Cult of Coercionality

April 19, 2008

So, yeah, I’m sure we’ve all heard about that polygamist cult group in Texas where a ton of women, teens, and children were rescued from abusive fundamentalists, where they were subject to beatings, rape, and forced marriages.

To that I say great! All those poor people having to have lived like that is horrible. No innocent people should have to live under some brutal coercion and violence, least of all kids.

Then I took another look at the news articles about all this. Just as I suspected.

The media and Texas authorities couldn’t care LESS about the coercion and violence against these people. What is their biggest complaint? Underage marriage. A 14-year-old girl being arranged to marry a 40-year-old or something. The other stuff is given a slight mention if anything, but the underage and age-disparate marriage is apparently the worst thing that was happening in this compound, and the only thing the men there were being charged with (as far as I’ve heard anyway). Maybe statutory rape charges were in there as well.

You know, I’m not saying the 14-year-old being arranged to marry a 40-year-old isn’t bad, particularly since it’s obvious she has no choice in the matter, nor is given the right to say no to marital consummation after the coerced ceremony is done. But the extras I just mentioned here seem to be unimportant to the media. Instead they seem more concerned with the comparatively light issue of “ZOMG, she’s under the legal age of marriage!” and leave it at that. The fact that, despite her age, the marriage is against her will as are any sexual relations following doesn’t seem to faze them.

But even that gets at least some reaction, though not enough. What about the beatings and psychological torture and brainwashing? What about being essentially held against their will in this place? Ah, hell, the media don’t care about little issues like that, which they often ignore when it comes to youth. All they are interested in is underage marriage and sex. Do they even care that it’s coerced? Not really. They just care that it happened at all.

There’s also the issue of selective focus on areas of such coercion. What little the eyes of society care about the coercion here is hardly equally distributed. Do they care about all those behavior modification camps teens get sent to? Why not? The teens there suffer all the same abuses as in this cult compound. Just one important difference. No forced marriage. Lots of forced sex, but no forced marriage. The idea that this cult compound was considered so much worse, that it garnered all this media attention that is intermittently if ever trickled upon the behavior modification industry, when the only difference as far as treatment of the youth was the forced marriage thing, is downright disgusting.

Then I realize that forced marriages hardly occur only in this little cult compound. Happens in remote Muslim societies as well, and far worse. Sure, their daughters might be allowed to go off to England or Australia or the USA for college. Then they’ll invite them back supposedly for some cousin’s wedding or whatever. Only to be held hostage by their family and be forced to marry some guy chosen for her. She can’t get out of it, at least not without severely risking life and limb. Sounds pretty horrible. But where, oh where!, is all the media frenzy over this? I mean, seems like the kind of thing they’ll hop into eventually. Like the whole issue with the Catholic priests molesting altar boys was something everybody already knew about even well before it became a media circus a few years ago. But why isn’t this kind of forced marriage wrong?

Ah, of course. It’s not in America. People not in America are only important where somehow partisan. Iraqis are important because of the parties divided over the war, and throwing around casualty numbers like spit balls in a substitute teacher’s middle school classroom. Darfur? Zimbabwe? Myanmar? Tibet? Who gives a shit? There’s not enough money or votes to be gained.

But, why, oh why!, is the forced marriage in this cult compound in Texas so horrid and important, particularly when people don’t seem to care about the coercion factor nearly as much as the age factor? I mean, if they were forcefully marrying and consummating with 5-year-olds, the age factor would be significantly more important, of course. But why do we “think of the children” only as far as being on the wrong side of the age line and not really care about the very real suffering they go through? To the media, what happened to the girls in this cult compound wasn’t torture because of the, you know, torture. It was merely because of an age-based status. The beatings and coercion? Maybe gets a one-line mention. But ZOMG! These young teens are being made to marry so young! I mean, it’s bad, as I’ve said, but everyone is completely missing the point.

The point being, of course, that clearly people want these girls out of that compound not for their sake but for their own personal irrational comfort. Sure, a 14-year-old girl from that compound might be out of there and put into another home where she might also be subject to coercion and sexual abuse. But, as far as these people see it, at least she’s out of the cult compound, and that apparently is all that matters.

8 thoughts on “Cult of Coercionality”

  1. You’re right, this is win. :b:

    I saw an article in the newspaper today about the “indoctrination from birth” that these children were subjected to. Well, the article was only about the indoctrination that the girls were subjected to, and only the indoctrination that they must marry shortly after puberty, have as many children as possible, and obey their fathers and husbands.

    Their concern about indoctrination, like their concern about coerced sex, is not evenly distributed. Children throughout America are indoctrinated from birth (and certainly from school age) to be good little robots, but the media doesn’t notice or mention that. Not to mention all the “indoctrination” that happens in other countries that Americans don’t care about.

  2. So true!

    No matter what society we are from, there is a certain degree of coercion. What about when mainstream Christianity ‘coerces’ people into remaining virgins into marriage? Coercion here is used in a biased fashion. We are either blind to our own coercion or see it as beneficial whilst we criticize other cultures’ equally valid coercion.

    The media calls them a “polygamist ranch” as if the belief in polygamy defines them. They should be referred to as “Breakaway sect from the Church of latter-day saints” or something similar. Referring to them as “polygamists” is like calling a group of Jews “circumcision-ists”.

    There is nothing wrong with polygamy. I have no moral opposition to polygamy. If it was up to me, we would legally recognize polymagist marriages just as we should recognize same-sex marriages. But, because mainstream Christianity does not endorse it, it will not happen.

    What really upsets me is that these children were removed from their homes. They were forced to leave. They are the innocent ones. Arrest the criminals, not the children!

  3. Wait a minute… I thought you said the age of consent wasn’t a youth rights issue.

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