A perfect world would allow men to indulge in a very accessible dream.  This dream, of all men, is to sleep with as many women as possible.  If a man contends otherwise…He’s lying, probably to make someone feel better about things, or herself.  Men like variety.  It’s in their human nature.  Guess what would be even better?  Imagine if the countless women any one man slept with were not only aware of all the other women, but they condoned it.  Ooh, look at the faces of the men.  They’re salivating at the thought.  But this world is far from perfect, thus such an ideal is preposterous…except in Utah. 

 

In many rural communities in Utah, most of which are of the Mormon sect, this practice is the norm.  People of such communities feel it’s their religious right to practice polygamy.  They say “plural marriage fulfills the mission of all Mormons to be fruitful and multiply and to ascend to the highest reaches of heaven.”  Polygamists believe their culture’s practices promote many valuable virtues in life.  These sediments are felt amongst people of every age.  A fifteen year-old, one Erin Thompson, expressed several typical goals condusive to that of girls that aren’t raised in a polygamist culture.  She wants to attend college and become a dentist.  But, she also stated that she hopes to be a plural wife.  Aside from her religious duties, she believes sharing a husband would teach her about sacrifice, and prevent her from making him the center of her universe.  These are aspects of life every person, polygamist or not, should learn. 

 

According to several polygamist women, they live by a particular creed.  This creed states, “if you can have 10 percent of a 100 percent man, instead of 100 percent of a 10 percent man, then what would you choose?”  Naturally, the unanimous choice is the first option, ten percent of a one hundred percent man.  To many women of the non-polygamist culture, it’s probably not far fetched that many have fallen victim to the second option, one hundred percent of a ten percent man, although this more than likely wasn’t by choice, but by chance.

 

Polygamists unfortunately have to live in secrecy, for in Utah, the act of having multiple spouses is considered a felony, and punishable by up to five years in prison.  That is absurd!  Why does the government have a right to limit the amount of lovers or family members any one man or one woman can have?  If it’s a question of a man’s ability to financially support multiple families, then it’s understandable that the government feels the need to intervene.  But for all intents and purposes what makes polygamists any different from one man and one woman procreating as many as 7-10 children, without the financial means to support them?  Why doesn’t the government intervene when a family is on welfare, yet they’re creating babies like they are apples on trees?  They don’t!  So why are polygamists treated any differently?

 

John Llewellyn, a leading polygamist critic in Utah, tried to explain.  “I’m a former law-enforcement officer, a former polygamist and now someone who’s working against polygamy.  I’ve seen this from every side.  And the bottom line is that there are a lot of polygamists out there who are good, honest people.  There are, unfortunately that many—or more—who are out there perpetuating every kind of horrible abuse you can’t even imagine.”  Sounds like any other realm of society, doesn’t it?  The difference between every other realm and the polygamist realm is decriminalization.  If polygamists weren’t shunned by the rest of society, they wouldn’t be forced to live in seclusion.  Therefore, any crimes that did occur would be easier to deter, for they would be easier to observe. 

 

Utah’s attorney general, Mark Shurtleff, has implemented a policy that leaves polygamists alone if they’re not engaging in more serious crimes.  He said, “We don’t have the resources, nor do I think we should use our resources, to convict every polygamist in Utah, put them in jail, and put 20,000 kids into foster care.”  He continued,” What [the state] is focusing on are the crimes against women and children and tax fraud and other crimes involving misuse of public money.”

 

If this is the state’s true position, it is a good one, and other societies, in general, should adopt the same position towards the culture.  Who is anyone to say how a particular sect of people should live?  If a community’s religious beliefs aren’t inflicting undue pain or harm against any people, then they should be allowed to practice their religious beliefs without interference, from anyone.  Why is this so hard to accept?

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