While the majority of the FLDS minors have been returned to their parents, the daughter of Warren Jeffs, the former FLDS head honcho who is currently serving time for being an accomplice to rape, returned her mother, but with special restrictions, reports the Dallas Morning News. Apparently the girl's lawyer "complained she'd been sexually abused by a man in the group and might be in danger," so while the teen has been reunited with her mother Annette, Annette has been ordered to stay in the San Antonio area and barred from returning to the Yearning For Zion ranch. But, as the Dallas Morning News points out, the majority of children were thrilled to be reunited with their parents, which goes to show that at least some measure of the public hand-wringing over the fate of these kids (of which I am also guilty) is potentially overblown. Lee Ann Kinkade, who grew up on a commune in Virginia, sympathizes with the FLDS kids in today's Slate because she knows what it's like to grow up outside of mainstream society.
While Kinkade's egalitarian, Marxist, hippied-out community, Twin Oaks, was "as far from fundamentalist Mormonism as it could be without being lunar," she still felt a kinship with the FLDS children because "I grew up in a place where my 'normal' was far enough from the average American childhood to make Dick and Jane books read like cultural anthropology."
She also identified with the FLDS's unconventional kinship structure. While Kinkade didn't live with her biological mother, there was a woman who she considers her mother emotionally; a woman who was her "purveyor of mac and cheese, warmth, and safety." And though she thinks that marrying off 13-year-olds to gross old men is "indefensible," she does fear that the media is painting the FLDS with the freak brush a little too often for her liking. "I wonder what degree of empathy is possible in a social structure that persists in defining the lives of the children it is trying to help as bizarre," she muses.
Look, I'm no fan of the FLDS. I don't have evidence that every family within the church is sexually abusive or cruel to children — though clearly the structure of the religion makes it easy for abuse to happen. But Kinkade's plea for tolerance and compassion is something we should all consider. Though really, Warren Jeffs — what a sick fuck, right????
We Are (All) Family [Slate]
Judge's Orders Aimed To Protect Jeffs' Daughter From Sect Member [Dallas Morning News via Newser]