I am sickened by what's happening in the state of Texas.
The Texas State Supreme Court, asked to rule on the removal of 468 children from a polygamist compound, has declared, "On the record before us, removal of the children was not warranted."
So, the fact that authorities found so many underage girls had either already given birth to babies or were currently pregnant means nothing - have I got that straight? So, 13 and 14 year old girls having sex is legal in Texas, is that the message?
And I would assume the fact that the young boys on the compound who were, in the words of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, "being groomed to be perpetrators" is just hunky-dory too? And, does anyone care that the state of Texas is still investigating claims from former members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that the boys in the group are also routinely sexually abused?
The action just taken by the Texas high court now clears the way for all the children to be given back to church members. It clears the way for the church elders (read that the adult men) to resume satisfying their sexual desires or quest to propagate with girls who've just entered puberty.
Think if it were your 13 year old daughter. I have a daughter and it makes me sick to think of it.
If these grown men lived next door to you and behaved like this with the young children in their family they would be arrested and put in jail. But because they've cloaked themselves in a religious façade the rest of us are just supposed to ignore what's happening to hundreds of children?
Under Texas law a child can be taken from their parents if there is "an imminent danger to their physical safety or an urgent need for protection." Besides the obvious sexual abuse on the compound consider this: After the children were taken away from the ranch it was learned that more than forty of them had suffered broken bones at one time or another. Was it a result of a coincidental rash of accidents or proof of a practice of over-the-top discipline?
The Texas State Supreme Court ruled that child welfare officials offered no proof of the imminent danger to all the children they removed from the YFZ Ranch. If they had taken away only, say, the pregnant girls or underage mothers things might have been different. In other words, we should wait for the younger girls to become impregnated too before they are legally considered to be in danger.
Well, I say its time to change the damn law! The government is supposed to protect its citizens and that includes children.
I was appalled to read the conclusion of one Texas justice, Harriet O'Neill, who agreed the state acted reasonably in seeking to remove "demonstrably endangered" pubescent girls but then said it abused it's discretion by removing the younger girls and boys, too.
Oh, come on, Harriet - and the rest of you decision makers! Are you lost in the pages of your law book? Are your robes compromising your common sense? If pubescent girls are being sexually abused what do you think will happen to the younger girls in a few months or years? And the boys are being corrupted just as badly by growing up in an atmosphere where females are considered nothing more than brood mares.
This is what the legal-beagles of Texas are sending those children back to. And Texas child services workers who have spoken with the YFZ Ranch kids say many of them don't even know who their birth mother is. They are raised to call every older female "Mother". At a certain age these mothers will certainly turn them over to the clutches of the men. If the boys are not completely compliant they are tossed out of the group to fend for themselves.
In America everyone gets to live life the way they want to - within the confines of the law. Go live in a compound and raise your own food and make your own bread and furniture, raise your kids to embrace the simple life. That's fine by me. But when you start abusing your daughters and abandoning your young boys the separation line between church and state blurs in my eyes.
The systematic abuse of children perpetrated in the name of God just doesn't fly with me.
There was a glimmer of hope for these kids when they were taken away from this confusing and, I say, criminal way of life. Now, it seems they'll soon be sent back to the clutches of their "church."
This is the life we have now condemned these children to live.
Diane Dimond writes a weekly newspaper column on issues of crime and justice. More at her website: www.DianeDimond.net