Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Polygamy Cult vs. CPS

First, excuse me if I'm missing some R's in my typing today. Although dh saved my CPU in the fire, I lost all of my peripherals and just replaced them today. Unfortunately, the cheap keyboard I got has a problem with the R key. So I'm taking it back tomorrow to get something not defective and perhaps better. But for now, bear with me if I miss a couple.

If you've been watching the news, you've probably heard of the raid on the FLDS compound in Texas. Oddly enough, we're coming upon the 15th anniversary of the Waco raid on the 19th... the 19th is a very significant day because it also marks the date of Ruby Ridge and Oklahoma City. Today is the first anniversary of the Virginia Tech massacre, and the 20th marks both Adolph Hitler's birthday and the Littleton Shooting. When I was the Anti-terrorism officer for my Navy base in Italy, I maintained a calendar of significant dates like these because terrorists like to commemorate dates like this. I always highlighted the 19th and 20th because they are the biggest days of the year for terrorist and other attacks of this sort.

Most of these people used to live in other parts of the country, including Colorado City in Arizona. There was a big to-do a couple of years ago with the FLDS group back then, and their leader ended up getting prosecuted. The group is known for polygamous marriages and forcing young teenagers to marry older men (like in their 50s sometimes).

An anonymous caller said that she was 16 and was being forced to marry against her wishes. They still don't know who this caller is, but the tip was enough to make the police take action. More than likely, they've been watching this group for years and were just waiting for an excuse to come in. They are a pretty secretive group.

All the ladies and children were carted off. CPS took custody of the children and the ladies were given the option of returning to the compound or going to a safe house. Only six ladies took the safe-house option, from what I've heard.

They are complaining because they can't see their children, and of course, I'd be upset too. But the most important thing is ensuring that these children are safe. Even without the anonymous girl showing up, there is still plenty of reason to think that they might not be safe.

The ladies were being questioned by the press, and they were very evasive when they talked about the age of marriage or polygamy. If there really wasn't anything going on, don't you think they would have gone and outright said that only adults were allowed to marry? Well, they're not doing that. They change the subject or give a non-substantive answer. And there have been prior FLDS escapees that have talked about how the conditions were for them.

I'm all for the ability of parents to bring up their children the way they see fit. To a point. You can make your kids go to church, you can make them eat their peas, you can choose what type of school they go to, you can even choose what vaccinations to give them and whether or not they can have birth control in Middle School. I don't want my rights trampled on, and the corollary to that is that other parents have to have their rights too.

However, we do have laws in this country. The laws in Texas require that anyone under the age of 16 have a court order in order to marry. The age of consent in Texas is 17, although I believe that they will not prosecute if the age difference is 3 years or less. In the FLDS community, by accounts of escapees, often the age of marriage is under 17 and the age difference can be measured in decades.

I think that CPS did the right thing by taking the children away while they investigate the matter. While in general, I don't think anonymous calls warrant CPS taking a child away from the parents, this is more than your I saw so and so with dirty hair and I think the parents are neglectful type of case. There is evidence beyond the phone call.

Unfortunately, this is the only life that many of the people have known. I'm all for homeschooling, obviously, but these people have little contact with the outside world at all... and if they are being taught illegal things, that is wrong. The Amish are similar in that their children are educated in the Amish ways and they are to some degree segregated from the world, but there is a vast difference, in that the Amish don't abuse their children as a routine matter by marrying off their young teenagers. The Amish also often deal with the local communities, and are not as isolated in that respect.

I hope that the justice system gets to the bottom of this and that the matter is resolved peaceably. While the adults are free to do a lot of what they do on their own private property, the children need to at least be taught that you don't get married until you are an adult.

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