Saturday, May 24, 2008


I guess Texas's little pony show down there troubles me enough that I wake up thinking about it. "Troubles" may not be the word I'm looking for. "Intrigues" might be the more apt verb, for that little group of people poses many interesting challenges. Is polygamy necessarily bad for the human animal? Are their women and children actually being dummed down so that they can be controlled? And if the women and children are happy and not being harmed, should any of us care what their men do with them, how they train them and to what Biblical standard they indoctrinate them—as long as they agree to it?

Do they pay their taxes and are they available for military service should a draft come up? That may be all the larger state can expect of them.

I try to think myself into their compound, walk around in it, savor its sights and smells, but such an adventure is hard to imagine. I know their compound looks neat and clean as a whistle. I know one thing for sure—my free nature would rebel against that sort of control over my life. I was a total failure in the military mold. I can imagine the chains of gossip by which they control one another. I can imagine women teaching one another not to be jealous.

I can imagine what it must be like not to be allowed any really independent thinking from the group norm and being ostracized (banished) when one strays too far from the herd mentality. Banished—can you imagine the terror such a punishment would cause in a person who has been cut off from the main body of American culture and then forced to go survive in it? How would the banished one cope, find work, make friends? Being raised, cut off like that, would make it extremely difficult to function in the American body politic.

Of course, straying from the herd in the larger society also causes similar sorts of repercussions. Look at the "gossip" about and condemnation of gay folk and cross-dressers, for examples, in church groups. Look how we try to suppress them and regulate them and hem their behavior in.

And, come to think of it, look at all fundamentalists in their churches, striving with might and main, through non-association and through home schooling, to stay free of contamination by the freedom gene and thirst for new experience that thrives in those of us who have them. It's not an easy thing to be free. Most of the human herd desires to run around in carefully regulated groups because, when the human brain first achieved consciousness, that's the sort of social arrangement it found itself in and the atheist gene complex is fairly new, I suppose, and may not turn out to be the most successful adaptation. And even atheists group together for common protection and warmth of association. None of us are free from the need of companionship.

So there you go. I've just rambled a bit in an unorganized manner, here in the wee hours, because my mind was going a mile a minute, lying there in the dark. Getting up and attending to my consciousness's needs usually gets me back to sleep in short enough time. And I've got to be up at five this morn in order to go catch my plane for Ohio!

I guess the most salient point that emerges when I confront group (herd) mentality like that which controls fundamentalist behavior is how so very close they still are to the people that first made cave drawings. They haven't evolved quite like those of us who understand and accept freedom. The interesting paradox is that our founders' ideas about human freedom protect the very freedom that people longing to return to the herd (and renounce that freedom) are protected by.

So be it—if they are afraid to be as free as those of us in the larger herd choose to be free, let them huddle together in their groups where the male feels free to roam the herd for his sexual release. But, then, when I say that, I'm struck by the fact that the most precious thing our founding fathers gave us was a society in which a freedom to choose is given wide latitude and that women and children, raised in the constraints of Zion, do not quite get the freedom to choose that the rest of us do. Perhaps freedom is the only real reason any of us have to oppose Zions like theirs and fundamentalist churches in general—they don't raise up citizens who truly understand the wide range of behavior they have the freedom to choose among. And people who do not honor freedom above all other values are a threat to the "freedom to choose" itself because they don't want those among them, their women and children, to enjoy that freedom in the same measure they do. Their male freedom of choice is achieved by limiting the freedom of choice of the easily corrupted, because powerless, women and children in their midst. And that is a very scary prospect.

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