Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 463, April 13, 2008

"Throw it Together and Go Lie Down"

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Mass Hysteria in Eldorado Texas
by L. Lawrence Baird
with L. Neil Smith

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

Everybody saw it on TV and the Internet: "heroic" federal law enforcement officers "rescuing" hundreds of young women from the "compound" of a "polygamist sect" in Texas, the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints Church, to the unanimous applause of the media hairspray set, and with no one to speak for those the government had singled out.


It made me think of 1969, when I was appointed a district officer for the Toastmasters International Youth Leadership Program. I duly publicized the program, arranged for a meeting room at World Savings & Loan in Lynwood, California and conducted one meeting there. I would have had many more, except that one functionally illiterate security guard decided that I was hosting "young communist meetings", and that ended the program. I had become a victim of mass hysteria—at the time, the accusation that ended all dreams and aspirations was "communist".

When the "communist" label quit working, the government and their media lackeys—or vice versa—were pressed to come up with some new, indisputable accusation by which their enemies could be easily vanquished without trial. Thus we saw the vicious 1993 attack by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation's criminally misnamed "Hostage Rescue Team" on the Branch Davidians for "child abuse" that was never proven—and in fact was repudiated by local law enforcement officials. The one girl who testified to abuse before Congress later recanted her story.

This is not the first massive raid on the FLDS. It happened before in 1953, in Short Creek, Arizona, now known as Colorado City. The raid resulted in the expense of thousands of Arizona government man-hours and millions of taxpayer dollars. Even without the Internet, word spread of the government's abuses in that case, and sympathy turned in the direction of victims of those raids, which led to the end of the career of John Howard Pyle, the Arizona governor who insisted on the raid.

See Kidnapped from that Land by Martha Sonntag Bradley, the story of a young girl who was taken into "protective custody" in the incident.

It's important to understand that the Branch Davidian raid was carried out on the "strength" of a perjured (criminally falsified) affidavit, and that no warrant was ever presented before or during the government assault. History now repeats itself in the Texas Bible Belt. An alleged phone call from an alleged abused child was used as the excuse to issue search warrants for the entire FLDS community, the herding of all the women and children (the count is over 500 at this time) like animals, and the confiscation of all cellular telephones from those who remained. The government claims child abuse, I claim religious intolerance typical of many areas of the South, particularly Texas.

These holier-than-thou Texans accuse their victims of polygamy, which in the past was not just a part of the Mormon faith, but of the entire Judeo-Christian community. (The correct expression, by the way, is actually "polygyny", since none of the women in these cases ever seem to have multiple husbands.) Solomon, King of Israel, and other biblical figures practiced polygyny. According to Wikipedia, Hebrew scriptures document approximately forty polygynists, including such prominent figures as Abraham, Jacob, Esau, and David. Even Martin Luther condoned polygyny in certain circumstances, saying he could not "forbid a person to marry several wives, for it does not contradict Scripture."

Complaints against the FLDS also include arranged, or involuntary marriages, another practice which—whether we like it or approve of it, or not, today—dates back dozens of centuries in Western Civilization, most commonly in royal families, and is still a part of other "advanced" civilizations as this is written. How many of us know an Indian student or professor who (like Apu in The Simpsons) went home to visit his family, only to be saddled with a wife he didn't want?

Lastly, and most effectively, the government attacks the FLDS for the ages of the girls being married. Such an attack sidetracked the career of rock star Jerry Lee Lewis, when British tabloids exposed the age of his second wife Myra (she was 13, and Lewis' first cousin). A little research reveals that Priscilla Beaulieu was pretty young—14—when she began dating Elvis, and Shakespeare tells us that Juliet, the better half of the most famous of all fictional couples, was also 14.

Although we do not necessarily condone such practices—forcing anybody to marry anybody else violates the Zero Aggression Principle, as does the involuntary consummation of such a marriage—they are certainly no reason for the FLDS to be singled out by the jackbooted thugs. The charges leveled at them are the same as those of which the Branch Davidians were accused. There is no more reason to take them at face value in 2008 than there was in 1993. In such cases government is the demonstrable liar and mass-killer. The same cannot be said of its victims.


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