Typically, fundamentalist polygamists have tried to keep themselves exempt from the ways of "the wicked world." But the alleged crimes of polygamous patriarchs have eroded their insular world, placing polygamists under scrutiny. And patriarchs have retaliated. In the past week, a series of controversies have proved that polygamists can sling mud with the most seasoned politicians. When FLDS apostate Dan Fischer testified against his former sect before the Senate Judiciary Committee, sect attorneys filed fourteen affidavits from his children and his former plural wives accusing Fischer of lies, non-support, and abuse.
When Mary Ann Nelson brought a $110 million suit against the Kingston polygamous clan for abuse related to trying to force her to marry her uncle, the Kingston clan retaliated with its own defamation suit for statements made in her 2004 press conference.
The controversy surrounding measures taken by Bruce Wisan, the court-appointed trustee of FLDS assets, underscores the fact that life for polygamists will never again be so secretive or secluded. For the first time, people who have lived in their great-grandparents homes are being asked to pay taxes and maintenance fees. School boards are being asked to account for funds and educational practices. The books of their lives have been opened to the eyes of the law and the world.
Meanwhile, polygamous patriarchs are fighting fire with fire. It seems that these people, counseled by their leaders to "stay out of the courts," to "answer them nothing" when approached by the media, and to "keep sweet" have succumbed to the ways of the world.
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