Private Eye | Get Raid: Utah’s Legislature doesn’t have time for polygamists | Private Eye | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Private Eye | Get Raid: Utah’s Legislature doesn’t have time for polygamists 

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Just when I thought it was chelada weather, things turned. It’s the middle of April and you’d think it’s time to gather up the pumpkins. It’s flat-out cold and windy today. Due to this cold, I’ve done what I normally pass on—I’ve planted cabbage-family crops. Technically, what I’ve planted are cole crops, members of the mustard family, but who outside an agronomist has ever heard of cole crops?

Cole crops are hearty, and they like the cold. They’re the Aleuts of the vegetable world. But I hate the damned bugs they attract. I’ve tried everything from soap-and-water baths to Bacillus thuringiensis to companion plantings (dill and rosemary are said to repel the bad cabbage bugs or something like that). I’ve learned it’s best to just tolerate cole plants. In a good year, I get three brussels sprouts and a quarter head of cabbage. My broccoli and cauliflower? By mid-June, they look like caterpillar-larvae hotels. My harsh measures do little good.

Meanwhile, my tomatoes wait. I could protect them in any number of ways, but I’ve lost them before doing so, too. And that’s the rub—no matter how hard you try to protect something you really like, it doesn’t always work out. President Kennedy had lots of protection in Dallas. People get flu shots every year and still get the flu. Mark Eaton was always protected the basket but the Jazz didn’t win every game. Polygamists fled to rural Texas to peacefully practice whatever it was they believe in, and look how nicely that worked out.

Many people who comment about the FLDS call them a bunch of loony kooks trapped in a time warp of misguided beliefs and dated religious and sexual practices. That may be true, but being loony isn’t against the law—if it were, don’t you think it would be a wiser spending of tax dollars to raid the Utah Legislature? Not only are they primarily loony, they fill their pockets at your expense at a greater clip than polygamist groups do.

Worse, our legislators weren’t born into looniness but came into it via that time-worn path of ignorance and self-entitlement. We all hear that wah-wah that polygamists strain the system because their large families need government assistance in any manner of ways from welfare to health care. As you’re astute, you know those are the same things said about illegals. I’d rather give $100 to any part-time needy Jessop, Barlow or Jeffs than give a dime to a full-time greedy legislator like Springville Rep. Aaron Tilton, who has all the time in the world for his special interests, but none for you.

The Legislature doesn’t have time for polygamists, either. Not that it’s fully to blame for what happened in Texas, but virtually every Utah state legislator for decades has done next to nothing regarding polygamy. Not counting whiny speeches, that is. Nary a thumbs up or thumbs down. Utah has been blind and mute regarding polygamy since the LDS Church formally forbade the practice in favor of statehood in the 1890s.

Informally, most everyone around here knows that formality is a joke. Not because modern-day Mormons secretly practice polygamy—and some do, risking excommunication from the LDS Church—but because despite what evils may lurk in the hearts of the polygamist collective, the majority of Utahns remain sympathetic to polygamists. I know I am.

That comes with the turf of being descended from a polygamist, which I’ve never kept secret or tried to deny like certain Leavitts and Romneys try to do. I’m from the lineage of the fifth wife, so without polygamy, I wouldn’t even be here. I know, you’re thanking your lucky stars that Matthew Caldwell felt compelled to marry five times in the 1800s so that you could be reading this. Me, too. Outside of feeling the daily tug of gravity, polygamy is about the only thing I have in common with what is likely half the population of Utah—my fellow descendents of Utah’s halcyon days of plural marriage.

I talk to liberals who say smoking pot shouldn’t be illegal because it doesn’t hurt anyone. Polygamists give a similar defense of their lifestyle. I talk to conservatives who say private property and personal freedoms are sacrosanct. Polygamists say that’s all they really want. Then, come raid time, liberals and conservatives both pounce on the polygamists with equal measures of moral superiority.

Here’s what I don’t understand. Polygamy is against the law, plain and simple. Yet, who gets arrested for polygamy? Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff has rounded up a couple of high-profile polygamists, but that’s about it—and what were the charges? Tax evasion? Child abuse? Overdue power bill? Ever heard of a polygamist wife being arrested? From where I’m sitting, I could hit a polygamist even by spitting into the wind, but I see no sign of Mr. Shurtleff. Except on TV where he talks about how he scared the Jeffs family all the way to San Angelo. Nice. About 60,000 to go, Mark.

And, of course, it’s the kids. No child should be abused or forced into any sexual submission ever. But you tell me—that sure was a lot of manpower down there that may yield some bone fide crimes committed at the FLDS compound. Meanwhile, child abuse continues on at a nearly unabated pace in the rest of Texas and Utah. Just as I always use the wrong insecticide and can never eradicate all my garden bugs, the wrong methods were used in Texas—and Hildale and Colorado City—because all you’re getting are the obvious and few. Bugs and child abusers are everywhere. Polygamy is just where they sometimes land.

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