April 23, 2008

R. Stacy McCain on that Cult in Texas.

I've avoided commenting on that case, because it cuts a bit too close to the bone. I was, in fact, in a cult for two and a half years—when I was young. I was underage, in case you were wondering. And, yes: I was sexually abused.

But during the entire I was in that "church," I was a human being. The degree to which I had Fourth Amendment rights can certainly be debated, but the adults around me had Fourth Amendment rights. To see those rights trampled upon up close and personal would have been traumatic, and would have spoiled me forever on the State. I'm not sure that either I or the nominal "adults" in R.L. Hymers' church (those over 18) would ever have recovered, had there been a "raid" on our Christian houses.

Stacy McCain:

A kind of Manichean mindset appears to be affecting perceptions of this case. Some people seem to think it's an either-or proposition, and that we must choose to believe one of two things:

The FLDS are harmless and innocent religious eccentrics whose practices are beyond criticism.

... or ...

The FLDS are vicious and dangerous abusers whose practices justify even the most extreme measures by law enforcement.

In other words, this Manichean approach means that our judgment on the actions of Texas officials is made contingent on our opinions of the FLDS. If we think the FLDS are good, then raiding them is bad, and vice-versa.
I reject that approach. Regardless of whether the FLDS are good or evil, they are human beings who have—what was Jefferson's phrase?—"certain unalienable rights." Our rights are not dependent on our popularity; the fat geek has the same rights as the homecoming queen. And freaky religious cultists have the same rights as boring Methodists.

I believe what he's suggesting is that the Bill of Rights doesn't only apply to people we like.

It is a thought to remember.

ALSO: Dr. Shackleford's bogusness detector has been going off. And rightly so.

(Though of course those boring Unitarians might have fewer rights than the rest of us—that's handled in an appendix to the Bill of Rights that few people read any more.)

Posted by Attila Girl at April 23, 2008 10:09 PM | TrackBack

I've spent a lot of time studying and reading about the LDS polygamists. The group in the news is just one of many offshoots. And I am troubled about the way the Texas authorities are handling the cases. I have no doubt that there are, in the FLDS, men (and women) who physically abuse the kids. And, there's probably some sexual abuse too. In any group of 10000 people, there's bound to be.

What makes groups like this tricky is the degree of control exercised by the leaders. When you're told that God has commanded you to marry someone, it's hard to say no. It's harder to escape later with your kids.

And teen girls ordered to marry older men? Sounds like a history of royalty to me. Even recent history--Prince Chuck was in his 30's when he started dating teenaged Di.

The thing is, virtually all of the adults on that ranch want to be there. And we allow adults to raise their kids as the adults choose, within some very specific limits. Yes, the FLDS seems to be run by asshat mysogynist men. And, they take advantage of our welfare laws.

But to me the most serious, virtually unreported crime is that they systematically force out the teenaged boys (unless they're the sons of church leaders).

Posted by: Gordon at April 24, 2008 11:05 AM

yes its a pretty difficult situation. i worry about the kids. thanks for sharing and blessings to you.

Posted by: zoey at April 24, 2008 03:03 PM

But to me the most serious, virtually unreported crime...

And still, that is not even a crime. A selfish and probably despicable practice, but not a crime.

This situation is disturbing. It seems that the alleged "good intentions" of the authorities is all that counts, their many violations of constitutional protections and due process notwithstanding.

My concern is that this is the beginning of something ultimately much broader. It is easy enough to go after a really peculiar sect. Ultimately anyone who does not toe the state line and attempts to live a life apart from broader society will become a "legitimate" target.

Posted by: Desert Cat at April 24, 2008 04:48 PM

"By the time they came for me, nobody was left to stand up."

Posted by: Attila Girl at April 24, 2008 09:36 PM

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic "Let the issues be the issue.

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