The Grinches who Stole Mother’s Day

King George 28, State of Texas 13

11. With the FLDS children having been in state custody for over one month, state officials still have not enabled a comprehensive program of parental visits. As mothers across the nation observed Mother’s Day today, we should pause to reflect that 464 FLDS children are currently separated from their mother, their home environment, or both. If the state has the logistical wherewithal to take all the children into custody, it has the obligation to find the logistical wherewithal of enabling a fair program of parental visitation.

Let’s take Sarah Steed’s case as an example. Her six children have been divided among four foster care locations in three cities: San Antonio, Waco, and Waxahachie. Staying at the YFZ Ranch near Eldorado obviously was not an option for this mother, since that would place her at three or more hours drive from all of her children (see mileage table below). She picked what seems the most logical choice for such an emotional decision: San Antonio, where her nursing baby is located. That puts her 180 miles and 245 miles, respectively, from the other cities where her children are located.

12. The fact that several state laws were created specifically to place the FLDS religion in the crosshairs of Texas family law appears to fit with the other indicators that point toward a religious motivation for the government actions. After the FLDS moved to Texas, laws were changed to eliminate the privilege of not being forced to testify against one’s spouse in a polygamy case, to eliminate the presumption that a spouse was innocent when entering a union with a polygamist, to increase the legal age for marriage from 14 to 16, to outlaw marriage to a cousin or a step-parent, and to criminalize officiating at, or being a partner in, a polygamous marriage. A Texas state representative said, “Our laws needed to be updated even if this group hadn’t come to Texas.” He also protested that “we didn’t invite them to come here, but if they’re going to come here, they’ve got to obey Texas law” (especially the ones written after they arrived, one would presume). Although some of these laws were clearly outdated, it also seems clear that the entire collection of laws never would have been passed without the arrival of the FLDS in Texas. In fact, a law professor was paraphrased in a law.com article as saying that he teaches his students about laws enacted in 2005 that were “aimed directly at the FLDS ranch and its members.”

13. There was a deplorable lack of due diligence taken by government officials before initiating the raid. It now appears quite possible that the calls which triggered the raid were placed from Colorado by a person with a history of placing false reports. In a previous false reporting incident involving the alleged caller, Colorado police successfully tracked her down. How difficult would it have been for Texas officials to at least establish that the calls were being made from out-of-state before deciding to call out the cavalry and raid the FLDS community near Eldorado? In the calls to the Texas domestic violence shelter, the caller claimed that she had been treated at a hospital for broken ribs. How difficult would it have been to check local hospital records to see if a young girl wearing a prairie dress had been treated for broken ribs? The caller claimed that the treatment involved wrapping her torso with an ace bandage and being told to “take it easy for a few days.” How hard would it have been to realize that is not a very credible hospital treatment for broken ribs? I understand that chest wraps are no longer recommended for broken ribs, because of the risks they involve. Also, it seems that pain medication, anti-inflammatories, and ice would likely be indicated rather than just rest. But the true giveaway that something isn’t quite right in this story is the advice that the rest should be for “a few days.” It is hard to believe that a story involving a few days of rest for broken ribs – rather than several weeks – wouldn’t set off a few alarm bells in the head of a thinking adult. The caller also claimed that Dale Barlow was her husband. How difficult would it have been to discover that Barlow had not visited Texas since the FLDS community was established there? Where is the evidence that the merits of the case were critically evaluated? It is a bit too ironic that state officials are constantly accusing FLDS members of lacking critical thinking skills.

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