Texas polygamist raid

  • #1

Main Question or Discussion Point

Okay, is anyone else starting to look askance at this http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/life/religion/5682336.html" [Broken] raid thing? There's been a couple days of reportage on this now and still no journalists are stepping up to the plate with explicit reasoning concerning what justifies taking 401 children away from their parents.

Taking a child away from his or her parents is a pretty drastic step and obviously "The parents are polygamists!!111!" is by no means sufficient justification to do that. My hope is that this is all just sloppy journalism but it looks mighty suspicious to me that they're now unable to find the girl who made the phone call. Particularly when that phone call is being paraded around as if it amounts to justification to take the other kids.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warren_Jeffs" [Broken] is obviously a bad guy but this is too serious a step to be taken without well-thought-out and well-articulated justification, it's an action that would be very prone to guilt by association and religious discrimination. And even if the doctrine of this fringe Mormon group was fundamentally illegal - which no one seems to be in a hurry to demonstrate - that still isn't grounds to take the children of the religious adherents. Frankly it seems pretty unAmerican to me.

Especially since Mormonism is the only religion in the history of these United States which has had a government http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extermination_Order_(Mormonism)" [Broken] issued against it, which wasn't overturned until 1976, we ought to be treading more carefully around actions which amount to religious persecution if they're unjustified. Personally I'm inclined to think that if this was a group of hippie free-love polygamists, or a group of Muslim polygamists, this action would not have been as gung-ho and cavalier and blithely covered as it appears to have been.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Answers and Replies

  • #2
lisab
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
1,832
616
It does seem extreme...

But I can see it from the authority's point of view, too.

I saw an interview of a woman who left this offshoot of the Mormon church several years ago. Her story of abuse was pretty shocking. She painted a picture of a closed society where the men, the older men, had all the power. Women were not allowed to make their own life choices, and not allowed to talk to people outside of their society. She said there was rampant child abuse. Girls are routinely forced to marry older men.

Granted, this is the one-sided story from one person.

Given the nature of this closed society, how were the authorities supposed to procede? The girl who made the call deserves the same protections as any 16-year-old girl.

But I can see your point. And I have no problem with polygamy per se, as long as the people who choose to live that way are adults. And that's the crux of the problem: how true is it that the female children are forced to marry older men?

Also, as I understand the story, they didn't take just the children; they took their mothers, also.

In the interest of full disclosure, my dad was raised Mormon. It didn't "take." But as I grew up we had a lot of contact with the Mormon church. I have no issues with mainstream Mormonism.
 
  • #3
854
16
it looks mighty suspicious to me that they're now unable to find the girl who made the phone call. Particularly when that phone call is being paraded around as if it amounts to justification to take the other kids.
I don't understand all facets of this thing. However, the accusation she makes is a serious one and the authorities have no choice but to investigate.

MSNBC said:
The dayslong raid on the sprawling compound built by the now-jailed Jeffs was sparked by a 16-year-old girl's call to authorities that she was being abused and that girls as young as 14 and 15 were being forced into marriages with much older men.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23993440" [Broken]
Is the purpose of this sect is to provide children as sexual objects to adults? It sounds like it.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #4
My point is, I'm wondering if the girl who supposedly made the phone call even exists at all. Given the information that has surfaced so far the phone call being fabricated (with or without the knowledge of the authorities) seems just as feasible to me as the idea that she is subject to some sort of Mafia-style sequestration by this fringe Mormon church, which is a theory I have heard advanced on the news (with basically no supporting evidence).

Thanks for the MSNBC link jimmy, it's much more informative than many of the reports I've seen.

lisab - there isn't a single Mormon church. The LDS headquartered in Salt Lake City is the largest one but it's one of many.
[EDIT] re-reading your comment, you obviously realize this, sorry. Based on the name these guys sound like an offshoot of the LDS but there are other churches too that grew up from the early post-Joseph-Smith community that developed separately from the Utah LDS.

As far as how the authorities were supposed to respond - they should be a lot more explicit about why they're separating the children from their families - so many of them! - rather than just mentioning the single phone call and the criminal acts of a few people who happen to be coreligionists of these families. If there's sexual abuse going on that obviously needed to be stopped but I'm concerned that authorities had an itchy trigger finger over this. Child sex abuse is definitely just about the paramount crime below murder (probably worse than murder in some people's eyes and I might go along with that) but the thing is that persecution of an entire religion is pretty far up there too, especially under Really Bad Things the Government Does.

As far as I'm concerned the Mormons are pretty whack but ever since I read about the Missouri Extermination Order I've taken more notice of how societal condemnation of them is a bit overdone and in many cases unjustified or prejudicial. "Ha ha, silly Mormons" is one thing but taking their children, unless it's done with a rock-solid justification and completely by the book, is right out, and it seems pretty clear to me that at least the public explanation of this action did not receive due attention from the authorities who planned this raid.
 
Last edited:
  • #5
I'm also curious, if anyone comes across it, whether the 401 kids are all of the children in the community.

I really hope I'm wrong to question this, that it's really stopping child abuse and not the equivalent of invading an Amish or Mennonite community and taking all their children.
 
  • #6
lisab
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
1,832
616
I really hope I'm wrong to question this, that it's really stopping child abuse and not the equivalent of invading an Amish or Mennonite community and taking all their children.
No, I don't think it's wrong to question the authorities. After all, ideally "the authorities" are simply the eyes, ears, and hands of all of us.

I see both sides of this...it's extreme to remove all the women and children, but since it's such a closed society I don't know how else the authorities could deal with this.

Amish and Mennonite societies aren't mainstream but they're not closed, as far as I know. We have a few Mennonites here in Seattle, they send their kids to public school.
 
  • #7
Amish and Mennonite societies aren't mainstream but they're not closed, as far as I know. We have a few Mennonites here in Seattle, they send their kids to public school.
There are some Amish and Mennonite communities that are like this. I visited a Mennonite community in Montana once that was a self-contained farm and a group of large buildings that were a communal residence, like this place in Texas, where they had their own school. I believe some Amish communities in Pennsylvania are like this as well. (Though many of the Amish are private land owners and private businessmen who simply have a tight-knit community.)
 
Last edited:
  • #8
1,040
4
Children and Youth Services (or whatever the local names are) in most localities have, by law, a prime directive: protect the children. In most cases, this means that, if there is an allegation of serious harm (pedophilia counts), they immediately remove the children, then investigate. It doesn't matter if it's 400 FLDS children or 1 Baptist child.

And, most Mennonites are quite mainstream. Except for the Old Order ones who wear distinctive clothing and drive buggies, it's very difficult to even distinguish most Mennonites.
 
  • #9
Gokul43201
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
6,987
14
Given the information that has surfaced so far the phone call being fabricated (with or without the knowledge of the authorities) seems just as feasible to me as the idea that she is subject to some sort of Mafia-style sequestration by this fringe Mormon church, which is a theory I have heard advanced on the news (with basically no supporting evidence).
If you think that sequestration and abuse of women is a rarity amongst fundamentalist Mormons, I'll be happy to provide you with links that demonstrate how far this is from the truth.

Here's a recent piece: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/24008870#24008870



PS: In the words of a Child Protective Services spokesperson:
"We had enough information to show a judge that many of these children had in fact been abused and others were in jeopardy."
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2004333934_poly08.html [Broken]
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #10
Art
From what I have read there is no evidence of systematic child abuse. So far there seems only to be the one case involving the guy Barlow. Unfortunately every social grouping has it's share of pedophiles so at first sight it does seem a little over the top to seize every child in the community because of one rotten apple.

If that scatter gun approach, where the many are assumed to share the criminality of the few, was adopted in main stream society there wouldn't be a child in the country left living with their parents.

It doesn't matter if it's 400 FLDS children or 1 Baptist child.
and therein lies the difference. If it was a baptist child only that one would be taken into care not the entire community's children.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #11
BobG
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
110
80
Children and Youth Services (or whatever the local names are) in most localities have, by law, a prime directive: protect the children. In most cases, this means that, if there is an allegation of serious harm (pedophilia counts), they immediately remove the children, then investigate. It doesn't matter if it's 400 FLDS children or 1 Baptist child.
I don't think this falls in the normal realm of Children and Youth Services. For your more normal situations, an allegation of serious harm to one child doesn't result in a search warrant to search an entire town and remove every child in the town.

An allegation of an underaged runaway being forced into prostitution wouldn't result in an entire neighborhood being searched, let alone an entire city.

I'm not sure whether the action is right or wrong, but even attempting to compare this to anything "normal" is fruitless. (In fact, using El Dorado as a precedent for actions in more "normal" communities would be extremely disturbing.)
 
  • #12
BobG
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
110
80
From what I have read there is no evidence of systematic child abuse. So far there seems only to be the one case involving the guy Barlow. Unfortunately every social grouping has it's share of pedophiles so at first sight it does seem a little over the top to seize every child in the community because of one rotten apple.

If that scatter gun approach, where the many are assumed to share the criminality of the few, was adopted in main stream society there wouldn't be a child in the country left living with their parents.

and therein lies the difference. If it was a baptist child only that one would be taken into care not the entire community's children.
I think they have a slightly different definition for pedophile than the rest of the country. They might not rape pre-pubescent girls, but their acceptable age for marriage is lower than 18.

In other words, Barlow isn't unusual and isn't even considered a pedophile within their own community.
 
  • #13
Art
I'm a little concerned by some of the comments coming from Marleigh Meisner. They smack more than a little of zealotry

"We are dealing with many victims, and of course, the setting is different than we're accustomed to," said Marleigh Meisner, spokeswoman for CPS.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23964357/ [Broken]

Victims??? There has been no evidence presented so far that any crime has even been committed much less who the victims are and yet she seems to have jumped past all due process in announcing all the children are victims.

And this doesn't fill one with confidence either

Children's Protective Services spokesman Marleigh Meisner, who said she was also involved in the 1993 siege of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23993440 What a disaster that turned out to be.

She comes across as one of those 'all men are rapists' type of feminist.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #14
1,040
4
This may in fact be Texa size over-reaction, but the removal (they were not seized) of the children is in line with what happens everyday across the US following an allegation (Note: in most locales, it only requires an allegation to trigger this). As a society, most of us decided long ago that the safety of children warrants a several day suspension of adult rights.
 
  • #15
Art
This may in fact be Texa size over-reaction, but the removal (they were not seized) of the children is in line with what happens everyday across the US following an allegation (Note: in most locales, it only requires an allegation to trigger this). As a society, most of us decided long ago that the safety of children warrants a several day suspension of adult rights.
The US Court of Appeal and Supreme Court says otherwise
The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said it best, "The government's interest in the welfare of children embraces not only protecting children from physical abuse, but also protecting children's interest in the privacy and dignity of their homes and in the lawfully exercised authority of their parents." Calabretta v. Floyd, 189 F.3d 808 (1999).
snip
The Fourth Amendment itself spells out the evidence required for a warrant or entry order. No warrant shall issue but on probable cause. The United States Supreme Court has held that courts may not use a different standard other than probable cause for the issuance of such orders. Griffin v. Wisconsin, 483 U.S. 868 (1987).

If a court issues a warrant based on an uncorroborated anonymous tip, the warrant will not survive a judicial challenge in the higher courts. Anonymous tips are never probable cause.
http://www.hslda.org/research/docs/200404020.asp
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #16
lisab
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
1,832
616
Here's an article I refered to in an earlier post:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24009286/

Again, it's just one woman's story. But since it's a closed society, that may be all the insight we're going to get.

The part where she talks about what sounds like waterboarding infants made me cringe. I wonder, was it widely practiced, or just that one sadistic b@astard?
 
  • #17
1,040
4
Calabretta v. Floyd makes it clear that child protective workers can't do this without a warrant, except in an emergency. In Calabretta, there was a significant period of time (I think more than a week) between the allegation and the home entry.

In this vein, you might find the Texas law relevant:
http://www.dfps.state.tx.us/Handbooks/CPS/Files/CPS_pg_5250.asp

And, by the way, I should disclose a personal bias. I consider sex with a child, say under sixteen, by an adult to be deserving of the death penalty. That point of view colors anything I post.
 
Last edited:
  • #18
Art
Calabretta v. Floyd makes it clear that child protective workers can't do this without a warrant, except in an emergency. In Calabretta, there was a significant period of time (I think more than a week) between the allegation and the home entry.

In this vein, you might find the Texas law relevant:
http://www.dfps.state.tx.us/Handbooks/CPS/Files/CPS_pg_5250.asp

And, by the way, I should disclose a personal bias. I consider sex with a child, say under sixteen, by an adult to be deserving of the death penalty. That point of view colors anything I post.
First federal constitutional law trumps state law and in the case cited it says except under exceptional circumstances a warrant is required and that warrants cannot be issued on the basis of anonymous calls. If an anonymous call is insufficient probable cause to obtain a warrant then it is definitely insufficient to claim emergency intervention. Also from your link
or on information supplied by another source and confirmed by the worker
so where was the confirmation??

I agree pedophiles are a blight on society but that doesn't justify discarding due process.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #19
Art
Here's an article I refered to in an earlier post:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24009286/

Again, it's just one woman's story. But since it's a closed society, that may be all the insight we're going to get.

The part where she talks about what sounds like waterboarding infants made me cringe. I wonder, was it widely practiced, or just that one sadistic b@astard?
Or is she just trying to sell her book??

In a newspaper article she also claimed nobody can leave the community - ever. And yet she's living proof that statement was at the very least an exaggeration.
 
  • #20
1,040
4
Calabretta is about a warrantless entry after a significant time period. It has nothing to do with this case.

In your second quote, did you notice the "or"?
 
  • #21
First of all the children and women are not forcefully removed but and are free to go back which many of them probably will. This is not a religion but a cult and the main definition of that is power over people, usually women.
Now, in almost any other cult you can see that this power over women/children creates abuse also on other areas. I am sorry but I think the authorities are handling it very well so far, they are very carefully and do not wait until its too late and the people start drinking cool aid or put themselves on fire.
 
  • #22
Evo
Mentor
22,880
2,378
Okay, is anyone else starting to look askance at this http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/life/religion/5682336.html" [Broken] raid thing? There's been a couple days of reportage on this now and still no journalists are stepping up to the plate with explicit reasoning concerning what justifies taking 401 children away from their parents.
There seems to be some misunderstanding, 133 mothers left VOLUNTARILY WITH THEIR CHILDREN and are all staying TOGETHER at a location provided by the authorities.

Some 133 women left the ranch voluntarily with the children and were being housed at a historic fort here while authorities conduct interviews. Dressed in ankle-length dresses with their hair pinned up in braids, the women milled about Monday as the children played on the fort's old parade grounds

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080408/ap_on_re_us/polygamist_retreat [Broken]
.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #23
Art
First of all the children and women are not forcefully removed but and are free to go back which many of them probably will. This is not a religion but a cult and the main definition of that is power over people, usually women.
Now, in almost any other cult you can see that this power over women/children creates abuse also on other areas. I am sorry but I think the authorities are handling it very well so far, they are very carefully and do not wait until its too late and the people start drinking cool aid or put themselves on fire.
Hmmph someone else who doesn't believe in due process. The old 'Kill them all and let God sort them' out seems very medieval these days. :rolleyes:

If the children are free to return to their parents who in turn are free to return to the compound then why is the CPS in the process of placing the children with foster parents? :confused:
 
  • #24
lisab
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
1,832
616
First of all the children and women are not forcefully removed but and are free to go back which many of them probably will. This is not a religion but a cult and the main definition of that is power over people, usually women.
Now, in almost any other cult you can see that this power over women/children creates abuse also on other areas. I am sorry but I think the authorities are handling it very well so far, they are very carefully and do not wait until its too late and the people start drinking cool aid or put themselves on fire.
Good point. Imagine that this were to come to a point of mass homocide / suicide (as cults sometimes do). If it was revealed that a girl had made a despirate call for help some months previous, all hell would break loose.

The authorities would certainly have some 'splaining to do.
 
  • #25
Art
Good point. Imagine that this were to come to a point of mass homocide / suicide (as cults sometimes do). If it was revealed that a girl had made a despirate call for help some months previous, all hell would break loose.

The authorities would certainly have some 'splaining to do.
Anybody can 'imagine' anything no matter how farfetched which is why it is important to follow the law.

If the law proves to be inadequate then change it but to simply ignore it is a very dangerous slippery slope to start down.
 

Related Threads for: Texas polygamist raid

  • Last Post
Replies
19
Views
4K
  • Last Post
Replies
15
Views
8K
  • Last Post
Replies
9
Views
2K
  • Last Post
2
Replies
42
Views
4K
  • Last Post
2
Replies
41
Views
5K
  • Last Post
Replies
24
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
24
Views
2K
Replies
3
Views
487
Top