Where Have We Heard That Before?
We’ve held our tongue on the state’s raid and dismemberment of the Yearning for Zion Ranch, lest we be accused of endorsing child abuse in a public forum, but we can no longer stand by and jingle the change in our pockets after watching Channel 11’s Friday night coverage of the arrival in Brazoria County of some of the dispossessed-by-the-state-of-Texas FLDS children. For some reason the Belo-owned CBS affiliate thought it was newsworthy to show footage of the children as they were herded off the school buses and hustled into the foster care facility. The filming appeared to have been done from a helicopter hovering directly above the procession at a height of 40 or so feet (we could be off on this, but it was too damn close). Then one of the male anchors, we can’t remember if it was Greg Hurst or the other clown, offered up this unattributed “fact”: “Yeah, y’know, some of these kids had never ridden in a moving vehicle before!”* Now that the Therapeutic State has taken care of that alleged omission in their upbringing, we’re sure it won’t be long before some of these kids will be watching Teletubbies and pestering their foster parents (or whoever they end up with) to buy flat-screen TVs from Wal-Mart.
We’ve been surprised by the lack of sustained outrage, or even skepticism, on the part of politicians, journalists, pastors and other mainstream tastemakers (even, um, bloggers) over what seems to have been an egregious misapplication of police power by the state (of Texas), not to mention a gross violation of the Constitution. One person who been ringing the alarm is James Harrington of the Texas Civil Rights Project, who in in op-ed piece in Wednesday’s Houston Chronicle asked why the state is “so intent” on punishing the FLDS mothers and children (who, barring proof of actual documented child abuse, have a right to be left alone) and suggests the raid and its aftermath “may be a tragedy in the making.” In case you missed it, we’ll quote Harrington at length:
It is becoming increasing apparent that either officials were duped into obtaining a false warrant or obtained a warrant for which they knew there was no reasonable factual basis.Amen. We suspect somebody’s going to be very embarrassed (and liable, too) when this shameful episode finally plays out (but not Greg Hurst!).
It is also clear the evidence Texas Child Protective Services has so far is slim, to say the least, and even that questionable evidence may have been manufactured.
If there was child abuse, it should be punished — that means the perpetrator and not the mothers and the children. It is the culpable man or men who should be arrested.
Nothing at this time suggests wrongdoing to justify mass separation of all the children from their mothers. Otherwise, all that happens is victimizing innocent children. So far, nothing has come to light that shows any grievous misconduct at the Eldorado ranch. In fact, it now turns out that the one alleged perpetrator has been in Colorado all the time.Yet, CPS convinced the judge that mass genetic testing was necessary and wants to move forward, removing children from their moms.
... One certainly can get the impression the officials may be motivated more by bias against the FLDS people because of their practice of plural marriage and their self-isolation in an enclave. It would not be the first time in American history that majority society has struck out against Mormons or other self-isolating religious groups.
Simply because their beliefs and lifestyle are very different, and maybe even incomprehensible to majority society, is no reason to leverage the law against them. Religious freedom is a cardinal tenet of the First Amendment. It may be hard to swallow for many "mainstream" folks, but it is essential to any pluralist democracy. And so is due process.
*Something we wish we could say---that we'd never ridden in a motorized vehicle.