No Country for Free Men

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I picked up my local paper this Sunday only to find a half-dozen “background” articles on the polygamists who have recently been shown what Texas-style hospitality looks like. I was treated to various articles on the history of the group’s leaders and their persecution by state officials in Arizona, Colorado and now finally, Texas. Of course, it wasn’t called persecution. The raid was said to be an act of kindness for young women who are forced to marry against their will. These evil, evil, men, women and children are refusing to bow down to the state and conform to societal norms so they must be punished, apparently.

The raid, executed by machine gun-toting, tank-driving county Sheriffs ripped 416 children away from their mothers so that the State child “protective” services could question them and discover whether or not they were being abused. There are some beginning to question whether the state’s action was itself abuse, but these are like cries in the wilderness.

The entire ordeal was justified by authorities who acted upon a second-hand report of a desperate 16-year-old girl claiming to have been abused by a man who wasn’t even in the state of Texas and hasn’t been for over a year.

“The April 3 raid on the Yearning For Zion Ranch was prompted by a call made to a family violence shelter, purportedly by a 16-year-old girl who said her 50-year-old husband beat and raped her. That girl has never been identified.” [emphasis added].

It gets worse. The girl may have actually been 33-year-old Rozita Swinton, who has a history of hysterical calls into authorities which have mobilized them to action in more than one state. You would think that these shocking facts would cause a great deal of embarrassment for Texas law enforcement officials, but it doesn’t seem to have fazed them in the slightest. The judge at the initial arraignment has ordered every child to undergo DNA tests while also separating them from their mothers.

But of course, none of these officials has the decency to be embarrassed. They are counting on the fact that what the FLDS does is unpopular. It doesn’t matter that their warrant was totally unjustified as long as they can count on the media to carry their smears about those they’ve targeted. This is very similar to what happened with Vernon Howell [aka David Koresh] and his church near Waco, TX. We can breathe a little easier since Janet Reno wasn’t anywhere near a place of authority during the raid.

What makes this situation hardest to bear is that the FLDS has a lot to answer for politically. While it may seem that they’re fairly innocent — they just want to practice their religion in peace — they are victimizing us Texans. While I don’t have any problem with people who want to practice polygamy — it’s practiced in many other countries with no apparent ill side-effects — I do have a problem with the way the group makes it possible to sustain this practice financially.

The FLDS church has skirted the polygamy laws — not that the laws are legitimate — by avoiding the marriage license. Fine. The state may not recognize unlicensed marriage, but they also have no legitimate legal authority to turn a religious institution into a “legal” institution. However, the FLDS goes a step further by having the “unwed” mothers apply for state welfare. They don’t just want to live their lifestyle in peace, they want to have the people of the State of Texas pay so that they can afford to maintain so many wives and children.

So my fellow Texans and I get to pay into the system so that Warren Jeffs and his followers can afford to live the kind of life they have designed. In real life, only a very rich man could afford to support 70 or 80 children and multiple wives. The FLDS isn’t really an independent body at all. It cannot survive without the support of the citizens of Texas generous “donations." For this reason, the FLDS should be denied any state help. In fact, rather than a bunch of thugs raiding them, the easiest solution to the “problem” the various states have had with the FLDS would have been eliminated by simply disallowing the welfare payments. The polygamy would either stop immediately because it is not financially feasible or the FLDS would quickly change its tactics.

For instance, in order to ensure that there are enough young women available, younger men born into the groups are routinely expelled. The reason for this is obvious. There aren’t enough women available to provide multiple wives for all of the men, and the other alternative for those men who couldn’t marry, is that they be kept in the group as workers to maintain the lifestyle of the few who get all of the wives.

The young men would leave anyway as there wouldn’t be any benefit in the relationship to themselves. The older men, unable to support their wives, would have to create some income and fast. You have to admit their solution to the age-old problem of supporting multiple wives is novel if not anti-Christian in nature.

The entire situation is a loser for all of us in Texas and the other states where the FLDS operates. Not only are we supporting a lifestyle with which some of us may fundamentally disagree, the press’ reluctance to deal with the legal sham that has occurred is weakening our constitutional system. The general public is being led to believe that forced medical treatment and invasive DNA testing — itself a violation of the 5th amendment right to avoid self-incrimination — is legitimate to protect children even if the original premise for the raid is completely illegitimate.

When you step back and examine what is going on in this case, you can see that we are being conditioned into believing that the rights enumerated in our constitutions are not inviolate as is stated, but totally irrelevant if the state merely acts as if it has authority.

The FLDS case is not just an isolated instance. If the state of Texas can prevail in this terrible attack on liberty against a group that hasn’t much sympathy in the press or public at large, then any “weird” group or family can be targeted with impunity. Unfortunately the state will also bilk the federal taxpayer since the Federal government pays state CPS agencies for every child taken from parents (for whatever reason). Additions to the original Mondale act of 1974, which acted as the blueprint for all state Child Protective agencies, have essentially put a bounty on the heads of all of our children and made doctors, teachers and other health professionals immune from prosecution even if the allegations they make which lead to the taking of children are totally erroneous.

And finally, Texas’ taxpayers get to foot the bill for the hundreds of lawyers who will descend on the courtroom at their expense to “advocate” for the children — as it is called in CPS administrative court parlance. I don’t know if anyone has bothered to tally up what this may cost the taxpayers but it could easily reach 8 figures by the time everything is said and done. And not one of those state-paid lawyers will be arguing that the State’s action is constitutionally unjust. Quite the contrary. They’ll be counseling their “clients” to cooperate and make it easy on everyone.

The once-revered freedom to raise your children to your own standards rather than somebody else’s is going extinct right before our eyes. This situation is a travesty on so many levels it would take a book to cover them in detail. The first, fourth and fifth amendments to the federal constitution are being blatantly ignored as well as the constitution of the once-great State of Texas. If this action is allowed to stand without opposition, where on earth will we go to enjoy freedom as it was envisioned by the authors of our constitutions? The United States was once a beacon to people all around the world because of its dedication to the principles of freedom. If we cannot avert our country’s current heading, it will be no country for free men.

Rick Fisk [send him mail] is a 45-year-old software developer and entrepreneur. He is married, has three children and resides in Austin, TX.

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