Tuesday, April 15, 2008

ALERT: Texas Child Abuse

I've been very concerned about the raid on the polygamous sect in Texas since the moment it began.... for a lot of reasons.

Certainly the hold that Warren Jeffs, the now imprisoned leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, has had over his followers, especially the women and children, is cause for great concern. Forced marriages and pre-arranged marriages between young teens and older men offends us all. And the horror stories from women and children who've escaped the cult-like religion are terrifying.

But, this raid seems to have been based on faulty, misleading or nonexistent information. And the resulting horror now being forced on 416 children and their mothers by Texas Department of Child Protective Services (CPS) is potentially much worse. Children are being forcibly separated from their mothers and crowded into living conditions that are simply pathetic.

The size of the relocation and the coming massive legal actions will do tremendous damage to the children. The Texas and federal officials were simply totally unprepared when they invaded the Yearning for Zion Ranch. Like the US troops that invaded Iraq, they were expecting massive resistance, but never figured out what to do once the families and children surrendered.

ABC NEWS is reporting today:

More than two dozen women who belong to a reclusive polygamous sect said in a rare public appearance that they felt lied to by state officials and pleaded for their 416 children to be returned to them.

The women returned to the sect's West Texas ranch Monday night after state officials separated them from their children who were taken into state custody after a raid on the compound last week.

Many of them sobbing, several of the mothers told ABC News that they weren't able to say goodbye to their children before being given the option to return to their ranch or be sent to another shelter.

"All we want is our children back, clean and pure," said a woman who identified herself as Sarah and said her five children were still in the state's shelter. "The last thing we have is our children."

This is being badly mishandled by the State of Texas and their CPS. FOX NEWS Reports:

"They said, 'your children are ours,"' said the sobbing 32-year-old whose three sons are aged 9, 7 and 5 and who would not give her last name. "We could not even ask a question."

She said the children at the ranch have not been abused, but she feels like "they are being abused from this experience." She said the children have been "have been so protected and loved."

The women believe the abuse complaint that led to the raid came from a bitter person outside their community.

What was needed here was a lot more investigation and a lot less Rambo-style raiding and massive relocation of children into poor conditions and terrifying isolation.

The State of Texas is crossing a dangerous line. While we fight on the left for more freedoms and opportunities for gays and lesbians and a greater choice of lifestyles and marriages, things are happening in Texas which seem to deprive us all of freedoms and civil rights and due process.

Are we damaging children in the name of protecting them? Are we denying people their civil rights?

I recognize that this post might make me very unpopular with both my readers on the left and on the right. Equating the plight of this polygamist cult with the fight for gay rights, women's rights and religious freedom may offend many people. But you cannot demand freedom for one group without at least protecting the civil rights of another, even when you disagree with their beliefs. No, ESPECIALLY if you disagree with their beliefs.


The Dancing Patriot said...

Google "police officer charged" then add whatever crime comes to mind. Try child rape, assault, abuse, child neglect, child abuse, beating, abuse of a corpse, etc. You'll find thousands of results.

Post traumatic stress disorder as well as substance abuse is a recognized occupational hazard of being a police officer.

Obviously the families, spouses and children of every police officer is at a much greater risk and very likely a victim already! We the POLICE STATE must immediately segregate the potential victims from their suspected abusers and interrogate them immediately! If we do not get the answers we suspect during the first week, we should separate the families further and institute more aggressive questioning until we get the answers we KNOW to be true.

the WIZARD, fkap said...

the dancing patriot.... You make an excellent point, one that I'm about to echo in my next post (although I hadn't thought of the police officer's family as an example).

You are totally correct. Our prosecution of this case is arbitrary and hardly protects the most vulnerable among us.

Thanks for reading and commenting here today. I hpope you'll stop by often.

Vigilante said...

The key concept is law enforcement. Protective services for children is a matter of great concern, and so Wizard's point is well-taken. The two objectives turned out to be incompatible in the case of the Branch-Dividians, circa 1992. I recall, at that time, on that day, I was in favor of the final raid occurring. I was shocked at the result, of course. However, that's another story.

Utah Savage said...

I have an unusual perspective on this situation, since I know the youngest daughter of a Salt Lake polygamist family. It's a gift that keeps on giving. My friend's, well call her April, mother is related to the Jeffs. Sounds like a close connection, but scratch any polygamist, do a DNA sample, and they are mostly related.

I have been a dinner guest of the 93 year old great, great grandmother of thousands, and listened to her stories. My friend, April, is endlessly going to baby showers and birthdays, and anniversaries and funerals. She barely has time to work. This family is connected to the Colorado City group that Warren Jeffs left with many men's "wives" and children. This is what patriarchy and family values gets you in the most extreme of american fundamentalist traditions--women and children as interchangeable parts to be taken "husbands" as punishment and reassigned to other men as reward, relocated and kept isolated, uneducated, fearful, and completely dependent. The first time a girl child menstruates she is ready for marriage. This marriage takes place in their temples, a modern day sacrificing of the virgin. I started my period at eleven--that would have made me some prime chicken for an old fart with ten or twelve wives. This is some mighty fine liberty and civil rights you are espousing here. Let's have a talk at my place, because I have a very different take on this story and I'm a lot closer and quite well informed on the topic. Much like the word Blog, from weblog we have shortened the word Polygamist to Plig or Pligs. Mormons are Mos. Not meant to be offensive, just giving you a little taste of Utah slang.