Tuesday’s Post carried a strangely typical story on polygamy today in the bottom right-hand corner of the front page. The headline was "Polygamists Fight to Be Seen As Part of Mainstream Society." Reporter John Pomfret’s story did not offer both sides of the polygamy debate. It aired quite a bit of assertion from polygamy practitioners in Utah, matched only by local law enforcement officials that have largely accepted the practice, prosecuting only crimes around the edges, like sex with child brides. The story features no outraged feminists at the patriarchy in these relationships. There are no religious authorities or academics to take exception to it, or even non-religious critics like Stanley Kurtz of National Review Online. In short, it’s a thinly disguised testimonial packet.
Compare this article to the front-page story Alan Cooperman and Peter Whoriskey wrote last week on the churches maintaining their teachings on homosexuality as a sin, headlined "3 Christian Groups Move to Condemn Gay Sex." That story was much more balanced, with religious traditionalists debating advocates of a Jesus of "radical hospitality" toward gays. Pomfret seems devoted to chronicling the inevitable acceptance of this new trend encroaching on traditional monogamous matrimony:
In their quest to decriminalize bigamy, practitioners have had help from unlikely quarters. HBO's series "Big Love," about a Viagra-popping man with three wives, three sets of bills, three sets of chores and three sets of kids, marked a watershed because of its sympathetic portrayal of polygamists. The U.S. Supreme Court's 2003 decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which voided laws criminalizing sodomy, also aided polygamy's cause because it implied that the court disapproved of laws that reach into the bedroom.
Since then, liberal legal scholars, generally no friend of the polygamists' conservative-leaning politics, have championed decriminalization. One of them is Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University who has written two op-eds for USA Today calling for the legalization of bigamy -- and same-sex marriage.
"I find polygamy an offensive practice," said Turley, who has become something of a celebrity among polygamists in Utah. "But there is no way its practice among consenting adults should be a felony."
Say what? The Supreme Court has encouraged polygamy? Why, which conservative politician warned about that, and had his head handed to him? That would be Sen. Rick Santorum, pounded by the Associated Press in 2003 for this allegedly outrageous quote, as Brent Bozell recalled:
"If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery." AP hyped this comparison by adding the word "gay" between "consensual" and "sex."
Santorum’s point was philosophical and legal: Do we want an absolutely unlimited right to privacy? That’s where we could be headed with the Texas sodomy case now before the Court.
Brent handled the media's welcoming committee last year for the HBO "Big Love" series here.