Sunday, April 20, 2008

'Are the Amish next?'

Reacting to the Texas FLDS case, a California reader e-mails to ask, "Are the Amish next?" and adds:
By the way -- aren't there statistics about 13 year olds having babies in the inner cities? And girls that young going to Planned Parenthood.
The mothers of "some" of the inner city pre-teens are on drugs etc.
At least these Texas mothers don't teach their kids to smoke dope.
Excellent point. According to one recent report, Texas had the nation's highest teen pregnancy rate in 2004, and it wasn't because of religious cults:
In the latest statistics available, 24 percent of the state's teen births in 2004 were not the girl's first delivery. . . .
Erandy Gonzalez, 17, of Oak Cliff, could almost be the poster girl for Texas' challenges. She is Hispanic, and Hispanics by far have the highest teen birth rates of any ethnic group. She is the mother of a 15-month-old girl and is pregnant again.
In 2004, Hispanic girls ages 15 to 19 accounted for 61 percent of teen births even though only 39 percent of Texas adolescents were Hispanic, according to the federal National Center for Health Statistics.
Got that? If you're a pregnant Texas teenager named Gonzalez, the Dallas Morning News interviews you for a feature story. If you're a pregnant Texas teenager named Sarah, the SWAT team kicks down your door and arrests your parents.

Both Hispanic culture and FLDS culture seem to encourage early childbearing, but only one of these cultures is labeled a "cult" and targeted for paramilitary raids.

Considering the prevalence of teen pregnancy in Texas and judging from the way the FLDS case is being handled, it would appear that Texas child-protection officials are not so much concerned about teen sex or teen pregnancy -- it's teen marriage that they consider an abomination.

This very common contemporary attitude -- that it's OK for teenagers to screw around as long as they don't get married -- reminds me of I Timothy 4:
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry . . .
Of course, I guess I need to be careful about quoting apocalyptic prophecies, since somebody's liable to label me a "cult" and next thing you know, there'll be a tank in my driveway and TV news choppers hovering overhead.

One of the funniest items to come from the FLDS hearing is a sentence in this brief Associated Press report:
Earlier, a children's cult expert testified that the belief system at the polygamous compound is abusive and that teen girls are trained to be obedient and compliant.
Obedient teenagers? Whoever heard of such a thing? Clearly, this must involve unimaginable abuse.

Also, the AP story quotes a witness who testified Friday that a bed in the FLDS temple -- which Texas officials had suggested was part of some bizarre sex ritual --"is for naps during the sect's long worship services." Given my own habit of nodding off during sermons, maybe I should suggest this idea to our pastor.

BTW, speaking of culture, in Australia, they're giving Norplant contraceptives to 12-year-old aboriginal girls:
The Mayor of Woorabinda, Roderick Tobane, says he knows of six girls under 16 who have received the implants and says their parents have taken a mature attitude.
"[They are] acknowledging that their children are sexually active and they're putting measures in place to make sure that their children don't get pregnant," he said.
Send in the Texas SWAT teams!

UPDATE: Evidence mounts that Obama delegate Rozita Swinton made the hoax calls that led to the Texas raid:
Rozita Swinton, 33, gave a statement to Texas Rangers, who also seized evidence from her Colorado Springs apartment. While authorities would not say specifically what was in Swinton's home, the Texas Department of Public Safety said in a statement issued late Friday that the officers found "several items that indicated a possible connection between Swinton and calls regarding the FLDS compounds in Colorado City, Ariz., and Eldorado, Texas." . . .
Anti-polygamy activist Flora Jessop said she recorded hours of phone calls between herself and a 16-year-old girl named "Sarah," who claimed to be pregnant and in an abusive plural marriage to an older man. Jessop told the Deseret News she got the first call on March 30 — a day after a family crisis shelter first received a similar call.
The call to the family crisis center triggered the raid on the YFZ Ranch, where 416 children were taken into state protective custody. The man named in the phone calls, Dale Barlow, was questioned in Utah by Texas Rangers and has yet to be arrested.
So this whole thing apparently began with a Colorado hoaxer who became obsessed with the FLDS cult (probably, I surmise, after watching an "Oprah" episode about polygamy that aired in November). Dale Barlow is in Utah and doesn't seem to be a suspect, so what about the 416 children seized in the Texas raid?
"What we're hearing from DPS is that it is a possibility (that Swinton is 'Sarah'), but we don't have any concrete evidence of that," Shari Pulliam, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Family Services, said Saturday. . . .
But then notice how Ms. Pulliam's concern about "concrete evidence" shifts rather strategically:
Regardless of whether "Sarah" is real or not, Texas child welfare authorities said it does not have any bearing upon their case now.
"Our basis is what we found when we got onto the ranch. That is the numerous teenage girls that had been sexually abused and groomed to marry," Pulliam said.
Ah! So she's not willing to believe that Swinton is a hoaxer until she has "concrete evidence," yet she offers only assertions about the "sexually abused" girls. I hate to keep repeating myself, but I will: If Texas officials believe any of the FLDS girls have been abused, all they have to do is ask the judge to order OB-GYN exams. Since the family services officials are so doggone adamant about these abuse charges, why have there been no medical exams of the alleged victims?

A week ago, Texas officials were proclaiming to the world that every FLDS girl was ritually raped and impregnated as soon as she reached puberty. Have the family services people found even one 15-year-old with stretch marks on her belly? A 14-year-old with a Caesarian scar, maybe?

To repeat myself once more, this is starting to look like a Texas-style McMartin Preschool case.

UPDATE II: The Pentagon gave $1.7 million in contracts to FLDS-connected firms.

UPDATE III: At Jawa Report, commenter/guest-blogger Good Lt. warned commenters against going too far with the "presumed innocent" angle on the FLDS, citing the testimonials and court records of the cult's abuses, and saying "just be careful about how far you're willing to go to bat for these loons." I responded in the comments:
I, for one, am not "going to bat for these loons."
To me, the issue is whether Texas officials are justified in seizing custody of all 416 children from the FLDS ranch.
You say, "There are court documents showing that girls as young as 13 have been impregnated." Show me those documents, please. Why aren't those documents posted on Smoking Gun, as were the affidavits that contained all those lurid allegations from "Sarah"?
The Texas officials seem to have created a climate of hysteria in order to justify the seizure of all the FLDS children. And the hoax "Sarah" call was Exhibit A in this hysteria. Now the Family Services people have gotten what they wanted, but where are the actual abuse victims? For that matter, where are the suspected abusers? To my knowledge, no one at the Texas FLDS ranch has been charged with any crime. So you have children (over 100 of them under age 4) being seized by the state, and yet the state has identified neither criminals nor victims.
My arguments have nothing to do with a defense of "loons," and everything to do with a profound suspicion of bureaucratic overkill by Family Services.
And Good Lt. responded in the main thread:
Don't interpret this as my advocacy of rampant government intervention in the affairs of strange religious groups. Let's just say that I'm with the former child brides and ex-FLDS members on this one, and other anecdotal and historical evidence -- including the leader of the cult being convicted of accomplice to rape of a 14 year old with previous members of the cult being convicted of similar crimes in the past -- establishes a pattern of alleged and confirmed abuses by this group that are cause enough to err on the side of the kids and women locked up behind the fences.
An entirely valid perspective, and one that I share, insofar as the suspicion of child abuse is not used as an excuse for government abuse. That's why I keep reiterating that Texas officials are seeking permanent state custody of all 416 children from the FLDS compound.

However pervasive abuse might be within FLDS, can it really be true that all 416 children -- boys and girls from infancy to age 17 -- are abuse victims? Does mere membership in FLDS, or residence at the cult's Texas compound, constitute proof of abuse?

Finally, a lot of my interest in the Texas FLDS story is from the media-criticism perspective. When the affidavits and search warrant were first made public, the MSM jumped to the conclusion -- and, frankly, I followed along -- that not only was every allegation true, but that these lurid allegations were merely the tip of a ritualistic iceberg of bizarre kinkiness at the Texas compound.

I'm always wary when prosecutors (or defense attorneys) attempt to "try their case in the media." That tactic is generally a harbinger of bad outcomes, which is why I keep citing the McMartin Preschool case.


  1. This reminds me very much of the "Wenatchee sex ring/ devil worship" a few years ago in Washington state. A lot of innocent folk had their lives ruined by the false accusations of a policeman's foster daughter. Child Protective Service went into full- on hysteria and the press sucked up every accusation as gospel. A year or two later the Wall Street Journal ( if I recall correctly it was Peggy Noonan)ran a story about the vast inconsistency's in the accusations. Subsequently, EVERY ONE of the defendants with enough money to hire a lawyer was found innocent. The unlucky few who were poor Hispanic laborers and pleaded guilty under enormous duress were sentenced to prison. A modern day version of the Salem witch trials.

  2. Obviously, this act from Obama's delegate was a cheap shot at The mormom ex-candidate who may be the running mate for MCain. According to my research, the FLDS church is not a mormon church because these people left the mormon church in 1875. We need to know how low Obama supporter will go. This is scarry. America is becoming just like the old Russia KGB. DESTROY YOUR ENEMIES AT ANY COST!!!!