Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Women and Children and Children and Children First

Playing on the iPod: Bach, Prelude and Fugue in H Major (okay, I don't know which the heck one it is)
Meters swum today: None. I did 1700 yesterday, though.

In case you've been hiding under a rock lately, there's been this big news story about Child Protective Services going into a "polygamous compound" and hauling away 400-plus kids in Eldorado, Texas. Bunch of their mothers, too, apparently, some of whom were barely older than kids themselves. Seems a 16-year-old girl with an eight-month-old baby (you do the math) called CPS to complain that she was forced to marry a 50-something guy. When CPS went to court to get an order for their investigation, the judge suddenly decided every single kid that lived there was either being abused or was under immediate threat of abuse, and said, "Get every child under 18 out here to be interviewed." Hours later, there were still children coming. Something like 500 people are being housed in a Babtist church and a local fort, and the investigation goes on. Since then all 400-plus children have been placed in protective custody, and each one is apparently going to get his or her own personal private lawyer and child advocate.

These folks, the Fundamentalist Church of the Latter-Day Saints, are sometimes called Mormons. That's kind of a misnomer. The real Mormons are pretty ordinary people, go to church, live in cities, interact with the rest of the planet. I used to know a bunch of 'em and apart from some of their children, who can be horrible, their one distinctive characteristic is that they're all really, really nice. So darn nice you get sick to your stomach from the sheer quantities of saccharine. Okay, I exaggerate, but really, they're nice folks.

The FDLS might also be nice folks, but they're often referred to as a strange cult with Mormon roots. They think the world's going to end any second, they prefer to live apart from the rest of the planet and of course they do this multiple-wife thing. One guy might have four or five or even as many as eleven wives, a range of ages, and scads of kids. This made a lot of sense when they'd been burned out of their homes four or five times on their way from Missouri to Utah, and a bunch of the men had been killed, leaving plenty of widows and orphans. These days it's kind of hard to pull off unless you keep marrying younger and younger women, which is what Child Protective Services is in such a dither about. It's illegal in Texas for a girl under 16 to marry, have sex or breed with any man of any age, much less a 50-year-old. I mean, ew. Hence the "raid" on the Eldorado Ranch.

I'm gonna raise my paddy skyward here and get ready to duck. I'm not so sure going in there and grabbing all the kids was such a hot idea. Okay, 50-year-old men and 15-year-old girls, ew, I agree, ew ew ew. Definitely should NOT be going on. But, does it make any sense to charge in there and haul away families? We're talking about kids here who have never seen TV, probably never been to school, don't know what an iPod is, think their fathers are the next thing to God and that everybody outside the compound (ie, the entire rest of the planet) is damned, evil, untouchable. Yeah, I want four or five kids like that (they're trying to keep siblings together) living next door to me in one of Texas's great foster homes. What makes CPS think they're gonna be any safer in that environment? They're probably better off where they are, under guard at an old fort and a Babtist church. Trouble is, hanging out like a refugee in a public building is kind of no way to live, as all the Hurricane Katrina survivors who were bussed to Dallas and Houston after New Orleans went under could probably tell you.

So what would I do instead, you ask. Well, my first thought is, why not haul away the men that are doing the abusing, and let the women and children stay home? I have a live or let live thing about other people, so I guess if you can't haul away the men, I'd have some precautions in place to protect the kids. Like, for example, CPS gets to go in there whenever they feel like it to check on the kids and make sure there aren't any pregnant tweenagers. Marriages would have to be registered and all the brides would have to be 18. In my humble opinion it's no less creepy to have a 50-year-old marry an 18-year-old, but it's technically legal, at least in Texas. As for the multiple-marriage thing, though, I think I'd be fine with leaving things alone. If these folks are freely choosing to live this way, what's the problem? Gay people live together in relationships approximating marriage (Joan and I are domestically partnered). I have a good friend who lived for several years with her significant sweetie, a female, the sweetie's husband, a male, and their "slave", also a female. I didn't ask and they didn't tell but it worked for them, I guess. (I know. Ew. Ew. But there weren't any kids involved.)

Am I too flexible? Maybe. But consider: The king of Saudi Arabia, with whom we have at least a friendly relationship, has three wives. (I think. Maybe it's four._ We don't call him a weird cult member. We call him "a fine example of the United States's positive influence on the Persian Gulf region." Money and morality start with the same letter. I'm just sayin'.

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