Monday, April 14, 2008

Texas Acts Against Polygamy

Is the primary purpose of this costly move to protect the children, or to make polygamists think twice about continuing their expansion into Texas?

To me it looks a lot like something that was planned long in advance, while politicians waited for an appropriate triggering event to take their pre-planned action.


  1. Considering the size of the operation and the freaking disaster (Waco) we had the last time a "religious compound" was breached, I'm kind of happy it "looks a lot like something that was planned long in advance."

    If the power of the state was being used solely to "prevent" consenting adults from doing whatever they feel like doing in private" I would share your concerns (only more loudly.)

    It appears to me that the triggering event was the allegation of the sexual abuse of children. I realize that the last time or two we have heard about the "systematic sexual abuse of children" the factual accuracy of the allegations have been in doubt . . . but it appears that in this case they have a pretty good case that 12 and 13 year old girls have been placed in arranged and consumated marriages.

    Assuming that the allegations are accurate, I have no problem with what the state has done. Frankly, as long as the allegations that they received were credible (based on both the statements themselves and whatever information the state alrady held) I think that they had an obligation to act.

    The actions they took are extreme, but given the nature of the community, I'm not sure how else you could attempt to figure out what is happening.

    Ditto, if they had reason to suspect that something untoward involving children was gong on, but not enough information to act . . . I don't have much problem with them planning for the future and then acting on the plans when a credible allegation was made. (. . . and yes, I know that the allegation that actaully kicked this off is looking less and less credible . . . )

    It will be interesting to see what, if any, DNA evidence they can recover from the "holy bed" they found in the temple . . . or if they find "marriage" records related to pregnant thirteen or fouteen year old girls . . .


  2. ABC News had an interesting interview with the (handpicked by the cult) "bereaved" mothers in question, "The women who spoke Monday insisted that their children had never been abused. But, asked whether any girls in the sect had married older men when they were younger than 16, the women interviewed by ABC News declined to answer. "Nobody is forced into anything," was all that a woman who identified herself as Mary would say.

    Not conclusive, but tends to make me think the state was right to "intrude".


  3. I'm not arguing with you. I'm just noting that this was the most aggressive action the state could take, in response to "something everybody knows is happening" within this type of compound.

  4. Given the circumstances, I’m not sure what other options the state had. According to at least one account I’ve read local law enforcement claims that “everybody knew what was going on” but no one had any first hand knowledge . . . and I’m not sure who is going to give you a court order based on “everybody knows.”

    I agree that a negotiated settlement would have been preferable, but I’m not sure you had a group of people who were willing to negotiate. This is a group of people who have had repeated “hard” historical contact with law enforcement. They know that what they are doing is illegal, they just don’t care (or if you prefer they feel that they are answering to a higher authority . . . )

    I’m not saying that there is any legal basis for my position, but I’m kind of inclined to feel that even if the parents in question weren’t directly involved in the sexual abuse of children, if they knew that it was going on and not only didn’t report it but actively worked to maintain the wall of silence . . . maybe the least that should happen is there children are taken away from them before they get the chance to “offer up” their daughters or raise their children to participate.

  5. There are many other options, including the minimalist option of trying to locate and remove the girl who made the complaint, or arresting her "husband".

    Apart from that, it isn't clear how the 'guilt by association' argument is changed in relation to the other parents and children. If there was sufficient evidence for a mass removal after the complaint, then it seems there would have been sufficient evidence before, with the difference being that politicians finally had a triggering event to "justify" their pre-planned action.


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