Carolyn Moynihan on How TV, Professors and Judges Collaborate to Promote Polygamy


Carolyn Moynihan connects some dots:

... Community leader Warren Jeffs, already in trouble before the raid, is currently in jail awaiting trial in Texas on sexual assault and bigamy charges. If he sits tight a bit longer, though, the bigamy charge may collapse; with same-sex marriage apparently in the bag, polygamy is looking like the next big thing in the United States -- and no-one seems to care what happens to the kids.

While Jeffs has been cooling his heels in clink, television networks have promoted his cause by rolling out shows such as Big Love and Sister Wives. The Browns ofSister Wives, all four of them, have talked about how happy they are with their choice and how well adjusted their 16 children are, and how the children are carefully educated about choice and consequences, and how there are no underage or arranged marriages. Fictional versions of the lifestyle add to the gloss by leaving out what one script writer calls the “yuck factor”.

Now that the small screen has demystified and sentimentalised polygamy it is the turn of professors and judges to legitimise it. And what better time to do so than in the wake of the latest green light for same-sex marriage? Straight after New York conferred the right to marry on homosexuals, Ralph Richard Banks, a Stanford law school professor predicted that polygamy and incest must now be legalised: “Over time, our moral assessments of these practices will shift, just as they have with interracial marriage and same sex marriage.”