Utahs Legislature doesnít have time for polygamists
Salt Lake City Weekly ^ | 17Apr08 | John Saltas

Posted on Wednesday, April 16, 2008 5:32:09 PM by claudiustg

Many people who comment about the FLDS call them a bunch of loony kooks trapped in a time warp of misguided beliefs and dated religious and sexual practices. That may be true, but being loony isnít against the lawóif it were, donít you think it would be a wiser spending of tax dollars to raid the Utah Legislature? Not only are they primarily loony, they fill their pockets at your expense at a greater clip than polygamist groups do.

Worse, our legislators werenít born into looniness but came into it via that time-worn path of ignorance and self-entitlement. We all hear that wah-wah that polygamists strain the system because their large families need government assistance in any manner of ways from welfare to health care. As youíre astute, you know those are the same things said about illegals. Iíd rather give $100 to any part-time needy Jessop, Barlow or Jeffs than give a dime to a full-time greedy legislator like Springville Rep. Aaron Tilton, who has all the time in the world for his special interests, but none for you.

The Legislature doesnít have time for polygamists, either. Not that itís fully to blame for what happened in Texas, but virtually every Utah state legislator for decades has done next to nothing regarding polygamy. Not counting whiny speeches, that is. Nary a thumbs up or thumbs down. Utah has been blind and mute regarding polygamy since the LDS Church formally forbade the practice in favor of statehood in the 1890s.

Informally, most everyone around here knows that formality is a joke. Not because modern-day Mormons secretly practice polygamyóand some do, (Confirmation) risking excommunication from the LDS Church (Though their number is not known, the fact is Mormonismís founder Joseph Smith declared Polygamy as part of the religion, so that any true believer is faced with obeying the words of Joseph Smith over those Mormon leaders who generations later altered Smithís original doctrines and traditions. The FLDS are Fundamentalist Mormons, who openly hold to the original doctrines and traditions of Joseph Smith.In the LDS there are those those that secretly follow Joseph Smithís original doctrines and traditions, andquite probably those number in the tens of thousands.)óbut because despite what evils may lurk in the hearts of the polygamist collective, the majority of Utahans remain sympathetic to polygamists. I know I am. (Confirmation)

That comes with the turf of being descended from a polygamist, which Iíve never kept secret or tried to deny like certain Leavitts and Romneys try to do. Iím from the lineage of the fifth wife, so without polygamy, I wouldnít even be here. I know, youíre thanking your lucky stars that Matthew Caldwell felt compelled to marry five times in the 1800s so that you could be reading this. Me, too. Outside of feeling the daily tug of gravity, polygamy is about the only thing I have in common with what is likely half the population of Utahómy fellow descendents of Utahís halcyon days of plural marriage.

I talk to liberals who say smoking pot shouldnít be illegal because it doesnít hurt anyone. Polygamists give a similar defense of their lifestyle. I talk to conservatives who say private property and personal freedoms are sacrosanct. Polygamists say thatís all they really want. Then, come raid time, liberals and conservatives both pounce on the polygamists with equal measures of moral superiority.

Hereís what I donít understand. Polygamy is against the law, plain and simple. Yet, who gets arrested for polygamy? Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff has rounded up a couple of high-profile polygamists, but thatís about itóand what were the charges? Tax evasion? Child abuse? Overdue power bill? Ever heard of a polygamist wife being arrested? From where Iím sitting, I could hit a polygamist even by spitting into the wind, but I see no sign of Mr. Shurtleff. Except on TV where he talks about how he scared the Jeffs family all the way to San Angelo. Nice. About 60,000 to go, Mark.

And, of course, itís the kids. No child should be abused or forced into any sexual submission ever. But you tell meóthat sure was a lot of manpower down there that may yield some bone fide crimes committed at the FLDS compound. Meanwhile, child abuse continues on at a nearly unabated pace in the rest of Texas and Utah. Just as I always use the wrong insecticide and can never eradicate all my garden bugs, the wrong methods were used in Texasóand Hildale and Colorado Cityóbecause all youíre getting are the obvious and few. Bugs and child abusers are everywhere. Polygamy is just where they sometimes land.