Friday, September 30, 2011

A Review of Anderson Cooper's interview with the Brown family

A Review of Anderson Cooper's Interview with the Brown Family of TLC's "Sister Wives" and the FLDS children who were disposed of, like trash by their parents, who follow convicted sex offender Warran Steed Jeffs.
By Chana Bogsted

Just finished watching Anderson Cooper: here's my take on the show as someone who didn't grow up in polygamy and wasn't exposed to it except by what I've learned from reading about it and talking to all of you.

Kody et al are pretty good at presenting themselves. I think most people who aren't familiar with polygamy are going to take them as they present themselves: nice people who just happened to choose 'this lifestyle.' People who get along and work out their differences and all love each other. They dress like "normal" people, talk like "normal" people, so that's what they must be.

The kids from FLDS, however, were able to see the hidden side because they lived it. From years of hearing to "stay sweet,' they understand the emphasis on deceit, on pretending that things aren't what they are, in order to survive. One of the boys, Holden, I think, talked about how his parents would pretend to get along and talk about how happy they were to have other wives to take care of the kids - until the door closed and reality emerged.

I think most Americans are going to take the Browns and maybe the Dargers at face value, because most Americans are pretty naive and trusting. The Browns were very careful to distance themselves from Jeffs and the FLDS so that the public can distinguish between "good" polygamists and "bad" polygamists. If they can get most Americans to identify with them, they may be able to persuade the country that polygamy shouldn't be punished, but child abuse should.

Unless we can get people who have grown up in polygamous families that are more like the Browns' than Jeffs', then I think they have a fighting chance of winning the war of public opinion. Even Cooper, who is very critical of the fundamentalists who don't look and dress like us, the "bad" polygamists, sounded fairly sympathetic.

Sorry I can't give a different review of the show, but this is how I saw it.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Polygamy is an adult choice?

Thanks to Rebecca Kimble, who is a survivor and a supporter of the efforts of the AAAP

Rebuttal to Polygamist Propaganda by Rebecca Kimbel MscD DTM

Polygamy is an adult choice?

We polygamist born children were taught from birth we had to live polygamy or lose our salvation. Only polygamists were accepted in our family, our society and by our God. To not live polygamy was to be damned. Our choice in marriage was confined to polygamy. Some had a choice between one of two older married men to be “spiritually” married to, but choosing any man outside of the polygamist culture was not a choice.

If we chose not to live polygamy, the basic doctrine of our “religion” said we would be “destroyed”and blood atonement to save our souls was sanctioned by God, even if the leaders chose not to carry it out. Some of us, like myself, had friends and family murdered in the name of “blood atonement”, the same blood atonement all fundamentalists’ polygamists include as the word of their “prophets”. To choose to not be obedient can be a dangerous choice in fundamentalist Mormon and Islamic polygamy.

There is no adult choice. Children are indoctrinated with fear to force them into polygamy.

Polygamy is voluntarily maintained?

Women stayed in polygamy because we had children when we were children. We were never allowed to think for ourselves or to learn to provide for ourselves, yet we had a houseful of children to provide for. Many women stay in bad marriages because they can’t support their children. Polygamist women have a double problem; few of them know how to support themselves. They stay because they don’t know any other way to survive and keep their children. Most of them are threatened if they try to leave and take their children. Fundamentalist polygamists teach that the children belong to the men.

Single mothers are often attracted to polygamy, believing it will be easier to provide for their children with the help of a sister wife. What they fail to realize is that the number of children to provide and care for will increase, not diminish. The emotional, financial and educational rescores will diminish. This attributes to the fact that polygamist women by percentage do not live as long as other women. Is this “voluntarily” maintained life style what they want to decriminalize as an adult choice?

There is no adult choice. The glue that binds them together is poverty and fear. They don’t believe they have a choice. The pathetic reality finds that those enslaved by fear soon perpetuate the same lack of choice onto their own children. Those who don’t understand this have not experienced the devastation and the life style most polygamist women experience. Polygamy is not an adult choice. When CHILDREN are indoctrinated with fear from birth to accept polygamy and have CHILDREN, to perpetuate polygamy. The fact that it involves the lives of CHILDREN makes it NOT AN ADULT CHOICE. The non coerced adult choices in polygamy are the male converts who have not been indoctrinated, but see an opportunity to expand their narcissistic behavior. If they are married, their wife has one choice; accept polygamy or be abandoned. For the wife, it is not an adult choice. It is a coercive threat.

The statement that men can choose another sex partner if one wife is unwilling, is a side show to distract attention away from what is going on in the main tent of polygamy’s “circus”. In the main tent, he always has all the sex he wants. Women are the ones who are lonely and unfulfilled. He is not a lover, he’s a breeder. He cares only about his own satisfaction. In his mind he’s a “cowboy” who thinks an eight second ride makes him a champion. Women are capable and entitled to sexual fulfillment but that’s against his religion. Fundamentalists teach women that sex is for propagation only. We were taught that it must be accomplished without lust. ( We were too uneducated to know that was a physical impossibility). His needs are “God’s commandments”, her needs are “weaknesses to over come”.

All humans find it stressful and emotionally painful to share their mate. Narcissistic men force women to share their mate, but they would never tolerate it for themselves. Women are not sexually inferior. If men had the sexual capacity of women, polygamist men would be prostitutes instead of polygamists. Polygamists justify their breeding practices by blaming the nature of bulls in cattle breeding. If they want to blame nature they should check out the life of a male sea horse. He is the one who carries the baby sea horses. Check out the black widow and the praying mantis. Some species have a built in responsibilities that go with breeding. Blaming animal behavior for human behavior is greed justified through ignorance. The right to breed carries a responsibility. Polygamy produces lots of people, but comparatively few responsible adults.

Polygamy offers career and a sister wife to help with the children?

The odds of a career for a polygamist woman are rare indeed unless you consider working as a cashier, house maid, or any other low paying job a career. I’ve seen many polygamist women work out of the home for long hours and little money and return to a home bulging with children where they try to fill in the gaps of motherhood which couldn’t be filled by the exhausted sister wife who tried to manage on the domestic front.

The economy of everyone living in the same house is not an asset of polygamy. Go down to a day care center and spend the day. Imagine four or five times more children in the room than were actually there. If you can imagine this, you get some idea of the joys of polygamy. My mother moved into a chicken coop with no heat, in Utah, because she had to be alone (with her six children). Massive numbers of people in the same quarters is difficult at best.

Polygamy does NOT help financially; on the contrary, it creates poverty. It is a financial disaster for the family and the nation. Polygamy creates an unusually high percentage of demands for Government funds, bankruptcies, and other means of assistance. Polygamy produces more children than it supports. In all countries where polygamy flourishes, poverty isn’t far behind.

Most polygamist women are poor. The big houses you see on TV don’t compute with the income levels. Follow the money trail and prepare your self for a shock.

Polygamy is a “pyramid” scheme. The one at the top is wealthy and the wealth spreads out and dwindles down, diminishing as it goes, until it reaches the wide base at the bottom which consists primarily of women and children who live below the national poverty level. Yet they are the base, the foundation upon which the pyramid stands. They are the means of its expansion. Women constantly produce more workers, tithe payers and believers into the system.

The one at the top (the prophet) receives 10% tithing from the wages of each person below him, plus the dedicated free labor they donate to ( him) God. Followers are encouraged to build their homes on church land ( held in title by the prophet, not the parishioners) and many also create businesses on church land, which puts them in a position of great lose if they question authority. Many men have lost their wives, children, homes and land when the “prophet” finds them “unworthy”.

Polygamy is a system that “fleeces its own sheep”, becomes a parasite to government coffers and violates the human rights America stands for. Polygamy is not a democracy. It is a dictatorship. When you are told you have freedom of choice and blind obedience, you can be sure your choices will be limited to what they tell you to do.

Polygamy and freedom don’t exist together. One inhibits the other and that fact remains true in every culture, every nation and in any century.

The concept that “traditional norms” of historical and modern polygamy, should vary across continents or centuries, is incorrect.

Polygamy carries the same percentage of dysfunction regardless of its place in geography or history. One fact of cause and effect remains constant; the degree of abuse is always in direct proportion to the degree of distance between the powerful and the powerless. Polygamy ALWAYS has a higher percentage of abuse than monogamy because it is a system based on inequality. In all human relationships, those who have no equality receive more abuse. This fact alone creates more abuse in polygamy.

Polygamy is notorious for propaganda. Propaganda and truth are not the same. Knowing the difference can determine your freedom or the loss of it. Our nation would be wise to educate itself about polygamy.

You can read more about Rebecca Kimbel and her personal story here.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Changing the world in perspective

Hope. That's what every activist lives on. Speaking to a friend the other day I had to remind her of something. I had to remind her that big changes in the world have rarely come easy or fast. A mere one hundred years before the year of my birth, the American Civil War was ending. It took another 100 years for the American Civil Rights Movement to come into its own.

To help encourage those in this fight, who so often understandably want to quit, I offer the following loose timeline, thanks to Wikipedia.

The first American movement to abolish slavery came in the spring of 1688 when German and Dutch Quakers of Mennonite descent in Germantown, Pennsylvania (now part of Philadelphia) wrote a two-page condemnation of the practice and sent it to the governing bodies of their Quaker church, the Society of Friends.

The Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage was the first American abolition society, formed 14 April 1775, in Philadelphia, primarily by Quakers who had strong religious objections to slavery.

The first article published in what later became the United States advocating the emancipation of slaves and the abolition of slavery was allegedly written by Thomas Paine. Titled "African Slavery in America", it appeared on 8 March 1775.

The importation of slaves into the United States was officially banned on January 1, 1808.

Beginning in the 1830s, the U.S. Postmaster General refused to allow the mails to carry abolition pamphlets to the South. Northern teachers suspected of abolitionism were expelled from the South, and abolitionist literature was banned. Southerners rejected the denials of Republicans that they were abolitionists.

In 1841 John Quincy Adams represented the Amistad African slaves in the Supreme Court of the United States and argued that they should be set free.

The well-established colleges, such as Harvard, Yale and Princeton, generally opposed abolition.

In the early 1850s, the American abolitionist movement split into two camps over the issue of the United States Constitution. This issue arose in the late 1840s after the publication of The Unconstitutionality of Slavery by Lysander Spooner. The Garrisonians, led by Garrison and Wendell Phillips, publicly burned copies of the Constitution, called it a pact with slavery, and demanded its abolition and replacement. Another camp, led by Lysander Spooner, Gerrit Smith, and eventually Douglass, considered the Constitution to be an antislavery document. Using an argument based upon Natural Law and a form of social contract theory, they said that slavery existed outside of the Constitution's scope of legitimate authority and therefore should be abolished.

The most influential abolitionist tract was Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), the best-selling novel and play by Harriet Beecher Stowe. Outraged by the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 (which made the escape narrative part of everyday news), Stowe emphasized the horrors that abolitionists had long claimed about slavery.

Historian Frederick Blue called John Brown "the most controversial of all nineteenth-century Americans."[48] When Brown was hanged after his attempt to start a slave rebellion in 1859, church bells rang, minute guns were fired, large memorial meetings took place throughout the North, and famous writers such as Emerson and Henry David Thoreau joined many Northerners in praising Brown.

Union leaders identified slavery as the social and economic foundation of the Confederacy, and from 1862 were determined to end that support system. Meanwhile pro-Union forces gained control of the Border States and began the process of emancipation in Maryland, Missouri and West Virginia. Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on 1 January 1863, and in the next 24 months it effectively ended slavery throughout the Confederacy. The passage of the Thirteenth Amendment (ratified in Dec. 1865) officially ended slavery in the United States, and freed the 50,000 or so remaining slaves in the border states.

The movement started in 1688 and was effectively victorious with the end of the American Civil War in 1865.

It took another 100 years, 1965, to bring a movement that finally brought equality and true civil rights to the former slaves.

On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks (the "mother of the Civil Rights Movement") refused to give up her seat on a public bus to make room for a white passenger. She was secretary of the Montgomery NAACP chapter and had recently returned from a meeting at the Highlander Center in Tennessee where nonviolent civil disobedience as a strategy had been discussed.

1965 Congress passes the Voting Rights Act of 1965, making it easier for Southern blacks to register to vote. Literacy tests, poll taxes, and other such requirements that were used to restrict black voting are made illegal.

We live in the Internet age, where we expect such immediate results for anything we do. And sometimes, if we don't see it, we start to question whether we are even doing the right thing at all.

I don't know how often, on news story message boards, I have read, not without a shiver, some polygamy apologist saying that polygamy is a viable "form of marriage" as evidenced by history, and most specifically the bible. The same, the very same can be said of the practice of slavery. Its history, too, is one as old, and real, and viable as the history of the world, and even of the bible. Yet, here we are, today, in a world where very few of us will ever see the gross message on a news comment site, lauding or defending the institution of slavery. The world has changed. It never changed because of one single person's efforts, but was the culmination of centuries of sweat and toil and the blind love of the right thing, by many different individuals.

Let us not make the mistake of becoming faint of heart, just because the world does not fall at our feet and declare the gross error of its ways. Let us take cheer in the knowledge, that like others before us who faced the very same things, they pressed on. That is, after all, what faith is, isn't it, the ability to keep doing what you know is right, even when the circumstances around you offer little or no proof that is exactly what you are, right.