Saturday, May 31, 2008

Lone Star Falling

People around the world have been watching the ongoing story of Texas's removal of 400-plus children from a Mormon fundamentalist polygamist compound like it was some kind of entertaining TV movie. Where is the outrage?

The Texas Child Protective Services raid on the "Yearning For Zion" ranch was absolutely disgusting. I'd actually like to see its instigators imprisoned. On the basis of just ONE anonymous (fictitious) report of abuse, now known to have been placed by a mature, mentally-deranged member of Mormonism's mainstream variant (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) from Colorado with a history of prank phone calls and no affiliation with the FLDS, CPS goons busted in on private property and took over four hundred children away from their parents. It was basically a state-sponsored mass kidnapping. And no doubt, it has been terribly scary for the children.

Where is the outrage? Why should it have taken the state's Supreme Court to clarify that there was no legal basis for CPS confiscating the children - and subjecting them to invasive physical tests, testing by psychiatrists and state bureacrats, putting them into foster care with perfect strangers?

How did it come about that in so many countries with legal systems based on a presumption of innocence, that bureacrats have been given free reign to presume guilt whenever they like, act like thugs, and then force those they decide to accuse to prove themselves innocent?

There is an entire class of people on the planet (and they span from the left to the right) who are incapable of believing that any sane human being could, or should, desire a lifestyle other than what they think of as "the" ideal. For the secular social activists cheering on the raid, "ideal" means egalitarian marital relationships. For the evangelical Christians cheering on the raid, "ideal" means following the "true Jesus", and getting out of Joseph Smith's cult. And boy...they just couldn't wait to bust up the ranch, could they? The Mormon fundamentalists were doing it all wrong, weren't they? Thank God for that one phone call. Manifestly, in 2008, in the state of Texas, that's all it takes.

The levers of government - at least those of American government - were never designed to be used to enforce any particular mode of living. The Declaration of Independence itself states that people have the inalienable right to the "pursuit of happiness". And if that happens to mean in some case, living in a desert compound sharing one man with ten other women...that's what it means. What business is it of anyone else's?

Where there is solid evidence of a child being abused, then of course law enforcement should investigate (that case). But that's not what happened in Texas. What happened there was an outrageous abuse of state power, on wholly illegitimate, specious grounds. Really sick.


Janet said...

I have a hard time picking a side in this. I grew up in a religious cult, so I understand the actual abuse these children are put through.

I do not have a problem with polygamy. I do have a problem when 14-year old girls are married off to old men. There is NO way that is consensual. Those children are brainwashed from birth.

How is that right? And how do we protect them?

I'm tired of hearing everyone bitching about how wrong the State of Texas was. Maybe they were wrong, and they probably were, but what CAN we/they do do protect these innocent children?

Anonymous said...

I, too believe that if one man wants to live with ten women or vise versa that the state should stay out of it....

But, like Janet how do we protect children who are being married off. Removing all the children was stupid...but a massive investigation needs to happen for these children who will never know any other side of the story but the one they're told. It was hard enough for me to get out of a church that taught strange weird things I chose to believe...I can't imagine how those women/children/young boys are going to be able to really know what they believe in when a ranch/cult like this is allowed to exist. For me this is a conundrum...Libertians believe the state should stay out of private little govt. as necessary. How does every citizen get to live the American creed of "freedom...the pursuit of happiness" when some citizens grow up in a cult? So..cults should be allowed if that is a man's definition of it freedom then for his child?


Tal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tal said...

I share the concern about protecting children from abuse, but I don't see this issue as complicated. Statutory rape cases within polygamist communities can and should be investigated like any other statutory rape case.

That means law enforcement launching a conscientious investigation which respects supposedly inalienable rights like the presumption of innocence, protection against illegal searches and seizures, etc., (without regard to particular religious beliefs); and where there is convincing evidence of crime, referring the case to prosecutors. Simple.

So, I don't really understand questions like "sure Texas might be wrong...but what do we do to protect these children?". You do what you do in any other case of criminal wrongdoing. You don't in effect accuse many dozens of parents of statutory rape *where there is no evidence of guilt*, mostly because they're in a stupid cult, and then decide to confiscate all of their children as a consequence. How is that not abusive itself?

As far as brainwashing goes, I would bet that a good portion of the lunatics cheering on the raid are basically "brainwashed" Christians, and another portion basically "brainwashed" social activists/radical egalitarians. There were probably cops helping take away the kids, who went to their own Pentecostal church the next Sunday, and jumped up and down waving their hands, crying and shouting gibberish, thinking it was a foreign language, and hearing all about how God created the entire earth in six days, five thousand years ago, and how everything we know about the creation of the world, and the animal kingdom, is a giant Satanic fraud. And I'm sure those guys had no qualms about their children hearing all the same nonsense. Why shouldn't their children be confiscated, too? Isn't that "brainwashing"?

Seriously - who in government do YOU trust, Janet, to decide which parents are "brainwashing" their children, and so whose children should be taken away on that basis? George W. Bush? Ted Kennedy? Who?

I don't trust ANY of them to make that decision; and that's why I think politicians, and their bureaucratic lackeys, ought to concentrate on keeping us from killing, maiming, raping, and robbing each other while respecting our constitutional rights, rather than trying to figure out which *ideological beliefs*, or minority religions, to punish.

elee said...

I agree, Tal (and was happy to find you were somewhere out on the 'net and still writing!)

What boggles my mind is how quickly people dismiss "dangerous precedence" as something we should be concerned about. All I can say is WTF?!?

I even read on brain trust who suggested that since black Americans have their civil rights violated (driving while black) that we should be able to dismiss the notion of civil rights in order get people like the FLDS. That is nothing more than vigilantism.

It's a very emotional case,which I understand, but it unnerves me that people would rather throw out the laws to get the result they think is "right".

As to the actual case, I believe the prosecution will get a second shot at pressing charges to protect the teenage girls, as well as filing criminal charges against the perpetrators. Luckily for the prosecution, the didn't actually go to trial and lose, otherwise they would not get this second chance.

It'll certainly interesting.

And for what it's worth, there's so much emotional diatribing on the news and on the net, but irl, I haven't met anyone yet who disagrees with the court's decision.


Janet said...

I think ALL religions are cults, but that's just me, I'm sure. Not all religions are DANGEROUS cults, though.

I'm a firm believer in the constitution, and I really wish Texas had done this another way. I hope there IS another way that actually protects these children.

erlybird said...

I was definitely outraged.

And make no mistake. This raid was the work of RELIGIOUS groups, like you said, Tal. Let's make sure that we bust these folks and bust them good because they ain't like us.

Let's put The Duggar Family on national TV and praise the beJESUS out of them for spitting out 18 kids and managing them like Community College of Christ and as long as they WORSHIP in the right way we will find a way to NOT think about how WEIRD it is.

I am a LIBERAL to the core and I HATE what the FLDS cult and any other half-baked, made-up, isolationist, child-abusing (and despite the deceptive nature of all this it IS child abuse) religions do to children, but dammit you can't have freedom both ways.

Anonymous said...

If Tal had been talking about the harrassment Joseph Smith and polygamists had in their day,he would be dead against Joseph Smith and those people.But because it is FLDS,he is outraged at the treatment these poor people endured.I agree it was wrong to take these kids away from their mothers when they could have taken the men out of the compound instead while they sorted it all out.

Anonymous said...

All children are brainwashed. Either by religion or culture. All parents brainwash their children. All countries preach their politics.
Silly to think your own culture/philosophy/religion/non-religion/denial of one religion ideas are any better than that of others.
As for sexual misconduct:
Sexual misconduct towards children is in every section or sect in every society whether religious or not.
Science proves that no teen is mature enough for sex and the physical/mental consequences (good or bad) that come with having it.
Non religious people bombard children with age inappropriate sexual messages in this country and no one gives a crap (except the religious). Then these same self important people have such a problem when others behave badly when it comes to sex!
Look at just one of our culture heros, Bill Clinton, and his example with Monica. She was barely more than a child and he an old perverted fart. Where was the outrage? It was conveniently directed towards her and she was just a baby.
Look at the fashion industry, because of it's social status, is able to have children model as sexual objects in sexual positions and it is the adults putting the children there, yet there is no outrage.
All I want is some consistency.
Wrong should be wrong for all groups, but that is not how it is.

Another godawful liberal said...

Hey, that's just the way we do things down here in Texas. If ya don't like it, leave.


Actually I do wish all the polygs would go back to Arizona, Utah, Canada, or wherever the hell they came from. Let them drain some other state of their welfare funds.

The Amish they are not.

Leen said...

"Where there is solid evidence of a child being abused, then of course law enforcement should investigate (that case)."

I guess they were figuring that, if the allegations turned out to be true, leaving the kids there whilst they were investigating the case would be more damaging to them than potentially uprooting them for no reason at all if the charges turned out to be fictitious?

I think your reasoning about the presumption of innocence applies in all cases apart from when there's potential child abuse involved... and I know that opens the door to all sorts of fraudsters and pranksters, but you've gotta take the bad with the good in that case I think - personally don't feel like somebody's right to be presumed innocence should necessarily prevail over a child's right not to be abused.

It's tricky though. Grrr.

Anonymous said...

Child sexual abuse is generally taken very seriously by governments everywhere.

Whenever there is obvious suspicion plus at least one complaint of sexual abuse by another party outside the family, the courts tend to err on the side of "safety of the kids" which means they temporarily remove the kids from the probable offenders... until they sort out the legalities later, to ensure that in the meantime, the kids don't get sexually abused.

Apparently Warren Jeffs sodomized some of the kids in "Sunday School" (that was on America's Most Wanted) and I imagine if he did it, some of the other polygs did that kind of thing, too. They can pretty much do anything to these kids if there is no one checking up on them and they are isolated on compounds without normal neighbours and others around.