The Breakfast Table

Deadbeat Dads and Polygamists

Dear Jh,

Nothing W. will ever do will make me like him. His smile gives him away–this man’s compassion is pretty much reserved for himself. And poor Al Gore, of course, has to take Remedial Smiling.

I’m all for faith … I guess. I don’t actually have any spiritual inclination, but I think it must be nice to feel that way. I love the thought of these groups, even of W. himself, “coaxing fathers to behave responsibly”. Ah yes, those tender little green shoots of personhood: deadbeat dads. Who would have thought that even the compassionate conservative had such wells of sentimentality? In the end, two church-based groups will get some money and one more state will figure out that joining a national registry might lower their welfare costs, but no one will do anything so radical as help the actual mothers, or even better, use a lot of money and a lot of personnel to prevent them from becoming mothers (one approach is incentive, another is a mentor, the other is easy, safe, and dirt-cheap abortion for those who will consider it–and getting rid of the lunatics who harass women at the clinics … love to see someone come out for that).

I wonder that someone isn’t holding up that fundamentalist Mormon as a pillar of responsible dad-hood. He seems to do what has to be done, pay his bills, treat his spouses with respect, and go to a boatload of piano recitals. Saturday soccer time must be a bear. The prosecution of this man–and the findings of the Army investigation that the Kentucky Army base where Barry Winchell was killed had “no climate of homophobia,” makes me call again for Dr. Szasz–who are all these crazy people?

I really don’t know why anyone should care about consensual polygamy (of course, everyone should be of age and no creepy old man should get to sell his daughter, but surely that’s true for any marriage–not that it doesn’t happen in regular old marriage). What’s it to us if five women read their John Gray (don’t get me started–that’s something to outlaw) carefully and conclude that they will get some romance and resources from a husband, their true emotional sustenance from their sister-wives, and passion and satisfaction from raising their children? This is a new idea? Women who wished for that particular security could choose it–as they currently are allowed to choose old, rich men; young, silly men; and men who can no more sustain the intimacy of marriage than they can grow gills–the law doesn’t stop those men from marrying or women from marrying them, even if we are all dubious about the result and the relationship. Why should we stop polygamists whose greatest crime seems to be a certain lack of fashion-forward sense and a lot of faith?


xo Amy