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Texas polygamist raid

  1. Apr 8, 2008 #1
    Okay, is anyone else starting to look askance at this Texas polygamist 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.

    Warren Jeffs 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 Extermination Order 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.
     
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  3. Apr 8, 2008 #2

    lisab

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    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.
     
  4. Apr 8, 2008 #3
    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
    Is the purpose of this sect is to provide children as sexual objects to adults? It sounds like it.
     
  5. Apr 8, 2008 #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: Apr 8, 2008
  6. Apr 8, 2008 #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.
     
  7. Apr 8, 2008 #6

    lisab

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    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.
     
  8. Apr 8, 2008 #7
    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: Apr 8, 2008
  9. Apr 8, 2008 #8
    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.
     
  10. Apr 8, 2008 #9

    Gokul43201

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    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:
    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2004333934_poly08.html
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2008
  11. Apr 8, 2008 #10

    Art

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    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.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2008
  12. Apr 8, 2008 #11

    BobG

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    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.)
     
  13. Apr 8, 2008 #12

    BobG

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    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.
     
  14. Apr 8, 2008 #13

    Art

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    I'm a little concerned by some of the comments coming from Marleigh Meisner. They smack more than a little of zealotry

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23964357/

    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

    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: Apr 8, 2008
  15. Apr 8, 2008 #14
    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.
     
  16. Apr 8, 2008 #15

    Art

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    The US Court of Appeal and Supreme Court says otherwise
    http://www.hslda.org/research/docs/200404020.asp
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2008
  17. Apr 8, 2008 #16

    lisab

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    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?
     
  18. Apr 8, 2008 #17
    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: Apr 8, 2008
  19. Apr 8, 2008 #18

    Art

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    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
    so where was the confirmation??

    I agree pedophiles are a blight on society but that doesn't justify discarding due process.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2008
  20. Apr 8, 2008 #19

    Art

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    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.
     
  21. Apr 8, 2008 #20
    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"?
     
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