Monday, April 21, 2008

'Searching for Sarah'

Suspected hoaxer Rozita Swinton is the subject of my latest American Spectator Online article:
"Nothing catches an editor's eye like a good rape," gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson once observed, and this month's lurid tales of teenage girls ritually raped in the temple of a Texas polygamist cult caught editors' eyes around the world.
"Documents: Sect married girls at puberty," declared the headline on an April 8 Associated Press story, while the online version of the Everett, Washington, Daily Herald featured this April 10 headline: "Texas cult's girls required to have sex in temple." . . .
Bizarre and illegal though the FLDS sect's practices may be, however, no one at the "Yearning For Zion Ranch" has yet been charged with rape, polygamy, or any other sex crime.
In fact, the only person arrested in connection with the April 4 raid on the 1,700-acre Texas compound is a Colorado woman whose hoax phone calls may be the source of those tales of ritual rape that unleashed a global epidemic of leering headlines.
Officials say Rozita E. Swinton is a "person of interest" in the cult case, and reports of her arrest strongly suggest that it was the 33-year-old Swinton who called a domestic-abuse hotline in Texas, identifying herself as "Sarah Jessop Barlow." . . .
Read the whole thing, please. Different people react to this case in different ways. After reading the draft of my Spectator article, my wife was deeply disturbed by the thought of young children who'd never been away from their mothers being placed into foster care. I suspect that's a common reaction among mothers, however much they reject and condemn the polygamist practices of the FLDS.

It was interesting to write a feature article about a subject that I'd blogged about frequently over the past few days, and the experience illuminates the differences between blogging and journalism. I intend to write about that later, but I've got a freelance reporting assignment today -- Harrisburg, here I come! -- and so blogging will be light until Tuesday.

In the meantime, I'd encourage you to check out the American Spectator blog, or perhaps peruse my previous blogging on the Texas FLDS case:

4/20: 'Are the Amish next?'
4/19: Texas cult: The 'Oprah' factor
4/19: 'Underage sex cult'
4/18: Obama delegate in cult hoax?
4/18: Texas cult case: Where's Sarah?
4/14: Polygamy cult custody case
4/11: Texas teen sex cult update
4/10: Cult's sick sex temple
4/9: Not in the Constitution
4/9: 'Spiritually married'?

UPDATE: My Friday post about Swinton as Obama delegate has been linked by something called "Rezko Watch," a site that a cynic might suspect as a front for the Clinton campaign. Frankly, I don't care if "Resko Watch" is a front for the Chinese Communist Party. Just link me baby -- I'm all about the traffic. (Cynic? Who, me?)

Also, I stumbled onto some interesting comments in a debate over the Texas cult among Protein Wisdom commenters:
  • Gamera: FOXnews said that there are 20 pregnant children under the age of 18 among the 400+ kids removed from the ranch.
  • Thor: Child abuse is associated with being pregnant and under 18? [Abusive epithet.] East L.A. would have to be stormed with the National Guard.
  • Spies, Brigands, and Pirates: 20 out of 400? 5%? I wonder how that compares to the proportion in a garden-variety high school? . . . Answer: the overall pregnancy rate among American teens is 7.5%. For black teens, it’s 13.4%, for Hispanics it’s 13.1%.
See? You can get an education by reading blogs. Take notes, kids. This might be on your final exam.

1 comment:

  1. That Spies post isn't giving you an education - it's hoping people are fools. He's making a completely inacurate conclusion based on misusing statistics.

    He mentions the female TEEN pregnancy rate (15-19 with more of those in the older end of that). Those 400 AREN’T ALL TEENS (ALL ages up to 17) and AREN’T ALL FEMALE.
    The rate for the children seized would be closer to 50% based on those simple numbers.
    400/17 years = ~23 children/ year * 3 years of “teenage” (15, 16, 17) = 70.6 teenagers
    70.6/2 genders = 35.3 female teenagers.
    Hm. 20/35.3 doesn’t sound so great does it?
    The rate for Texas is 62 pregnancies per 1000 teenage females.
    20 out of 400 children in the compound averages to close to 567 pregnant per 1000 teenage females.