FLDS -- Ordinarily I'm a fan of Voltaire. Tonight, not so much.
Voltaire famously said, "I may not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."I don't think I'm prepared to go to that length to defend the statements made by the FLDS in custody hearings in San Angelo.
From the San Angelo Standard Times website, news that many of the FLDS children's individual custody hearings -- required under state statute -- are now on hold pending the (indefinite) progress of the appeal to the Texas State Supreme Court, which wants the parents' lawyers to present their evidence against Texas by 9 a.m. tomorrow morning.
Unlike most AP sources, though, the Standard-Times denies legitimacy to the "marriages" of the polygamous (oh, and in that CBS report last night, the next-door neighbor of YFZ reported that the people in the compound didn't seem to have much of a sense of humor when he asked whether their religion allowed a woman to have more than one husband at the same time) fundamentalists.
As the S-T puts it: Since the initial en masse custody hearing in which 51st District Judge Barbara Walther granted the state temporary custody of more than 450 sect children, CPS investigators have discovered more sect documents listing underage girls at its Schleicher County compound as "married" to adult men, Meisner said. "We were prepared to present evidence to the court today," she said Tuesday. "We do not know if the parents or FLDS agreed to a quick solution in this case to avoid a public disclosure of that evidence."
That evidence probably involved more pictures like the ones brought to court Friday in a custody case over an infant -- photographs showing Warren Jeffs, then 52 and on the run from the law, lifting a girl who barely stood waist-high into his arms, and then kissing her -- passionately, sexually, sensually, in the manner of a "you may kiss the bride" moment. The girl was twelve.
As Bringiton aptly notes in an earlier comment, the "religious freedom" of the FLDS has led to some mind-numbing comments from members of the cult.
The current hearing is in regard to the custody of an infant girl, the daughter of FLDS members. The infant’s mother, Louisa Bradford, was evasive and contradictory in her testimony but did concede that former FLDS Prophet and convicted felon Warren Jeffs had been at the YFZ compound while he was on the run and evading arrest for facilitating child rape. Watchers of the FLDS had speculated that Jeffs was using the YFZ compound as a part-time hideout, considered likely because the FLDS at YFZ are his hand-picked elite and most loyal disciples.
The infant’s father, Rulon Daniel Jessop, testified that he has no problem with his children being around and openly exposed to older men associating with underage child “brides,” including seeing them in close physical contact and deeply kissing. “Everyone has their free agency,” he stated; “It seemed a little wild to me, but you see a lot more wild things driving down the streets of the city at night. I do not consider a girl kissing a man sexual abuse.”
Just everyday living with the FLDS at the YFZ compound according to Jessup even, if the underage girl who has been “spiritually married” to a man 40 years her senior is his little sister. He identified the young girl shown in the pictures below as his sister Merrianne. The photos introduced into evidence are among several showing Jeffs embracing underage girls that were distributed throughout the FLDS community, as announcements celebrating their “spiritual” marriages.
Spiritual marriages, by the way, have no validity in the State of Texas. Bigamy is a crime here. Religiosity is no defense against charges of rape,
Myiq2xu says I'm wrong suggesting the children's rights not to be brought up to expect rape at the hands of their church elders, or excommunication for the sin of being young boys whose appeal to those child "brides" taken for "spiritual union" by the church elders and their favored followers, are at least equal to the rights of the parents involved, if not trumping said rights. Amberglow tells me the State of Texas "messed up bigtime">because their case lacked evidence. Of course, at that time the pictures of Jeffs sexually assaulting a 12-year-old (she's underage, incompetent to consent; it doesn't matter if she's "willing" or not) hadn't come out, so maybe I'm being unfair to them.
Their voices are raised in the same chorus as Slate's Dalia Lithwick (no, I won't link to her) in defense of the men who built this cult for the purpose of creating a willing harem of children among whom they could quench their perverse sexual appetites, off whose labor they could grow rich -- without fear of taxation, as a church -- and whose enforced untutored naivete would protect their abusers against the outside world, because the "prophets" told the women and children that was "the way things ought to be."
As the Salt Lake City Tribune's Rebecca Walsh writes, it's past time for the FLDS to question their prophet -- and walk away from Warren Jeffs and his corrupt teachings.
The most dangerous bumper sticker in the world reads, "God said it. I believe it. That settles it."
But almost universally, while polygamy gets a nod, polyandry gets not just a head shake or even a head slap -- it gets punished. Funnily enough, that's also the way fundamentalist Islamists, described today on Nice Polite Republicans' "All Things Considered," view their religion's tenet that "plural marriage" is permissible. Sure it is -- as long as it's multiple wives. Ask anybody in an Abramic faith -- multiple wives? Yeah, the Prophet did it; Abraham did it. Lot slept with his daughters. (Gen 19:33–36) 'S cool; but let some uppity chick take more than one man, and the community comes out to stone her dead.(John 8:2-11 KJV)
From NPR yesterday:
Muslims practice polygamy in the U.S., despite state laws prohibiting it. Here's how a man gets around the laws: He marries one woman under civil law, and then marries one, two or three others in religious ceremonies that are not recognized by the state. In other cases, men marry women in both America and abroad.
Many women keep quiet for fear of retribution or deportation. For example, Sally's husband moved to the United States from the Ivory Coast before she did. When Sally joined him, she found he had married someone else in America. But without legal immigration papers, she didn't dare come forward and report him to the authorities. She said when she arrived in the U.S., her husband and his new wife put her in the basement.
"They told me to cook, clean, do everything. I didn't speak English. And he told me, 'Don't say nothing. You say something, she's going make you deported. And me, I'm going to be in jail.'"
Eventually, Sally left the house with her children, and now works at a hair braiding salon. But that fear of deportation prevents many from leaving their polygamous relationships.
"Legally, they're invisible," says Julie Dinnerstein, a senior attorney for Sanctuary for Families. "If you are the second or third or fourth wife, that marital relationship is not going to be recognized for immigration purposes. It means if your husband is a citizen or green card holder, he can't sponsor you. It means if your husband gets asylum, you don't get asylum at the same time. The man is always going to be in a position of greater power."
When are we going to wake up to the reality that equality before the law is not just a matter for men?
When are we going to see that the Constitution and the laws also must protect women -- or they don't truly protect either men or children?
How long before we find ourselves patronized right out of all recognizable semblance of American life by good strong father-figure authoritarian patriarchical "leaders", who don't challenge us to do for our country but order us to obey, or unsubtly suggest our disinclination to do as we're told has roots in our own immoral beliefs?
The pictures Bringiton posted constitute child porn in its quintessence, for me; I nearly vomited, and then it took me a good five minutes to stop swearing at the top of my lungs when I saw them.
The most civilized phrase I can come up with in response to such "marriages" is "Bring more rope."
That a mother would give in to such calumnification of the sacraments of marriage is argument on its face for her unfitness; that a father -- or a brother, or a cousin -- would take a "spiritual bride" who will really never reach the age of consent because of a cult-induced fear of damnation in the afterlife should she disobey her prophet here is argument on its face for his unfitness.
That any sane adult would stand quietly by while something like the act shown in the photographs of Jeffs and his "child brides" (acts which happened in Texas, to which those young women had to be brought across state lines, as neither of them was born at YFZ) took place is evidence on its face for the evil -- beyond mere incredible dimensions of complete unfitness -- religiosity can cause among its followers.
If you can stand aside while some 52-year-old, preacher or politician or not, snatches your 12-year-old sister up off her feet and swabs her tonsils with his tongue, you're not a man in any sense I recognize the term. The "parents" who can give their consent to having a 52-year-old "spiritually married" to their 12-year-old may be biologically capable of reproducing, but that's the end of their parenting ability. If religion can make you do that, it's not a religion born of any God I care to acknowledge.