Edward Daley
A response to Paul A. Ibbetson's article titled 'Sister Wives: the concubines of the cult of Kody Brown'
By Edward Daley
July 23, 2011

The following is a retort to my good friend Paul A. Ibbetson's 'Sister Wives...' article of July 21, 2011

Original article: http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/ibbetson/110722

Okay, so some of the things I'm going to write herein will probably piss a few people off, but hey, you can't please everybody... if you could, you'd make Jesus look like one of those silly pop music icons that spring up every few years and then fade into obscurity just as readily.

Suffice it to say that even conservative-minded folks like you (Paul) and I are going to disagree from time to time, and that's actually a good thing. To paraphrase the famous chewing gum manufacturer, William Wrigley: when two people always agree, one of them is unnecessary.

And so begins my critique of your piece on the subject of 'Sister Wives,' the Learning Channel and the polygamist culture in general.

In your article, you write: "If you want to see another blatant example of social activism at the expense of traditional marriage, go no further than The Learning Channel (TLC). Part of TLC's knowledge-enhancing program lineup is the show featuring polygamist Kody Brown and his ever-growing, Utah-based harem of 'Sister Wives.'"

On this point you'll get only minimal argument from me. TLC may well be engaging in social activism in this case, although, like most television networks today, it may just as easily be that the folks who run that network are perfectly willing to exploit any situation in order to improve their company's "bottom line."

To put it another way, it just might be that TLC is merely a network of ratings whores with no real ideological dog in the 'marriage wars' hunt. To be perfectly honest, I don't watch the network, so I cannot speak authoritatively on TLC's socio-political leanings or the possible motives of its programming staff. I have seen several episodes of 'Sister wives' online, however, and I find it to be a fascinating — if somewhat disturbing — show that I intend to watch again in the near future. Why, you may ask? Well, because I am intrigued by the more twisted and perverse aspects of the human psyche, that's why. Sue me.

You go on to write: "The show, Sister Wives, despite being given a positive spin, still highlights the cult-like mentality of polygamy groups."

Now this I agree with wholeheartedly. Indeed, there is a cultish component to the way the women on this program behave with regard to their "husband" Kody, and it carries over to the manner in which their respective children interact with each other and their collective parental unit. That having been said, I find this component to be no more pronounced in the case of the fundamentalist Mormon sect in question, than it is in the more widely accepted religious practices of — say — Jehovah's Witnesses, Krishnas or Scientologists.

You continue: "Kody Brown emanates a shyster vibe that is common with manipulators found in cult settings. He preaches to his bedroom cohorts that they are each individually special and respected while at the same time adding new women to his brothel."

Again, I cannot argue with your basic assessment here, yet I feel the need to remind you that this very same "shyster vibe" is also given off by Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Anthony Weiner, Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, Barney Frank and practically every other prominent political figure in the Democrat party today. You'll note that, as of this moment, the majority of American citizens have failed utterly to criminalize the DNC.

You opine: "It is doubtful that Kody Brown's cherub-like smile would withstand a request from his stable to bring another man into the love circle. I suspect that would spoil the "specialness" of these marriages."

Of this I have little doubt. His mentality bares a striking resemblance to that of any male adulterer in the world who routinely makes excuses for his own cheating, yet would likely go ballistic if his poor, suffering wife were to ever have a sexual affair. Still, while a certain amount of hypocrisy does exist in this situation, there is a substantial difference between Kody and your average adulterous husband, which is that he isn't committing adultery — at least as I understand the definition of the word.

What these people — "the Browns" — are engaged in is a consensual, adult religious practice. And while I may personally find it to be weird and even creepy — which I do — I cannot, in good conscious, condone its prohibition under the law as you seem to do in your article.

You note: "Utah has anti-polygamy laws and this faction has more than written their confession to the crime of polygamy on national television."

Which begs the question: what right does the state of Utah — or any other government in the U.S. — have to imprison someone for engaging in consensual sex outside of their legally recognized marriage, especially when their lawful spouse is not only aware of the act, but actually encourages it? In this case, Kody and three of his four 'sister wives' may claim to be married in the eyes of God, but they are not — and cannot — be lawfully wedded in the eyes of any government in these United States.

So far as I am aware, Mr. Brown has never attempted to apply for a second legal marriage license while still being wed to his first wife, and until he does, his other "marriages" mean nothing in any legal sense of the word. So where's the crime?

You also remark: "Sister Wives is nothing less than a counterculture advocacy program that undermines biblical values and promotes sexual perversion."

Once again I find myself in agreement with you on this point, but even though I consider such advocacy disquieting, I refuse to condemn Kody and his clan as a criminal enterprise. Is it an immoral one? By normal Christian standards it clearly is. Is it potentially corruptive to the generally accepted institution of traditional marriage in America? I think so. Is it a crime to sleep with a bunch of people while you're legally married to one person? It may be in Utah, but it shouldn't be, at least not if the words "free country" still have any real meaning in America.

© Edward Daley


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Edward Daley

Edward Daley was born to American parents on a U.S. military base in Stephenville, Newfoundland, Canada, and moved to the United States as an infant... (more)


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