the full leap yet.

    2) If I were a full-fledged libertarian, I’m not so sure I’d be cool with you telling me how a libertarian will always think and react. I would never think to tell my pro-choice Catholic friends that they’re not REALLY Catholic. I know one guy who considers himself a libertarian, yet he strongly supports the death penalty, which I find to be a gross abuse of state power. But most of his positions on social and economic matters are clearly libertarian.

    3) I hasten to add that the members of the FLDS members who are testifying that they entered these marriages of their own free will were raised in the church to begin with. More to the point, they were raised to believe that turning their daughters over to the authority of non-family member males AND abandoning male children on isolated rural highways was right and proper.

    4) Your concern that parents be free to raise their children free of the State is admirable, and I don’t mean to make light of it. But children, as I’ve said before, are not property. One of the main issues that keeps me from fully embracing political libertarianism is, in fact, children’s rights, which is admittedly an ambiguous area.

    5) I hope you don’t think this site should be a haven of ideological purity and political correctness where only “proper” libertarians whose first instinct is ALWAYS the libertarian one have valid viewpoints.

    In a lot of areas, I’m right there with you, but for a lot reasons (including a few thousand people killed on 9/11/01) MY first instinct tends to be distrust of fundamentalist religion and the almost inevitable patriarchy, misogyny, and mistreatment of children which accompany it.

    To be blunt–to a radical secularist like myself, fundamentalist religion (including the atheistic religions of totalitarian regimes like N. Korea) is the the most extreme and dangerous form of collectivism there is. I may not be a proper libertarian, but I am coming into this discussion from a collectivist standpoint.

    I don’t mean to suggest that I’m an expert; you may turn out to be 100% correct. I’m not on the scene, I’m not intimate with the details of the investigation, and I don’t pretend to have what you call the “level of expertise” in this instance. But I do have a hell of lot more empathy for the individual members of the FLDS than you give me credit for, and I certainly don’t mean to imply that the State of Texas should be given a blank check from this point on.

    Thanks again for your comments.

  60. In biblical times, excess males were a real problem to the patriarchal leaders. They were often not permitted to breed or be anything but subordinate, although they still thought they were above all females. When the adult male leaders drove their excess young males off, nearby societies complained. I hear stories that they tell nosy regular Mormans that their teenage sons are living in the desert. In olden days, patriarchs had a really neat solution; they sacrificed their excess sons and got kudoes from God. This does not seem to be the case here. It does not seem that there are far less teenage males than females, in the figures I have seen here.

    How are these children being supported? It is my understanding, that David Koresh supported his family with welfare and food stamps, that he indeed traded excess food stamps for weapons. That all the younger children (who stayed and subsequently died with him) were his biologically. I have heard some stories that many of the leaders have some sort of defense department jobs. Or do they have some contracts with the defense department? Do they get government staples?

    If incest is involved, what is the physical normality of the children? Wht kind of incest? There was this term for younger males giving their male essence, which was not done voluntarily or in any sort of fun way.

    Answering some of these questions seems to seriously impact on privacy issues.

  61. I can’t believe I’m taking the time to respond to someone who thinks systematic child rape and child beating is merely “icky” but here it goes.

    And I can’t believe I’m taking the time to respond to someone who doesn’t (can’t?) understand that I can be opposed to child rape but think that (thus far) unsubstantiated accusations of child abuse (ones that get flimsier and flimsier all along) do not justify riding roughshod over constitutional protections. When the authorities can convict someone, I am fine with that person being tossed in jail. Until that point all we have is “I don’t like what these people believe and don’t think they should be allowed to have children because they’re wrong”.

    For what it’s worth, I suspect I know a hell of a lot more about polygamy that you do, having had some distant relatives involved in FLDS. No, it’s not a life style I would choose, but I see nothing presented anywhere yet to show that the FLDS were busy physically, verbally, or sexually assaulting two and three year olds, but they were taken away with the rest. Nor have I yet seen any attempt to go after the “abusers”: all the efforts have been to get the children out of the environment because? well, the only reason I can see is because the State of Texas, in its infinite wisdom has decided it knows better than the parents how to raise their children. I can disagree 100% with the way that those children are raised and still be deeply disturbed by the totalitarian implications of treating people as wards of the state whose will can be overridden without any evidence of immanent harm because some people think that their teachings constitute “abuse”.

    I can also be deeply disturbed by your being OK with the children being taken away because these people are in a “cult” (a fundamentally political and ideological construction) and that the fact that they were presumed guilty absent proof is OK. How do you square that with the Constitution? I can also be deeply disturbed by your using (probably unintentionally) the Gramscian notion of hegemony (you don’t call it this, but what you’re describing is it) whereby you can assume that these people do not know their own good and can therefore be enlightened/forced by state power.

    You say you are a radical secularist, which is fine. But you seem to be OK with forcing people away from religion, which I find deeply disturbing. Part of my claiming the right to believe (or not believe) what I want is that I have to extend that right to others in as far as it does not interfere with the rights of others and no force is used. I don’t buy the crap about the people being brain washed though: there are those that can and do leave. If I don’t give the right to other people to hold positions I find deeply repugnant, then I am guilty of collectivism and tyranny.

    So, to set the record straight, I never said child abuse was merely “icky”, but I do have a problem with thinking that people who have been demonstrated to be nothing more than “icky” can be treated as chattel of the state for that reason. If the State of Texas wants to demonstrate child abuse, it has to do it on a case by case basis. It has not done so, and its modus operandi thus far has been contrary to centuries of common law practice and constitutional amendments. The day that you can show me that Joseph B. Jessop or Sally B. Pratt (to make up some names) have committed abuse (and not just the crime of raising their children according to their beliefs, however right or wrong), I’ll be right there with you in wishing them a nice stay in the pen. Until that point though, I utterly reject the notion that the State has any right to break up families that may or may not be involved in the alleged abuse on the grounds that they believe that particular behavior is OK.

    You say you understand the Constitution and that you never suggested that it didn’t apply to the FLDS, but your approval of the actions of the State of Texas say otherwise.

    If that isn’t clear enough (and I think you have thus far failed to understand the point I am making), would it be OK if a court in a heavily religious area took a child away from you because raising that child as a secularist was “abuse”, even without demonstrating any tangible action? If you’re not OK with that, why are you OK with doing that to the FLDS other than that you’re right and they’re wrong? Without any demonstration of abuse of a specific child the situations are pretty much exactly parallel. (But you’ll no doubt sputter and tell me they’re different because these people are cultists, etc., etc., showing you miss the point again…)

  62. I can’t believe I’m taking the time to respond to someone who thinks systematic child rape and child beating is merely “icky” but here it goes.

    Or to make it even simpler, show me where either of these allegations have been demonstrated to be true against the specific individuals involved (rather than the group, and if you don’t understand that distinction, RTFA). Hmm, you can’t do it. There has been no trial, no evidence presented anywhere (except allegations made in public by Texas officials). So, absent that demonstration, how did we get to treating them as if all these allegations have been proven and taking legal action on that assumption? This is where the constitutionality falls apart. Children have been taken away from (alleged) abusers, but Texas keeps coming up with flimsier justifications.

    Specifically to your point, there is no evidence of “systematic? child beating” and thus far no evidence of sexual abuse outside of the debated area of statutory rape and age of consent (which was changed post facto to some of the alleged abuse). Texas had to back down on the beating thing when people who know what they are talking about pointed out that the FLDS children had substantially fewer broken bones than you would expect statistically. But I guess that mere allegation is proof enough for you.

    No doubt you feel that religious folks are gullible, but you bow down and take a whopper from the cult of the state?

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