Tag Archive | Government

Utah Polygyny Often Intricately Linked with Child Brides

Growing up in Utah, my biases about polygamy and polyamory were deeply marked by the oppressive religious practice of control and child rape practiced by some splinter sects of the LDS faith. The obvious difference is consent, but I had to unlearn years of association of polyamory with coercion and abuse.

It’s easy to condemn those in other places that condone child rape through marriage. It’s safe and comfortable. But the painful fact is, I live in a state where child brides have been (and almost certainly continue to be) part of an ongoing system of abuse. I have a deep rage that the communities where it happens are calculatedly isolated, and they exert total control over the lives of growing children, who have even less capacity for autonomy & consent than most.

We are talking about the kind of subculture that has literally burned books intended for a local library to keep control and maintain ignorance. It’s been almost impossible to find and prosecute the child marriages rapes because the communities have their own police and shunning the outside world is a religious imperative.

What’s even worse, even men who have admitted their child rape may not even be eligible for prosecution because within the last decade Utah’s legal code allowed the rape of girls as young as 14 so long as their parents consent.

At the time, Utah’s marriage age was 14 with parental consent. In 2005, the Utah State Legislature changed it to 16. In 2003, the legislature made any polygamous marriage involving anyone under 18 a felony of child bigamy.

Shit like this shows just how uninterested our judicial system really is in prioritizing the protection of adolescents from predators using religious coercion. When as recently as 10 years ago, parents’ will could substitute for full legal consent to sexual activity, it’s clear that far from being the enlightened moral actors we make ourselves out to be, we are just beginning to question living in the dark ages.

A criticism (I believe fairly) lodged against more moderate religious voices is they give cover to, and downplay the abuse of more extreme versions because they find criticism of religiously backed abuses uncomfortable. There is no more clear example in our modern backyard than the fact that a man like Winston Blackmore may not even have committed a crime under our laws.

Do We Need Penicillin, Mr. Gohmert?

On Monday, Texas Representative Louie Gohmert made a deeply disingenuous argument to ensure that having sex remains as shameful and risky as possible to continue a long standing history of backing up religious hang-ups with healthy sexuality with intentionally created risk.

His statements on the conservative radio show, WallBuilders:

You don’t have to force this sexuality stuff into their life at such a point. It was never intended to be that way. They’ll find out soon enough. Mankind has existed for a pretty long time without anyone ever having to give a sex-ed lesson to anybody.

This got me thinking about all the things that humans have existed without for “a pretty long time” and which of these important modern developments Representative Gohmert thinks we don’t really need either. Of course, the obvious answer is that we’re only supposed to follow shitty antiquated levels of ignorance and suffering when it comes to the sex, but I’d really like to get him to own up to that.

Here’s is a extremely incomplete list just off the top of my head of things that humans as a species have done perfectly well without.

  • antibiotics
  • air conditioning
  • glasses/contacts
  • television
  • safe potable water
  • roads
  • modern sanitation
  • safe surgical procedures
  • football
  • guns
  • computers
  • injectable insulin
  • cars
  • airplanes
  • boats
  • painkillers
  • blood transfusions
  • washing machines
  • restaurants
  • radio
  • deodorant
  • CPR
  • formalized education
  • agriculture
  • domesticated animals
  • electricity
  • representative government
  • chemotherapy
  • phones
  • birth control
  • movies
  • pharmacology
  • soap
  • coffee
  • refrigeration
  • chocolate

Isn’t This Kind of a Bad Idea?

Earlier this month, I wrote a post about my horror that the president of our largest state university believed that separation of church and state (specifically the secularism of public institutions and law) endangered religious rights and freedom.  (*cough*idiot*cough*)  More recently it was announced that said president would be leaving to head up the presidency of the University of Washington, which while good for the University of Utah, was probably bad news for Washington.  Fantastic feminist/skeptic blogger Jen McCreight expressed a certain wariness at this development, but hoped for the best.

Many were willing to give the man the benefit of the doubt because the main job he has been hired to do is raise funds for the university, and so his bad ideas about religious forays into public policy probably wouldn’t go anywhere.  While so far this has been true, based on Mr. Young’s first days on the job, he seems willing to sacrifice long-term financial sources (plus goodwill) for immediate gains in revenue.

Young has decided that he can immediately increase the amount of funds coming into the University of Washington by lowering the number of in-state students (Washington students) that will be accepted in order to get more out-of-state students, who pay significantly higher tuition.  That Mr. Young doesn’t understand the importance of a state university serving its taxpaying, local public is itself troubling.

I think there’s a concern about how we make sure the university serves the state, the university certainly serves the nation as well.

But when I consider the alumni most likely to feel kinship for a university, those willing to financially invest in its future, I can’t imagine anyone feeling more connected with an institution than those who live in state.  People donate to their alma mater in the hopes of sending their children and grandchildren there; how will those donors react when they’re told that the University of Washington doesn’t feel the need to serve the people of Washington first and foremost?  Are they going to be likely to donate funds in the future?

This feels a bit like short-term gains at the potential expense of long-term ones.  I hope I’m wrong.

On the Likely Government Shutdown

BREAKING NEWS EDIT: Turns out that husband’s department is already funded through June 30th, leaving them unaffected by the shutdown.  Why they were unable to figure this out before and announce it is mystifying, though.

It seems more or less certain now.

On Monday, when someone calls my husband’s office, emails him or checks the department’s website, they will not be able to get information on the programs that feed children in Utah.  Instead, there will be a message along these lines:

Due to the shutdown of the Federal government, this office is now closed.

I have no idea what the full ramifications will be on school districts, poor schools and neighborhoods, and the children who rely on these programs for healthy nutrition, but it is sure to be ugly.

And while most of the news media I see insists on talking about this mainly as a true good-faith negotiation between the parties about cuts to avoid a shutdown, I find I’m really starting to agree with Rachel Maddow on several points.

  • Speaker of the House John Boehner is either bad at his job or confused about what his job actually is*
  • Many within the Republican party actually want the government to shut down and are working very hard to make sure that negotiations fail**
  • Conservative lawmakers don’t care about hurting women, if they can appease the anti-abortion donors by cutting non-abortion services in the name of a pro-choice ideology

I’m tired of people being allowed to lie about the games being played when they’re holding my husband’s job along with millions of others hostage.  I’m tired of people pretending that defunding Planned Parenthood is about abortion (given the already heavy regulation of where funds can be used) instead of providing medical services like cancer screening, pre-natal care and contraception in communities with no other option.  I’m tired of the hyper-conservative wing of the Republican party (including our own Mike Lee, Jason Chaffetz) pretending they don’t represent the whole of their constituency (me).

* Hint: it’s providing leadership to conduct the affairs of government rather than shut it down through games, it’s passing a budget since minding the purse-strings are pretty much the main job of the legislative branch, it’s making sure that you keep your separate party interests molded into a solid agenda rather than being ruled by divisive elements in your own party, it’s making sure you actually show up to work on a regular schedule and work to pass real legislation and not empty gestures of defiance.  Whatever your opinion of former Speaker Pelosi, she ran bills through that body like nobody’s business.  The Speaker’s constitutional job is to run the House, not to be obstructionary in order to prevent the current President from winning re-election.

** Evidenced by the cheers at news of failed talks as well as Representative Ryan’s remarks that his odious, Medicare-killing budget wasn’t a budget, but a cause.