Texas: Kicking Butt, Taking Names and Violating Rights

Only someone living under a rock wouldn't know about the grave injustices being done to the FLDS in Texas right now. Allow me to summarize for those of you not following the story.

  • A woman claiming to be a 16-year-old mother named Sarah calls in authorities in Texas to report that her 50-year-old FLDS husband beats her on a regular basis.
  • Texas rounds up all of the women and children, arresting none of the men at the FLDS ranch. No charges are actually filed against anyone.
  • In the supposed interest of the children, they are all then separated from their mothers by force (including nursing newborns) without any evidence of abuse or neglect.
  • In the process, they can't find "Sarah", the woman whose call triggered the whole event and they end up miscounting just how many children they have in custody.
  • It's revealed that the call from Sarah might be a hoax perpetrated by a 31-year-old woman in Colorado.

There's been no charges filed against anyone, there have been no arrests or any of the supposed abusive men and I'm sure the children are scared witless. It's hard to believe that any state in America can so thoroughly ignore due process based on an anonymous call that rapidly turns out to be a falsehood. Are the FLDS weird? Definitely. Is there abuse going on? Most assuredly. Is that cause enough to raid their ranch and separate families based on flimsy "evidence"? Hell no.

It sounds like something right out of Soviet Russia, doesn't it? In the midst of the mess, it's become obvious that it's not about protecting children, ending abuse or prosecuting sex crimes: it's about religion. Many of the children were taken away in shuttles from local churches and while housed at said churches, the staff were "witnessing Christ" to them. It becomes even more painfully obvious when you see the kind of drivel being passed out to CPS workers and find out that the judge thinks that LDS and FLDS are the same thing despite rigorous efforts by church authorities to clarify it.

If Texas needs some lessons on how they should have done things, maybe they should have followed our own AG's actions. Per Oldenburg at The Third Avenue

Shurtleff's approach of prosecuting the crimes surrounding the FLDS–child rape, abuse, police misconduct, kidnapping, embezzlement, welfare fraud–and not polygamy in-and-of itself, is a smart one. (And the exact opposite of the Texas approach) The idea is to bring these communities "above ground" and have the women and children in these societies begin to trust the police and prosecutors, and not to think they are going after the polygamists because of their plural marriage practices. This is a tactic, not a policy based on the AG's view of the morality of polygamy.

I feel terrible for the abused whose abusers won't be put behind bars, a repeat of the failed raids in Arizona in 1953. As it stands right now, all Texas has done is violate Constitutional rights and open itself to a massive lawsuit. Good job, guys.

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6 Responses to Texas: Kicking Butt, Taking Names and Violating Rights

  1. Reach Upward says:

    There have been no charges filed yet, but there will be once the state of Texas gets finished interrogating the children. I’m sure that state personnel were eagerly witch hunting in their ‘interviews’ with the FLDS children.

    The FLDS folks aren’t used to dealing with the media and the outside world. Some of their PR campaign might help them, but when one of their men says that they didn’t know it was illegal to marry girls as young as 14, it certainly doesn’t help their cause. It makes people think that they’re getting what they’ve got coming to them. I know plenty of people that feel this way.

    The trouble with this line of thinking is that the violation of any citizen’s rights is a violation of the rights of all of us.

    Specific cases of abuse should be dealt with according to the law. But to punish an entire community for abuses by individuals in that community is unAmerican. I think the Constitution and established case law makes it clear that infractions must be dealt with on an individual basis.

    The real push here is to refuse these people the right of association and to force them into associations they have no wish to be part of. The children are merely a tool for doing that.

  2. Bradley Ross says:

    I’ll admit that I haven’t taken the time to follow the news coverage of this story beyond scanning the headlines. I gather that people are really upset about the way the authorities are handling the situation. I can’t possibly speak to whether those concerns are valid or not.

    That said, I have a certain measure of relief to hear about the potential breakup of this group. I listened to Carolyn Jessop read a chapter from her book “Escape” and I became a big advocate for taking action against this group.

    When Jessop tried to flee the community, she was pursued by an army of FLDS men who seemed intent an taking her children back to the community. They swarmed the places she had been just minutes after she was there. It was like something out of a horror movie.

    If Jessop is to be believed, there is great evil in the FLDS community. I wholly agree with Jesse that we shouldn’t prosecute this matter on religious grounds, but rather on the basis of actual crimes. Again, if Jessop is to be believed, these crimes are not few in number. I don’t expect the Texas authorities are going to have a hard time putting together a very solid case.

    If there is evidence that these mothers were accessory to the abuse of their children, then I have absolutely no problem with the children–of any age–being separated from the mothers.

    You can see Jessop read from her book here:
    http://fora.tv/2007/12/05/Carolyn_Jessop_on_her_Escape_from_the_FLDS

  3. jasonthe says:

    Tom Grover summed this up best on the KVNU For The People blog, saying:

    “It’s not illegal to be weird.”

    If there was a crime, charge someone. If there wasn’t, they should be expediting the process of return those children to their parents and homes.

  4. Shauna says:

    “I don’t expect the Texas authorities are going to have a hard time putting together a very solid case.”

    That may be true, but shouldn’t they have some sort of case before they go in nabbing children? If I called CPS and falsely accused my neighbors of beating their children, don’t you think they’d do some sort of investigation before removing the children from the home? You bet they would.

    And if I were to call the authorities and falsely accuse my husband of beating me, would they take the children away from everyone on my block? That’s one’s a big NO.

    People need to stop looking at this as an FLDS issue and look at it as a community of people who have had their lives ripped apart by local authorities without due process.

    A lot of people think Mormons are weird too.

  5. Reach Upward says:

    I agree with Shauna. As I wrote, the state will be able to come up with charges. I suspect that if the state were so inclined, it could do so with just about any family or community. We have such an amazing plethora of laws regulating family life that every single one of us is probably in violation of something.

    It is important to recognize that the law has a much lower threshhold for removing children from families than it does for charging people with crimes. There only needs to be a suspicion that a child is in “imminent danger of abuse,” whatever that broad statement means. Have you ever yelled at your kids in frustration? They’re in imminent danger of abuse. The state could remove them from your home and prohibit you from seeing them, pending an investigation that could take months or years.

    Judging from the types of cases where the State of Texas refrains from such drastic action, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that the FLDS are not receiving equal treatment under the law.

    As for Ms. Jessop, I must admit that her descriptions are chilling. But then, so are the descriptions of the LDS Church by many ex-Mormons. It’s problematic to ascribe objectivity to disaffected former members of any organization. That does not mean that they should be ignored, but it does mean that any claims must be objectively verified.

  6. Paige says:

    ‘Walther acknowledged the nutritional and bonding benefits of breast-feeding.
    “But every day in this country, we have mothers who go back to work after six weeks of maternity leave,” she said.’

    Does this mean they’re going to supply all those breast-feeding women with $300 double-electric pumps and transport the milk to the foster homes every day? Lots of working mothers are able to continue breast-feeding their babies. To assume or imply working mothers stop breast-feeding after six weeks is ignorant. That being said, these women did not choose to leave their children – they were forced to let them go. It’s impractical to compare the two types.

    I have felt so bad for all those children and women since the news started airing these stories. I would hate to think that as a member of the LDS church, the government would think it appropriate to take my son from me based on my religious beliefs, practices, and a phone call.

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