I still don't like the culture of polygamy or underage brides or welfare-fraud. But I'm also not impressed with Texas' handling of the situation.
Some things I have a problem with:
1. Removing all children from their mothers. At first, they allowed mothers of children under five to remain with their kids, now every child is being removed to foster care. If there is such 'danger' to these babies, why were their mothers let stay for 2 weeks? As far as I understand it, the allegations are about underage marriage, not infant and child abuse. It especially irks me that the Judge is not sympathetic to the nursing mothers. This doesn't seem to be serving the children's best interests. Cell phones have been confiscated, effectively limiting attorney contact.
2. The seeming trial of culture vs. the investigation of specific crimes. Again, I wouldn't mind seeing polygamy disappear, but apparently that's not the crime here. Polygamy is only a crime if you are legally married to more than one spouse at once. It's (obviously - look at any public high school) not illegal to have sex with whomever you choose, married or not (barring the age issue).
3. The fact they only just realized that they're holding 437 children instead of 416. Are you kidding me? Child welfare? Looking out for each child's best interest? How absurd.
4. Giving the mothers no options to "earn" back their children. Apparently some have offered to move away, get jobs, sever ties.... and apparently that's not enough.
5. The obvious hypocrisy that if these young girls were having intercourse with different partners (that would seem more of 'choice') and wanted birth control, the state would be all for it. Somehow, being limited to one partner (for the women, anyways) and bearing (and raising) your children is suspect.
6. The other obvious hypocrisy that while CPS argues that the danger to the children is due to the authoritarian nature of the culture, lack of freedoms, and coercion. Really? How has this been handled by the state (and especially CPS)? I'll quote from The Common Room: More than two dozen women of a polygamous sect told reporters they were surrounded by troopers and forced to leave their children in state custody Monday. [how's that for authoritarian?]...the women met with reporters at the YFZ Ranch hours after leaving their children and accused the Texas Child Protective Services of lies and trickery. After a week's stay at two makeshift shelters - described by one woman as a"concentration camp" - state authorities moved women and children to the San Angelo Coliseum on Monday, promising them they were being taken to a "bigger, better" place. They were told they would be reunited with other family members, the women said. Once at the coliseum, the women were separated according to the ages of their children. Mothers of those age 6 or older were herded into a room, each one flanked by a CPS worker. More than 50 troopers, according to the women, lined the room. The women were given a choice: return to the ranch or go to a domestic violence shelter. [they were ordered, you see, to be compliant. CPS doesn't object to compliance. They just wish to reserve that compliance and obedience to themselves]Their children, they were told, were no longer theirs. "They told us the state is in charge of them now," said Donna."They wouldn't even let us go back and say goodbye to our children," said Sarah, who now has five children, ages 8 to 16, in state custody. [in other words, they were authoritarian, and required obedience]
Coercion, false choices, authoritarian demands for compliance all
prompted by an anonymous phone call we now know was a tissue of lies? There is
no 'Sarah,' yet.
Another girl with a name similar to that of the girl in the search warrant was grilled for hours by investigators, Janet said. They kept telling her " 'You are this girl. Why don't you want our help?' " she said. [authoritarian, coercive, denying her the right to make her own choices as to whether or not she wanted their help, refusing even to accept her own self-identification, demanding compliance ]
Medical tests against their will or consent:
One mother said she was asked if her two daughters, 15 and 16, were married or pregnant. She said no. The girls were given pregnancy tests, she said, and the results proved she was truthful.Asked if any teenage girls were pregnant, the women refused to answer. Frankly, I would refuse to answer, too. A 19 year old is a teen, but she is legally of age to marry without anybody else's consent. If they say no and there turns out to be one (whom they may or may not have known about), they'll be guilty regardless. If they say yes, that will be proving the state's case for them. And, in the words of Obama, it would be a distraction. Regardless of whether or not there are pregnant teens, the state has nothing to be proud of in how it is handling this case.Who are the real authoritarians demanding compliance here? Possibly both CPS and FLDS. I know which one is a bigger threat to the rest of us. FLDS can't come and take my kids and yours.
Yikes. Again, I'm no fan of the FLDS or similar sects. I don't think they're generally a healthy way to live, I think they lend themselves to abuses, but I don't think you can charge a cult or a mindset - you need to look individually. I saw one interview with a woman who grew up in polygamy. Her father had 19 wives, and she was one of 75 children. Every time "their paths crossed," she said, her father "had to ask me my name and who my mother was." That is not fatherhood. Nor is looking at a 13-year-old with eyes toward impregnating her to secure your after-life's godhood. But again, it's painting with a broad brush to assume this is true of all families.
I'm still praying. I'm praying that the children are freed. Freed from whom? I don't know. Freed from the heavy-handed tactics of the state, freed from abuse, if there is any. Free to grow up healthy and loved and cared for, in a cult or not, but preferably not in foster care. I just don't know about all this, and I just pray that righteousness will reign.