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Too Soft on Polygamy?

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Too Soft on Polygamy?

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Having sparked indignation on some readers’ parts, I’d like to clarify a few things:  I am not a proponent of polygamy.  Also, I’m totally concerned about protecting children from child abuse.  If you’ll refer to my article in the May issue of Marie Claire you’ll see that I’ve devoted the whole article to revealng and hopefully righting at least one of the wrongs perpetrated by Warren Jeffs and his ilk, in the case of Teressa Wall Blackmore who FLDS leaders are punishing by trying to take her children away because she testified against Jeffs.  If you refer to the December issue of Marie Claire or any of my books, you’ll see that I chose not enter polygamy, and that my writing life has often been dedicated to illuminating the dark shadows around this outlawed way of life.  (By the way, the blog entitled “Those Lonely Polygamists” was tongue-in-cheek.  But I should know that people often lose their sense of humor about polygamy.)

I don’t advocate polygamy.  I chose not to live it myself, I did my best to keep my daughters away from it, and I rejoiced when my mother left the fundamentalist group where she played piano for religious meetings for sixty-five years.  I think it’s almost impossible to achieve male/female partnership in a polygamous marriage.  But what I think doesn’t keep people from choosing to live plural marriage. People have practiced polygamy for millennia.  Until the twentieth century, two-thirds of the planet allowed polygamy among its cultural choices.  Even in post-modern America, people practice polygamy in one form or another: through serial marriages, through affairs, or by not legally marrying a series of connubial partners. That said, what I’m doing here is shedding some light on the way fundamentalists think and the way their systems are organized. Through education, we can keep this way of life from slipping underground where predators like Warren Jeffs rule.

When it comes to child abuse, I am generally concerned about how we treat our children in America, and I’m especially concerned for the children of polygamy.  I want them freed from those who would appropriate their lives (including their bodies)--the patriarchs, their mothers, and anyone else (including any ambitious CPS official) who imposes their expectations. I want the children to have real choices.  I want them to receive proper schooling, medical attention, and counseling.  And I want the government to treat them like real children, instead of pawns to be moved around as a means of punishing their polygamous parents and eradicating the religious beliefs that gave them life. 

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