Reid alleges “pervasive criminal activity” by the FLDS. Specifically mentioned are “sexual abuse, bigamy and sexual conduct with minors.” All of these are state rather than federal matters, unless a child is transported across state lines for the purpose of engaging in sexual acts. Also cited is the violation of child labor laws, which can involve both state and federal statutes.
More to the point, the SL-Trib article notes:
“Reid contends that the FLDS are an organized crime syndicate that has engaged in bribery, extortion, fraud, embezzlement, witness tampering and labor violations. He wants the Justice Department to launch a federal racketeering investigation.”As with child labor issues, some of these could be both state and federal matters.
It seems problematic that the only people that are invited to testify at next week’s hearing are “politicians, [anti-polygamy] activists and ex-FLDS members.” That starts to look like a witch hunt. FLDS spokesmen have questioned the credibility of such testimonies and have called for testimony from the FLDS as well. It seems that even when a hearing has been held about mob racketeering, the mob has been able to present its side. Why not the FLDS? Is Sen. Reid afraid of something?
Sen. Reid’s allegations and approach seem all too similar to the federal persecutions that were heaped on the good senator’s own church in the 1860s through 1880s. If you look hard enough, you can probably find some federal statute that can be used to charge any strange group of people you happen to dislike.
Of course, “the women and kids” are cited as the victims that must be saved from the horrors of a polygamous church. Never mind the fact that far more children suffer much graver depredations in our inner cities and other parts of our society. We tolerate far more bizarre family configurations than the FLDS have. We may not like the way the FLDS organize themselves and their families, but they have been found by judges to have loving home and family environments.
If the FLDS are involved in real crimes they should be investigated and prosecuted. But they should get their day in court. If we are merely fishing for an excuse to charge them with something so that we can destroy their church, we should take a step back and realize that even people with whom we disagree have liberty to live and worship as they wish.