Grits has called us out to comment on the West Texas Polygamy case. I certainly appreciate a good prodding now and then. Scott, this is what I think.
First, I'm against polygamy. I'm against 14 and 15 year old girls having sex with 50 year old men. I'm against women being raised in a sheltered environment to believe their God-given purpose in life is to serve the needs of men. I'm against many things I don't agree with. But I'm also against the government sticking their nose into places it doesn't belong. I'm against searches and seizures based on less than probable cause. I'm against a set-up. I'm also against Child Protective Services imposing their moral worldview upon others through the use of powerful governmental resources. Who are we to impose our morality on people who want to live their lives separate from the world they view as hostile and sinful?
It's difficult not to be torn. Although many religious sects live their lives separate from mainstream society, we certainly don't want people using their religion as a justification for exploiting their young. Of course, where does one draw the line between freedom and exploitation? A tough question.
The problem is how to allow people to live in freedom, yet police their liberty enough to prevent injustices. If a seventeen year old girl wants to marry a 50 year old man, who are we to say no? I don't agree with it, and I'll say so, but imposing my moral worldview on others rubs me the wrong way. The trouble, again, comes when human beings use religion and freedom to exploit others, including their own. But like I said earlier, where does exploitation begin?
Beyond this, the initial entry and search of the West Texas compound couldn't look more like a set-up. A 16 year old complainant who they can't find and can't identify? A supposed 50 year old abusive "husband" who's living in Arizona at the time? Come on. I imagine law enforcement and CPS were just waiting for a chance to get onto this ranch and round up the usual suspects.
Furthermore, the idea of the Texas court system bearing the burden of this mess is beyond my comprehension. While the cops and CPS were itching to make THEIR mark on this isolated community, I suppose nobody gave any thought to the burden of placing 416 children in foster homes. (many of which have living conditions worse than where the kids came from in the first place)
So I don't have any answers right now. I just didn't want you to think we weren't thinking about these problems. Maybe things will become clearer as time goes on.