- I waited a week to comment on the Texas case, separating
437 children from their FLDS parents, to see if any substantive evidence
of abuse would emerge. It hasn't. Even if it had, those could have been
handled individually. But no, Texas plans instead to make every member
of the group pay the supreme price: to strip away their beloved children.
This case is about group punishment. In spite of a search warrant tainted
by a false witness (the "Sarah" who doesn't exist), no actual
specific evidence of abuse, or any unwilling participants in this polygamous
compound, a self-righteous Texas judge had decreed that all 400 + children
will not be returned to the custody of their parents. Texas has gone too
far to rid itself of this awkward religious sect that built the "Yearning
for Zion" (YFZ) ranch in order to evade persecution in Utah and Arizona.
- As this tyrannical order clearly meant separating even
nursing children from their mothers, a wave of outrage began to sweep the
nation. The media-savvy judge immediately changed her order (allowing children
under 1 year if age to be nursed) in order to keep the tide of public relations
on the side of the authorities. But this should not deter the nation from
realizing the danger of the tenuous legal proposition that mere membership
in a group (that may have isolated examples of marrying underage girls)
makes all unworthy of possessing any children at all--ever. That is wrong,
especially when legal remedies exist to prosecute specific wrongdoers.
- The local sheriff admitted on television that he had
an "informant" on the inside for over 4 years. That was probably
a disgruntled member of the group who decided to stay on to build up a
case against his fellow church members. If a case can't be built after
four years of informing, and authorities have to rely on a false abuse
phone call to justify this invasion, what does that say about the State's
- The key testimony the judge relied upon was that of Texas
Child Protective Services' Angie Voss who said that at least "five
girls younger than 18 are pregnant or have children." CPS argued under
cross-examination that none of the 400+ children should be allowed to return
to the YFZ ranch because 10 or 12 years down the road they may be subject
to abuse. Incredible! Defense lawyers correctly noted that the state cannot
make such sweeping generalizations about all of these families. Fairness
requires a case by case assessment. In the meantime, Children should be
free to return home with their parents, who have not been accused of any
crime. Criminals get easier release terms and bail than these families.
- Unfortunately, even Sen. Harry Reid, the Senate Majority
leader (and a Mormon who probably has polygamous ancestors) has joined
in the witch hunt and called for Department of Justice assistance to states
in prosecuting polygamists nationwide wherever they may be hiding. I call
this a witch hunt because these people are being judged as a group, mostly
because they can be easily targeted as a group. There is far more abuse
that occurs among the general populace as a whole, but because they are
not part of an organized group, they have to be prosecuted individually--as
it should be. There is no excuse for engaging in group punishment for the
polygamists when their general record of raising fine, well behaved children
is superior to the average public educated family. Individual prosecution
for underage marriage or cohabitation is not that much more difficult than
the typical secretive bigamist--who makes no attempt to take responsibility
for any children.
- Even the suspected perpetrator of the phony abuse calls
(representing herself as "Sarah Barlow") was treated more leniently
by authorities than these Texas families. Rozita Swinton, a 33 year old
black woman, with a history of false reports was allowed out on bail ($20,000
put up by someone yet unknown) and promptly disappeared. An arrest warrant
was issued for her charging her with false reporting to authorities for
an incident in February. Some justice. This makes at least the third time
Swinton has been implicated in these kinds of false reports and she has
never served jail time. She was not arrested for this incident even though
the false call from "Sarah" originated from a phone Swinton has
used in the past to falsify abuse reports. Rod Parker, an attorney and
spokesman for the FLDS Church said Tuesday that "Sarah Barlow doesn't
exist and Dale Barlow lives in Arizona." He correctly noted that the
phone call tainted the search warrant used at the YFZ Ranch, which will
certainly be part of a future legal challenge to the blanket separation
of mothers from children.
- Authorities in Colorado are keeping everything concerning
Swinton sealed in order to avoid embarrassment of Texas authorities who
based their search and seizure warrant on this illegal call for help. Their
reluctance to prosecute Swinton is suspicious. A tape recording of the
call exists. How hard is it to match her distinctive voice to that call?
- There is other evidence as well. Texas Rangers admitted
privately to Child Protection Project founder Linda Walker who took the
call that "she [Swinton] was obsessed with the FLDS." Rangers
confiscated tons of material on the FLDS in the search of Swinton's home.
She had real addresses and real names of FLDS people which is not easy
to get a hold of for someone with limited intellect. Swinton also knew
that the FLDS had doctrinal beliefs that denied their Priesthood to Blacks
and devised racist statements in her call to the Texas abuse hot line so
as to further implicate the FLDS as racists. Because of Swinton's intellectual
limitations (friends describe her as a sort of soft spoken simpleton),
I would not rule out that Swinton may be under the influence of an agent
provocateur working to justify the seizure of children from the YFZ ranch.
- The longer this blanket forced separation of family members
continues, based solely upon the tenuous doctrine of "potential abuse"
for group beliefs, the more dangerous it will become to the rights of all
who are or will become potential dissidents to government tyranny--unless
it backfires and they go too far. That's what happened with the state of
Utah when they shot a polygamist home schooler named John Singer for refusing
to hand over his children to the state who was going to force them into
public schools. The nationwide bad press on the killing forced Utah to
stop prosecuting homeschoolers and finally allow parents the right to educate
- If you think this is only about the evils of polygamy,
consider that Texas authorities prepared a "Cultural Competencies"
tip sheet for Texas social workers engaged in "de-programming"
FLDS children warning them that these cult members would be "fearful
and distrustful of government." Why shouldn't they be, given what
has happened? We should all be deeply concerned.
- The Texas ACLU also weighed in on the case: "While
we acknowledge that Judge Walther's task may be unprecedented in Texas
judicial history [and totally without legal precedent], we question whether
the current proceedings adequately protect the fundamental rights of the
mothers and children,' Terri Burke, executive director of the ACLU of Texas,
said in a written statement. "As this situation continues to unfold,
we are concerned that the constitutional rights that all Americans rely
upon and cherish -- that we are secure in our homes, that we may worship
as we please and hold our places of worship sacred, and that we may be
with our children absent evidence of imminent danger [the current legal
standard] -- have been threatened," Burke said.
- I'm hoping that good people everywhere will realize how
this expansion of child "protective" law threatens every family
whose parents subscribe to any belief system "society" considers
"abusive" and who are members of an identifiable group of similar
believers. "Society" doesn't exist legally, except in the minds
of those who claim (wrongly) that they speak for the majority. This targeting
of dissident groups, if allowed to continue, will eventually encircle almost
all fundamentalist Christians who believe in any form of strict discipline
and spanking, who are home schoolers or who hold to any theory that our
government is in some way an enemy of liberty. Indeed, belief in mere physical
discipline, or patriarchal authority, is one of the "evils" social
workers regularly list as one of the criteria that make for abusive parents,
and thus unworthy to keep their children.
- That said, I do think there is a problem endemic to polygamous
groups relative to the treatment of girls. I've had some experience with
members of these groups. Almost all are constitutional conservatives and
some individual members have attended speeches I have given in the West.
We have to be careful not to stereotype all polygamous groups as the press
tends to do. They have some common beliefs, but vary greatly in how they
are organized and how they function as a group. The ones I have met have
actually been very fine conservative people. They all readily admit that
some polygamous groups are much more authoritarian than others, and that
is why there have been so many splinter groups among them, each trying
to find some form of leadership they are comfortable with. Most often the
problem with the old line groups like the FLDS is with older leaders who
tend to run things with a patriarchal authoritarian mindset. In Biblical
terms, the Lord does endorse patriarchal authority, but it must never be
exercised with unrighteous dominion.
- Notwithstanding problem people or leaders (which isn't
limited to fundamentalists), the FLDS have many admirable qualities. The
children follow an excellent health code, eat natural foods, are well behaved,
clean and well groomed. They are homeschooled and thus shielded from so
many of the evil influences that infect other good Christians who lose
many of their children to the world. There parents are clearly not monsters
the state of Texas seeks to portray in their aggressive attempt to justify
the separation and destruction of these families.
- Arranged marriages occur in only a few of these groups.
Most of the splinter groups run things by normal persuasion. But, the core
problem with any of the groups is that it is a relatively closed circle
relative to available future wives. Despite having large families, polygamists
tend to intermarry within the group because it's very difficult to convert
outside woman to join the group, and they have significant doctrinal and
authoritarian issues with other splinter groups that discourage intermingling.
Those that are raised within the group are the ones most willing to continue
on in this tradition of multiple wives--though a significant number within
the non-authoritarian groups decide not to be polygamous.
- But, even these have trouble breaking with the group
because of strong family and religious ties. Business ties are also hard
to break. Certain polygamist groups are extremely effective at banding
together and forming successful businesses that make a lot of money. This
makes it difficult to break away because they still have a share in the
business ventures, which isn't easily separable from the group.
- What I suspect is happening in this larger FLDS compound
is that there are not many available future wives except these teenage
girls, who are yet unspoken for. Thus, a competition develops as certain
men try to get commitments of marriage out of either the parents or the
girl before someone else does. This leads to very unhealthy competition
and some incentive to intermarry among relatives or enter into underage
marriages. But the solution to this major source of abuse is clear: Regardless
of these people's commitment to polygamy, they need to follow the law relative
to marriage age.
- Various FLDS men have said they are more than willing
to do that, which could swiftly solve this crisis. However, the government
is probably going to use the results of the mandated DNA tests to prosecute
those who have married an underage mother, or close relative, rather than
simply establish paternity as they claim. The authorities wrongfully induced
their "voluntary" participation in the DNA tests by promising
this could lead to the restoration of their children. Instead, I believe
this will only lead to criminal charges, and the state will already have
proof of the illegal relationship. The prosecutions are appropriate where
excessive pressure was involved in the marriage. But if authorities are
going down this route, they should not simply be targeting polygamists.
To be fair, they should be arresting every under-aged pregnant girl in
the state and subject all known male contacts to DNA testing. Of course
they won't do that, proving that they are targeting an unpopular religious
group, rather than seeking to protect all underage girls equally. Sadly
any prosecutions they do will be used to justify condemning the whole group
and painting them all with the same broad brush.
- William Norman Grigg, an immensely talented but often
caustic patriotic writer who used to write for the New American, weighed
in on this subject with exceptional force. Here are a few excerpts from
his blog first addressing the danger of government's unfettered claim to
gathering personal DNA:
- "The Homeland Security Apparatus is now prepared
to act on the claim that our very genetic material is the collective property
of society, requiring us to surrender DNA samples whenever a pretext can
be found. (This opens up all kinds of possible mischief, beginning with
the claim, recently upheld in New York, that genetic evidence is sufficient
grounds for a criminal indictment.) The same is true of other individual
biometric signifiers, such as fingerprints. Commissar for Homeland Security
"Mikhail" Chertoff -- who received his post at Homeland Security
after helping to build the Regime's torture apparatus [see story below]
-- insists that fingerprints are not 'personal data,' and thus can be collected
by the Regime and shared with other national security systems as our rulers
- This is all leading to the Orwellian "Newborn Screening
Saves Lives Act of 2007" a proposed piece of dangerous legislation
where government plans to mandate newborn testing for DNA anomalies and
then consider the collected DNA as government property, free to share with
whomever it chooses.
- Grigg then turns to the "Texas Child Snatchers"
directly. "The Texas Department of Child Abduction, sometimes wittily
referred to as the Department of Protective and Family Services, has announced
that as soon as it has extracted DNA samples from the FLDS child captives
they will be placed in foster care. In many instances this will require
tearing newborn or nursing infants out of the arms of their mothers:
- "'Some FLDS mothers with nursing babies and toddlers
may be unaware that they will be forced to leave their children behind
once Texas officials gather the DNA samples from them..' As with every
other act of government coercion, this unspeakably cruel crime will be
accompanied by the threat of lethal violence.... The above-quoted Mrs.
Jessop has described an attempt she made yesterday with a group of mothers
to visit their children, who are being held prisoner at the San Angelo
Coliseum. They were -- to use a phrase made offensive by its dishonest
delicacy -- 'turned away by law enforcement.' Which is to say that they
were threatened with lethal violence by the State's rented thugs: 'They
told us if we went on that property again we would be arrested.'
- "To get a sense of the pure, unalloyed evil being
wrought by 'law enforcement' in this matter, we turn to the indispensable
blog published by Brooke Adams of the Salt Lake Tribune. 'We watched as
this woman was greeted by younger women, all hugging her, obviously going
to her for comfort, crying,' writes Adams. 'From afar, we had no idea who
they were or what they were doing or what the emotions playing out were.'
The name of the woman being embraced is Janet.
- "'She has five children in state custody, three
girls and two boys. The girls are ages 9, 13 and 16. The boys are 11 and
15. This is what she said about that moment: 'I was in the shelter and
had girls in the other one. They told me my two girls were running for
me and I went across to hug them. Instantly I had eight police men around
me. I was just hugging them.' These women and children have neither been
accused of a crime, nor convicted of one. Yet they are being treated like
inmates in one of the nouveau gulags called Supermax Prisons. It occurs
to me that this is the kind of situation in which a writ of habeas corpus
would be appropriate... if, that is, the habeas corpus guarantee still
existed in this once-free country.
- "The 437 kidnapped children, and more than 100 detained
mothers, are being compelled to undergo DNA testing -- despite the fact
that not a single one of them has been accused of a crime. Barbara Walther,
the same judge who authorized that outrage [and thus has every incentive
to see it justified], ruled yesterday that FLDS mothers of nursing children
would not be permitted to breastfeed their infants. After all, sniffed
the judge with the refined disdain persons so often display when dealing
with mere people, 'every day in this country, we have mothers who go back
to work after six weeks of maternity leave.' [She has since modified this
ruling, but her limit of nursing children to less than one year old shows
a decided ignorance or disdain for the overall health and birth control
benefits of longer periods of nursing.]"
- Commenting with acid tongue accuracy Grigg continues:
"Lavishing such individualized attention on a youngster is unhealthy,
after all. If he's fed, raised, educated, and cared for by his own parents,
he won't be properly socialized; that is to say, he won't be taught to
think of himself as part of the people. Why, a child in such circumstances
tends to think of himself as a person without being given permission to
- "Yesterday, in a scene of unfathomable cruelty,
about 100 FLDS children were loaded on to buses with tinted windows and
taken from their temporary prison... In fact, the kidnappers of those children
were beginning the process of redistributing the captives to foster homes
scattered across Texas. Imagine, for a second, the clinical indifference
to the suffering of children that one must display in order to do such
a thing to innocent children kept ignorant of their fate.
- "And then ask yourself how, in the name of anything
anybody considers holy, can any rational human being -- any intelligent
person -- look upon the government ruling us as anything other than our
implacably evil enemy. Bear in mind that we're talking about a government
that -- without a legally defensible rationale -- had dispatched a heavily-armed
party of raiders to surround their property and abduct their children.
Why on earth would anybody be 'distrustful' toward people who would seize
his children at gunpoint? Oh, but I see I've got the categories wrong:
It was the officially recognized persons who committed those acts, so the
people belonging to the FLDS church had no right to complain, and were
obligated to display child-like trust and canine submissiveness."
- Commentary And Insights On A Troubled World
- Copyright Joel Skousen. Partial quotations with attribution
permitted. Cite source as Joel Skousen's World Affairs Brief (http://www.worldaffairsbrief.com )