Saturday, April 19, 2008

'Underage sex cult'

Once again, the British press demonstrates its superiority at tabloid headline writing:
Brilliant: Put "sex" and "children" within a couple of words of each other in a headline, and you'll be getting Google-search traffic for years.

Where the Fleet Street boys go for blatant sensationalism and exploitation, the American press sticks with bland incompetence:
A judge ruled Friday evening that 416 children seized by authorities during a raid on a polygamous sect's compound are at risk of sexual abuse if they stay with the group and must remain in state care.
Texas District Judge Barbara L. Walther's ruling came after a chaotic two-day hearing that featured several hundred lawyers and two buildings filled with witnesses, reporters and members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a sect that broke away from the Mormon Church in the 1930s. Its members believe in divinely inspired, polygamous marriage involving underage girls.
Walther ordered sect members to provide DNA samples for maternity and paternity tests. State witnesses testified that more than 20 of the children involved appeared to have been born to underage mothers. And authorities have said that it has been difficult to sort out family ties because the children have given vague answers since being taken into custody.
In other words, according to Texas officials, the FLDS parents are guilty until proven innocent and if their children -- more than 100 of whom are under age 4 -- give "vague answers," that will be construed as further evidence of guilt.

Why is nobody questioning this judge's order for DNA testing? It's going to take weeks for a lab to process and compare the DNA for 416 children and their parents. If officials have reason to suspect that any minors at the FLDS compound have given birth, routine OB-GYN examinations can determine that pretty easily. Stretch marks? Lactation? For crying out loud, if there are any 15-year-old mothers in the FLDS and a physician can't tell from a pelvic exam whether they've given birth, the doctor's license should be revoked.

The characteristic incompetence of the MSM is apparent not only in the complete lack of common-sense skepticism toward the actions of the judge and the Texas child-protection workers, but also in their apparent indifference to the hoax-call angle.

A Colorado woman has been arrested for making fake calls about the Texas FLDS cult -- whether she was the alleged 16-year-old abuse victim "Sarah" has not yet been revealed -- but that's not even mentioned until the 10th paragraph of the story!

Isn't that kind of important? A search warrant possibly based on a hoax call results in 416 children being ripped from their parents' arms, and the potential hoax is relegated to the 10th paragraph, after the reporter has already found space to tell us that the FLDS women appeared in court "dressed in full-length dresses and sporting tightly plaited hair." What? Are these women being charged with violating the Texas Fashion Code?

It's easy to sneer at the nudge-nudge innuendo of the British tabloids, but the American press has no right to claim superiority.

UPDATE: This was probably inevitable:
National polygamy rights leader, Mark Henkel, who is the Founder of the (non-Mormon) organization, offered clarity and balance to all media reporting on the raid of the Mormon-based sect in Eldorado Texas, the FLDS. Said Henkel, "As we have always made clear, the national polygamy rights movement for consenting adults has always opposed the FLDS, its leader Warren Jeffs, and any underage marriage. Although the government tactics of the raid itself raise very alarming and troubling questions, that does not change our view of the FLDS itself. The FLDS do not represent polygamy, polygamists, or the polygamy rights movement whatsoever."
Is "polygamy rights" the next frontier of the sexual revolution? And if so, will the Texas cult case result in some sort of landmark Supreme Court ruling?


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