Warren Jeffs, the Prophet of the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints Church and a member of the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List, has been arrested and is now in the American justice system. In May, when he was put on the list, most television commentators interviewed women who had left the FLDS Church and could/would tell about all the horrors that are happening within these isolated communities under the direct leadership of Jeffs. And it was an ok story. Of the things Jeffs is wanted for, the crime of polygamy is the least of them. The emphasis then was on his alleged involvement in arranging marriages between underage girls (13 year old girls) and older men and facilitating child rape in these situations, as many of these girls do not become legal wives under civil law but spiritual wives. And in May, no one seemed to object to Jeffs being put on the Most Wanted List.
Now there does seem to be some questions arising, especially among more conservative commentators, as to whether a polygamist should have been put on the Most Wanted List alongside Osama bin Ladin and even if he should have been arrested at all for being a polygamist. Now, I have to say, I'm not sure whether or not Jeffs should have put on the Ten Most Wanted List. The List is a tool for the FBI to make the public more aware of these criminals who have managed to evade police who use normal avenues of investigation, such as Jeffs, who travels between these isolated FLDS communities where none of the locals will call him in because they are his followers, including law enforcement officers in these communities. While the crimes that he is accused of might not be as serious as murder or terrorism, but they are widespread in the communities that he leads. He is not on the Most Wanted List just because he is a polygamist. There are a great many polygamists in those communities that he leads. He is on the Most Wanted List because he has outstanding arrest warrants on facilitating child rape.
On the other hand, this also brings into the public consciousness whether or not polygamy should be illegal, by asking whether or not a man should be arrested because he is a polygamist (though this isn't the truth of the situation). One cable news program (I wish I could remember which one) profiled a family of polygamists who chose to be polygamists as adults, do not live in an isolated communities, do not abuse welfare, and do nothing illegal except being polygamists, in the vein of the HBO show Big Love. So, while I am happy that Jeffs has been captured and hope that he will be convicted of anything he is guilty of and hope that any abuse occuring in these isolated communities will stop because of this, I have to say I am not against polygamy, as such. I have no problem with a group of men and women who choose to make a life together and can develop a happy and healthy home for them and any children they may have. I have a problem with child abuse, forcing young women into marriages, forcing young men out of the community so that the older men do not have to compete for with them for brides, welfare abuse, and making people stay in communities when they do not want to be there. I often find it funny that many people opposed to gay marriage say that it will lead to polygamy. My answer, So??? I have no problem with polygamy, whether one chooses it as a calling from God or as a kinky alternative lifestyle. Most cultures have long histories of plural marriage, including many cultures in the Bible.
So, if you take out the abuses which are associated with plural mariages in these isolated rogue branches of the LDS church, what is so wrong with polygamy???