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FLDS Update:

The judge has decided to allow infants to remain with their mothers, but otherwise has not modified the order removing all of the children from their homes, despite no individualized showings of child abuse or neglect.

In the previous thread, some commenters seem to assert that the CPS may take all of the FLDS's children away because (a) there has been documented abuse of children at other FLDS communities; and/or (b) the "culture" of the FLDS is inherently abusive, as it encourages early marriage and leaves its children inherently isolated by homeschooling them and not exposing them to social events, television, and the like. The latter criterion, at least, would place Amish and some of the more insular ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in jeopardy.

As one commenter, otherwise sympathetic to CPS, put it, "the judge should focus on current or past crimes and not the culture - this puts religious belief on trial rather than actual behavior." Relatedly, the focus of CPS, and the judge overseeing the case, should be on individualized evidence of child neglect or abuse. And it remains rather troubling that the CPS apparently had the authority to take 437 kids from their parents after launching an investigation based on an apparently fraudulent complaint of abuse involving a specific, apparently nonexistent, girl.

Grover Gardner (mail):

...encourages early marriage...


My nomination for Understatement of the Year.
4.24.2008 7:27am
ruleswatch (mail):
"And it remains rather troubling that the CPS apparently had the authority to take 437 kids from their parents after launching an investigation based on an apparently fraudulent complaint of abuse involving a specific, apparently nonexistent, girl."


Lets think about this for a minute. Is there evidence that this action relied exclusively on one report, fraudulent or not? Did the action occur in a vacuum of information surrounding the community, or were there other, widespread indications of cause for concern surrounding the welfare of these children? What was the apparent credibility of this other body of cause? If true, were the allegations/ concerns serious? Aren't these things cause for further consideration?

There is nothing wrong with raising the question but seeing:

1. modifiers like "rather" in front of the word, "troubling" and

2.the words "based on (an apparently fraudulent complaint)" when there is no evidence as yet as to what the decision was based on, including the totality of considerations that were available to be taken into account in the decision to apprehend,

3. the rhetoric of a the phrase "involving a specific, apparently nonexistent, girl" to characterize a complaint already characterized as "apparently fraudulent,"-- already more than sufficient to make the point,

are signs of a reach too soon, too far.

I agree that if it appears that the raid and apprehension of these children was groundless, if it was cavalierly undertaken, or if it overshot the full body of evidence on which the decision was taken, then it should be a cause for complaint, ridicule and probably much more.

I do not agree that these conclusions should be reached lightly, or cavalierly themselves, when the risks are so high.

This is particularly true where the subject of the apprehended abuse is third party, children who by virtue of uncontrovertible fact are vulnerable and exposed.

Certainly, lawyers are trained to Monday morning quarter-back and the polity is, by far, better off for it, but analysis mixed with too much ideology when the stakes are of the height and nature of these, deserves care and restraint.

It always strikes me as odd that in a legal environment that abhors prior restraint of non-state actors, there seems to be a complete unwillingness to consider the chill of premature condemnation.
4.24.2008 8:02am
Patrick216:
The more I think about it, the more convinced I become that the phone call (now revealed to be a hoax originated by a woman in Colorado) was a simple pretext to come in and break up that FLDS cell. With that said, I just hope the Texas authorities produce hard proof of child molestation and human trafficking.

The age distribution for this community seems very odd, I might add. This article suggests that of the 416 children, 289 are aged 0-4 (with 82 alleged mothers), 100 are aged 5-18, and another 27 are "teenaged" (but housed elsewhere). There were about 130 women grabbed at the compound, too. The only estimate for the number of men at the compound is this CNN article, suggesting 57. 57 guys fathered as many as 416 children by 130 women? And 289 of those children aren't even 5 years old? It looks to me like the polygamy case has been made. Now we just need to know the mothers' ages.
4.24.2008 8:41am
Gaius Marius:
Jacob/Israel fathered 12 sons (and at least one daughter) with four women.

On a different note, the message being communicated by Texas courts is that if you are a parent practicing a minority religion, the State of Texas has the right to take your children away from you because you don't let your kids watch enough TV. Seventh Day Adventists should be trembling because they fit the foregoing criteria.
4.24.2008 8:50am
subpatre (mail):
At the core of genocide is the willingness to do to 'a people' —religious, ethnic or racial— things for which 'they' are supposedly guilty of. No individual needs to be proven guilty, just the mass. The group doesn't even need to be guilty, just distasteful.

Much as we would like to see 'them' corrected, this nation has a method for dealing with crime: prosecute and try the accused individuals for the offenses.
4.24.2008 8:52am
subpatre (mail):
ruleswatch wrote: Lets think about this for a minute. Is there evidence that this action relied exclusively on one report, fraudulent or not?

Yes there is. So the rest of your argumentative speculation is irrelevant.
4.24.2008 8:53am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Yeah, sub.
But the general population has been led to believe that this population is subhuman. Even the victims are treated like perps. It's all good, though. They're not like us.
Individuals, schmindividuals.
4.24.2008 8:55am
Gaius Marius:
The irony is that it is legal for mothers in this country to abort their unwanted fetuses (30,000 per week) but if a mother wants to keep her child, the State of Texas will nevertheless take that child away from his/her mother.
4.24.2008 9:10am
J_A:
I have been very surprised in this and the previous thread to see that many frequent commentators of the VC don't appear to be much troubled by the polygamous and child bride practices that -most likely- took place here. Some have argued that is not different from what has happened until very recently in history, some seem to have no problem about consenting adults entering into polygamous relationships, and some have no problems with under age "marriages" (and these particular marriages inside the sect are not valid marriages, after all, at best are common-law marriages) as long as the parents consent (even if it is likely that the girls might not have consented had they been given a chance).

And the reason I am more surprised is that I can recognize some of the names as being in the forefront of decrying that same-sex marriage will destroy marriage, by leading to polygamy, incest (very likely to have happened here, at least as a statistical chance), underage marriage, and of course, a situation that is very far from "every child needs a father and a mother", and "until we are absolutely sure that there is no chance of any harm to the development of a child, [gays/polygamous/xxx] should not be allowed to be parents"

Now we have what it should be these same commenters' worse nightmare, a polygamous, likely incestuous community, where children were also likely abused, and harmed, and I see several of the same names decrying that this poor people were not left alone to live their lives and raise their children in the same manner.

So it seems that it is not the end of the slippery slope that they are concerned about, but the beginning. It is only the gay part of gay marriage that seems to bother them .You can say anything about the FDLS, but at least the FLDS did not practice homosexuality, so they can't be that bad.

I hope someone besides me remembers this in the next tirade against same sex marriage, and perhaps one of the commenters will owe up to say: "hey, I saw the end of the slope, and it is not that bad. I recognize that it is only the gay part that bothers me." That way at least we can have a serious discussion.
4.24.2008 9:33am
betsybounds:
Well these people haven't been burned to a crisp, but there nevertheless are parallels to Waco. Any notion or hope that they might ever just go back to living their lives is as dead as a similar hope for the Branch Davidians was in the wake of the initial raid. Once the government makes its move, that's it--there is no going back. Even if CPS and any other agencies involved are wrong--even if they KNOW they're wrong--there will be no going back. No amount of legal theorizing or philosophic debate can change that. These people probably just want to go home. Too bad for them--there isn't any "home" anymore.
4.24.2008 9:35am
Al Maviva (mail):
Zacharias, you're creeping me out, pal. So you think a smart 8 year-old should be permitted to have sexual relations, with say, a 40 year-old adult?

Man, just when I thought it was safe to mention to people that I have libertarian sympathies...
4.24.2008 9:36am
PLR:
Certainly, lawyers are trained to Monday morning quarter-back and the polity is, by far, better off for it, but analysis mixed with too much ideology when the stakes are of the height and nature of these, deserves care and restraint.

I agree.

Even if CPS and any other agencies involved are wrong--even if they KNOW they're wrong--there will be no going back. No amount of legal theorizing or philosophic debate can change that. These people probably just want to go home. Too bad for them--there isn't any "home" anymore.

The adults presumably can resume their swinging lifestyle, but they may want to rethink whether their profits from defense contracts are best used to raise female breeding stock in polygamous relationships.

(Assuming that is what they were doing for the glory of their God, who must be quite the voyeur.)
4.24.2008 9:44am
PersonFromPorlock:
ruleswatch:

It always strikes me as odd that in a legal environment that abhors prior restraint of non-state actors, there seems to be a complete unwillingness to consider the chill of premature condemnation.

'Innocent until proven guilty' is to protect individuals from the state. When applied to state actions, that same scepticism becomes 'Mistaken or malevolent until proven otherwise'.
4.24.2008 10:05am
TheGut (mail):
Does this strike anyone else as being very similar to the Indian Schools of the past? Where Apache children were removed from their parents and sent to schools to force indoctrination into white culture?

Here we have a small religious group that is breaking the laws of a larger society. Laws about adolescent sexuality that are entirely arbitrary and historical anomalies. This small religious group is practicing what are still norms in several areas of the world. It practices arranged marriages (historically the most common type of marriage), polygamy (historically unusual in this area, but common worldwide) and early marriage - but no earlier than is still common in many, if not most areas of the world. Also, its isolationist.

And, the larger culture is, at the least, bending the heck out of its own laws to destroy this group. A search warrant was issued to search an entire town, to locate a sixteen year old. Not a house - a town, which a search warrant isn't suppose to be that broad. Then it turns out that the call was fraudulent. Which is glossed over, and ignored.

The CPS moves in, and removes ALL the children (not even getting the number seized right), even though there is no evidence of abuse for the vast, vast majority of the children.

It goes on and on. Yes a large number of commentators are not concerned by anything but that these people don't conform to societal norms. They claim indoctrination, as well, acting like its a "bad thing" when the government they are backing espouses the same thing. Or have you forgotten what the California judge wrote when denying that there is a right to homeschooling?

"A primary purpose of the educational system is to train school children in good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty to the state and the nation as a means of protecting the public welfare."

In short, the state says "Stay sweet" too.

The mind boggles!

http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/opinions/documents/B192878.PDF
4.24.2008 10:08am
ithaqua (mail):
"Zacharias, you're creeping me out, pal. So you think a smart 8 year-old should be permitted to have sexual relations, with say, a 40 year-old adult?

Man, just when I thought it was safe to mention to people that I have libertarian sympathies..."

Reason has an article on that subject here.

"And the reason I am more surprised is that I can recognize some of the names as being in the forefront of decrying that same-sex marriage will destroy marriage, by leading to polygamy, incest (very likely to have happened here, at least as a statistical chance), underage marriage, and of course, a situation that is very far from "every child needs a father and a mother", [...n]ow we have what it should be these same commenters' worse nightmare, a polygamous, likely incestuous community, where children were also likely abused, and harmed, and I see several of the same names decrying that this poor people were not left alone to live their lives and raise their children in the same manner. "

Well, homosexuals are, by definition, not Christians. If these cultists worshipped Allah, or Shiva, or Ayn Rand, instead of the living Christ, you wouldn't hear a word in their defense from most of the posters here; on the other hand, while aspects of the FLDS family structure may be creepy, a solidly and devotedly Christian upbringing excuses a multitude of sins.

"The only estimate for the number of men at the compound is this CNN article, suggesting 57. 57 guys fathered as many as 416 children by 130 women?"

Be fruitful and multiply.

"The irony is that it is legal for mothers in this country to abort their unwanted fetuses (30,000 per week) but if a mother wants to keep her child, the State of Texas will nevertheless take that child away from his/her mother."

There's only a short jump from condemning the FLDS to the atheist claim that all religion is child abuse. And speaking of child abuse, I expect the (male) children in this case will quickly find themselves in foster homes run by (male) homosexuals, whose desire to, er, adopt male children is unquenchable. But that's fine, say the liberals. As long as they aren't taught to fear God, anything goes.

"It's good to see the chickens coming home to roost on the scientific stupidity of using age as the legal proxy for capacity to consent to sex or to freely choose one's sexual partner."

Indeed, throughout history - the same history that has defined marriage as between a man and one (or more) women - women have been married off as soon as they reach puberty; their fathers generally chose their husbands, older, wealthy, successful men who have the proven resources to support a stay-at-home wife. And this is the model the FLDS was using; FLDS women were/are expected to begin having children as soon as they were married, which shows that women were not, in fact, being forced into marriage while biologically 'underage'. As for the 'forced marriage' bit: it's only with the rise of the feminazis and the sexual revolution that women gained the 'right' to act as 'free moral agents', ie, ignore the requirements of chastity and morality and sleep with whoever they wanted. And look at the results: STDs are rampant, single motherhood is an epidemic, children are growing up sexually perverse and rejecting their God-given roles (male to provide, woman to cook and clean), society is in general breaking down. We would be so much better off as a country if American men had the strength of moral character to take on the servant-leadership role that the FLDS men have with regard to their wives and daughters, don't you think?
4.24.2008 10:24am
Gaius Marius:
And the reason I am more surprised is that I can recognize some of the names as being in the forefront of decrying that same-sex marriage will destroy marriage, by leading to polygamy, incest (very likely to have happened here, at least as a statistical chance), underage marriage, and of course, a situation that is very far from "every child needs a father and a mother", and "until we are absolutely sure that there is no chance of any harm to the development of a child, [gays/polygamous/xxx] should not be allowed to be parents"

You are incorrect. If you believe you are correct, then name names.
4.24.2008 10:30am
PLR:
We would be so much better off as a country if American men had the strength of moral character to take on the servant-leadership role that the FLDS men have with regard to their wives and daughters, don't you think?

No.
4.24.2008 10:33am
Stephen M (Ethesis) (mail) (www):

The latter criterion, at least, would place Amish and some of the more insular ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in jeopardy.


Not to mention the Hutterite communes.

But, the real issue is that like the Indian Schools (that tried and failed to turn the kids into members of another culture) and the Short Creek raids where the States of Arizona and Utah tried to do the same thing to the FLDS in the 50s -- and failed -- this does not seem likely to do much except create a lot of trauma.

They should really study the Short Creek raids.

At present they've established that as a community the underage pregnancies are less than those in the normal communities in Texas -- guess they need to take away all the children in the state from their parents for failure to protect them?

Yes, there are really, really creepy things going on with some people. But ... the actual number of child brides, per capita is smaller than the normal population (if you treat pregnant teens having kids as child brides). Dramatically less if you include teens having abortions.

I remain conflicted. But there are things about this I really don't like, as much for the gratuitous pain as for the fact that it seems doomed to failure and a series of 42 UCCA 1983 suits that will bankrupt CPS.

Given that CPS performs a necessary function and that many CPS workers are good, honest, diligent people, it is a shame to burden them with the fall out of this mess.

A good solution is beyond me, though I appreciate reading others thoughts.
4.24.2008 10:34am
Gaius Marius:
Does this strike anyone else as being very similar to the Indian Schools of the past? Where Apache children were removed from their parents and sent to schools to force indoctrination into white culture?

I was also thinking the same thing.

Also, public schools are nothing more than centers of indoctrination of the liberal, secular belief system. Any parent who dares to home school their children or send them to a private, sectarian school is deemed to be a threat to the public school system.
4.24.2008 10:34am
Dan Weber (www):
'Innocent until proven guilty' is to protect individuals from the state. When applied to state actions, that same scepticism becomes 'Mistaken or malevolent until proven otherwise'.

If the state wants to maintain its monopoly on force, the onus is upon the state to prove its actions are justified, not upon others to prove they are not.
4.24.2008 10:35am
Gaius Marius:
"...a series of 42 UCCA 1983 suits that will bankrupt CPS."

Now that is a damn good idea.
4.24.2008 10:36am
Jiminy (mail):
Here's a simple test: if your religion tells you to have sex with children, your religion is flawed and does not belong in our society. Any other potential useful functions of your religious faith are overrun by that previous fact.
4.24.2008 10:38am
jvarisco (mail) (www):
How many accounts of ruined lives do we need to shut these guys down? They haven't disowned their leader, who is sitting in jail. Of course the kids don't know any better, they are kids. That doesn't mean they are not being abused.

If Amish culture involved underage sex and polygamy, we'd shut them down too. But it doesn't.
4.24.2008 10:42am
ithaqua (mail):
"If Amish culture involved underage sex and polygamy, we'd shut them down too. But it doesn't."

But somehow Muslim culture, which also involves underage sex and polygamy, gets a pass among liberals. Make up your minds, lefties - you can't act horrified at this relatively benign and traditional sect while simultaneously condoning the far more brutal cultural traditions of our Islamofascist enemies. What happened to moral relativism? Multiculturalism? Or is it only white Christians that you're willing to condemn?
4.24.2008 10:46am
Gaius Marius:
Here's a simple test: if your religion tells you to have sex with children, your religion is flawed and does not belong in our society. Any other potential useful functions of your religious faith are overrun by that previous fact.

JIMINY, according to an op-ed piece in yesterday's Dallas Morning News by someone who is following this case, only five girls between the ages of 16 and 19 were found to have been impregnated and the age of consent in Texas is 16. Therefore, your above statement regarding religions being flawed if they advocate sex with children is a complete red herring.
4.24.2008 10:46am
William D. Tanksley, Jr:

I have been very surprised in this and the previous thread to see that many frequent commentators of the VC don't appear to be much troubled by the polygamous and child bride practices that -most likely- took place here.


Perhaps you're having a hard time distinguishing between "anger at a positive commission of injustice" and "sympathy with the accused." These people are being treated all out of proportion with the seriousness of the accusations, in a manner that, if carried out, will assuredly destroy more lives than any course of actions EXCEPT leaving the community untouched (I'm saying that I believe this community is even more destructive than our foster care system).

And the reason I am more surprised is that I can recognize some of the names as being in the forefront of decrying... and "until we are absolutely sure that there is no chance of any harm to the development of a child, [gays/polygamous/xxx] should not be allowed to be parents"


Really? Someone at Volokh is agitating for parenting licenses? That's bizzare. In fact, I don't believe it at all. The simple fact that someone believes that society should encourage one family structure (and even discourage others) doesn't mean that they want to perform THIS kind of action -- ripping children away from their parents without a trial on the pretext of a hypothetical far-future harm.
4.24.2008 10:46am
Gaius Marius:
If Amish culture involved underage sex and polygamy, we'd shut them down too. But it doesn't.

This case is moving beyond alleged underage sex and polygamy. This case is now establishing precedent whereby if the state deems your children to be too sheltered from the secular world, then you are an unfit parent and the state has a right to take your children away from you.
4.24.2008 10:48am
treebeard (mail):
Can I ask what seems to me an obvious question? Why didn't the state focus on the alleged abuser and remove him from the property, rather than taking away so many children? Couldn't they have simply gone after the one person who was accused by the phone call?

While I'm sure there are lots of differences, this does remind me of David Koresh and Waco. The government (ATF, FBI) could have simply gone after Koresh as an individual. Supposedly he left the compound often enough, and they could have arrested him once he was no longer there. Instead, they had to be heavy-handed and provoke a confrontation with the entire group.

And since both of these incidents happened in Texas, I'm surprised they haven't learned anything. (I realize that Waco involved the Feds while FLDS involves the state authorities.) In particular, if you're endeavoring to help children who are trapped in a cult or abusive sect, you shouldn't traumatize them further. Any group like this will have a bunker mentality, and things have to be handled delicately. (Janet Reno justified the Waco raid by saying there was abuse of children going on. No doubt there was, but almost all the children died in the conflagration.) In the case of the FLDS, to forcibly remove the children from their parents will only play into their fears of the outside world.
4.24.2008 10:53am
Temp Guest (mail):
It is prima facie clear that the adults in this community are in violation of Texas laws against bigamy. They are raising their children to flout these same laws. I suspect that parents who are persistently engaging in criminal activity and raising their children to do the same are "unfit parents" however that term is defined in Texas's (or any other state's) legal/administrative code. I also suspect that Texas's (and most other states') legal/administrative codes allow the state to remove children from "unfit parents".

Many of the posts here suggest that the "slippery slope" arguments against Sullivan were not, after all, conservative paranoia. Perhaps it's the case that the water has gotten so hot that it's too late for the frog to jump.
4.24.2008 10:54am
J_A:
Gaius, I wasn't actually thinking of you in particular, but it seems that you felt singled out. At least you are the only one so far that claims for names to be named.

Since I don't keep files on all the commenters, let's make a deal. If I notice in the future that you make claims about the dangerous slippery slope to polygamy, I will remind you of this thread.

And by the way, what are your feelings about what is alleged to have happened in there, if it comes out to be true? It would be interesting to know....
4.24.2008 11:00am
William D. Tanksley, Jr:
On the other hand, while aspects of the FLDS family structure may be creepy, a solidly and devotedly Christian upbringing excuses a multitude of sins.


First, if this had been a community of homosexuals in the same circumstances, every word in this community's defense would apply in the same way. I don't know about the others here, but I'd be speaking up in the same way and for the same reason. Your charges of hypocrisy should be leavened by evidence.

With that said, let me also comment that the non-Christian nature of this sect's particular practices is clearly evident. It was founded by a group that rejected all Christian churches and doctrinal teachings as "abomination"; its practice of polygamy comes from a foundational belief that the only way for a woman to become exalted into the presence of God is to become the wife of a good Mormon man who himself becomes exalted. This is why this particular sect started performing "spiritual weddings"; they didn't want to "practice for having babies early" (I'm being circumloquacious), but rather they wanted to assure themselves that even the young girls can be assured of the highest level of heaven (btw, I'm not proclaiming them innocent NOW, I'm just making a historical note of the origins of the practice).

Affirming this groups' practices therefore doesn't equate to feeling brotherhood for them in Christ (or anything like that). These specific practices are definite denials of critical portions of Christianity. BTW, I'm not making a big deal of that; I'm just pointing out that YOUR accusation that Christians are only defending these people because they're fellow Christians is unfounded.
4.24.2008 11:04am
john w (mail):
... if your religion tells you to have sex with children, your religion is flawed and does not belong in our society. Any other potential useful functions of your religious faith are overrun by that previous fact. ...

Teenagers are NOT 'children' in any normal use of the word -- only in governmental Newspeak. For 99.9+ percent of human history, teenagers have been [rightfully] regarded as adults, and they still are in many modern cultures.
4.24.2008 11:09am
Blades (mail):
(Non-lawyer) From the legal side, i thing the state has a lot of problems in making convictions.

Through 2005, it was legal to marry in Texas at age 14 with parents consent. So the state would need to research when these 16-17 year olds had there children. Anything prior to 2006 would need to prove age under 14. Also a news report was that the state law was changes primaraly to be able to break up this cult so the law may be challange-able for that reason.

I think Polegamy was defined as multiple civil marriges. But the news reports do not report any multiple civil marriges, only religious marriges. So polegamy by civil marrige does not seem to have beeen happening.

There is common law marriges, but my understanding is that it requires several years (7?) living as a couple. So that if the bride was 14 at the start, then a common law marrige would be recognized (begine) 7? years latter at age 21. Still might be polegamy, but the state then has to find the legal proofs that they lived as a couple for the entire 7? years

So i dont think polegamy is very provable if it requires a civil marraige, and underage marraige requires either a civil marriage or the duration of a common law marriage.

Just having a child out of wedlock is not always a crime, even by a teenager, so that the state needs to prove who the fathers are, in order to prove predetory sex crime.
But the State may have problems if it takes the DNA under false pretenses for this if the stated reason was just to determine the parents for civil child welfare reasons, if they then use it for criminal charges. This is probably just a minor obsticle.
4.24.2008 11:11am
Jiminy (mail):
Gaius, nice try on the op-ed from Dallas Morning News. I read Scott Henson's opinion piece, and he did not bother to present any quotes or anything useful, beyond a quote from the judge. I then took it upon myself to dig a little deeper into some court testimony, as presented by ABC news, and here's a simple excerpt that puts serious doubt into my mind about "only" 5 pregnant girls who were 16-19.

"Asked whether 14- and 15-year-old girls get married on the compound, a tight-lipped woman who would only give her first name, Marilyn, gave what appeared to be a rehearsed response. 'We are talking about our children now,' she said, shaking her head, unwilling to stray from the subject of her children."

Are you kidding me? Moving beyond alleged underage sex? I'm less concerned about polygamy, even as I recognize that it can have a potential negative impact on the people involved. The sex angle is the problem here, and Jeffs (remember him? the guy who was in charge of all of this?) made his beliefs clear.

Even the husbands in the FLDS admitted that they "didn't know" it was not okay to marry/have sex with young women. Whether they were lying or just ignorant doesn't excuse the religion that chooses to enforce that line of thinking and behavior.

This case is now establishing precedent whereby if the state deems your underaged children were having sex (coerced or not) with older men, and this constitutes child abuse as I understand it, then you are an unfit parent and the state has a right to take your children away from you. Religion don't enter into it other than providing the framework and encouragment of abuse. It's right up there with genital mutiliation.
4.24.2008 11:12am
Seamus (mail):
Well, homosexuals are, by definition, not Christians.

Huh? I thought that the definition of "Christian" had to do with what people believed about Jesus Christ, not what they did. That statement makes as much sense as "adulterers and fornicators are, by definition, not Christians," "thieves are, by definition, not Christians," "oppressors of the poor are, by definition, not Christians." You can argue that such people are bad Christians, but you have no reason to say that they aren't Christians at all.
4.24.2008 11:13am
Gaius Marius:
Thank you, J_A. Please see my above response to Jiminy at 9:46 regarding the allegations.

Regarding polygamy, personally, I would never practice it because I have my hands full with one wife. I couldn't imagine seeing my monthly credit card statement after having multiple wives going out shopping together.

Seriously, my religious upbringing, regardless of civil law, teaches me that God created marriage to be a union between one man, one woman, and one God. However, I also note that some of the Old Testament Patriarchs practiced polygamy. Therefore, I will not judge whether another person chooses to practice polygamy as part of his/her religion. Ultimately, the polygamist will have to account to God in Final Judgment as surely as I will have to account to God in Final Judgment for other things I have done throughout my life. I believe that to prohibit polygamy that is a part of one's religion on religious or pseudo-religious grounds clothed in secular reasoning abridges the First Amendment.
4.24.2008 11:16am
William D. Tanksley, Jr:
It is prima facie clear that the adults in this community are in violation of Texas laws against bigamy. They are raising their children to flout these same laws. I suspect that parents who are persistently engaging in criminal activity and raising their children to do the same are "unfit parents" however that term is defined in Texas's (or any other state's) legal/administrative code. I also suspect that Texas's (and most other states') legal/administrative codes allow the state to remove children from "unfit parents".


An excellent argument; one which can and should be presented in court, of course with citations. I had to quote your entire argument because it increases the signal/noise ratio of this channel.

I don't hold all "unfit parents" at the same level, though, and I hold in contempt any law that does. The charges in these cases don't in any way justify taking any children away from their mothers, although they may justify taking them away from their fathers (I don't condemn that, although I am waiting for some kind of claims beyond the vague handwaving I've seen so far).
4.24.2008 11:16am
Seamus (mail):
It is prima facie clear that the adults in this community are in violation of Texas laws against bigamy.

Only if they attempted a civil marriage. As far as Texas law is concerned, those second, third, etc. marriages aren't marriages at all, just menages a trois, quatre, etc. They might be violations of the Texas law against adultery, if there were a Texas law against adultery, but Texas repealed its laws against adultery years ago. (Given that the Supreme Court has ruled that Texas can't outlaw even sodomy, it's pretty clear it couldn't reinstate its adultery laws either.)
4.24.2008 11:18am
Gaius Marius:
It's right up there with genital mutiliation. You mean like penile circumcision???
4.24.2008 11:18am
Respondent:
A few points:

1) Is this judge also going to be the trial judge? I think that at least the fathers may as well throw in the towel cause they ain't getting any fair shake before this one, who's already been showing a clear animosity against the group.

2) How can the whole sect be condemened for child abuse so severe to take the kids away when there was no minimum age of marriage with parental consent in Texas only a few years ago? What was legal a few years ago is so "abusive" now?

3)What about Muslim parents who encourage their kids to marry at puberty overseas, where many of those marriages can be polygamous? Can we take their kids away to?

4) Why is there no allowance for(from the perspective of the believing FLDS parents)irreparable harm done by indoctrinating the kids in the morally corrupt and bankrupt values of general American society? What right does the state have, even at the preliminary stage (which could last months and which undoubtedly will have a permanently devastating effect on the children's relationship with their families and perhaps on their own developement)to take away children from their parents for indoctrinating them in beliefs the government considers "abusive" when it is arguable that the system in which the state wants its children to be raised is just as abusive? Are there any statistics demonstrating that those raised in and living in "normal" Texan society live any happier lives tahn those raised and living in the FDLS community?
4.24.2008 11:19am
Respondent:
A few points:

1) Is this judge also going to be the trial judge? I think that at least the fathers may as well throw in the towel cause they ain't getting any fair shake before this one, who's already been showing a clear animosity against the group.

2) How can the whole sect be condemened for child abuse so severe to take the kids away when there was no minimum age of marriage with parental consent in Texas only a few years ago? What was legal a few years ago is so "abusive" now?

3)What about Muslim parents who encourage their kids to marry at puberty overseas, where many of those marriages can be polygamous? Can we take their kids away to?

4) Why is there no allowance for(from the perspective of the believing FLDS parents)irreparable harm done by indoctrinating the kids in the morally corrupt and bankrupt values of general American society? What right does the state have, even at the preliminary stage (which could last months and which undoubtedly will have a permanently devastating effect on the children's relationship with their families and perhaps on their own developement)to take away children from their parents for indoctrinating them in beliefs the government considers "abusive" when it is arguable that the system in which the state wants its children to be raised is just as abusive? Are there any statistics demonstrating that those raised in and living in "normal" Texan society live any happier lives tahn those raised and living in the FDLS community?
4.24.2008 11:19am
ithaqua (mail):
William D. Tanksley, Jr.:

"I'm just pointing out that YOUR accusation that Christians are only defending these people because they're fellow Christians is unfounded."

You misunderstand. I think the fact that these people are Christians (in that they worship Christ as Lord), and that they do not condone homosexuality, *is* a mitigating factor in any claims of 'abuse'. The quote from me you seem to take as sarcastic was posted in all seriousness.
4.24.2008 11:20am
Gaius Marius:
I then took it upon myself to dig a little deeper into some court testimony, as presented by ABC news

Yes, Jiminy, we all know what a stellar news organization ABC News truly is.
4.24.2008 11:22am
LarryA (mail) (www):
Well, homosexuals are, by definition, not Christians.
Really? Christ described His followers, later called "Christians," as the people who believed in Him. Period. He acknowledged that they were all sinners. Please cite where He said, "Except homosexuals." From the red text.
Is there evidence that this action relied exclusively on one report, fraudulent or not? Did the action occur in a vacuum of information surrounding the community, or were there other, widespread indications of cause for concern surrounding the welfare of these children? What was the apparent credibility of this other body of cause? If true, were the allegations/ concerns serious?
Warrants should be based on fact, not "what everybody knows." If there were verifiable "widespread indications of cause for concern" CPS would have moved long ago. They were waiting for any fact they could use as an excuse, and they found one.
Here's a simple test: if your religion tells you to have sex with children, your religion is flawed and does not belong in our society.
Define "children." Sexually immature? Under fourteen years old? Sixteen? Eighteen? Twenty-one? Twenty-five? How about "Has not hunted and killed a lion?" Historically almost all women became mates and started bearing children, under whatever rules their society used, shortly after puberty. That was true in the U.S. at least up until World War II. The concept of seventeen or twenty-year-old "children" wasn't even proposed until my generation pitched the 1960s.
I think the fact that these people are Christians (in that they worship Christ as Lord), and that they do not condone homosexuality, *is* a mitigating factor in any claims of 'abuse'.
Homophobic Christians are above the law? Not.

I think the FLDS lifestyle sucks. What they do grosses me out. But if I give the legal system the power to come down on them because they're icky, then sooner someone like you will come along and say, "Now lets go after gays." After homosexuals are taken care of, someone who doesn't like me being a gun owner will say, "Now lets shut down the NRA." Sometime thereafter someone will find something they don't like about you, and it will be your turn.

That's why I want the legal system to be forced to dot every "i" and cross every "t." And there's your "slippery slope" argument.
4.24.2008 11:47am
Buckland (mail):
An understimated part of the FLDS lifestyle: Reliance on government checks to facilitate the life.

In most cases the men are legally married to 1 woman and have an informal marriage to several others. This only works when someone in the compound gets really good at "bleeding the beast". Finding ways to claim benefits from every level of government is a necessity. The compounds rail against big government but accept all handouts that help their chosen lifestyle.

The problem is that government largess distributors have over the years been taught to comply with their own "don't ask, don't tell" policy. It's not good to question the living arrangements of anybody asking for aid; that only results in less money flowing through the office. Questioning the young mother's assertion of "I don't know" to the father's identity isn't something that's tolerated. It's seen as racist or some other horrible sin. Therefore as long as mama holds to her story benefits flow to the community.

Polygamy has always been in response to economic conditions faced. It flares worldwide in areas where young men are often killed (especially in small raids against neighbors). It came to life in the US West because of the need to live in compounds and farm large swaths of poor farmland that was at the time partially populated with unfriendly natives. It nearly died as the economies of the early 20th century gave mobility, safety, and relative riches to the folks in the area.

Polygamy has resurfaced over the last 30 years as it became a great way to bleed money from the government wholesale instead of retail. The people distributing the money have no incentive to make sure it is deserved or spent well. INdeed, the distributor's incentive is to make sure as much as possible is distributed. That allows FLDS (and small African/Arab) polygamist groups to grow. The problem won't be solved by seizing kids, it can only be solved by removing the financing for the situation.
4.24.2008 11:55am
William D. Tanksley, Jr:
ithaqua, could you post a new argument that supports what you claim you want to support? Your old one doesn't work.

"I think the fact that these people are Christians (in that they worship Christ as Lord), and that they do not condone homosexuality, *is* a mitigating factor in any claims of 'abuse'."

That's an interesting claim. I don't understand how it's justified. Are you saying, for example, that if they condoned but did not practice homosexuality, the state should take their children away in this circumstance?

But let me quote your earlier post:
"If these cultists worshipped Allah, or Shiva, or Ayn Rand, instead of the living Christ, you wouldn't hear a word in their defense from most of the posters here;"

Here your argument claims to show something about the posters on this forum, not about the "cultists". Why did you phrase it this way? Are you trying to claim that your argument is right because it would win a vote in this forum?

"on the other hand, while aspects of the FLDS family structure may be creepy, a solidly and devotedly Christian upbringing excuses a multitude of sins."

Here your argument seems to assume that the posters on this forum would withhold excuses for the hypothetical sins if the covering of Christianity were not present.

To take this quote out of context and assume that it implies your later claim that their Christianity "is a mitigating factor in any claims of 'abuse'", I can agree that a stable upbringing -- pushing aside the issue of whether Allah is worse than Christ, or whether the Christ of the Mormon texts is different from the Christ of the historical orthodox Christian texts -- should provide an argument against taking children away from parents, regardless of non-violent infractions.

I don't like the fact that you chose to use the term "any form of abuse", even though you put it in scare quotes; that's blatantly false. Some forms of abuse require IMMEDIATE separation; some forms, if I personally catch a parent engaging in, will result me immediately physically separating the two without regard for (in fact, with prejudice in favor of) physical harm to the parent.

-Wm
4.24.2008 12:01pm
ejo:
"how many accounts of ruined lives do we have to read"-I agree, all school age children in the Chicago Public Schools should be taken from their parents due to the ruined lives in the community that raised them.
4.24.2008 12:02pm
ithaqua (mail):
"But if I give the legal system the power to come down on them because they're icky, then sooner someone like you will come along and say, "Now lets go after gays." After homosexuals are taken care of, someone who doesn't like me being a gun owner will say, "Now lets shut down the NRA." Sometime thereafter someone will find something they don't like about you, and it will be your turn. "

Rubbish. That's like saying "some cops abuse their authority, so let's strip all cops of authority", or "we have to grant Islamofascists all the civil rights we allow to decent people, or decent people will lose their civil rights next." The proper response to the potential for abuse of authority isn't to limit authority but to make certain people who would abuse it (Democraps) never get into power in the first place.

"He acknowledged that they were all sinners."

Part of being a Christian, yes, is to accept that you are a sinner and require God's grace through Christ His Son for salvation. A person can have gay sex and - as long as he realizes that it is a sin - remain a Christian. A *homosexual* - that is, someone who actively and publicly supports the homosexual lifestyle - cannot be a Christian, because he denies that homosexual actions are sins (as they are: see Leviticus 18.22 et al). You will notice, I hope, that God did not burn Sodom and Gomorrah for the sin of polygamy :)

"2) How can the whole sect be condemened for child abuse so severe to take the kids away when there was no minimum age of marriage with parental consent in Texas only a few years ago? What was legal a few years ago is so "abusive" now? "

Quite so. This entire case is about an abusive, power-hungry, publicity-hungry government going after Christians because they're the one minority the media thinks it's alright to oppress.
4.24.2008 12:03pm
Connie:
To David, "encourages early marriage" is equivalent to "allows your 14 year old daughter to be raped by a 50 year old man."

Texas law may have allowed marriage by 14 yr olds until fairly recently, but many of you are overlooking the need for meaningful consent by the child, not just her parents.
4.24.2008 12:07pm
john w (mail):
... someone who doesn't like me being a gun owner will say, "Now lets shut down the NRA." ...

Excellent point. There are many areas of this country where otherwise rational people sincerely &honestly believe that the 'gun culture' is "... inherently abusive to children." or whatever the verbiage is that the CPS apologists are using to describe the FLDS.
4.24.2008 12:09pm
ithaqua (mail):
"Here your argument claims to show something about the posters on this forum, not about the "cultists". Why did you phrase it this way? Are you trying to claim that your argument is right because it would win a vote in this forum? "

I probably should have put "cultists" in scare quotes, yes.

"I don't like the fact that you chose to use the term "any form of abuse", even though you put it in scare quotes; that's blatantly false"

Ah, but I used the term "any claim of 'abuse'", not "any form of 'abuse'". Obviously, if you come across a six-year-old being raped, you should - indeed, you're morally required to - intervene (though corporal punishment, even if it looks extreme to outsiders, shouldn't go into this category unless you know all the circumstances); at the same time, given how often false and overblown claims of child abuse are levied against Christian parents by schoolteachers and other minions of the liberal establishment - did you know that spanking your own child is considered abuse in some states? - the religious beliefs of the accused party should be taken into consideration when deciding whether or not to follow up on an abuse claim.

But - to quote myself -
"If these cultists worshipped Allah, or Shiva, or Ayn Rand, instead of the living Christ, you wouldn't hear a word in their defense from most of the posters here[.]"

Cultists was the wrong word to use, yes. Perhaps 'cultists' (in quotes), or better yet, people (without quotes). My point is that the above religions don't have the solid moral foundations of Christianity, and so should - and probably would - be given shorter shrift.
4.24.2008 12:13pm
jccamp:
This is from direct testimony at the hearings:

"That document contained a list of names, men and "wives", one of which showed one man had 22 wives, and at least 10 of those "wives" in that document were younger than 17 or had children listed with ages that placed conception at younger than 17.

One of the most troubling statements from the child protection investigator was when testimony was given that girls at the YFZ Ranch were forced into marriage and gave birth as young as 13.

Voss also testified of a 14 year old that was pregnant and a number of 15 year olds that were pregnant as well.
"

The document referred to was a "Bishop's List" discovered during the search. Attorneys for various members of the church tried to have the document suppressed, as a privileged communication between the bishop and congregants. There was nothing in the synopsis of the testimony that anyone attacked the document's accuracy, only it's admissibility.

Seems like the Dallas Morning News op-ed piece forgot to mention this particular line of testimony.

This isn't about religion; it's about sex between older men and young girls, much of which as documented is still against the law.

If we are going to decry overbearing government intrusion into private lives, surely there's a better example than this. This looks like a legitimate attempt to protect females inculcated into a society of total male domination &sexual abuse.

Aside from all of the other issues, doesn't this reach the "makes your skin crawl" level?
4.24.2008 12:14pm
ithaqua (mail):
"Texas law may have allowed marriage by 14 yr olds until fairly recently, but many of you are overlooking the need for meaningful consent by the child, not just her parents."

Please name one currently married FLDS women who claims that she did not meaningfully consent to her marriage. The fake 'abuse' tip - probably rigged by the Texas government itself (shades of Ruby Ridge!) - doesn't count.
4.24.2008 12:16pm
Uh_Clem (mail):
Polygamy has resurfaced over the last 30 years as it became a great way to bleed money from the government wholesale instead of retail.

C'mon. You're not really claiming that the main reason these people engage in plural marriage is to make money, are you? Granted, they've found a way to get the government to subsidize their lifestyle choice, but I doubt you'd find any adherents who are doing it for the money.
4.24.2008 12:17pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
I don't think there are many -- or any -- underage polygamous Muslim marriages in the US, but I imagine they would receive similar treatment at the hands of the state. Looking at one country's Sharia-influenced law, we see in Malaysia, the minimum age of marriage is 16 for females and 18 for males. The Shariah court judge can use discretion to give written permission for the marriage of minors.

Interestingly, the alleged practice being protested here is perfectly legal in this former British colony. Before marriage, both parties must give consent, although in the more religious states of Kelantan and Kedah, if the woman is an unmarried virgin, her wali mujbir (father or paternal grandfather) can marry her to a man of equal status as she is, without her consent.
4.24.2008 12:18pm
SeaDrive:
RE: Individualized claims of abuse

Does a fireman require individual analysis of risk to life before removing a person from a burning house?
4.24.2008 12:21pm
ithaqua (mail):
"Aside from all of the other issues, doesn't this reach the "makes your skin crawl" level?"

As many posters above have pointed out, if the 'children' were past the age of puberty, they would be considered adults in any sane culture. For example:


"Historically almost all women became mates and started bearing children, under whatever rules their society used, shortly after puberty. That was true in the U.S. at least up until World War II. The concept of seventeen or twenty-year-old "children" wasn't even proposed until my generation pitched the 1960s."

"Through 2005, it was legal to marry in Texas at age 14 with parents consent."

"But ... the actual number of child brides, per capita is smaller than the normal population (if you treat pregnant teens having kids as child brides). Dramatically less if you include teens having abortions. "

"2) How can the whole sect be condemened for child abuse so severe to take the kids away when there was no minimum age of marriage with parental consent in Texas only a few years ago? What was legal a few years ago is so "abusive" now? "

"Here we have a small religious group that is breaking the laws of a larger society. Laws about adolescent sexuality that are entirely arbitrary and historical anomalies."


and so on. So, no, not creepy - there's a lot of support here for the idea that the 'age of consent' should begin at puberty.
4.24.2008 12:23pm
William D. Tanksley, Jr:

"Here your argument claims to show something about the posters on this forum, not about the "cultists". Why did you phrase it this way? Are you trying to claim that your argument is right because it would win a vote in this forum?"

I probably should have put "cultists" in scare quotes, yes.


Are you serious? You're going to ignore my entire argument because I put the word "cultist" in scare quotes?
4.24.2008 12:26pm
Buckland (mail):

C'mon. You're not really claiming that the main reason these people engage in plural marriage is to make money, are you? Granted, they've found a way to get the government to subsidize their lifestyle choice, but I doubt you'd find any adherents who are doing it for the money.


No, you've go it backwards. They don't go into plural communities to make money. They wouldn't be able to support the lifestyle they desire without government largess. That's why the lifestyle all but died between roughly 1900 and 1970. Bad economics underlying it. Only with the advent of the welfare state based on personal integrity did it again become economically viable.
4.24.2008 12:27pm
YF (mail):
Doesn't the forcible removal of children with the intent to destroy, in part, a religous group fit the technical definition of genocide?
4.24.2008 12:27pm
Gaius Marius:
Really? Christ described His followers, later called "Christians," as the people who believed in Him. Period. He acknowledged that they were all sinners.

LarryA, I hear what you are saying. "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God." In other words, everyone is a sinner regardless of whether the sin is homosexuality or not. However, I also seem to recall that Christ commanded his followers to lead a Christian lifestyle after accepting him as their Savior. For instance, when Christ saved the adulteress from being stoned to death by her accusers, he afterward told her to "go and sin no more." Christ did not tell the adulteress to go and continue committing adultery.

Likewise, regardless of whether the sin is homosexuality, adultery, murder, theft, etc., after the sinner confesses the sin and accepts Christ's personal sacrifice as atonement for his/her sins, then the sinner must proactively lead a Christian life instead of a sinful life.
4.24.2008 12:28pm
jccamp:
And, moving back to Mr. Bernstein's question posed in his remarks:

"And it remains rather troubling that the CPS apparently had the authority to take 437 kids from their parents after launching an investigation based on an apparently fraudulent complaint of abuse involving a specific, apparently nonexistent, girl."

News reports quote law enforcement as saying that they had a source inside the compound for as many as four years, and that the investigation had been on-going for some time prior to the call. Presumably, the authorities will be required to validate whatever other information they possessed (which may be in the original supporting affidavit for SW) beyond the single telephone call, which they acted on in good faith. No one has suggested that law enforcement had anything to do with faking the call. In other words, the call did not happen in a vacuum. The cops had been trying to get inside for some time. I'm sure they were thrilled to get that call, since it gave some immediacy to the probable cause they had been building for some time.

Considering the testimony so far about what went on inside, shouldn't we be thrilled as well?
4.24.2008 12:32pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

Does a fireman require individual analysis of risk to life before removing a person from a burning house?

Was the house really burning, or did burnt toast set off the smoke alarm?
4.24.2008 12:32pm
DiverDan (mail):

And it remains rather troubling that the CPS apparently had the authority to take 437 kids from their parents after launching an investigation based on an apparently fraudulent complaint of abuse involving a specific, apparently nonexistent, girl.


Like an earlier poster, I am really "troubled" by this notion that the CPS could not take any action based upon an "apparently fraudulent complaint." There has been no allegation made, at least insofar as I am aware, that the CPS, or any Texas law inforcement agency, was either complicit in making a false complaint, or had any reason to suspect that the telephone complaint to a Child Welfare Hotline was not authentic. Is David Bernstein suggesting that either CPS or a law enforcement agency were either complicit in making the fraudulent call or aware of circumstances that would lead them to reasonably doubt the authenticity of the complaint? Or is he instead suggesting that no law enforcement agency should ever act on a complaint until they first investigate the source of the complaint thoroughly to determine its authenticity?

In this case, taking the complaint at face value, a 16 year old girl in the FLDS Compound complaint that she was being raped and sexually abused by an older man to whom she had been involuntarily "married". Taking the fact that there was no legal marriage ceremony, and the age of the girl, this on its face was evidence sufficient to create probable cause that a child rape had occurred, and was likely to continue. Should we REALLY insist that the CPS or the County Sheriff could not act on this without first establishing the bona fides of the complainant? Are you willing to accept the consequences of the delay, or even complete inaction that such a standard would necessarily entail?

As to the general gist of the Post, and many of the comments, that the Judge should not be able to take away any children without individualized proof of criminal activity or child abuse/neglect, I have some sympathy for this view. However, we need to remember that the Order by the Court was only for Temporary Custody, not a termination of parental rights. None of the parents were facing any criminal sanctions (which clearly would require an individualized showing of guilt), or permanent loss of their parental rights (which also clearly requires an individualized showing of unfitness to be a parent). This is a case where the tension between a State's duty to respect due process and a state's duty to insure the welfare of children is apparent. Each new level of due process protection added to the state's burden increases the risk of further injury to a child. So, just what is the appropriate balance to be drawn? In this case, the State showed that there were several underage girls who were already pregnant (I don't remember offhand if it was 4 or 6 girls 16 and under who were pregnant), and that it was the common and accepted practice in the FLDS to coerce young girls, as young as 14, into "marriages" with older man. So, just what level of risk are you willing to accept that 2 or 3 other semi-pubescent teenage girls will be subjected to rape in the name of religious freedom in order to insure "Due Process" for the parents? If you aren't willing to answer that question, please don't try to second guess the balance drawn by the state in this case.

As to infringinging upon the religious freedom of the FLDS, I'm all in favor of letting these folks believe whatever they want to believe, but their actions must conform to generally applicable laws. If a group of fundamentalist christians were to decide that the strictures of Leviticus required them to stone to death all adulterers or homosexuals, would we excuse them from generally applicable laws that prohibit homocide? Frankly, on the general question of polygamy, I think a strong case could be made under Lawrence v. Texas that the State cannot simply outlaw polygamy; however, that assumes that the relationship is entirely voluntary on BOTH sides. Even under Lawrence, I don't think that laws prohibitting the coercion of underage girls into marriages against their will (even assuming a 14 year old girl is capable of giving informed and rational consent to a marriage to a 55 year old man who already has 27 other wives) run any risk at all of running afoul of either the First Amendment Free Exercise clause, or the Due Process clauses of the 5th and 14th Amendments.
4.24.2008 12:34pm
griefer (mail):
it is not about polygamy...it is child abuse, pure and simple.
the character of the informant is irrelevant at this point.
all the judge needed was a sincere belief that a crime had been committed.
crimes were committed.


A children's home in Austin will get about 15 young kids, lawyers say. And around 10 pregnant girls -- including a 14-year-old -- will go to a group home in San Antonio.


those poor children are citizens of the US.
if the parents can't or won't protect them from abuse, it the states duty to do so.

what really creeps me out here is the idea that these children are just chattel of the FLDS.
and also the apologists on this thread.
and yes, they had to take all the children.
they have to do DNA testing to discern parent/offspring relationships.
25% of the children have the surname jeffs. like warren jeffs? the founder of the FLDS church now doing prison time for forcing the marriage of a 14-year-old girl to her cousin?
4.24.2008 12:35pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

Considering the testimony so far about what went on inside, shouldn't we be thrilled as well?

What did go on inside?

1. Religious agricultural commune
2. Middle-aged men with multiple steady sex partners in marriage-like relationships.
3. Some of these sex partners were teenagers
4. Some of these marriage-like relationships were coerced.
5. A bunch of healthy, happy children, now wrenched from their homes, friends, and families.
4.24.2008 12:37pm
Gaius Marius:
Is David Bernstein suggesting that either CPS or a law enforcement agency were either complicit in making the fraudulent call or aware of circumstances that would lead them to reasonably doubt the authenticity of the complaint?

Ever hear of Waco, David Koresh, and the Branch Davidians???
4.24.2008 12:37pm
griefer (mail):
also many FLDS would kite to canada with their children.

Teressa Wall Blackmore, who left the reclusive sect nearly two years ago, can name five young women sent from Bountiful, B.C. to marry American members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, who are now living in Eldorado. Of the five, she says, two are married to FLDS prophet Warren Jeffs.
Jeffs, who is said to have more than 80 wives, is in jail in Arizona, awaiting charges related to the forced marriage of under-aged girls. Last fall, he was convicted in Utah on two counts of being an accomplice to the rape of a 14-year-old girl, who he forced to marry her 19-year-old cousin.



Not only are Texas authorities having trouble determining how many Canadians there are, they can't figure out who the children's parents are. Many of the children don't know, won't say or are too young to answer the question, while some of the mothers have refused to say who the children's fathers are.

This is not surprising since members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are taught to fear the government and even lie to officials, since the principal tenet of their faith is the outlawed practice of polygamy.
4.24.2008 12:39pm
Gaius Marius:
Should we REALLY insist that the CPS or the County Sheriff could not act on this without first establishing the bona fides of the complainant?

Hmmmm...let's see, anonymous complainant, no specific name or address provided regarding the victim or the alleged rapist.
4.24.2008 12:40pm
jccamp:
"there's a lot of support here for the idea that the 'age of consent' should begin at puberty."

What is being described in this case is not 16 year old boys engaging in sexual activity with 14 year old girls. We're talking about 50 year old men having ten wives 17 or under.

That doesn't strike you as predatory? I thought "creepy" was mild. Sick and disordered is more appropriate.
4.24.2008 12:41pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

is he instead suggesting that no law enforcement agency should ever act on a complaint until they first investigate the source of the complaint thoroughly to determine its authenticity?

This may be a giant leap of faith on my part, but I assume every law enforcement agency has caller-ID. If the call really came from a 33 year old woman from Colorado with a history of making fake calls, at least the Colorado origin of the call should be immediately apparent.
4.24.2008 12:42pm
griefer (mail):
more here

For several years now, children have been reassigned from one father to another and even one family to another as Warren Jeffs, the prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, grew increasingly tyrannical, Carolyn Jessop said in an interview.

That helps explain why so many of the children are unable or unwilling to tell child protection officials who their parents are. This confusion over identities is the reason a Texas judge ordered DNA tests for all of the children and asked that parents voluntarily provide DNA samples.

Testing began Monday and is expected to continue through the week. Processing the samples will take several more weeks.

Even with the testing, Ms. Jessop doubted officials will be able to find many of the fathers because some, if not many, of the men are afraid to be tested themselves. Any voluntary DNA samples could be used later in a criminal trial if the mothers were minors when they were impregnated.
4.24.2008 12:44pm
ithaqua (mail):
Just to let you know, the anti-FLDS liberal propaganda machine is on the move:


The FLDs has also co-opted mental health services into another form of wife abuse. In Hildale/Colorado City, FLDS doctors have proven quite willing to declare unhappy women crazy. Daphne Bramham found that up to a third of FLDS women are on anti-depressants; and that women who are express acute dissatisfaction with the life have often been committed to mental hospitals in Arizona by the community's doctors. According to Bramham, the fear of being labeled insane and shut away in an institution is one of the most potent threats the community has used to keep women in their place.


Much of the power of the prophets has been drawn from the fact that they historically controlled both the cops and the courts that served the Hildale/Colorado City area. Though these were officially chartered law enforcement agencies and nominally public courts, they weren't concerned with civil law. Instead, their task was to enforce the law according to the FLDS and its Prophet. The people in these communities had no effective recourse to the laws the rest of us live under. They could be arrested, fined, jailed, and have their property seized by nominally "official" cops and courts, acting under full authority of civil government, for violating church laws.

Like African-Americans in the slavery era, women who tried to run were captured by these police and returned to their husbands for punishment -- or taken to the hospital for the dreaded mental health evaluation. The police force's main job is to be the muscle that enforces the Prophet's control of the entire community. When the Prophet decides that a man no longer deserves his home, these are the cops who enforce the eviction. Appealing to the FLDS judges has been useless: due process as we understand it doesn't even enter into the conversation.



These communities also bury their own dead (and at least one has its own crematorium), which opens the way to record-keeping anomalies with death certificates -- and ensures that no questions will ever be asked, and no autopsies will ever be performed. Given the genetic instability and volatile control issues within this group, it may not be wise for them to have the means to dispose of dead bodies without official oversight. We need to be asking questions about who's in their cemeteries and crematoria, how they got there, and what kinds of records are being kept.


The fear of a genuinely separatist, libertarian Christian community - one that polices itself, pays for its own health care, and turns to God rather than government in time of need - is strong among the liberals, and those of us who are going to stand up for the FLDS have to be prepared to refute this propaganda.

What We're Not Talking About: Other Issues With The FLDS
4.24.2008 12:45pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

many FLDS would kite to canada

Canadian women went to Texas; no children went to Canada. In my experience, you can't casually take a child to Canada: you've always needed a birth certificate, more recently if both parents weren't together, the crossing parent would need a letter of permission from the other, and soon if not now the children would need passports.
4.24.2008 12:50pm
Gaius Marius:
These communities also bury their own dead (and at least one has its own crematorium), which opens the way to record-keeping anomalies with death certificates -- and ensures that no questions will ever be asked, and no autopsies will ever be performed. Given the genetic instability and volatile control issues within this group, it may not be wise for them to have the means to dispose of dead bodies without official oversight. We need to be asking questions about who's in their cemeteries and crematoria, how they got there, and what kinds of records are being kept.

Sounds like someone is quoting lobbyists for the Funeral Homes Association.
4.24.2008 12:50pm
griefer (mail):

"I can tell you we believe the children who are victims of abuse or neglect, and particularly victims at the hands of their own parents, certainly are going to feel safer to tell their story when they don't have a parent there that's coaching them with how to respond," Meisner said.

Meisner said child welfare officials still can't find birth certificates for many of the children, making parentage and age determinations impossible. She said many of the children don't know who their parents are and many have the same last name but may or may not be related.

"It's a difficult process," she said.


4.24.2008 12:51pm
griefer (mail):
Tutins there is a sister polygamy ranch in canada, also FLDS, also founded by jeffs.
the children may be moved back and forth regularily between the two places.
4.24.2008 12:53pm
griefer (mail):

Oppal said, "This has been an issue for quite some time in that it has been said that at Bountiful there are said to be some Americans there as well."

Bountiful, located in southeastern B.C., is home to a polygamist compound.

"It sort of adds another dimension to the problem here," Oppal said. "That is, that people move in and out of these communities and it's sometimes difficult to find out who's where and what."

4.24.2008 12:55pm
William D. Tanksley, Jr:
RE: Individualized claims of abuse
Does a fireman require individual analysis of risk to life before removing a person from a burning house?


Argument by analogy is suspect. In this case, show that the acting parties are parallel to firemen, that removal from the house is parallel to dispersing families, and that a burning house is parallel to a polygamous compound.

I could attack on any of the three, but I'll point out that unlike a burning house, a polygamous compound bears no danger to life or limb of its occupants or of the people cleaning it out... That seems to me to be a sufficient difference.

"C'mon. You're not really claiming that the main reason these people engage in plural marriage is to make money, are you? Granted, they've found a way to get the government to subsidize their lifestyle choice, but I doubt you'd find any adherents who are doing it for the money."

I'm not the one you're responding to, but he's clearly claiming that economic support is encouraging of polygamy in general, not that it's sufficient for it or causative in this specific case. He definitely didn't say that there's EXTRA monetary reward for polygamy.
4.24.2008 12:56pm
Blue (mail):
There's another level of child abuse occuring here that none of the commentators have seen fit to comment on--the fate of boys.

The female-to-male sexual ratio didn't happen by accident. It occured by design. And part of that design was finding justifications to run out as many young boys from their families as possible.

I am, frankly, appalled by the number of commentators looking for reasons to attack a clearly justified action by the State of Texas.
4.24.2008 12:56pm
griefer (mail):
this isn't illegal search and seizure to "persecute xians", dolts.
there are no innocents
the adults in the FLDS compound are either perps, enablers, or accomplices.
because they are adults.
and their children are not chattel.
even though they treat them as such.
4.24.2008 12:58pm
iowan (mail):
Here in Iowa we are waiting the Supreme Courts ruling on gay marriage. The district court judge, whos ruling is in question, stated in his opinion 'except for the law defining marriage as between a man and a women, I see no constitutional reason to deny same sex marriages.' So in the absence of subjective ages of marriage or a law that says you can have only one spouse (religous dogma) what harm has been done here?

The legal system has stepped into quick sand here and I see very dangerous precedent about to be established
4.24.2008 12:59pm
DiverDan (mail):

Ever hear of Waco, David Koresh, and the Branch Davidians???


Yes, Gaius Marius, I've heard of those names. Now, since there is no parallel to the present case, do you have a point? Or do you just like calling attention to what you perceive as past government abuses, regardless of how irrelevant they are to the current string?
4.24.2008 12:59pm
ithaqua (mail):
"Sounds like someone is quoting lobbyists for the Funeral Homes Association."

It's ridiculous. Liberals are condemning the FLDS for having the audacity to bury their own dead. o_O

"The female-to-male sexual ratio didn't happen by accident. It occured by design. And part of that design was finding justifications to run out as many young boys from their families as possible. "

Young men leave their families and go out to make their fortunes all the time. It's part of the divinely inspired division of labor - men focus outwards, women inwards. I'm not seeing the problem here.
4.24.2008 1:01pm
Gaius Marius:
I am, frankly, appalled by the number of commentators looking for reasons to attack a clearly justified action by the State of Texas.

As Shakespeare would note, "There is something rotten in the State of Texas."
4.24.2008 1:01pm
griefer (mail):
actually, ithaqua....the FLDS may be cited for welfare fraud.

my gawd, are actually all this stupid?
is that some basic tennant of the christian faith, that your children are your chattel, to with as you please??????
4.24.2008 1:02pm
Blue (mail):
What's rotten are a bunch of would be kiddy fiddlers and anarcolibertarians making justifications for this cult.
4.24.2008 1:04pm
Gaius Marius:
What's rotten are a bunch of would be kiddy fiddlers and anarcolibertarians making justifications for this cult.

Yes...one loses the debate, just start calling the other side a bunch of pedophiles.
4.24.2008 1:07pm
Gaius Marius:
Yes, Gaius Marius, I've heard of those names. Now, since there is no parallel to the present case, do you have a point? Or do you just like calling attention to what you perceive as past government abuses, regardless of how irrelevant they are to the current string?

Sorry, DiverDan, I can't help it if the parallels are not obvious to you.
4.24.2008 1:09pm
Roger Schlafly (www):
Through 2005, it was legal to marry in Texas at age 14 with parents consent.
So? It was never legal for a 14-year-old girl to marry a man who was already married to another woman. If there are any 14-year-old girls who say that they are married, then the state can probably prove statutory rape.
How can the whole sect be condemened for child abuse so severe to take the kids away when there was no minimum age of marriage with parental consent in Texas only a few years ago? What was legal a few years ago is so "abusive" now?
When Texas changes the law, all Texans are obligated to obey it. I say Texas should criminally prosecute the statutory rape and maybe any unlawful polygamy, and forget about the other abuse charges.
4.24.2008 1:09pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

What's rotten are a bunch of would be kiddy fiddlers and anarcolibertarians making justifications for this cult.

I have a faith, you belong to a sect, he's in a cult.
4.24.2008 1:11pm
griefer (mail):
and u know wat bernstein?
sarah may be in canada
mebbe the informant was just phonin it in.

It will be "an international scandal from hell" if Texas officials determine that some of the Canadian children taken from the polygamous compound in Texas were taken there without their parents, says a former member of the fundamentalist Mormon group.
4.24.2008 1:19pm
jccamp:
"Young men leave their families and go out to make their fortunes all the time. It's part of the divinely inspired division of labor - men focus outwards, women inwards. I'm not seeing the problem here."

The claim is that the older men practiced selective expulsion on any young man who became involved with a young woman. Younger men were not allowed to form relationships with females of their own age group. Dogma for this cult/sect/whatever mandated the senior males were allowed exclusive marital access to the females.

This mainly from a woman named Jessop who left the sect/cult/whatever several years ago, and has now written a book.

The young men didn't leave the nest to make their way in the world, they were tossed out because they competed with the old goats who ran the place.
4.24.2008 1:24pm
pete (mail) (www):

Young men leave their families and go out to make their fortunes all the time. It's part of the divinely inspired division of labor - men focus outwards, women inwards. I'm not seeing the problem here.


The problem is that the young men are minors and are often forced out of the community before they can legally take care of themselves so that the older men have less competetion for the young girls. Sometimes they are kicked out as young as 13. Estimates are that between 400 to 1000 boys have been kicked out of FDLS communities so far and left to fend for themselves with no previous contact with the outside world. Often they are dumped by the roadside with no money and no idea how to survive.

If you have a problem with the law in Texas and want to make staturoy rape legal or want to make it legal to abandon minors, here is the webpage for the state legislature and you can contact them to try to get the law changed. Until then this Texan is happy that CPS is investigating what looks to be very justifiable claims of child rape.
4.24.2008 1:25pm
jccamp:
Re: the telephone call, it was made from a cell phone. Assuming the 911 equipment trapped the calling number - which doesn't always work for a cell phone - the out-of-locale area code would not automatically nullify the validity of the caller, since the cell phone could be used anywhere, including inside the Texas compound. If anything, the Colorado area code might convince authorities the caller was genuine, since the same sect/cult/whatever has other compounds in Colorado &Utah.
4.24.2008 1:27pm
Allison:

Does a fireman require individual analysis of risk to life before removing a person from a burning house?


Yes. I don't want firemen barging into my house spraying water every time my smoke detector goes off because some microwave popcorn got burned.

On another note, I think everyone will agree that being trapped in a legitimately burning house is dangerous. Clearly, from the comments, not everyone agrees (nor is there any good evidence) that this was an imminently dangerous situation for the children that would require removal, especially when you consider that the "cry for help" was a hoax. Thus, I don't accept your analogy.
4.24.2008 1:35pm
calmom:
It all boils down to this:

This compound is a prison camp for all the women and girls, who are being raped and cannot leave. And I do mean rape. If a woman is told she must marry a certain man, she has no choice in the matter, that is rape, no matter what her age. That type of environment is unfit for all children.
4.24.2008 1:37pm
12345:

If a woman is told she must marry a certain man, she has no choice in the matter, that is rape, no matter what her age.


So all arranged marriages = rape?

Also, by your definition, in an arranged marriage, couldn't the wives also be (simultaneously?) raping the husbands?
4.24.2008 1:46pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
News reports quote law enforcement as saying that they had a source inside the compound for as many as four years, and that the investigation had been on-going for some time prior to the call.
This undermines the argument against the FLDS rather than supporting it. If there was rampant child sexual abuse/rape going on in this place, and the state knew about it for four years without intervening, a lot of heads should roll inside law enforcement.

On the other hand, if after four years of investigation they still didn't have probable cause, that rather suggests that no matter how "creepy" people find it, nothing illegal was going on.
4.24.2008 1:46pm
davod (mail):
"Jacob/Israel fathered 12 sons (and at least one daughter) with four women."

If he didn't marry the women it would be legal.
4.24.2008 1:48pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
is he instead suggesting that no law enforcement agency should ever act on a complaint until they first investigate the source of the complaint thoroughly to determine its authenticity?
That depends what the "action" the agency is taking is. If the action is further inquiry, that sounds reasonable. If the action is raiding someone's home and seizing their children, it doesn't.

No, law enforcement agencies should not raid homes and seize children based on anonymous phone calls that provide no factual basis to believe that they're legitimate.
4.24.2008 1:51pm
whit:
"If the state wants to maintain its monopoly on force, the onus is upon the state to prove its actions are justified, not upon others to prove they are not."

the state doesn't HAVE a monopoly on force. citizens routinely use LEGAL force in self-defense and defense of their property. in (right thinking jurisdiction), citizens also have the right to carry firearms for protection. in my state, on duty police officers are generally MORe restricted in use of deadly force than citizens.

this is a myth that the state has a monopoly on force.
4.24.2008 1:55pm
calmom:
As I understand it in the FLDS, the men pick out the women they want and with the approval of Jeffs and the other men, marry them. It's the women who have no say in the matter. It's not an 'arranged' marriage, its a forced marriage, i.e. rape. The FLDS builds these compounds miles from anywhere so that their victims have a very hard time leaving. To try and justify these prison camps for rape as religious freedom would have the founders turning over in their graves.
4.24.2008 1:55pm
whit:
"I am, frankly, appalled by the number of commentators looking for reasons to attack a clearly justified action by the State of Texas"

assuming it is true that a search warrant was issued based on an anonymous phone call, i think it's a bit premature to say that state action was "clearly justified".

in 20 years, and having written scores of search warrants, i've never even SEEN one written based solely on an anonymous call. whether or not your in an aguilar-spinelli jurisdiction, that strikes me as very possibly unjustified. although the judge SIGNED it.
4.24.2008 1:59pm
pete (mail) (www):
<blockquote>
"Jacob/Israel fathered 12 sons (and at least one daughter) with four women."

If he didn't marry the women it would be legal.
</blockquote>

Two of the women were slaves forced to bear their masters children, Zilpah and Bilhah. So I do not think they may be the best examples for a defense of polygamy.
4.24.2008 2:01pm
Suzy (mail):
I too am shocked at how glibly the original post and many of the comments have treated the criminal allegations. We are not talking about consensual marriages here, and yes, it's perfectly reasonable to wonder about the motives of people who know this but prefer to pretend otherwise. If you consider it morally acceptable for parents to compel their thirteen year old daughter to have sex with a middle-aged man, I do legitimately wonder about your personal character and motives. I'd like to keep you at a safe distance from my house and children.

We know of other people in our society who compel junior-high aged children to have sex with older men; usually they are called pimps. I'm sure their underaged employees sometimes appear to consent to the practice, too. Does that make it okay? Sure, it's technically illegal, but maybe those are just misguided laws, kind of like statutory rape laws? Come on. The fact that some of you apologists for the alleged child-rapists apparently claim to be Christians is also downright disturbing.
4.24.2008 2:05pm
davod (mail):
What is the diffference between a relgion and a cult?
4.24.2008 2:07pm
davod (mail):
"Two of the women were slaves forced to bear their masters children, Zilpah and Bilhah. So I do not think they may be the best examples for a defense of polygamy."

And we know this how?
4.24.2008 2:15pm
john w (mail):
Suzy: I too am shocked at how glibly the original post and many of the comments have treated the criminal allegations...."

Fine. If there is proof (or even reasonable suspicion) that a crime occurred, then by all means go after the specific individuals who committed the crime; and, if you can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they are guilty, then lock 'em up. But don't rip hundreds of young children &babies out of their mothers' arms and throw them into the foster care Gulag on the vague suspicion that the mothers *might* be planning to violate an arguably dumb law, ten years in the future.
4.24.2008 2:26pm
taney71:
TIP OF THE DAY:

The judge used this study to prove child abuse.
4.24.2008 2:29pm
pete (mail) (www):

"Two of the women were slaves forced to bear their masters children, Zilpah and Bilhah. So I do not think they may be the best examples for a defense of polygamy."

And we know this how?


Read Genesis 30. Rachel was mad that she did not have any children and had Jacob sleep with her slave Bilhah to
bear children for her. Then Leah got mad that Rachel now had more children and made Jacob sleep with her slave Zilpah.
4.24.2008 2:30pm
HipposGoBerserk (mail):
First, Diver Dan has about the only on-point commentary. I generally concur with his analysis.

Second, ithaqua, you said "it's only with the rise of the feminazis and the sexual revolution that women gained the 'right' to act as 'free moral agents', ie, ignore the requirements of chastity and morality and sleep with whoever they wanted." If I read you correctly, you are saying that women should not be free to live as they please. I'm curious what civil rights, if any, you think women should have? And how do you reconcile this denial of freedom to women with the Constitution?

Third, 12345, you are improperly equating an arranged marriage with a forced marriage. Many women consent to enter into an arranged marriage. If a woman is married without consent, consummation is rape.

Gaius Marius - I don't really see the connection to Waco beyond the fact that the two cases center on efforts to enforce generally applicable laws on fringe religious cults. If that's supposed to be relevant, you'll have to explain how.


HGB
4.24.2008 2:31pm
Roger Schlafly (www):
I too am shocked at how glibly the original post and many of the comments have treated the criminal allegations.
There are no criminal charges. The case is not being heard in a criminal court. This is a legal blog, so the comments are directed primarily at the legal procedures used in the case. Some people still believe that citizens should be innocent until proven guilty.
4.24.2008 2:34pm
calmom:
If there were evidence that a mother gave her 14 year old daughter to an older man for sex, and she had younger daughters in the home, wouldn't Children Protective Services take those younger children out of that home as well. Isn't that mother 'unfit' per se.

Now if four or five women are living with that man, and are aware of this underage sex and are not doing anything to stop it, aren't their children at risk also and shouldn't they be taken away by CPS?

In other words, are there any women in this compound who don't fit either scenario and are completely innocent of this child-sex pimping scheme?
4.24.2008 2:35pm
HipposGoBerserk (mail):
whit,

You make a reasonable point about the thinness of the search warrant, but the touchstone for warrants is reasonable. The FLDS was quite clear about their beliefs about "marriage" and the treatment of women, making it reasonable to act on the tip.

I think that this is a case where hard facts could make for bad law, but I would hope its sui generis.

HGB
4.24.2008 2:42pm
whit:
"You make a reasonable point about the thinness of the search warrant, but the touchstone for warrants is reasonable."

actually, no. the touchstone for SEARCHES AND SEIZURES is "reasonable". the touchstone for WARRANTS is probable cause.

check the constitution.

" The FLDS was quite clear about their beliefs about "marriage" and the treatment of women, making it reasonable to act on the tip. "

im not saying it was or wasn't reasonable to act upon the tip. i am saying a warrant must issue from probable cause. searches and seizures in GENERAL must be reasonable.
4.24.2008 3:14pm
griefer (mail):
well...the difference between now and 1953 is DNA testing.
i expect we will find out.

again, the rights of the children to not be abused, override the presumption of innocence for the adults.
the system is working.
4.24.2008 3:20pm
12345:

Third, 12345, you are improperly equating an arranged marriage with a forced marriage. Many women consent to enter into an arranged marriage. If a woman is married without consent, consummation is rape.


You really think the vast majority of women (and men for that matter) "consenting" to an arranged marriage are doing so out of their own free will and not because of the beliefs/expectations of her parents and culture? If that is consent, then probably most of these FLDS women would meet that definition also. I haven't heard anything about these women being physically forced into marriage, so I'd suspect any compulsion to marry or bear children must be psychological in nature - meaning that they were brought up to learn that this is how things are done and not to question it. But how is this any different than the arranged marriage?
4.24.2008 3:22pm
whit:
"You really think the vast majority of women (and men for that matter) "consenting" to an arranged marriage are doing so out of their own free will and not because of the beliefs/expectations of her parents and culture?"

not that i think these women necessarily ARE entering these marriages out of free will... but.

doing something because of the beliefs/expectation of your parents/culture doesn't mean it's not a free will exercise.

iow, even if the latter part of the sentence is true, it doesn't prove or even suggest it's not a free will exercise.

heck, a lot of the stuff ALL OF US do is for those reasons.
4.24.2008 3:27pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
If there were evidence that a mother gave her 14 year old daughter to an older man for sex, and she had younger daughters in the home, wouldn't Children Protective Services take those younger children out of that home as well. Isn't that mother 'unfit' per se.

Is the mother obviously unfit?
Until the FLDS came to Texas, a 14 year old girl could marry.
The FLDS treat their polygamous unions as marriages; not casual sex, or sex for money.
If it was ok for a mother to allow her 14 year old daughter to marry until 2005, then I don't see how allowing it in 2006 makes the mother obviously unfit.
If you sincerely believe that to ensure your daughter's position in the afterlife she needs to be one of many wives of one of the alpha males of your community -- well that's plain weird. I would never believe that. But I don't see how holding that belief makes the mother obviously unfit. And I'd leave the younger daughters at home till they got to be 13 and a half.
4.24.2008 3:33pm
Gaius Marius:
Two of the women were slaves forced to bear their masters children, Zilpah and Bilhah. So I do not think they may be the best examples for a defense of polygamy.

Pete, by the social mores, customs, and laws of their time, it was an honor and beneficial for Zilpah and Bilhah to be surrogates for their respective masters and bear children for their masters' husband. We know this according to the tablets that have been unearthed in the ancient city of Ebla discovered 30 years ago that discusses the existing laws during the time of the Biblical Patriarchs. If you will recall, Hagar's position within the clan was elevated when she bore Ishmael to Abraham thereby causing Sarah to become jealous of Hagar who was Sarah's "slave".
4.24.2008 3:40pm
Gaius Marius:
Gaius Marius - I don't really see the connection to Waco beyond the fact that the two cases center on efforts to enforce generally applicable laws on fringe religious cults. If that's supposed to be relevant, you'll have to explain how.

HGB, you overlook the fact that law enforcement in both cases fabricated or acted on fabricated complaints of illegal activity. I will grant you this, at least this time law enforcement didn't execute the children like they did at Waco when they incinerated or shot everyone trying to escape the fiery inferno.
4.24.2008 3:42pm
Gaius Marius:
Read Genesis 30. Rachel was mad that she did not have any children and had Jacob sleep with her slave Bilhah to
bear children for her. Then Leah got mad that Rachel now had more children and made Jacob sleep with her slave Zilpah.


Pete, if you read both Genesis 29 and 30 together, it becomes obvious that Rachel never had more children than Leah. Leah had four sons but Rachel never had more than two sons and died while giving birth to her second son.
4.24.2008 3:45pm
jccamp:
"On the other hand, if after four years of investigation they still didn't have probable cause, that rather suggests that no matter how "creepy" people find it, nothing illegal was going on."

Absolutely untrue. The source cited by law enforcement may not have had first hand knowledge of events, or may have had knowledge that was "stale" or untimely. The source may have been agreeable to speaking about the subject, but might have refused to identify himself/herself or testify later in open court. The source may not have been considered reliable and trustworthy - for purposes of obtaining a warrant - while at the same time, been considered completely accurate about these specific allegations.

There are a dozen different scenarios that could have prevented authorities from obtaining a valid warrant. There are many criminal investigations which last years before successful indictment and prosecution. This was not a crime of one specific and defined event - it is alleged to be an on-going scheme to commit child abuse.

We can parse the actions of judge and law enforcement ad nauseam, Someone mentioned that scrutinizing the legality of events is the purpose of this blog. That sounds reasonable to me.

What I really don't understand is the position of so many apologists for what is being described as occurring inside that compound. Certainly the residents are innocent until proven guilty, but a judge has already ruled that the evidence presented in an adversarial hearing reached a threshold of presumptive child abuse, at least sufficient to allow further investigation and litigation. If we grant this presumption of innocence to the men who ruled the compound, shouldn't we similarly grant some breathing room to the judge and law enforcement who are trying to sort this out, while protecting 13 year old girls from being impregnated by 50 year old men?
4.24.2008 3:47pm
HipposGoBerserk (mail):
12345,

I know women who, out of orthodox religious convictions, gave what I believed to be valid consent to arranged marriages. I'm a skeptic, so I was surprised by that, for what it's worth. They were mature, educated adults, not teenagers. So the assumptions from which you argue are not consistent with my knowledge.

whit,

Watch those double edged swords. I was unclear - I think the searches were reasonable, so I wasn't quibbling about the warrants. To the extent the threshhold for a warrant is probably cause, that makes the case easier for the state, not harder. Heck, the stated beliefs of the FDLS provide probable cause in and of themselves.

I tend to grant religious fanatics the curtousy of believing they mean what they say. The FLDS says they'll marry 12 and 13 year old girls into plural marriages - I expect they do and CPS should investigate.

HGB
4.24.2008 3:47pm
Gaius Marius:
Pete, if you read both Genesis 29 and 30 together, it becomes obvious that Rachel never had more children than Leah. Leah had four sons but Rachel never had more than two sons and died while giving birth to her second son.

My mistake regarding the number of Leah's sons -- she bore six and not four.
4.24.2008 3:51pm
Extraneus (mail):
Are these people actually married in ceremonies officially recognized by the State of Texas, or are the "marriages" recognized by FDLS but not by Texas? Because if the latter, isn't it more like having multiple live-in girlfriends -- which isn't illegal in and of itself -- than polygamy?
4.24.2008 3:51pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Quite a few commenters have reasoned this way: The FLDS engages in child abuse because it (allegedly) believes in coercing 14 years to marry much older men. Therefore, all children in the compound are in danger of abuse, and it's justified to take them all away. The logical step that's missing here is why this would mean that a 2 year old or 8 year old is at immediate risk of abuse. And if they are not, why separate them from their families at this point?
4.24.2008 3:52pm
HipposGoBerserk (mail):
Gaius,

There is a huge difference between fabricating evidence (I assume you are referring to Waco? I admit I've never been particularly interested in that case and don't know the details) and acting on a false tip. I don't see them as being remotely the same. And I don't see the problem with the latter in circumstances that make the tip credible.

HGB
4.24.2008 3:58pm
HipposGoBerserk (mail):
DavidBernstein,

I think the reasoning is: FLDS engages in child abuse by engaging in systematic (statutory) rape; this is an unhealthy circustance for any child; by engaging in, supporting and/or not preventing these rapes, the parents demonstrate that they are unfit parents; therefore it appropriate to remove the children from the custody of these unfit parents.

HGB
4.24.2008 4:02pm
pete (mail) (www):
<blockquote>
Pete, by the social mores, customs, and laws of their time, it was an honor and beneficial for Zilpah and Bilhah to be surrogates for their respective masters and bear children for their masters' husband.
</blockquote>

That is fine. In our culture in 21st centruy America it is not considered appropriate for people to have sex with their slaves. I do not think that polygamy is in every instance in history is wrong, but in modern day American society it is. The reasons behind this are reasonable as they deal with preventing the sexual exploitation of women and children by more powerfull men, which is the normal end result of modern societies allowing polygamy and child marraige.

The democratically elected legislature of the great state of Texas agrees with me on this and has passed laws that state the terms for marriage including the number and age of the people involved. They have also passed laws saying at what age it is legal for an adult to have sex with a minor. It is fine that you disagree with the legislature on these issues, but your legal options are to change the laws or leave the state for a more sympathetic governemnt. It appears that the FLDS people chose instead to ignore the law and do what they wanted instead and are now reaping the consequences of having an entire community that choses to break the law.
4.24.2008 4:04pm
PersonFromPorlock:
davod:

What is the diffference between a relgion and a cult?

How many elections they can sway.
4.24.2008 4:07pm
ithaqua (mail):
"It appears that the FLDS people chose instead to ignore the law and do what they wanted instead and are now reaping the consequences of having an entire community that choses to break the law."

So you support collective punishment? Texas' action is like taking away every child in New York City because some of them belong to crack-smoking welfare queens.

"Are these people actually married in ceremonies officially recognized by the State of Texas, or are the "marriages" recognized by FDLS but not by Texas? Because if the latter, isn't it more like having multiple live-in girlfriends -- which isn't illegal in and of itself -- than polygamy?"

Recognized by FLDS, but not Texas; according to the State of Texas, these are technically single mothers. And, of course, normally the government falls all over itself to give money to single mothers; I guess liberals just get up in arms when the mothers are devout Christians and not the abovementioned crack-smoking welfare queens.

"HGB, you overlook the fact that law enforcement in both cases fabricated or acted on fabricated complaints of illegal activity. I will grant you this, at least this time law enforcement didn't execute the children like they did at Waco when they incinerated or shot everyone trying to escape the fiery inferno."

Yet. And given the notoriously abusive foster care system in Texas, if the children aren't returned to their loving families soon, I don't expect many to come out of this whole.
4.24.2008 4:15pm
Jimmy S.:
As I understand it in the FLDS, the men pick out the women they want and with the approval of Jeffs and the other men, marry them. It's the women who have no say in the matter.

You understand wrongly. The girls' fathers--ideally, in conjunction with the girls themselves--determine when a girl is ready for marriage. The girl expresses her preference for a husband (if she has one), which the church hierarchy respects more often than not.

By the way, Texas CPS knew from the get-go who the alleged "perpetrator" of "Sarah's" "abuse" was--Dale Barlow. Texas CPS also learned fairly early on that Barlow was not in Texas, had not been in Texas in years, and could not have done the things "Sarah" (or is it Rozita?) accused him of doing--Arizona probation officers vouched for Barlow's continuing presence in Arizona.

12345 - Do western women object to arranged marriages out of their own free will? Or out of the beliefs/expectations of their own parents or cultures?

Griefer - You seem very into the rights of children. How about the right of an unabused child to remain safely with his or her parents? How about the right of an abused child to be sheltered from schools where she will be mocked (and perhaps physically assaulted) ceaselessly, foster families where she may very likely be viewed as a ticket to a state stipend or a pre-conditioned concubine, or churches where she will be repeatedly warned of her impending damnation?
4.24.2008 4:17pm
HipposGoBerserk (mail):
"given the notoriously abusive foster care system in Texas, if the children aren't returned to their loving families soon, I don't expect many to come out of this whole."

Given their experience/knowledge of rape and the twisted religion inculcated into them, they didn't go into this whole.
4.24.2008 4:19pm
12345:

I know women who, out of orthodox religious convictions, gave what I believed to be valid consent to arranged marriages. I'm a skeptic, so I was surprised by that, for what it's worth. They were mature, educated adults, not teenagers. So the assumptions from which you argue are not consistent with my knowledge.


I'm a little confused by this - aren't these men and women we're talking about doing what they are doing because of "orthodox religious convictions"? Or are you contending that this is a cult and not a religion (whatever that means)?
4.24.2008 4:24pm
whit:
"Watch those double edged swords. I was unclear - I think the searches were reasonable, so I wasn't quibbling about the warrants."

fair enough. but since you said warrants, i had to correct. i always that was interesting. searches and seizures must be reasonable. warrants require PC.

" To the extent the threshhold for a warrant is probably cause, that makes the case easier for the state, not harder. Heck, the stated beliefs of the FDLS provide probable cause in and of themselves"

well, i think they ADD to other evidence. but in and of itself - no. i mean you can't raid NAMBLA hdqtr's just because they advocate X. given if FLDS says they DO x, that's something different. but i don't know if they do or not

i just cannot believe a warrant issued from an anon call without some sort of corroboration is my point
4.24.2008 4:25pm
Jimmy S.:
Given their experience/knowledge of rape and the twisted religion inculcated into them, they didn't go into this whole.

Your support for this statement appears to consist almost entirely of a documented liar in Colorado, about twenty malcontented ex-members of a religion numbering in the tens of thousands (several of whom have book deals and/or pending civil suits), the "findings" of a Texas judge whose hearings were a demonstrable farce, and an unhealthy dose of cultural imperialism.
4.24.2008 4:31pm
griefer (mail):
Jimmy S.
I'm also very into the law.

I have two words for you also.
DNA testing.
4.24.2008 4:36pm
HipposGoBerserk (mail):
12345,

I'll try to be clearer: you denied that one can consent to arranged marriage, which is inconsistent with my experience. But I don't think such consent can come from teenagers, particularly not those who have been raised in a closed community.

whit - "i mean you can't raid NAMBLA hdqtr's just because they advocate X. "

If you know that young boys (say, 8 to 10 years old) are in attendance at a NAMBLA meeting, is there not probably cause to believe that there statutory rape is occurring? I think its a close call, and I might say yes.

Or think of it this way - at a suppression hearing, cop claims he saw three children (little - 8 to 10 yo) being "smuggled" (yes, fuzzy word intended) into a hotel, learned that NAMBLA is having a convention, and therefore crashed the party. Would you accept a claim of exigent circumstances? I hate to think I couldn't find wiggle room in which to admit the evidence.

HGB
4.24.2008 4:43pm
pete (mail) (www):

So you support collective punishment? Texas' action is like taking away every child in New York City because some of them belong to crack-smoking welfare queens.


Not all all. First it is like taking every child away that is living in a big crack compound. And the children are not being taken away as a punishment, the children are being taken away to protect the children from future abuse. That is why I used the word consequence instead of punishment.

Now I think the young children (probably those 10 and under) should not be taken away from their mothers as long as the mothers are not flight risks. But I have a lot of patience for the state and the judge since you have a community of hundreds of people who it appears decided to break the law all at once and the system is not set up to deal with that, especially when there are hundreds of children potentially exposed to abuse. But it is still the states job to deal with it.
4.24.2008 4:43pm
12345:

12345 - Do western women object to arranged marriages out of their own free will? Or out of the beliefs/expectations of their own parents or cultures?


Huh? I agree with your point, but I'm not sure how it's relevant to the argument here. I'm not the one arguing that there was a lack of consent in these marriage/relationships that would make consummation a rape. I think these women more than likely consented to the relationships out of social pressure/religious belief/sense of duty/whatever. And I also believe that people do this every single day (i.e. succumb to the pressures of religion or society), with the extreme example being arranged marriages. And I also agree that Western women object to marriages as a result of some social grooming, which isn't inconsistent with what I've been saying. My point is that if you are going to argue that there was no consent by these women because they were brainwashed by their particular social circle, then by that definition, there is a lot of "rape" going on in this country.
4.24.2008 4:54pm
lurker-999 (mail):
pete wrote: " ... the children are being taken away to protect the children from future abuse...."

If they are being dumped into the foster care system -- especially in Texas -- that is almost a guarantee that some of them will be subjected to future abuse at the hands of foster-siblings, if not the foster parents themselves
4.24.2008 4:55pm
Jimmy S.:
My apologies, 12345; I misread your earlier post.
4.24.2008 5:05pm
12345:

I'll try to be clearer: you denied that one can consent to arranged marriage, which is inconsistent with my experience. But I don't think such consent can come from teenagers, particularly not those who have been raised in a closed community


Sorry, maybe I wasn't the one being clear. I don't deny that a person can consent to an arranged marriage. They can and do. But I also think these women consented to the marriage/relations and were not raped. I - and, as far as I know, the legal system - don't consider psychological pressure to enter a marriage a good enough excuse to get it annulled for duress. But a poster above argued that these women did not consent to the marriage, I guess because they were "pressured" into it by their religion. My point: people are pressured into marriage by their religion all the time (such as in arranged marriages), so why does society feel so outraged by this particular instance and not others? The likely answer is that they don't believe in the validity of this particular religion and are essentially engaging in religious persecution.
4.24.2008 5:07pm
12345:

I'll try to be clearer: you denied that one can consent to arranged marriage, which is inconsistent with my experience. But I don't think such consent can come from teenagers, particularly not those who have been raised in a closed community


Sorry, maybe I wasn't the one being clear. I don't deny that a person can consent to an arranged marriage. They can and do. But I also think these women consented to the marriage/relations and were not raped. I - and, as far as I know, the legal system - don't consider psychological pressure to enter a marriage a good enough excuse to get it annulled for duress. But a poster above argued that these women did not consent to the marriage, I guess because they were "pressured" into it by their religion. My point: people are pressured into marriage by their religion all the time (such as in arranged marriages), so why does society feel so outraged by this particular instance and not others? The likely answer is that they don't believe in the validity of this particular religion and are essentially engaging in religious persecution.
4.24.2008 5:08pm
Suzy (mail):
John and Roger: presumably if evidence reveals statutory rapes were committed, then the specific individuals who committed those crimes will be pursued. In the meantime, since the investigators have plenty of reasonable suspicions that men are having sex with underage girls in this community, why shouldn't we "rip" these young children away? If you decide to pimp out your 14 year old, and CPS takes away your 9 year old even though you insist she's too young to be a prostitute yet, are they acting reasonably?

This is also an answer to David Bernstein's question about why all the children are being treated this way. Should the judge instead try to predict which ones are likely to be married off shortly, or which boys might be abandoned or driven out shortly? She can't even determine yet whose children are whose, so extend the analogy: if I am pimping out my 14 year old and a group of children ages 2-10 live in my house and it's not even clear whether they're mine or my neighbor's or my sister's, should I be allowed to keep them simply because I assure you I have no immediate plans to prostitute them?

With respect to "innocence until proven guilty": that is not the standard that CPS uses, nor should it be. If a 13 year old is pregnant and someone in her home impregnated her, then it is reasonable to take her and other children away from that home because we know that statutory rape is happening in that home, even if we haven't yet proven who is responsible.

Sometimes, one finds oneself on the side of the child rapists of the world because of commitment to an argument or principle. I understand that; anyone who defends the rights of the accused is in that position. However, the comments here go far beyond that, to an actual embrace of the practices being alleged here. The fact that people may have lived this way in the past, or in other places at present, does not make it generally okay. I am not a moral relativist. I do not think 13 year old girls in our society can give informed consent to sex with adults, period. If you do, the burden is squarely upon you to explain yourself, and the shame of standing for that position is squarely with you too.
4.24.2008 5:10pm
Seamus (mail):
Are these people actually married in ceremonies officially recognized by the State of Texas, or are the "marriages" recognized by FDLS but not by Texas? Because if the latter, isn't it more like having multiple live-in girlfriends -- which isn't illegal in and of itself -- than polygamy?

It's legal as long as the live-in girlfriends aren't under age. Then it becomes statutory rape.
4.24.2008 5:13pm
HipposGoBerserk (mail):
Jimmy S,

No. My basis is the cult's description of their beliefs, the conviction in a court of law of their leader as an accessory to rape (demonstrating that they act on their beliefs) and my understanding of children &human nature.

HGB
4.24.2008 5:13pm
Soronel Haetir (mail):
12345,

A comment on your statement about religious pressure not being enough. That behavior was exactly the point of the Jeffs trial in Utah (and I believe the upcoming trial in Arizona.)

I will say, however, having watched all of the coverage of that proceeding that if such a standard becomes the norm insular communities have great reason to be concerned.
4.24.2008 5:27pm
jccamp:
David,

"The logical step that's missing here is why this would mean that a 2 year old or 8 year old is at immediate risk of abuse. And if they are not, why separate them from their families at this point?"

There appears to be serious question about who "their families" are. Both adults and children are lying and equivocating about the familial relationships and names. The younger children, who have not been mentioned as at risk for sexual abuse - as far as I know from reading published reports - allegedly include the offspring of criminal sexual abuse. The state offered in court a fear that the children, if released to adults from the compound, would either be spirited away from the jurisdiction of the court, or would be coached and pressured by adults to alter any testimony they might be asked to give. Because actions by the adults and children have made actual parentage uncertain, the court has ordered the state to retain custody while DNA testing is done to determine who the actual parents of any given child may be. The judge also found that the presumption is great that the atmosphere within the compound represented child abuse. I do not believe that she specifically found a presumption of child abuse only in those cases where sexual contact was alleged.

Here's a quote, although it may be from state filings, not the judge's order. "...were in immediate danger and are the victims of neglect and/or sexual abuse." The neglect alleged is that parents willingly surrendered underage girls to criminal sexual relationships with adult men, for the benefit of the parents.

It's interesting to note that very few adult men are sufficiently concerned with the well-being of their children that they have agreed to submit DNA specimens, so they can be reunited with the kids. If the NY Times is to be believed, a number of the adult men are fleeing the jurisdiction in advance of the DNA test results.
4.24.2008 5:32pm
Ben P (mail):
Amazingly, once again, some of the commenters on this blog can move me from being sympathetic with a particular legal view to feeling the absolute need to argue against it.

I started reading this post at least somewhat troubled about conflicts between ideas of religious freedom and the broad nature of the acts of the state of Texas.

Reading the comments has left me, once again, attempting to convince myself that I could have ever possibly held the above view in light of some of the absolutely delusional arguments made to support it.
4.24.2008 5:35pm
neurodoc:
DB: ...inherently abusive, as it encourages early marriage...
"Early marriage" would be marriage at a younger age than state law allows, and some of those "early marriages" would also be polygamous ones in contravention of state law? Can the FLDS avoid the legal consequences of "early" and "polygamous" marriages, if they do not claim those marriages to be legally binding ones according to state law?

Quite a stretch to liken these FLDS "marriages" to ones that take place among the Amish and some insular ultra-orthodox Jewish communities, in which may marry in their teens, don't you think? Maybe more like those involving 12-year-old girls in arranged marriages to adult males for which immigrant Iraqis have been prosecuted.
4.24.2008 5:42pm
jccamp:
Suzy,

Well said.

I'm having a real disconnect, what with so many posters bloviating and rationalizing what appears to be a clear-cut and evident instance of organized child abuse - let alone whatever we should entitle the experiences that the adult females have and are going through since childhood.
4.24.2008 5:42pm
Gaius Marius:
The "anonymous caller" has now been identified by the Rocky Mountain News as Rozita Swinton from Colorado who has a history of calling in false reports of sexual or child abuse against various churches (not just FLDS) or their pastors. Not surprisingly, Ms. Swinton is also a delegate to the Democratic National Convention for presidential candidate Barack Hussein Mohamad Obama.
4.24.2008 5:47pm
Blue (mail):
One would think that on a legal blog it would not be necessary to point out that the presumption of innocence of adults in criminal matters is not the standard used to remove minors when the welfare of children is at stake. The termination of parental rights can and does occur without the conviction (or even prosecution) of the adults committing or abetting the neglect and abuse. Women children being forcibly married and impregnated at 14--and age when THEY CANNOT GIVE CONSENT--as an act specifically sanctioned by this cult is clear and sufficient evidence to remove the children. Period.
4.24.2008 5:48pm
Dave D. (mail):
...Is this the McMartin preschool case, writ large with a Texas twist? I worked in Black communities where 13 to 17 year old unwed mothers were rife. Impregnated by older black men and nobody seemed to think this was abuse, just community standards in action. Serial pregnancies with different fathers was the norm. There was never a thought of removing the children because an older teenage sibling was pregnant at 13.
...Does anyone think a bogus call from another state would have kickstarted CPS into siezing the children in S.Central L.A. or Oakland ? DNA testing ?
..Like a war, the longer this goes on the less folks will support it. I know a tarbaby when I see one. I see one.
4.24.2008 5:51pm
john w (mail):
Suzy @ 4:10 PM:
I sincerely hope and pray that you never become the victim of a CPS witch-hunt. I hope you are never awakened at 7 AM by government Goons, pounding on your door and demanding that you -- then &there, without benefit of a lawyer -- prove yourself innocent of vague, unsubstantiated, anonymous allegations of 'child abuse/neglect' under the pain of having your children yanked out of your house and dumped into an abuse-ridden foster-care system.

But if you ever do have that experience, then maybe you'll appreciate where some of us are coming from on this issue. I'm not specifically familiar with Texas, but in many States, CPS is the closest thing that we have to a Gestapo in this country: An arrogant, self-righteous bunch of petty bureaucrats with unlimited power, and virtually no checks and balances.

Have you ever read No Crueler Tyrannies by Dorothy Rabinowitz? I highly recommend it.
4.24.2008 5:56pm
Roger Schlafly (www):
[Suzy] If you decide to pimp out your 14 year old, and CPS takes away your 9 year old even though you insist she's too young to be a prostitute yet, are they acting reasonably?
No. It is unreasonable if it is done without a hearing, because the 9-year-old is not in any immediate danger.
With respect to "innocence until proven guilty": that is not the standard that CPS uses, nor should it be. If a 13 year old is pregnant and someone in her home impregnated her, ...
In that case, it is very easy to prove that someone is guilty of a serious crime. Try him, convict him, and lock him up, I say. In the meantime, stop punishing innocent parties. The horrible thing about CPS is that it is run by meddlesome jerks who don't have to prove anything.
4.24.2008 5:56pm
biwah (mail):
Given that there is a pretty clear risk of girls over, say, 12, becoming victims of what is statutorily defined as child abuse, would it not make sense to remove just those children? The most offensive aspect of the state action here was that they removed younger children, down to toddlers (though not, thankfully, the youngest of the infants), and put them in a far more traumatic situation. Why remove them from their mothers at all, and in any case, what legal basis was there for such drastic action?

What strikes me as extremely overreaching about Texas' actions is that they are accepting the view that wrongdoing on the part of members of a group provides the pretext for ending the existence of the group and tearing the children out of their families. That is some extremely dangerous use of the state's police power. And "tearing" is indeed the right word.

A side note: some of the analogies being bandied (i.e. crack house, NAMBLA meeting, pimps) about are far too loose to be very useful and are more misleading than anything.
4.24.2008 5:57pm
Soronel Haetir (mail):
Ben P,

I would make the argument that the strength of ethical convictions lies in how willing you are to apply them to those whose behavior you find repugnant.

Given the haphazard manner in which these proceedings have gone on, with various parties unrepresented I find the state actions to be odious. This feeling is only enhanced by the facts in controversy. If there really are no pregnancies among those younger than 16 I the entire case is different. All that while discounting the highly arbitrary nature of laws regarding age of consent.
4.24.2008 6:02pm
nicestrategy (mail):

My point: people are pressured into marriage by their religion all the time (such as in arranged marriages), so why does society feel so outraged by this particular instance and not others?


I think the age difference between the husbands and wives has a lot to do with it. Perhaps more outrage should be in order for other groups, but that doesn't invalidate feeling disgusted by the FLDS in general.
4.24.2008 6:04pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
Women children being forcibly married and impregnated at 14--and age when THEY CANNOT GIVE CONSENT--

Well, parents could marry off their 14 year olds up till 2005. What happened to the state of 14 year olds in 2005?
4.24.2008 6:04pm
hattio1:
Gaius Marius says;

Pete, by the social mores, customs, and laws of their time, it was an honor and beneficial for Zilpah and Bilhah to be surrogates for their respective masters and bear children for their masters' husband. We know this according to the tablets that have been unearthed in the ancient city of Ebla discovered 30 years ago that discusses the existing laws during the time of the Biblical Patriarchs. If you will recall, Hagar's position within the clan was elevated when she bore Ishmael to Abraham thereby causing Sarah to become jealous of Hagar who was Sarah's "slave".


It was an honor? Or the educated who wrote the texts told slaves it should be an honor? As to Hagar being better off after having a son, that may have been true...until she was kicked out w/out adequate food and water so God had to provide.
4.24.2008 6:11pm
LarryA (mail) (www):
The proper response to the potential for abuse of authority isn't to limit authority but to make certain people who would abuse it (Democraps) never get into power in the first place.
...
Quite so. This entire case is about an abusive, power-hungry, publicity-hungry government going after Christians because they're the one minority the media thinks it's alright to oppress.
The "abusive, power-hungry, publicity-hungry government" in question hasn't been run by "Democraps" for over a decade.
homosexual actions are sins (as they are: see Leviticus 18.22 et al).
According to Leviticus, so is eating pork. I asked for quotes from the words of Jesus. They're all in the New Testament.
Does a fireman require individual analysis of risk to life before removing a person from a burning house?
Yes.
For instance, when Christ saved the adulteress from being stoned to death by her accusers, he afterward told her to "go and sin no more."
But he didn't say, "If you relapse you can't be my follower."

BTW, are you now saying that people married to a second spouse while the first is alive "are, by definition, not Christians?"

We aren't going to agree on this.
all the judge needed was a sincere belief that a crime had been committed.
His belief is irrelevant; what he needed was probable cause. You really need to read the Bill of Rights.
This may be a giant leap of faith on my part, but I assume every law enforcement agency has caller-ID.
I believe the calls went to a family violence agency, not law enforcement. I could be wrong, given media inconsistency.
4.24.2008 6:17pm
DCP:

Sometimes, one finds oneself on the side of the child rapists of the world because of commitment to an argument or principle. I understand that; anyone who defends the rights of the accused is in that position. However, the comments here go far beyond that, to an actual embrace of the practices being alleged here. The fact that people may have lived this way in the past, or in other places at present, does not make it generally okay. I am not a moral relativist. I do not think 13 year old girls in our society can give informed consent to sex with adults, period. If you do, the burden is squarely upon you to explain yourself, and the shame of standing for that position is squarely with you too.


I don't think anyone here is defending statutory rape - whether its under the pretense of a church or family blessing or not. We all agree (I hope) that sex of any kind between an adult and a 14 year old or younger is a criminal and morally bankrupt act.

What we are talking about, or at least the target of the OP, is the removal of very small children - infants, toddlers - from their mothers and homes. That is a very traumatic event. But sometimes it has to be done. I think some people here question whther these extreme measures needed to be taken.

I think your point is that this is such a horrible thing that we should take whatever steps necessary to prevent it - including yanking a 2 year old from the arms of its mother and tossing it into the shark tank of foster care lest it be raised in a religion that promotes plural marriage, youth marriage and the "be fruitful and multiply" approach to birth control.

In other news, 14 year old girls have sex with older men all the time in the non-Mormon world. We would need to triple our military and deploy them to every park, schoolyard and shopping center in the country to put a dent in this problem. Hell, if you want to see some knocked up 14 year olds, go visit your local housing projects. They're a dime a dozen there, but the only raids by the morality police you will see are searching for crack, not sex predators.

I think we all agree sex with someone underage is wrong. The differences in outrage on this board over the Texas case most likely reflect the differences in how one otherwise views these insular, ultra-conservative religious sects (Amish, Orthodox Jew, etc) aside from the statutory rape possibilities.
4.24.2008 6:34pm
Ken Arromdee:
If you decide to pimp out your 14 year old, and CPS takes away your 9 year old even though you insist she's too young to be a prostitute yet, are they acting reasonably?

If I was tried and convicted in a court of pimping out a 14 year old, then they're acting reasonably.

If I'm merely being accused of pimping out my 14 year old, they shouldn't do anything based on the assumption I am, barring immediate danger. Unless they have good reason to believe I'm going to do something to the 9 year old before the trial, wait for the trial.
4.24.2008 6:34pm
Blue (mail):
CPS does not, and should not, require probable cause to investigate a complaint. And it does not need to convict the parent to remove a child from a dangerous situation.
4.24.2008 6:35pm
Soronel Haetir (mail):

Also, is making a false report across state lines a federal crime? If the caller in this case makes a habit of such it would seem that the authorities need to look into it.
4.24.2008 6:35pm
biwah (mail):
[Correction]What strikes me as extremely overreaching about Texas' actions is that they are accepting the view that wrongdoing on the part of members of a group provides the pretext justification for ending the existence of the group and tearing the children out of their families.

Soronel's comment reminds me that it has been unclear whether there were actually any pregnant girls under 16 at the time of the raid. I don't believe there any such evidence was presented by the state. This was after 4 years, supposedly, of investigation. I think it is important to note that a CHIPS petition could be brought anytime; to order an emergency removal required a showing of imminent abuse or neglect, and that less drastic means of prevention of that abuse were not available. It is scary that the state was essentially relieved of this burden by the judge.

Whatever the truth is, it was secondhand information and prejudice, not evidence, that apparently tipped the court's hand. Al with 437 children's lives in the balance.
4.24.2008 6:40pm
jccamp:
Soronel Haetir

Direct testimony at the last hearing:

"One of the most troubling statements from the child protection investigator was when testimony was given that girls at the YFZ Ranch were forced into marriage and gave birth as young as 13.

Voss also testified of a 14 year old that was pregnant and a number of 15 year olds that were pregnant as well."

I believe the only post which contravened this quote was a 2nd hand reference to an op-ed piece in a Dallas newspaper. That writer (of the op-ed piece, not the poster) terms himself an "opposition researcher/political consultant". Here's a direct quote from the same column: "From the evidence presented publicly, I do not believe that the children have been sexually abused or physically harmed."

He's entitled to his own beliefs, as are we all, but he should be a little more attentive to facts, the same accusation he made about the judge. At least she heard the testimony offered, something he evidently did not.

The truth will out, as they say. Until then, I suppose we can all just disagree.
4.24.2008 6:43pm
Jimmy S.:
Funny how these same FLDS who won't even say who their own parents are--necessitating DNA testing--are apparently so eager to spill their ages.

Or is it more likely that Voss was looking at the pregnant girls and guestimating their ages?

(Incidentally, just yesterday someone mistook my wife for a sixteen-year-old. And she's twenty-five.)
4.24.2008 6:48pm
pete (mail) (www):

I don't think anyone here is defending statutory rape - whether its under the pretense of a church or family blessing or not. We all agree (I hope) that sex of any kind between an adult and a 14 year old or younger is a criminal and morally bankrupt act.


You need to reread the two threads on this subject since several posters have indeed defended statutory rape. They have argued that 14 year old girls should be treated as adults able to consent to sex with and marraige to adults, including adults much older than they are that they marry through arranged marraiges. Several posters have said that Americas position is a historical anomoly and that there is nothing immoral and that these legal distinctions are completely arbitrary. Several have also argued that because Texas only recently changed the age of consent for marraige then there must be nothing wrong with using only the previous legal standard.

See here for instance.
4.24.2008 6:49pm
Andrew Janssen (mail):
The AP is reporting at that 25 of the FLDS mothers have been taken into state custody after the state discovered evidence indicating that they had lied about being over 18.

I have to say that I'm surprised at just how much good faith so many people here are prepared to extend to the FLDS cultists. FLDS, particularly since Warren Jeffs took over the leadership, is a profoundly sick culture which exploits women, children, and government assistance programs while hiding behind the shield of religion and should be excised from the body politic like the cancer it is.
4.24.2008 6:56pm
john w (mail):
We all agree (I hope) that sex of any kind between an adult and a 14 year old or younger is a criminal and morally bankrupt act.

Well, I will probably get flamed, but I'm going to stick my neck out and disagree with you slightly.
4.24.2008 7:10pm
whit:
"We all agree (I hope) that sex of any kind between an adult and a 14 year old or younger is a criminal and morally bankrupt act. "

and we also need to acknowledge that the age of consent is arbitrary. it doesn't make statutory rape laws ipso facto unjust of course.

for example, i used to be a cop in hawaii. age of consent was 14. so it may have been morally bankrupt, but a 60 yr old with a 14 yr old is entirely legal (or was at the time... and this was not that many years ago).

if you did that same act in WA state, where i now work, you'd be looking at a serious felony.

some states have made the age of consent 18 (which is ridiculous imo) especially those that don't distinguish age differentiation. is it morally bankrupt for an 18 yr old student to continue schtupping his girlfriend after he turns 18, and she's still 17? in some locations, that's a felony, regardless of whether it's "morally bankrupt."

i freely admit that i have committed sexual acts in one state, that would be a felony in some other states. were they morally bankrupt?

i am just pointing out that i accept that statutory rape ages are arbitrary (if based in the aggregate on some sort of biology/psychology theory, they clearly are arbitrary when applied to an individual. some 14 yrs olds are infinitely more mature and capable of consent than some 18 yr olds.), to a lesser extent so are BAC levels (.08) for DUI.

there are plenty of people walkin around with convicted sex offender status because of some sort of act that would be totally legal in one state.

iirc, the age of consent is 14 in canada. but if the feds can show you left the states for canada with the intent to have sex with a 14 yr old, they can charge you in the US, which (imo) is retarded.

and we all know there is a double standard. see: marykay letourneau. she got probation for schtupping vili when he was 13 iirc, and she was in her late 20's or 30's.

that same "morally bankrupt act" would have gotten a man serious prison time.

i readily accept (and like) gender double standards in several regards- chivalry and all, but when it comes to criminal law - it should be gender neutral.
4.24.2008 7:11pm
john w (mail):
... Sorry, I pushed the send button too soon!

What I was about to say was: If you make that 12 instead of 14, then I agree wholeheartedly 101%. If you make it 13 instead of 14, then I more-or-less agree with you. But I simply cannot accept the idea that 14 year olds are children. And I cannot accept that it is a good idea for society to pretend that they are. And before you call me a pervert, let me repeat what I said on an earlier thread: This applies to all areas of life, not just to sexually-related stuff. I think that 14 year olds should be able tio quit school, get adult-type jobs, sign contracts, and do anything else that adults do -- with parental permission, and as long as they are objectively qualified.
4.24.2008 7:16pm
Ben P (mail):

Ben P,

I would make the argument that the strength of ethical convictions lies in how willing you are to apply them to those whose behavior you find repugnant.

Given the haphazard manner in which these proceedings have gone on, with various parties unrepresented I find the state actions to be odious. This feeling is only enhanced by the facts in controversy. If there really are no pregnancies among those younger than 16 I the entire case is different. All that while discounting the highly arbitrary nature of laws regarding age of consent.



That actually more or less mirrors my sentiments.

I don't necessarily feel outrage at the social practices of the FLDS, just like I wouldn't necessarily feel outrage because some insular groups in another "culture" (which, if we're honest we would basically admit that the FLDS is a seperate culture) on the other side of the world felt the legitimate age of consent was 14 and practiced polygamy. I have personal feelings on the topic, but at a fundamental level I believe that my personal feelings are basically irrelevant in judging the beliefs of another "culture."

But I also recognize that this is contrary to certain ideals of our culture and constitutes behavior we consider socially harmful.

This results in a very difficult question about exactly how far we're willing to tolerate what we consider to be socially harmful behavior in the name of a legitimate and sincerely held religious belief. (and I'll say here that I believe Oregon v Smith was wrongly decided in this regard, but don't know exactly how much farther would be "right.")

I've spent a fair amount of time looking into the coverage and seen some of the source documents, and I think it's pretty much been proven that female children between the ages of 14 and 16 were married and were producing children, presumably with older men.

But what specifically bothers me here is the number of posters that who seem determined to assert that not only is this question not a difficult one, that nothing even untoward even happened at the FLDS compound: that these arent children, and that even if they were children they and their parents all consented to this and that all that's going on here is the "abusive power hungry government" of texas going after "happy healthy children" to oppress Christians because that's an OK thing to do or because they're not part of the "secular world."
4.24.2008 7:17pm
whit:
john. i somewhat agree :)
the problem is that the law only has two options.

1) they can set "bright lines". the age of consent is a perfect example. whenever you set a bright line like this you necessarily act somewhat arbitrarily towards the individual. it is certainly more likely that *a* 14 yr old is not emotionally mature enough to consent to sex. but plenty ARE. i kind of like WA state's solution which is to allow an age differentiation. iow, a 14 yr old and a 15 yr old are ok. a 14 yr old and a 20 yr old isn't. there is an age differentiation limiter prior to the overall age of consent (13 and 14). once you reach 16, it's fair game.

but still, a 17 yr old could be committing a felony in our state for having sex with their 14 yr old girlfriend.

2) the other option is to make it a case by case basis. this simply WILL NOT WORK. you can't possibly expect people to take some kind of psychological assessment of their potential bedmate to determine if they are (legally) mature enough at (insert age here) to have sex. that's just a practical nightmare. not to mention you are gonna get 10 trillion cases of parents wanting to press charges, and 'victim' claiming it was consensual, and it's just simply not workable. that's why we set a bright line age.

iow, the system sucks but i don't see a better way to do it. any bright line we set is going to be unjust for some.
4.24.2008 7:23pm
whit:
"But I also recognize that this is contrary to certain ideals of our culture and constitutes behavior we consider socially harmful. "

correct. and like it or not we do legislate these morality thangs. perfect example is incest. we criminalize it. yes, i am aware that opposite sex incestual couplings can have issues (genetic defects), but then why do we apply these incest laws to people not related by blood (step-siblings) or same sex incest. two brothers having sex cannot bear a child, so the genetic issue is a no go.

furthermore, at least in my state, we can't even prosecute pregnant mothers who ingest metric #$(#$(loads of drugs during pregnancy which is at least as damaging as two distant cousins having sex.

the answer: because we find incest morally repugnant.

that's why it's illegal. it's an act between two consenting adults, that many libertines think should always be a private matter. but clearly, we (as a society) don't go there. i'd love to see an advocate of gay marriage etc. make that argument. it's intellectually consistent (fwiw, im not against gay marriage), but it's a non-starter. nobody dares advocate to legalize incest. i don't even think the ACLU would take that case (but you never know).

so for those who say it's "always wrong to legislate morality", the response is: what about incest?
4.24.2008 7:30pm
Ben P (mail):

the answer: because we find incest morally repugnant.

that's why it's illegal. it's an act between two consenting adults, that many libertines think should always be a private matter. but clearly, we (as a society) don't go there. i'd love to see an advocate of gay marriage etc. make that argument. it's intellectually consistent (fwiw, im not against gay marriage), but it's a non-starter. nobody dares advocate to legalize incest. i don't even think the ACLU would take that case (but you never know).

so for those who say it's "always wrong to legislate morality", the response is: what about incest?


Not necessarily.

I think you're omitting the fact that incest also significantly increases the risk of the expression of recessive genes that lead to severe birth defects.

If we consider that a significant enough risk that legislation may be passed to avoid it, such acts may well be regulated apart from any moral disappproval of the act.

Of course the truth is in between. Incest is morally disapproved because it produces funny looking kids, and it's prohibited for some of both reasons.

Incidentally the blog linked earlier pointed out a higher incidence of a genetic Fumarase deficiency within the FLDS population. Which is interesting in and of itself.


I think the best way to consider these issues is to take a hard look at the objectively measured negative consequences of the behavior. But because the negative consequences can be so closely tied into moral notions of right and wrong, this can be a very difficult endeavor.
4.24.2008 7:42pm
whit:
"Not necessarily.

I think you're omitting the fact that incest also significantly increases the risk of the expression of recessive genes that lead to severe birth defects.

If we consider that a significant enough risk that legislation may be passed to avoid it, such acts may well be regulated apart from any moral disappproval of the act"

we are on the same page. im not a geneticist. my point is that WHATEVER the "genetic issues", they don't apply to same sex incest, or incest where people are not related by blood, but still within the family bounds.

iow, it is CLEARLY a "legislating by morality" law that clearly affects private consensual sex acts between adults.

and people who claim that the govt. has "no business" regulating private sex acts between consenting adults because that is "legislating morality" is intellectually dishonest if they don't address incest.

fwiw, i address it this way. - it's immoral. it should be illegal. :)

i'm pretty frigging libertarian, but everybody has their prejudices :)
4.24.2008 7:51pm
Fub:
whit wrote at 4.24.2008 6:11pm:
and we all know there is a double standard. see: marykay letourneau. she got probation for schtupping vili when he was 13 iirc, and she was in her late 20's or 30's.
Mary Kay served 7-1/2 years in prison. I think Mary Kay and Vili were married in 2005, by which time Vili was certainly over the age of consent.

But your point remains -- a 30 year old male convicted of a similar crime would likely still be in prison.
4.24.2008 8:12pm
Joshua Carden (mail):
The children are "isolated"? I thought there were over four hundred of them in one place? How many more does CPS want to see before they're not considered "isolated."
4.24.2008 8:20pm
whit:
fub, sorry you are wrong...

"Mary Kay served 7-1/2 years in prison. I think Mary Kay and Vili were married in 2005, by which time Vili was certainly over the age of consent. "

um, that was after she was given PROBATION and was then caught in flagrante delicto with vili a SECOND TIME and WHILE ON PROBATION.

my point was she got PROBATION for the offense.

my point stands. on her first conviction, she was given probation for admittedly having sex with him and only got her prison sentence after violating her probation by getting caught schtupping him AGAIN.

check the case.
4.24.2008 8:26pm
TJIT (mail):
All of the folks who are swallowing without question everything the media and authorities are saying would do well to remember what happened to Richard Jewell.

Mob mentality media and self serving government officials have done much damage to innocent people in the past.

Richard A. Jewell (December 17, 1962 -- August 29, 2007) was a central figure of the Centennial Olympic Park bombing at the 1996 Summer Olympics

Jewell, working as a private security guard, discovered a pipe bomb, alerted police, and helped to evacuate the area before it exploded, saving many people from injury or potential death.

Despite having never been charged, he underwent what was considered by many to be a "trial by media" with great toll on his personal and professional life.

Richard Jewell's hunting rifles were confiscated and never returned, having been presumably sold. His mother's family photographs and Tupperware collection were taken as "evidence" and returned vandalized.

Two of the bombing victims filed lawsuits against Jewell on the basis of this reporting.

In a reference to the Unabomber, Jay Leno called him the "Una-doofus".[4] Other references include "Una-Bubba," [5] and (of his mother) "Una-Mama." Jewell was never officially charged, but the FBI searched his home, questioned his associates, investigated his background, and maintained twenty-four hour surveillance of him.

Eventually he was exonerated completely: Eric Robert Rudolph was later found to have been the bomber.
4.24.2008 8:33pm
Gaius Marius:
It was an honor? Or the educated who wrote the texts told slaves it should be an honor? As to Hagar being better off after having a son, that may have been true...until she was kicked out w/out adequate food and water so God had to provide.

Hattio, yes it was an honor for Hagar to be a mother to the firstborn son and heir to the entire estate of the clan's leader such as Abraham who was already quite wealthy by the time Ishmael was born. Upon Abraham and Sarah's deaths, Hagar would have enjoyed a wonderful position as the mother of Ishmael. The reason why Hagar and Ishmael were kicked out was because Sarah at age 90 conceived and bore Isaac to Abraham thereby creating a rival heir.
4.24.2008 8:36pm
Seamus (mail):
A person can have gay sex and - as long as he realizes that it is a sin - remain a Christian. A *homosexual* - that is, someone who actively and publicly supports the homosexual lifestyle - cannot be a Christian, because he denies that homosexual actions are sins (as they are: see Leviticus 18.22 et al). You will notice, I hope, that God did not burn Sodom and Gomorrah for the sin of polygamy :)

No, a homosexual (using your definition) can be a Christian, because belief in the morality or immorality of homosexual acts isn't what defines Christianity. Different people might have different ideas about what constitute the core teachings of Christianity, but no one (no one with any sense, anyway) would argue that the exact nature of what genital acts are immoral is one of them. The Apostles' Creed says nothing about the morality of sodomy, fornication or adultery, nor do the Nicene Creed or the Athanasian. The homosexual Christian may be wrong about the content of authentic Christian teaching on sexual morality, but that doesn't make him a non-Christian.
4.24.2008 8:42pm
nicestrategy (mail):
The best reason why incest should remain illegal among consenting adults is so that parents don't raise and condition kids to become their sex partners once they have reached the age of consent. FLDS is large enough that they don't need father-daughter relationships to get what they want, but other men, given legal cover to do so, would groom their own children for the same purpose.
4.24.2008 8:47pm
Seamus (mail):
If you decide to pimp out your 14 year old, and CPS takes away your 9 year old even though you insist she's too young to be a prostitute yet, are they acting reasonably?

If I was tried and convicted in a court of pimping out a 14 year old, then they're acting reasonably.

If I'm merely being accused of pimping out my 14 year old, they shouldn't do anything based on the assumption I am, barring immediate danger. Unless they have good reason to believe I'm going to do something to the 9 year old before the trial, wait for the trial.


And if it's just a member of my church who's being accused of pimping out his or her 14-year old, then the state has no grounds for touching either my 14-year-old *or* my 9-year-old.
4.24.2008 8:51pm
Soronel Haetir (mail):
I would answer the incest question solely on the grounds of consent, as I would any of these questions regarding the FLDS. But then I also completely reject morality as any sort of measuring stick.

An example of this is the German cannibal case, where the cannibal found a willing victim on the internet. Given such a fact pattern I would be unable to put forward a conviction for murder.
4.24.2008 8:55pm
Baldwin (mail):
Note this similarity between Waco and YFZ...

In each case they could have apprehended the suspect but were really there to destroy the religion and so they didn't persue the logical legal step of arresting the suspect.

Even more troubling is that they acted on a telephone call they knew was originating in Colorado, purporting that the victim speaking was in a Texas basement so there can't even be any wiggle room given Texas authorities that they might have thot they had just cause.
4.24.2008 8:57pm
EH (mail):
Maybe the FLDS can sucessfully argue that the marriages were not forced, but merely poured.
4.24.2008 8:58pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
I agree with Seamus. I'm not arguing in favor of multiple child brides for the elderly; I'm arguing that the incidence of the alleged offenses does not justify taking all of the children away from their homes and family, especially because the state considered the offense to be much less grave before the FLDS moved in.
4.24.2008 9:18pm
whit:
"The best reason why incest should remain illegal among consenting adults is so that parents don't raise and condition kids to become their sex partners once they have reached the age of consent. FLDS is large enough that they don't need father-daughter relationships to get what they want, but other men, given legal cover to do so, would groom their own children for the same purpose."

that's a pretty good reason. bravo.

of course, it still regulates private sexual consensual acts between adults, so it's still regulating morality, whatever justification one tries to make.

but i like it.
4.24.2008 9:20pm
Fub:
whit wrote at 4.24.2008 7:26pm:
check the case.
Don't need to. Your recounting jogged my recollection there was a VOP.
4.24.2008 9:24pm
john w (mail):
Apropos of nothing in particular:
One of the things that has always amazed me is that -- here in Montana at least -- a 14 year old is legally permitted to go Big Game hunting alone in grizzly bear country, and is considered legally competent to make all the life and death decisions which that entails. But the same 14 year old is not considered competent to decide whether or not to have consensual sex with a 20 year old. The whole system is nuts!!
4.24.2008 9:29pm
whit:
and i need to correct myself. she did get a 6 month jail sentence. the 89 month sentence was suspended. served i think 4 months or so and was released. so, yes she did spend SOME time, although 4 months in jail is hardly a sentence one thinks of for child rape.

while on probation, she was caught in the back of a van with vili, and then it was off to the big house.
4.24.2008 9:29pm
Baldwin (mail):
Puzzle pieces

I would like to tie a few seemingly disparate items together with this.

Item #1

Currently Germany is just crushing homeschoolers with every heavy-handed tool the government has, fines, property seizures, putting homeschooled kids in mental institutions, freezing bank acounts, the whole nine yards. The excuse? We can't have parallel cultures. Gotta make sure we have universal government indoctination.

This approach isn't universal in the EU yet but with the problems they have with Islamism over there you have to expect it to become so.

Item #2

Bush put in place a scotus judge whose specialty is integrating USA law with international law and the guy leapfrogs into the chief justice chair instantaneously.

Item #3

Parallel culture #2 being crushed.
4.24.2008 11:17pm
Waldo (mail):
The comments on this thread are amazing. It seems that some posters believe that there is no middle ground between permitting adult men to have sex with adolescent girls and removing children from people whose beliefs society finds objectionable. In reality, there is a more reasonable remedy, and the actions of Texas CPS are both excessive and unnecessary.

First, if middle-aged men are impregnating 13-year old girls, it's child abuse. While the Texas age of consent is arbitrary, the decision of when a person has the intellectual and emotional maturity to decide to have sex is best left to legislatures. However, if the state has probable cause to believe that the law has been violated (which it seems Texas does), why haven't arrest warrents been issued for the men involved? Even if they are not the fathers, if they help force children into spiritual marriages, they have conspired to commit statutory rape. I believe (non-lawyer) the standard for an arrest warrent or indictment is probable cause. If the prosecution can show that the accused is likely to flee or commit other crimes (which it seems Texas can), it can petition to deny bail as well. Search warrents for DNA testing can then be issued to determine whether underaged girls were raped. The bottom line, though, is if the standard for forcibly removing children from their parents is lower than that for issuing an arrest warrent, that's truly disturbing.

Also disturbing is that several posters have said that mothers were equally responsible, essentialy pimping their daughters to older men. To that arguement, I'll offer this counter-hypothetical. You're a 13-year old girl forced to marry a 50-year old man, and you have a child as a result. Now, five years later, you're 18 and the State of Texas holds that you're potentially an accessory to rape and takes your 4-year old daughter away from you.

The option of arresting suspected rapists raises another question. Were Texas to arrest the men suspected of forcing girls into underage marriage, what imminent threat remains to justify removing children from the custody of their families? Some argue that the belief system of the community is in itself abusive. But if the belief system is a religion, removing children from the community as a result does seem to meet the technical definition of genocide. It also runs against First Amendment protections of religious expression.

Finally, if all of the girls in question were over the age of consent in Texas when they were spiritually married (which I personally find unlikely), then Texas doesn't have the right to intervene. Under Lawrence, unless there is injury or coercion, or if minors are involved, the "right to liberty under the Due Process Clause gives them the full right to engage in private conduct without government intervention."

If Texas believes underaged girls are being forced into marriage, it should prosecute those responsible. If girls are being trafficked, then the federal government also has a role. But Texas hasn't done that, and instead decided that using family courts was the preferred course of action. In my opinion, that's simply wrong.
4.24.2008 11:34pm
gunjam (mail) (www):
It does appear that the working assumption on the part of the CPS officials and of the presiding Texas State judge in the FLDS case is that: Children are by fiat state property TO BEGIN WITH and are only ON LOAN to the parents UNTIL such time that the State determines it disapproves of the "environment" in which the children find themselves, at which time the State is free to exercise its right of ownership and PRE-EMPTIVELY confiscate the children from their "loaner" parents and then farm the children out again (as Michael Savage says, "like cattle") to a new pair of "loaner" parents.
4.24.2008 11:58pm
mlstx (mail):

All of the folks who are swallowing without question everything the media and authorities are saying would do well to remember . . . .


And those who are swallowing without question everything the members of FLDS are saying in their own defense would do well to remember the meaning of "self-serving statements."
4.25.2008 12:03am
gunjam (mail) (www):
"But I simply cannot accept the idea that 14 year olds are children. And I cannot accept that it is a good idea for society to pretend that they are. And before you call me a pervert, let me repeat what I said on an earlier thread: This applies to all areas of life, not just to sexually-related stuff. I think that 14 year olds should be able tio quit school, get adult-type jobs, sign contracts, and do anything else that adults do -- with parental permission, and as long as they are objectively qualified."

I agree wholeheartedly, and I would add to your list: Join the military. If we permitted this, a LOT of our graffiti-spraying gang-bangers would be trained killers on patrol with the Army or Marines in Iraq right now. Boys at that age crave approval, guidance, discipline, and a good challenge. Moreover, their bodies are incredibly adaptable to stress at that age....And, they -- in many cases -- do not know the meaning of physical fear. Think of David the Israelite killing Goliath at close range with a sling and a stone at the (likely) age of 14 and of George Washington working as a surveyor and fighting Indians on the frontier (in the winter) at the same age.

Just to show how far things have gone for the Big Brother State of Texas to take all these "children" from the Yearning for Zion Ranch is to reflect on the fact that the famed (and aging) British (Welsh) singer, Tom Jones, was -- before he met fame -- a married, full-time coal-miner in Wales at the tender age of 15. It obviously didn't do him any harm.
4.25.2008 12:10am
mlstx (mail):
I think some folks are underestimating the risk of flight by FLDS women with young children. These children are EVIDENCE of crimes. It is not at all unusual in these kinds of cases for the men -- who hold the power to control the women -- to INSIST that the children disappear so that there isn't proof of the underage sex that produced the children. With the advent of DNA testing of paternity, the incentive for disappearing the children is even stronger. And the fact that DNA testing has already been done by the state does not erase the incentive -- in a criminal case, the defense will insist on their own testing, and poke holes at the previous testing, and all but challenge the state to produce the child, and insist that their failure to do so makes the rape case unprovable. Add to that a potentially uncooperative victim, there may be little other evidence but the child's DNA. The best-case scenario for the men is that there be no biological evidence of the rape -- and that means disappearing the child, living or dead, is in their interest.

The FLDS also has the logistical ability to disappear the children, too. With highly-insular communities in various states and countries (Canada AND Mexico) that police are unable to penetrate, women and children can be moved around from place to place with little ability to be tracked.
4.25.2008 12:17am
gunjam (mail) (www):
"I think some folks are underestimating the risk of flight by FLDS women with young children. These children are EVIDENCE of crimes. It is not at all unusual in these kinds of cases for the men -- who hold the power to control the women -- to INSIST that the children disappear so that there isn't proof of the underage sex that produced the children. With the advent of DNA testing of paternity, the incentive for disappearing the children is even stronger. And the fact that DNA testing has already been done by the state does not erase the incentive -- in a criminal case, the defense will insist on their own testing, and poke holes at the previous testing, and all but challenge the state to produce the child, and insist that their failure to do so makes the rape case unprovable. Add to that a potentially uncooperative victim, there may be little other evidence but the child's DNA. The best-case scenario for the men is that there be no biological evidence of the rape -- and that means disappearing the child, living or dead, is in their interest.

"The FLDS also has the logistical ability to disappear the children, too. With highly-insular communities in various states and countries (Canada AND Mexico) that police are unable to penetrate, women and children can be moved around from place to place with little ability to be tracked."

Is that YOU, Marleigh Meissner?
4.25.2008 12:26am
jccamp:
W,

This may help explain the rationale.

"...the standard for an arrest warrant or indictment is probable cause..."

True, but the standard for conviction is much higher. Often, officers &prosecutors will wait to arrest until more evidence is collected, so the case is fairly well complete when an arrest is made. That way, there should be no problem with speedy trial rules causing a dismissal because the government wasn't ready for trial. It's not a very good idea to arrest on minimal probable cause unless you are forced to, like, for instance, when the suspect is a clear threat to the community. In this case, the presumptive persons potentially at risk are safely in government control. So, they can wait and (try to) build a solid case.

"The bottom line, though, is if the standard for forcibly removing children from their parents is lower than that for issuing an arrest warrant, that's truly disturbing."

The theory is if children at at hazard, they must be protected by being removed immediately. As you see, there continues to be judicial review of the removal, and individual children may be returned as the judiciary decides the risk no longer exists for them, while others may be kept in protective custody for longer times. It's a balancing act between the children's' welfare and the possible harm done by a temporary separation.

To obtain DNA via warrant from an individual - not by consent- requires probable cause for every adult male so tested. Right now, it appears as though the police don't really know even the names or ages and familial relationships of the children. You might have seen that they decided 25 of the purported adult parents are actually under 18 themselves. Determining parentage is going to take awhile, not because the authorities aren't making an effort, but because lying and dissembling about family ties are institutionalized in the children (and the mothers, who were probably children in the same position at one time). The police probably would risk the success of prosecutions if they arrested now when so much is unknown or in doubt. And certainly, there would be a risk of arresting people who would be exonerated later. Why risk it?

The first thing to do is protect the children, and prevent their being spirited away from the jurisdiction of the courts. Clearly, crimes have been committed. However, identifying those persons responsible is going to be tedious and time-consuming. Eventually, I think you will see a number of the children and adult women tell the truth when they realize they no longer are in control of the alpha males (or whatever they called themselves).

News reports say that a majority of the adult women have, of their own volition, chosen to stay in state-provided housing rather than return to the compound. News reports also claim that a number of the adult males have already fled.

Genocide is what happened in Bosnia and Serbia, in Darfur. This is the state doing its best to protect innocent young children in very difficult circumstances. But make no mistake - this is going to be very messy, with perhaps much in doubt and dispute, even years from now. However, I don't see that the Texas authorities had much choice. They are reacting to events they cannot control. Hopefully, in the end, justice will be done.
4.25.2008 12:27am
Jimmy S.:
The best-case scenario for the men is that there be no biological evidence of the rape -- and that means disappearing the child, living or dead, is in their interest. [Emphasis added]

I think it's really cute how you subtly imply that Jewish FLDS men are all such monsters that they would kill their own children just to save their necks.
4.25.2008 12:33am
Soronel Haetir (mail):
There is one comment I would like to add in regard to age of consent along with ancillory subjects like signing a contract or joining the military.


When the state of Texas is willing to prosecute 12 year old defendants as adults for murder I find the claim that a 14 year old cannot give meaningful consent to marriage or sexual acts to be rediculous.

Pick one or other, the state shouldn't get to have it both ways.
4.25.2008 12:43am
Gaius Marius:
This is the state doing its best to protect innocent young children in very difficult circumstances.

Try telling that to the 30,000 aborted fetuses this week in America.
4.25.2008 12:48am
ReaderY:
The state has a right to prohibit sexual practices that may be common on a worldwide basis, including polygamy, sex with teenagers, prostitution, and (in my view) homosexuality, whether judges personally agree with these prohibitions or not.

That said, one of the practical consequences of our requirements of due process and probable cause -- and not unintended consequences, either -- is that as a practical matter private conduct has to be substantially noticable to and affect the outside world before the enforcement powers of the law can be brought to bear.

Our is intended to protect bad people, not just good people. In this light, it's important to separate and distinguish what one thinks of this type of conduct and the state's laws against it, from whether the laws, right or wrong, have been executed with fair procedures and upon adequate evidence.

It's essential to distinguish process from substance, not to conflate whether the laws have been impartially executed with whether one likes the laws (or the conduct the laws prohibit) or not.

In my view, a society that enforces bad laws fairly is a better society than one that enforces good laws unfairly. We often simply don't have the ability to know the ultimate value of laws and mores. Such knowledge requires selecting among alternative societies, but we can't actually know the real consequences of such a selection, because we are embedded in a history which, unlike a lab experiment, takes only one course, so we can never actually see how the other alternatives might have been.
4.25.2008 12:50am
ReaderY:
Thoughts that are worth repeating yet again:

"The law is a causeway upon which, so long as he keeps to it, a citizen may walk safely"

....


William Roper: Arrest that man!
Sir Thomas More: On what law?
Margaret More: Father, that man's bad.
Sir Thomas More: There's no law against that.
William Roper: There is: God's law.
Sir Thomas More: Then God can arrest him.
William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
William Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!

Robert Bolt, A Man For All Seasons
4.25.2008 12:54am
Gaius Marius:
It does appear that the working assumption on the part of the CPS officials and of the presiding Texas State judge in the FLDS case is that: Children are by fiat state property TO BEGIN WITH and are only ON LOAN to the parents UNTIL such time that the State determines it disapproves of the "environment" in which the children find themselves, at which time the State is free to exercise its right of ownership and PRE-EMPTIVELY confiscate the children from their "loaner" parents and then farm the children out again (as Michael Savage says, "like cattle") to a new pair of "loaner" parents.

America is degenerating into the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Sometimes I have to wonder who really won the Cold War as I see our governments become more communist in nature with each passing day.
4.25.2008 12:58am
mlstx (mail):

I think it's really cute how you subtly imply that Jewish FLDS men are all such monsters that they would kill their own children just to save their necks.


I wasn't trying to be SUBTLE! And no, it isn't cute that FLDS men pedophiles kill children to protect their necks.

And of course, the Jewish reference comes from your mind, not mine.
4.25.2008 1:02am
Jimmy S.:
Maybe I was the one who was too subtle. Let me try again:

You are spreading the same kind of overbroad, unsubstantiated tripe about the FLDS that has been spread about Jews, Muslims, Mormons, and all manner of other disliked minorities in a deliberate attempt to dehumanize them prior to depriving them of basic human rights.
4.25.2008 1:48am
LM (mail):

America is degenerating into the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Sometimes I have to wonder who really won the Cold War as I see our governments become more communist in nature with each passing day.

I wonder what Eugene would think about that?
4.25.2008 1:59am
Grover Gardner (mail):

I agree wholeheartedly, and I would add to your list: Join the military. If we permitted this, a LOT of our graffiti-spraying gang-bangers would be trained killers on patrol with the Army or Marines in Iraq right now. Boys at that age crave approval, guidance, discipline, and a good challenge. Moreover, their bodies are incredibly adaptable to stress at that age....And, they -- in many cases -- do not know the meaning of physical fear. Think of David the Israelite killing Goliath at close range with a sling and a stone at the (likely) age of 14 and of George Washington working as a surveyor and fighting Indians on the frontier (in the winter) at the same age.

Just to show how far things have gone for the Big Brother State of Texas to take all these "children" from the Yearning for Zion Ranch is to reflect on the fact that the famed (and aging) British (Welsh) singer, Tom Jones, was -- before he met fame -- a married, full-time coal-miner in Wales at the tender age of 15. It obviously didn't do him any harm.


Just when I thought the comments couldn't get any stupider--they did.

Tom Jones was 16 when he got married and never worked in a coal mine. Maybe you should ask people who *did* work in coal mines all their lives whether it did them any harm or not.

As for 14-year-old soldiers, this article might lend some perspective to that practice:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_use_of_children
4.25.2008 2:04am
Grover Gardner (mail):

Try telling that to the 30,000 aborted fetuses this week in America.



Verily, no brush is too broad for Gaius Marius.
4.25.2008 2:08am
good strategy (mail):
14 year olds are not adults, no way. 9th grade can be a tricky year for a lot of kids emotionally, I can't believe that someone who knew a 14 year old at any level would try to portray kids that age as ready to make permanent life choices. There are 14 year olds at my school that look 10. Think about it.

Gaius Marius is a most disturbing fellow, full of contempt and rage. Full of judgment. "The USA has become the USSR" -- dude, get a grip.
4.25.2008 3:39am
Normie:
Suppose the following: I live next to a several building Housing Co-op in Los Angeles, along with 80 or 90 married couples, a dozen single parents and a dozen unmarried couples (gay and straight). Most but not all of the households in the Co-op have children. In all, there are more than 400 children living in the buidings: most are home-schooled.

The Co-op has obtained some notoriety for some hard-core New Age beliefs: including a spiritualist form of vegetarianism and environmental awareness. Some have accused the group of being eco-terrorists, for which there is some evidence as to individuals. Several current and former residents have been convicted or implicated in crimes related to, among other things, anti-fur protests, pro-marijuana rallies and arson of McMansions in the Valley.

One day, I am invited over to a group meal by my friendly neighbors: I am a bit shocked at the level of indoctrination of the children in the building. They, in turn, are shocked that I eat meat and wear Nikes, a leather belt, etc. and my opposition to legal marijuana.

When I use the community bathroom, after Supper, I find a note that begins: "Please help me. . . " and details a lifetime of sexual abuse. The note includes first names of the victim ("Chris") and perpetrators and asserts that s/he is not the only one abused. There are a numbers of children in the Co-op named "Chris," including boys and girls.

Of course, I pass on the note to authorities. I have had my suspicions about this group, and this confirms some of them. What should the authorities do?

Is that note sufficient evidence to raid the building and put all of the children in foster-homes? Is the note + the groups fringe-beliefs / counter-culture lifestyle enough to justify action on the scale of the Texas CPS? What should be the extent of a search and which, if any children, should be taken away?

What would happen if my partner, who also went to the dinner, came forward to admit that he had planted the note and had no evidence for the fabricated claims in the note?

If the note turns out to be a fake, should the children still be taken away from their parents based on other abuses uncovered? For example, among the 400 children, there are a dozen teenagers who admit having had abortions in the last year, others admit using drugs frequently, drinking nearly every weekend and going to nudist beaches often. One girl who had an abortion is only 14. She claims that the father was her 15-year-old ex-boyfriend, but some speculate incest. She says lots of her friends in the Co-Op are sexually active, but doesn't know the ages of their partners.
4.25.2008 5:16am
markm (mail):
Given their experience/knowledge of rape and the twisted religion inculcated into them, they didn't go into this whole.

I don't think that the 200-some children under five have experience of rape - but some of them will once they're in the foster system.

As far as inculcating twisted beliefs, that's constitutionally protected - and hardly unique to the FLDS. Mainline Christian churches teach that:
1) Your own experience and reason are inferior to 2000 year old mythology.
2) You are fundamentally unworthy and have to beg a higher authority for forgiveness for the sins of your ancestors.
3) The creator who formed humans with often irrestible urges to sin is the source of all good.

IMO, #1 is hazardous to your ability to make decisions necessary for survival on this planet, #2 is psychologically damaging, and #2 and #3 are both morally grotesque. Of course, the FLDS believe all this and worse - but if you left it up to majority rule unbridled by the first amendment, those three principles would be public policy that everyone would be required to believe in.

OTOH, the public schools I attended taught that:
1) It doesn't pay to be smarter than average.
2) Self-defense was indistinguishable from violent aggression.
3) My property belonged to the whole class.

Why isn't sending kids to such schools considered child abuse?
4.25.2008 9:11am
Blades (mail):
The court is putting most of its eggs in the DNA basket. So it took 5 min to come up with an example where DNA fails.

Lets say father (F) and mother (M) have a daughter (D) . Assume in FLDS, 14 years later, Father 'marries' daughter (D) and has a grand daughter (GD). Lets assume that father (F) has a brother-uncle (U) and a father --grandfather (GF).

If they test the DNA of the grand-daughter (GD) against the DNA of the uncle (U) of the grandfather (GF), it will be a 50% match, the standard indication of the biological father. Either the uncle or the grandfather can be convicted on this evidence and sentences to life in prison for multiple counts of child abuse, and places on the sexual predetor list for life, and be completely innocent. If the father (F) has left the compound and choose not to have his DNA tested, there is no way the Uncle or grandfather can prove they are innocent.

There are many other ways in a close community (i.e. incest) that DNA is not only unreliable but actually gives completely wrong answers.
4.25.2008 9:18am
Blue (mail):
Blades, you are using a strawman picture of genetic testing.
4.25.2008 10:56am
mlstx (mail):

You are spreading the same kind of overbroad, unsubstantiated tripe about the FLDS that has been spread about Jews, Muslims, Mormons, and all manner of other disliked minorities in a deliberate attempt to dehumanize them prior to depriving them of basic human rights.


YOU are the one raising the religion calumny. I'm talking about pedophiles. How interesting that you can't tell the difference.
4.25.2008 11:05am
Waldo (mail):
jccamp:

However, I don't see that the Texas authorities had much choice. They are reacting to events they cannot control.
I would disagree. If Texas believes it has a duty to remove the children based on hazard to the children, it also can reasonably believe that the suspects are a clear threat to the community. Yes, it may be difficult to secure a conviction, and yes, there is a risk of arresting people who will be exonerated later, but that's an acceptable risk given the cost of wholesale suspension of parental rights.

News reports also claim that a number of the adult males have already fled.

This will make it only more difficult to determine parentage and return these children to their parents. It also raises this problem:

As you see, there continues to be judicial review of the removal, and individual children may be returned as the judiciary decides the risk no longer exists for them, while others may be kept in protective custody for longer times.

If the men accused of child abuse were in custody, the children could be returned with acceptable risk. Restraining orders could be issued to help prevent flight, and the compound monitored. Some women have apparently chosen to live in government housing; these would seem to pose less risk. But, with the men who allegedly abused these children at large and unlocated, the women in question have a dilemna. The only way for these women to show that a risk no longer exists is to prove that they have renounced their religion. Otherwise, the state can logically argue that the children will only be returned to an abusive environment. And that is effectively prohibiting a religious group from having children.

Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!


We have laws on the books prohibiting sex with minors; they should be enforced. Is it difficult? Yes. But we also have laws to protect religious belief. These are constitutional protections and international treaties that should supercede state law. Once we establish that belief or risk, rather than actual criminal acts, is the standard, then what's to stop them from coming for the smokers, and then the gun oweners, and then the global warming deniers, and then anyone whose beliefs or practices run counter to community norms.
4.25.2008 11:26am
Greywolf:
Now that is being reported that sheriff Doran knew prior to the first raid that Dale Barlow was in Arizona and had not been in Texas since 77. Dale Barlow was listed on the initial as the suspect in the abuse of "Sarah". What does that do to all of the evidence gathered after that raid?
4.25.2008 12:42pm
markm (mail):

john w (mail):
Apropos of nothing in particular:
One of the things that has always amazed me is that -- here in Montana at least -- a 14 year old is legally permitted to go Big Game hunting alone in grizzly bear country, and is considered legally competent to make all the life and death decisions which that entails. But the same 14 year old is not considered competent to decide whether or not to have consensual sex with a 20 year old. The whole system is nuts!!

Not really. A 14 year old is likely to be rational about bear hunting but utterly irrational when the sex hormones kick in. Not that there aren't many middle-aged men with the same problem...

But the real issue here isn't whether some 14 year olds can make rational decisions about sex, but whether any young woman - 14 or 21 - raised in such a compound can truly decide for herself about marriage. I think not.

OTOH, for several millenia the custom of most of the more advanced nations was to not allow young women to decide such things for themselves, but for their parents to arrange marriages for them. (As for young men, either they also accepted an arranged marriage, or they remained unmarried until they could arrange to support themselves and a family on their own - which usually meant they were over 25.)

So, why is an arranged marriage worse than letting teenagers make fools of themselves - nowadays, to the extent that many middle schools find it necessary to provide nurseries for their female students' babies? (1) It's not our custom, nor allowed by our laws. (2) In the particular case of the modern-day Mormon polygamists, it sure doesn't look like the parents are making these decisions in the best interests of their daughters. If the parents were picking out up-and-coming young men who could support their wives well, I might feel differently, but when those young men have been kicked out of the tribe and the girl is getting 1/5 of an old geezer and a welfare case of her own, it sounds a whole lot more like dirty old men swapping their daughters than good parents taking their daughters' interests into account.

Finally, IMO conceiving children that you have no intention or no real prospect of supporting ought to be a crime, and the FLDS "fathers" are multiple offenders who ought to be sterilized and forced to labor to reimburse the government for their offsprings' support - but if we tried to apply that principle to a black man who has impregnated even more young girls, without the permission of their parents, and done even less to help them raise the kids, we'd be accused of genocide.

Not that any of this has anything to do with taking toddlers away from their mothers - and apparently most of the children affected are toddlers...
4.25.2008 1:00pm
Tom G (mail):
I am a little surprised that nobody has, on a LEGAL blog, commented on the background history of how polygamy was explicitly outlawed in the US.
Some avenues of research: the 1890 Manifesto (not a law, just Mormon doctrine apparently), the Edmunds-Tucker Act, the Morrill Anti-Bigamy act.

I'm sure there are additional areas, those were just the first few I found.
4.25.2008 2:29pm
Baldwin (mail):
I've been looking at hundreds of pictures from the legal morass this morning and I am struck by one archetypical image repeated over and over.

There are a lotta hard-as-nails bossy feminists in black pantsuits knocking around a lotta real women for the offense of liking feminity, being subordinate to men, and raising obedient well mannered respectful kids.

I'd bet a month's pay these same frosty martinets would be as happy as clams handing out condoms to a group of 70% sexually active public school girls.
4.25.2008 2:59pm
Jimmy S.:
YOU are the one raising the religion calumny. I'm talking about pedophiles. How interesting that you can't tell the difference.


Come now, mlstx. Your 11:24 PM comment referred generally to "FLDS women" and then went on to discuss how it was in the best interest of "the men" (not "the guilty men" or "the pedophiles") that the children disappear.

Your meaning was obviously either that 1) all FLDS men would kill children, or 2) all FLDS men are pedophiles, and hence would kill children.

Just like all Jews make matzahs with the blood of Palestinian children, right?
4.25.2008 3:25pm
whit:
"There are a lotta hard-as-nails bossy feminists in black pantsuits knocking around a lotta real women for the offense of liking feminity, being subordinate to men, and raising obedient well mannered respectful kids.

I'd bet a month's pay these same frosty martinets would be as happy as clams handing out condoms to a group of 70% sexually active public school girls."


simone would approve:
"No woman should be authorized to stay at home to raise her children. ... Women should not have that choice precisely because, if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one."

Simone de Beauvoir'
4.25.2008 3:40pm
Suzy (mail):
A few brief thoughts about the hypotheticals:
Normie, if the 14 and 15 year old girls in the commune you describe said that they were impregnated by various adults in the group, and that this was a normal practice there, then absolutely yes, the same standards should apply. Same if they are being encouraged by the adults to use drugs.

It seems like several commentors would never accept CPS removing children from a home, much less in this FLDS situation. Is there ever a point at which you believe children are endangered enough to be taken from their parents, short of the parent actually being incarcerated for the acts that endangered the children?

It also seems that several commentors want to make this about prejudice against a certain religion or way of life. Why do you assume that those who believe that many of these girls were raped and boys were abused are motivated by any particular ideology? I've been a stay-at-home mom in the past, I'm a Christian, and I can appreciate many of the values these FLDS people hold dear. I'm simply horrified that they rape and abuse their children, and I'm thankful something can be done about it legally. If these people were not abusing their children, I would be equally horrified if the children were taken away on the basis of some form of prejudice.
4.25.2008 4:14pm
Waldo (mail):
Suzy:

Is there ever a point at which you believe children are endangered enough to be taken from their parents, short of the parent actually being incarcerated for the acts that endangered the children?

Absolutely. When there is harm or imminent danger of harm to the child. When there is neglect. For example, a child born additcted to a drug-addicted mother unable to function and care for her child, a 6-yr old child abandoned to wander in the Rocky Mountains at 10,000' (cases I'm personally aware of), or children deprived of food, clothing, and hygiene. None of which, of course, ever happen in Texas. And what's the chance of those children finding good foster homes once there are 400-odd well-behaved, drug-free, healthy, white kids available?

If Texas had taken custody only of 10-13 yr-old girls, or 14-17 yr-old mothers, CPS would have an argument of imminent danger, especially if there is evidence that children are being trafficked across state lines. For the other children, that imminent danger doesn't exist. But I have to ask, what would you do about a 16-year old mother who became pregnant when she was 13? Do you remove her from her parent's custody, or do you also separate her from her 2-yr old child?

The issue I have is that some posters have justified removing children based on the environment (religion) in the compound. That's based on belief, rather than criminal actions. I would rather prosecute those who raped and abused their children. Texas has not detained any of the "fathers" in this case, and they now seem to have fled, where they can continue to rape and abuse.

I disagree with most of what the FLDS stands for. But the answer isn't to have CPS take custody of the children. It's not the least intrusive solution and there are too many bad precendents. Prosecute the people you think guilty instead.
4.25.2008 7:13pm
Jeremiah Films (mail) (www):
Just posted interviews with former FLDS ... Sounds really bad.
4.25.2008 8:00pm
notWillRogers (mail):
[Just for accuracy's sake]

Jeremiah Films wrote:Just posted interviews with former FLDS ... Sounds really bad.

A) The 'interview' has quotes from Rowenna Erickson, founder of an anti-polygamy group, and with former FLDS member Rena Mackert who left the group over 30 years ago and has campaigned against them ever since.

Oh, and Jeremiah Films (the above commenter) is an anti-Mormon website.

"Sounds really bad". True.
4.25.2008 9:14pm
Normie:
Suzy,

You write that the same standards should apply. But you also changed my hypothetical and missed questions entirely.

I asked: what should the authorities do, whether the note was sufficient evidence to remove all children from the Co-Op, whether that would change if the note were a known forgery, should the groups beliefs also be considered in evaluating the course of action, what should the extent of a search be.

Yes, "if" multiple 14 and 15 year olds come forward and make allegations, then. . . whatever.

But, in this example, and in the FLDS case, no one has come forward, except what appears to be a discredited phone call. The only person against whom the phone call offered evidence, Dale Barlow, was known by the sheriff to be out-of-state. There is no evidence of the type you mention: teenagers stepping forward to make allegations. So, please respond to my actual factual scenario and questions. Your response completely missed both.

I'm simply horrified that they rape and abuse their children, and I'm thankful something can be done about it legally. Link? I have not seen any evidence that "they" do this. How are you so sure? Or do you mean you are horrified that they might? Because, I am horrified that evangelicals or hippies might rape and abuse their children. But that horror, without meeting a burden of proof, is not enough to take all children away from hippies or evangelicals.

For the record, I'm horrified too if this is what they do. But you don't know whether they do or not. If you maintain that you do know, then please point to the evidence and enlighten all of us.
4.25.2008 11:57pm
lyle (mail):
If your a Texas lawyer, or want to help out these poor parents being abused by the State, the FLDS have set up a website to take monetary and legal (volunteer) donations:

http://captivefldschildren.org/
4.26.2008 1:30am
Suzy (mail):
Normie, I can't speak to whether there was a good enough reason to enter the homes initially. I'm addressing the suggestion that the FLDS are being treated differently because of their beliefs. They're not simply united by their beliefs--like the evangelicals or hippies you mention. If all evangelicals lived together and reared their children together to the point that it's not clear whose parents are whose, and statutory rape was not unusual, then the comparison would be relevant.

How do we know that statutory rape is the norm? When you find that a number of under age girls are pregnant or have given birth to children fathered by much older men, then yes, you know they're being raped. Just watching the news last night, even more info came out about younger girls found who had already had one or more children. The rape is also not the only kind of abuse they were concerned about, apparently.
4.27.2008 12:27pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
How do we know that statutory rape is the norm? When you find that a number of under age girls are pregnant or have given birth to children fathered by much older men,

I would like to see this assertion broken down to:

Mothers who by their children's age were impregnated before the pre-2006 age of consent.
Mothers who by their children's age were impregnated when the 2006 age of consent went into effect.
Pregnant girls below the current age of consent.
4.27.2008 6:34pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
There are reports of at least three fortified Muslim compounds, one in upstate NY, one in Virginia, and another in, I think, Georgia.
Do you think the government would jump all over the chance to go in, after some bogus phone call?
Yeah, me neither.
4.27.2008 11:08pm
Normie:
Tony wrote:
'How do we know that statutory rape is the norm? When you find that a number of under age girls are pregnant or have given birth to children fathered by much older men,'

I would like to see this assertion broken down to:

Mothers who by their children's age were impregnated before the pre-2006 age of consent.
Mothers who by their children's age were impregnated when the 2006 age of consent went into effect.
Pregnant girls below the current age of consent.


This information would go a long way to persuading people that there was, in fact, statutory rape taking place. Another significant piece of information would be:

from DNA testing, the age of the father at the time of conception.

Whether the father of a pregnant 14-year old was ~14 or ~50 at the time of intercourse is also important. I suspect at there may be fathers who were past the age of majority when teenage girls conceived by them--but there appears to be no proof of this so far.

To qualify as statutory rape, even if the girls were teenaged at conception, they could have to be younger than 14 prior to the 2006 statute change, or younger than 16, under the current statute--depending on the other statutory requirements (e.g. consent / parental consent / legal marriage).

Perhaps I am even more wary of the FLDS leadership than you are, Suzy. But I believe that the move to Texas was probably motivated, in part, by Texas' lower age of consent. The leadership appears to have tried to abide by the letter of the law (14, then 16)--or at least to make the appearance that it did so (perhaps by swapping birth certificates or otherwise obscuring individuals ages?). I doubt that, out of 400+ kids there are too many examples of out-and-out pre-14/16 minor-major sex.
So far, the state has not revealed conclusive evidence of any. That may change with the results of DNA testing.

Suzy,
Normie, I can't speak to whether there was a good enough reason to enter the homes initially. I'm addressing the suggestion that the FLDS are being treated differently because of their beliefs . . . If all evangelicals lived together and reared their children together to the point that it's not clear whose parents are whose, and statutory rape was not unusual, then the comparison would be relevant.

In my hypo, I was addresing the scope and basis of CPS' action. Whether or not anyone thinks that belief systems have something to do with CPS' crackdown (e.g., using Baptist buses and volunteers, coordinating with local ministers/congregations)--my point was: if hippies or evangelicals lived on a similar compound, what scope of action would be appropriate based on similar evidence of child &sex abuse, teenage sex &pregnancy? What type or amount of evidence should be necessary for CPS to take so many kids away from their mothers?
4.28.2008 3:10am
Normie:
Suzy,

Said another way, your responses to my originally posed questions appear to be:

what should the authorities do (something!!!!), whether the note was sufficient evidence to remove all children from the Co-Op (no comment), whether that would change if the note were a known forgery (no comment), should the groups beliefs also be considered in evaluating the course of action (they weren't!!!!), what should the extent of a search be (no comment). [feel free to correct the above, if I mis-understood you]

I'm more interested in whether belief systems are fair game (for CPS to base its action upon) than if they were in this case (fyi, i think it's eminently clear that they were. you can disagree). And I'm most interested in the constitutional and statutory framework for analyzing the legality and proper scope of CPS action.
4.28.2008 3:18am