Wednesday, November 9, 2011

News Updates

It looks like Papandreou is out.  Berlusconi has agreed to step aside also.  The Dow dropped 390 points today.  Europe is rumored to be on the brink of utter financial collapse [according to correspondent, Chicken Little).
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Yesterday, Merril Jessop, 75, got a ten-year prison sentence in Texas for performing an "illegal" wedding ceremony.  I have blogged about this before, but I just have to rub this in!  What in the blazes is an illegal wedding ceremony?  What element of the event is criminal? - the words? -  the arrangement of people in the room? - the ages of the people in the room?  What part of the FIRST AMENDMENT do Barbie and her puppet jurors not understand?

Now, I'm not saying that what Merril did was not inconceivably reckless.  If he had half an inkling that these (alleged) eleven young daughters of his (whom he was surrendering to Jeffs, his colleague in the church's First Presidency) were going to be molested in short order, he should have caught the first train out of town with Carolyin and the rest of his immense tribe.  However, it has also been reported that he picked up a couple of young dames in the bargain, so maybe there was some kind of wink-and-a-nod quid-pro-quo going on.

Nevertheless, I think Merril has suffered enough with the discovery of Jeffs's despicable debaucheries and the monumental humiliation.  I wish there had been some kind of plea bargain opportunity (like in Wendel's case) to avoid prison time.  Maybe he is feeling some sort of mea culpa and wants to fall on the sword.

The galling thing for me is the absurd contention that these fantasy ceremonies conducted in a private setting can constitute a crime in modern, 14th Amendment America.  I understand all the jurisprudence surrounding enticement, grooming, aiding and abetting, complicity, collusion, and so on, but this illegal wedding idea is even more intangible (let alone its being entirely novel in Texas).  In many cases, assisting in some way (even obliviously) with the actions of a criminal can be weighed and deemed criminal in and of itself, but it still seems to me like a huge stretch to criminalize a strictly religious performance - one which involves the utterance of purely religious phrases, and no more physical interaction than perhaps a brief hand-clasp, - one which presumes no legal stamp of approval, no governmental imprimatur.  I weep inside at the thought that no one has the stamina to take this farce to the Supreme Court and get it overturned.  In the wake of the Jeffs disgrace, however, I'd be surprised if any of his cohorts can escape the wrath of a disgusted American public.  Perhaps the prosecution's view is that, despite the informal nature of the ceremony, the young girl participating in it was losing all personal and community-approved freedoms to escape imminent sexual exploitation by the putative "husband".  Yet, if that is the legal standard, you would have to incarcerate the entire community - or maybe just outlaw religion.
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In other news, it has been reported that Judge Bauman will render his decision in the British Columbia polygamy reference case in a couple of weeks.  Remember that this anti-polygamy case was not about establishing new, anti-polygamy legislation, it was about whether or not to uphold a 100-year-old, anti-polygamy law that was atrociously crafted and NEVER implemented.  The judge has an unenviable task.  Any ruling is likely to be appealed (see my earlier associated posts here and here and here).

If he rules in our (polygamists') favor, I shall cheer because he will be acknowledging what everyone already knows - that you cannot criminalize informal, multi-partner intimacies in a nation that already solemnizes legal, homosexual marriages.  If he rules that the law can be lawfully applied, I shall laugh out loud because, despite my not wishing any harm on Winston Blackmore's and Jimmy Oler's families, I am DYING to see what the RCMP and the prosecutors think they can do next.  Of the perhaps hundreds of faithful Fundamentalist Mormon families in the Bountiful/Creston area, which ones will they handcuff first?  Will they take the women, too?  I have visions of the 1953 (Short Creek) raid all over again.  Sincerely, I wonder how it is that supposedly intelligent public officials can be so incredibly myopic and stupid.  I guess I'm just naive. 

Perhaps the law of unintended consequences will kick in, as with Bank of America's boneheaded $5.00 monthly debit card fee, or Obama's ill-fated 15-cent Christmas tree tax.

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