I have been meaning to speak out on this topic for some time, but the right words to begin with have been predictably elusive. My original instinct was to go on the offensive, and say that Evil had been allowed to fester in Texas. That struck me as too much like a cheap shot. I refer of course to the Texas Supreme Court decision to allow the 400+ children of the Fundamentalist ranch-dwellers to return to their homes, after they can be matched to their genetic parents. After some consideration, I cannot say whether I should be praising the court, or lashing out against it. On the one hand, they have hammered home an important point: don't start something that you don't know you can win when an important verdict is on the line. This is why ostensibly premeditating murderers get put away on second-degree charges when the evidence is less than absolute: it's better to nail someone for ANY kind of murder than to allow a grain of doubt to free them. Similarly, the child services of Texas should have spent time collecting evidence somehow before they went and took more than four hundred children away from their families! The return of the children may not be unconditional (CNN – where most of my information on this case has trickled in from, it being on TV all day at work – did mention some kind of classes where the parents will be told how it is NOT OK to marry underage girls to old letcherous humps. Sounds a bit too much like a slap on the wrist to me, though), but what the court and the child services have failed to do is create a positive precedent in this case, which is the real harm being done to women and children in this case.
Judges need to wake up, and look at the calendar; the '60s were HOW long ago? Going on 50 years now, and does no one have the balls to look religious zealotry in the eye and hand down an imposingly long court verdict about how “freedom of religion” is not an adequate defence for perpetuating the kind of discrimination we now abhor? The kind of discrimination that we have banned in the same kind of documents from which they derive their right to practice it (oh, the irony!)? Clearly any sort of resolution to that effect would be a bombshell which could threaten the kind of infighting usually reserved for places like Iraq or Pre-Enlightenment Europe, and people will thusly avoid it like the plague, or worse, Canadian Constitutional debate. I find this a weak excuse, because women – religious or not – should be equally up in arms about the fact that it's not illegal to run a misogynist religious community that teaches women that the path to heaven is through submission to their husband. For those of you who are counting, the population of Women is much larger than the population of spooky backwards cultists, so even if they're well armed cultists, it's pretty easy to say who would win in a fight. A pause, now, for comments: Female readers, I would like to know where you stand; are religious freedoms and the separation of Church and State too valuable to risk on a secularist-feminist push against this bastion of male bigotry? Male readers, will you stand up and be counted alongside the women should they decide that they will fight for equality and fairness in this matter? Religious reader (the lack of pluralisation is not a typo), I expect that your church is probably not the kind that bars women from spiritual office if you're reading this blog, so ummm...what is it with all the churches that don't?
I think that at the very least it should at least be illegal to implement the kind of gender inequality seen in some religions when children are involved. A feminist article I read while researching an essay for Political Science proposed that adult consent be required for any religion which practiced forms of discrimination not permissable in society at large. There are some questions as to how such a policy could be implemented, but I think it is the only fair way to reconcile the interests of all involved. The problem is that those questions are not small. Item one is how one proposes to separate a child's experience of family life from his or her sense of normality. A child brought up in a two-parent heterosexual family will have a different idea of family arrangements than one in a three-parent polygamous homosexual household, despite the fact that they will both in all likelihood be well-adjusted people when they grow up. Of course, this is ok because perfect and total equality is never going to be possible or desireable, so different reference points is not too much of a problem. What is a problem is asking parents to adopt some kind of neutral ideology in their words and actions in the home. Ideological neutrality is impossible to say the least, and expecting potentially fanatical parents (egalitarian or discriminatory, religious or secular, capitalist or communist, etc) to be able to teach an arbitrary set of “fair” values to their children which may run counter to their own deeply-held ideals is farcial. Hell, even comparative moderates can barely be expected to do such. If, as my friends say, you believe that your ideal of a virtuous life is the only way to spare a person from eternal damnation (or in the case of rational atheists, nothing, but you don't want them to be a jackass so you'll lecture them anyway) then you have an obligation to try and convince everyone you can that you are right, thereby saving them. Personally, I think that argument is logically sound but really just an excuse for people who make David Warren look like a fluffy bunny to have a sound ethical excuse for their vitriolic sermons. There is just no way to make an unbiased child. There is no way one would want an unbiased child, but since an agreed-upon baseline bias would be arbitrary anyhow, the legitimacy of such a policy would be challenged on all fronts because the level of indoctrination would be no less than if they were at St. Whitesupremacist's condoms-are-the-devil bible camp for toddlers...which is utter bullshit because while not everyone will agree on what neutrality is, the lunatic fringe's claim to be just as legitimate as the presently accepted liberal-democratic values is the same kind of garbage argument those sort of people use to try and stall action on global climate change or evolution (“but, but there's DEBATE on these issues, three scientists on the payroll of Exxon-Mobil still say that global warming isn't real...but they wish to remind you that the oil – which we can keep burning with impunity of course - was put there by God and is NOT the result of millions of years of accrued biomass under extreme pressure, because the world is only 4000 years old and the fossil record is the Devil's recruitment poster for you so-called 'free-thinkers'!”).
I've gone a little off-topic, it would seem. Anyhow, before you accuse me of some anti-polygamy bias, let me point out that I am absolutely in favour of people living and loving however the fuck they want. That being said, if you allow polygamy, you have to also allow polyandry, and pretty much every other kind of marriage arrangement there is. Polygamy in the sense that I oppose it now is a tool by which a small bunch of old, letcherous humps are getting to have lots of sex (supposedly not for pleasure, but what they really mean is not for the woman's pleasure, the dirtbags) and lots of offspring, presumably to ensure the requisite genetic diversity so that they and their descendents can carry on the cycle of abuse until the natural end of humanity as a species. So yeah, note to Texas child services: way to blow your chance to do some crushing damage to these lunatic child molesters! Better luck next time.
...Who, upon review of this post wishes to avoid potential legal trouble by saying that this should not be taken as anything more than an emotional plea for women, youth, and the courts to stand up for the rights which we are guaranteed, and yet is denied to our brethren even within our own free societies. Do not mistake this for hatred, or incitement to hate, unless you are referring to a hatred of unjust authority, also known as “The Man”. I do fully support and encourage hatred of “The Man”, in all his forms!