Polygamy and misogyny are alive and well in Canada

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6079_Smith_W

I can think of lots of groups I have heard that "bad people" generalization about, with various reasons and stories -  from Americans to Indigenous people to Muslims and Catholics (all religious people, even) to the wealthy, to the homeless, to immigrants to Albertans. 

I remember as a child being strongly influenced by my grandmother's stories about Quebecois (not the term she used) in the early 70s. I'll spare you the stories, which I am sure you can guess, but the upshot was me standing up in my first French class and telling everyone why we had no business learning that language. Not my proudest memory, but one I think is important as a reminder.

Those kinds of observations demonstrate our better values how, exactly? And in what way does it have any bearing on the way we treat people, or how they should be treated under the law?

and @ k

Cross posted with you. I agree completely. Besides, they have done that already down in the states and had little to show for it other than hundreds of terrified children wondering why they were being taken from their families.

 

 

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

6079_Smith_W wrote:

I can think of lots of groups I have heard that "bad people" generalization about, with various reasons and stories -  from Americans to Indigenous people to Muslims and Catholics (all religious people, even) to the wealthy, to the homeless, to immigrants to Albertans. 

I remember as a child being strongly influenced by my grandmother's stories about Quebecois (not the term she used) in the early 70s. I'll spare you the stories, which I am sure you can guess, but the upshot was me standing up in my first French class and telling everyone why we had no business learning that language. Not my proudest memory, but one I think is important as a reminder.

Those kinds of observations demonstrate our better values how, exactly? And in what way does it have any bearing on the way we treat people, or how they should be treated under the law?

and @ k

Cross posted with you. I agree completely. Besides, they have done that already down in the states and had little to show for it other than hundreds of terrified children wondering why they were being taken from their families.

People are more important than beliefs.

I'm not comfortable with demonizing people, but I have very little difficulty in criticizing belief systems that hurt people. So an individual's rights should, of course, be respected and protected. But I'm not up for singing the praises of a system of engaging with the world that is ultimately destructive and cruel.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Would the system have room for just the female children of "marrying age"?

Hard to say. Here is a report that sheds a lot of light on the major dysfunctions in the system. I personally know people who lived through both the Japanese and Doukhobor internments. Some of my friends from the Castlegar area still suffer from the psychological effect of having been removed from their parents and interned in temporary quarters. 

Not Fully Invested A Follow-up Report on the Representative’s Past Recommendations to Help Vulnerable Children in B.C.

https://www.rcybc.ca/sites/default/files/documents/pdf/reports_publicati...

Seems to me that in Canada the marriage age is 18 and 16 with parental consent. Should those rules not apply to people who live in Bountiful? Do we really have to lock up their teenage daughters to prove the point that we think their culture is just not Canadian? We have child trafficking laws and part of this case may be about that aspect. Of course we need to prosecute to the full extent of the law anyone engaged in or abetting men having sexual relations with underage children. It remains to be seen whether they can prove anything in this case and whether the evidence points to it being an isolated occurrence outside the community's overall norm but done by someone from the same faith.  Most sects like the Doukhobors and Mormons have sects within the larger communal society.  Our laws should be based on personal characteristics and actions not on whether or not some people who are similar to us have committed criminal acts.

6079_Smith_W

Well we are talking about people, and how they are treated by our society in a very complex situation where there is clear abuse.

No one is asking anyone to convert, nor even to like the things some of them  believe. But we should expect that our value judgments not play a role in how we treat them, and that we should not assume we are coming from a position of absolute understanding.

I know it is tempting, and I have a lot of that same judgment about some of the people involved in that situation. But really, we risk doing the same thing as those who cloud abuse by hauling out the actions of victims, or downplaying concern for prisoners' rights because of things they might have done.

"Their values are bad" is not only irrelevant and inaccurate, it is potentially harmful.

There were plenty of good reasons hauled out for all the past historical actions that we now see as abusive and a violation of people's rights.

 

lagatta

My aversion to the JW cult has absolutely nothing to do with wanting them to be persecuted à la Duplessis or murdered à la Hitler.

The death of a young woman in labour here who died because she refused a blood transfusion has a lot more to do with it.  They had "visitors" at the hospital to convince her that it was better to die than to commit such a "sin".

And I have no solution beyond a secular educational system.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

I think we're arguing past each other, Smith.

I don't see anything in this thread about denying people their rights because they hold unpopular beliefs. It's really a question of hierarchy of rights when you get down to the issue at hand here.

IMO, religious rights need to end where individual rights begin. Forcing a young girl to be a concubine is pretty easy to look at and determine that the care owed to the child is a higher priority than her parents' religious convictions.

I guess I just find it hard not to define a belief in child marriage as "bad". You've got a better word? (I actually have several...)

I do object to a defense of the JW philosophy as okay because they pushed the envelope on rights at some point in the past. There may have been a benefit conferred in that case, but in many other respects it's a faith that is based on a whole lot of intolerance. Holding an opinion that this isn't a good thing is just that - an opinion. And one that I'm largely happy to keep to myself unless they knock on my door. ;)

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

This Global piece from 2012 is very instructive and interesting.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UixdcBdOjNM

6079_Smith_W

@ TB

Sure, except tthat how did we get on this tangent?

I mentioned that that this kind of religious discrimination hasn't been part of the law since JWs were refused their right to vote.

What did that bring up? Not the fact their rights were infringed upon, and that they organized against in a way that helps all of us, but everything about their values that we find repellant.

Not that different than in cases like in the hijab ban, where we just feel the need to say it, even though they are victims.

Yes Bountiful is at the same time a lot more complex and more clear-cut, in that it is in part an illegal system of child abuse which must be dismantled. But a lot of what has been done against the FLDS - like the raids down south, and to a lesser degree the BC ruling - speak more to our prejudices than what is perhaps the best way of effectively dealing with the problem.

(I spoke more about that upthread, on the last page. No need to repeat).

 

 

cco

As usual, the best test is to ask what we'd do if an identical group were engaged in identical behaviour without religion being involved in any way. And as usual, to ask the question is to know the answer.

6079_Smith_W

Not exactly the same, but I did make that comparison up at #88.

While there is not the same nasty tradition of child abuse, and it is not a case of a closed and financially controlled community, in other cases where polygamy exists in Canada it is largely ignored and left underground.

Of course the non-consent, and the child abuse aspect makes Bountiful something that needs to be dealt with. But I don't see that happening through anti-polygamy laws which have a questionable foundation.

 

 

lagatta

cco, you mean patriarcal entitlement and misogyny without cover of an imaginary Being? My attitude would be identical. Take biker gangs... This stuff is systemic oppression and abuse of vulnerable people - women, children and even young men deemed disposable. The latter also have a hell of a lot of problems. Sometimes they are cast out of these cults into nothingness, because the patriarchs are jealous of them interfering with their possessions.

cco

I'm sure your attitude would be the same, lagatta, as would mine. The "we" there was not you, nor even babble or the broader left (though there are certainly elements in each who are sympathetic), but the segment of Canadian society as a whole who would never line up behind a biker gang and ask whether our prejudice against motorcycles drove them to child abuse, but are happy to grant the benefit of the doubt to any group who throws a prayer into the mix, as if gradual incremental successes in the millenia-long struggle to tame the overwhelming religious dominance of society mean that the god-botherers are now the oppressed on whose behalf we must fight.

That being said, I'm not saying that polygamous relationships are per se oppressive, or that they should be outlawed in and of themselves. But when we elevate religious freedom above and beyond all other human rights, we're going to end up entrenching a whole lot of heinous shit in the name of tolerance.

6079_Smith_W

Aside from the fact declaring a religion a criminal organization is going to need a high threshold of proof, I'd say more headway has been made against gangs through the laying of more concrete charges like murder, extortion, proceeds of crime, and money laundering, and so on.

Same in this case. I expect the tax rulings and this case regarding crimes against children are going to do more to break the power of that system than by going after something which in many cases is consensual.

I do think that there is some inherent unfairness and sexism in polygamy, even where it is the cultural norm, and I am in no way an apologist for it in its religious and traditional cultural form. But I wonder how reiterating its illegality, and using that as the main tool against Bountiful is going to help women in polygamous relationships elsewhere. Is this going to help those who want out to come forward to the authorities if they want support, or to report abuse? Or is it going to keep them underground out of fear?

And the bottom line is, will it even work here? And given that the government of BC dragged their feet for years on this, why did they even decide to go that direction?

 

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

The current legal proceedings are centred around child abuse and trafficking, not polygamy. I actually have mixed feelings about polygamy. In one sense, there's a deeply misogynist bent to FLDS polygamy, but it isn't much worse than monogamous fundamentalist sects where early marriage and producing many children are required observances. So the problem isn't polygamy per se. I've also met refugees from places where polygamy is accepted who were not able to bring one of their wives (and often children) with them when they got permission to come to Canada because you can't have two wives here. And then there are implications for people who practice polyamory.

6079_Smith_W

Yup. I agree. Those are my concerns as well.

Unionist

Winston Blackmore found guilty of polygamy.

Praise the Lord!!!

6079_Smith_W

Good. I would have prefered to see him go down on a charge that really broke the economic stranglehold they havwe on that community. In this case they only got him because of Warren Jeff's good bookkeeping, and I am sure the next crew will be more careful.

 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

So what is the point of the exercise?  Will they now start locking up the children like they did to the Doukhobous? I think that nothing says progressive concern like a new concentration camp in the Kootenays. Lets get on with it and split apart this community, after all it is only this generation of kids that will suffer the kinds of PTST that my Doukhobor friends endured after they were interned to save them from their evil religious parents.

In the meantime how's Jian Ghomeshi doing?

6079_Smith_W

Well that's a very good question k. They know they can't do that because they probably remember the ballsup that happened south of the border when they started seizing children. So what do they hope to accomplish by going this route?

I am sort of glad they got them for something, but I personally think this is kind of a bogus charge - one that may (and probably should) get overturned at the Supreme Court.

In a perfect world  they should get them on abuse of children, but failing solid testimony the next best way is on the taxation and church status thing.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

I still find it a bit odd that the state needs to criminalize "polygamy" when it's up to the state to regognize marriages, and when the state can so easily just NOT recognize a second or third or twenty-third "marriage".  We no longer prosecute "adulterers" -- you can have sex with two different people if you want to -- unless both claim to be a spouse?

voice of the damned

Mr. Magoo wrote:

I still find it a bit odd that the state needs to criminalize "polygamy" when it's up to the state to regognize marriages, and when the state can so easily just NOT recognize a second or third or twenty-third "marriage".  We no longer prosecute "adulterers" -- you can have sex with two different people if you want to -- unless both claim to be a spouse?

As I think was discussed over on En Masse's thread about this topic, some American states and I'm assuming Canada have laws against "purporting to perform multiple marriages" or "purporting to be in a multiple marriage" or some such.

I'd say it's a pretty subjective criteria, because what do you do with, say, a trio of bed-hopping college room-mates? If they all get together one night and yell "Hey, let's all be married!" before engaging in their regular conjugal activities, does that make them legally equivalent to Bountiful?

I guess, as with the judge's famous dictum on obscenity, the police and the courts just think they "know polygamy when they see it".  

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

I guess I'm just thinking that whatever material benefits there are to being married are all administered by the state -- possibly cheaper taxes, rights of inheritance, rights of immigration, and so on.  If someone claims to be a "second" spouse in order to enjoy those benefits, the state doesn't need to criminalize them when it can just (as it will anyway) not recognize those benefits.

I think this should be a reasonable compromise for religious polygamists as well.  Have as many "wives" as you wish.  Assume that your God blesses all of them.  They might not all get to equally share in your estate when you die intestate, but that's just "man's laws" anyway, right?  Surely that's not what polygamists are really fighting for.

6079_Smith_W

It is a pretty flimsy law, whatever you think of the institution.

 

Unionist

Former polygamous leader found guilty in child-bride case

Quote:

There's "no room for doubt" that a former leader in a religious sect that practises polygamy in Bountiful, B.C., knew that an underage girl who he removed from Canada to be married in the United States would be subject to sexual contact, a judge said Friday.

James Oler was found guilty of removing a 15-year-old girl from the community to the United States to be married to an older member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 2004.

In delivering her decision, Justice Martha Devlin of the B.C.Supreme Court said Oler saw with substantial certainty that the girl would be expected to consummate the marriage immediately in order to"fulfil her role in bringing forward children in line with the divine mandate."

"Entering (the girl) into an ordinary marriage would leave no doubt, but as here, entering her into a plural marriage that is imperative to her salvation, leaves even less room," she said.

Sentencing is scheduled for July 15. 

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