Wednesday, April 30, 2008

editorial

I am totally angry, appalled and otherwise upset about what is going on in Texas with the FLDS community. When I first saw the story on the evening news, I had mixed feelings. I felt annoyed that this media coverage would again bring up the controversial issue of polygamy and a lot of people would not distinguish our church from theirs. I felt confused as to why, after this group has lived in El Dorado for a number of years, government officials now felt they had adequate evidence to invade the settlement. And finally, I felt relieved that this group was finally being brought to justice after years and years of living outside of the laws of our country. I have a major problem with people who live in blatant opposition to the laws of our country (or any country for that matter). Don't get me started on illegal immigration- seriously, what part of "illegal" is unclear?

That said, I am now embarrassed about that feeling of relief. The more I read and hear about it, the more I think that this whole situation is a radical disregard for these people's rights- both their rights as Americans and their rights as fellow human beings. In no way do I agree with and therefore condone the practice of polygamy. I find it sad and appalling that young teenage girls are given in marriage to much older men in the name of His will. No question, the leadership of this group are seriously disturbed. I feel badly for the poor children who are born into this situation who don't know any other life, are not given the choice of an alternative lifestyle and therefore think they are doing the right thing by following their leaders. Yes, something must be done to reach out and help this community. By practicing polygamy and arranging marriages with young women under 18, they are living above the laws of the state and federal government.

Now I realize that because I am only able to read or hear what the media chooses to tell me- there is no way to know the entire story of what is going on there. So from the limited scope of articles published by online news outlets, I have raise one important question about this situation.

Why did they choose to take all the children away from their homes? I think this was an excessively harsh move. If the initial motive was to save teenage young women from abuse, then why didn't they just detain all of the girls ages 13-17? Or, and this is what I think should have happened, why didn't they detain all the men? If the allegations only involved the men and young women, why did all of the women loose all of their children?

This is what makes me the most upset. All children, ages 14 months and older, were taken away from their mothers. I couldn't help but think that if I was in that situation, my little Jonas would have been taken too! And like many of those older babies in that community, he's still nursing (some of the time- we're trying to cut back). I read reports of two toddlers who had to be hospitalized with severe dehydration. Seriously people! How is this in the best interest of the children? I wholeheartedly agree with this editorial.

The newest reports out today state that there is evidence of abuse of the teenage boys (but the source of the evidence is not specified) and that 41 of the children have had broken bones in the past.  41 out of 400+ children, less than 10% of the group- that sounds totally normal to me.   

Yes- these people are knowingly living above the law and yes, they are deliberately secretive about their community.  But does that mean that nursing babies deserve to be literally torn from their mother's breast?  I'm inclined to think not.  I hope that these people are able to get the help they need and the justice they deserve.

8 comments:

Starmaster said...

No comments, yet, huh? Come on people! I'll throw my two cents in and say that this whole thing reminds me of the the colonialists and the Native Americans all over again.

Precedents have been set about what happens when the government goes in and tells the Indians that their culture and practices are "wrong." You can't smoke peyote because, according to "civil" society drugs are bad.

I'm not saying that drugs aren't bad, of course, only that culture is precious and shouldn't impinged on lightly.

Perhaps there were things happening in Texas that made such an impingement necessary-- I just haven't seen it yet.

walt or jean said...

Part of this is simple:polygamy is illegal, children and women must be protected from abuse. The complicated part is the consequence of justice being meted out without consideration of the negative consequences for those justice is trying to protect. Mercy has been set aside for now. Blanket justice for all:guilt by association. All or nothing justice is causing more innocent suffering and new victims to add to the number who have been truly victimized by some very bad individuals. I'm afraid they've made a bad situation far worse by assuming that all the children and many women have been victimized. Perhaps when the bad guys are identified and brought to justice there can be some type of healing. It appears to be a very long way off.

Latter-Day Sustainablist said...

This is Brandon...

I would like answers to the following questions:

Is abuse inherent in the FLDS culture/community?

Were the children in imminent danger of being abused?

If the answer to the former question is yes, then protection of human rights supersedes religious freedom.

If the answer to the later question is yes, then the state should protect the children (even nursing babies) by removing them from the abusive situation. That said, I find it hard to believe that nursing babies were in imminent danger from their mothers.

More questions:
If the culture is inherently abusive, at what point would these babies be in danger? At what point should they be removed?

The situation is really more nuanced then my first two questions make it out to be. But they do create a framework for how I look at the issue.

Tina said...

I appreciate the comments made.

Jon- We've been talking about this a lot over the past few weeks, so he knows how I feel about this better than I could put into words. I echo his reminder that nobody really knows what has gone on inside that culture.

Walt- I agree that a bad situation was made far worse and that the children who were already victims are being further victimized. Healing does seem a very long way off for them and that's the worst, saddest, most awful part.

Brandon- I think the two questions you posed first were probably the exact questions answered by the government in the affirmative before they stormed the compound. But you sort of left me hanging as to exactly how you feel about the situation. :)

Bottom line, this editorial-type post was meant as a plea to those people who would like to distance themselves from this issue to step back and look at the situation from another perspective. These women and children have been victimized and they deserve our care, concern and prayers.

Carlie said...

oops, i thought i already commented. i already had a long talk with you about this, and now, days later, i still have mixed feelings. sometimes i feel the whole situation is a 'shoot first, ask questions later' jack bauer kind of perspective. but, like brandon said, were they in imminent danger? is it better to err on the side of caution? it's not a permanent situation, and we can assume it will all be sorted out, albeit eventually. having said that, my baby being 15 months old and falling into the category of taken out of the compound makes my whole body shake.
but again, by choosing to live in that community, you have to assume the inherent problems. i realize there are families there who do not practice polygamy, but i do think that if you choose to live close to the water, chances are, like the sing at splash mountain, you may get wet. even if you try or do not want to.
the law of mercy and justice apply here too. justice says you remove the innocent from danger, while mercy says to keep them the most comfortable. justice says be accountable for breaking the law, mercy says they were only doing what they were raised doing.
but, you do have the choice. it's like the parable old-seminary-video said when the native boy was asked by the venomous snake to carry him down the mountain. upon reaching the bottom, the snake bit the boy. as the boy lay dying, he questioned the snake, saying he had promised not to hurt him. the snake replied "you knew what i was when you picked me up." you break the law, there are consequences.

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

for a different, more humorous opinion of what this parallels, go to this blog:

http://mormanity.blogspot.com/

and read the hefner article from april 17th. this man's blog is very interesting.

Audrey said...

Tina, did you see the comment that some annonymous poster left on my blog about this? Yikes!!