The Puritanical Prohibition of Polygamy

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I got to wondering the other day whether a law is just simply because it is law and why the subjective morality of a few is heaped onto the masses.

We have laws in this country enacted to punish people for and deter them from physically or fiscally harming others, I get that. We also have arbitrary laws passed to apparently indulge the intolerance of the ruling class.

Let me preface this week's edition of the Crying Towel with a bit of a platitude: I support the legalization of polygamy for all Americans, from apostolic Christian to agnostic.

And, while it might not surprise you to hear that Gohs heathen is once again defending the seemingly indefensible, it should shock you that the Bill of Rights is trampled by our politico police and their citizen tyrant toadies every day of the week.

Though it has existed arguably as far back as men and women have felt the need to covet one another, and was practiced by Jews, Muslims, American Indians, Africans, Asians and even some Christians, plural marriage's downfall in these United States began shortly after Latter Day Saint (LDS) prophet, Brigham Young, announced in the mid-1800s that 'the practice,' as it is often called, was a vital part of LDS life. Over the next couple decades, Utah and the U.S. government did all they could to destroy the Mormons by seizing property, disincorporating the church and imprisoning known practitioners of plural marriage. Young's own secretary, George Reynolds, after being found guilty of bigamy and hoping the freedom of religion clause in the U.S. Constitution would release he and his people from state mandated torment, sought relief from the U.S. Supreme Court.

In his opinion on the case, Chief Justice, Morrison Waite, wrote, 'There never has been a time in any State of the Union when polygamy has not been an offense against society.'

According to Waite, it was, 'Impossible to believe that the constitutional guaranty of religious freedom was intended to prohibit legislation in response to this most important feature (marriage) of social life.' Though Waite's willful ignorance demonstrated otherwise, the constitution does not say only certain Christian religious beliefs are protected, it says, 'Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.'

But, by passing laws based on certain sects of Christianity, lawmakers have established a national religion. Waite further stated, 'Polygamy has always been odious among the northern and western nations of Europe, and, until the establishment of the Mormon church, was almost exclusively a feature of the life of Asiatic and of African people.'

Of course, Waite's statement came during a time when only certain white, Christian men enjoyed the full protections and benefits of the constitution. Knowing the brutality and subhuman treatment received by both of the nonwhite, aforementioned peoples, it is most certain that Waite meant merely to further disparage the practice of polygamy.

Waite continued to express his knowledge of all things odious when he wrote that, while American laws, 'Cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinions, they may with practices.' I dare a modern-day judge to tell the NRA their members deserve only the opinion that they may own guns under the Second Amendment to the Constitution.

I hear the critics of freedom and equality conjuring their asinine arguments in hopes of destroying dissenters. They say, 'But Gohs, polygamy is a breeding ground for child molesters and misogynists.' Unfortunately they are partially correct, predators lurk everywhere, but we already have laws designed to punish pedophiles'as weak as those laws may be. We certainly cannot punish the thousands of those engaged in holy, plural matrimony simply because of a few rotters. To do so would be as silly as calling for prohibition of Catholicism simply because a few addled archbishops knowingly placed pederasts within arms reach of hundreds of young victims.

We must say no to the burning of a witch, the stoning of a heretic and the continued criminalization of civil liberties'Come on kids, just say no to neo-puritanism.

After all, protecting the freedom of those with whom we disagree is the first and most necessary of steps to protecting our own.

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Benjamin J. Gohs is a staff writer for the Charlevoix Courier newspaper and author of the award-winning column "The Crying Towel."