Polygamy Parade

13 December 2005
“‘We’re coming. We are next. There’s no doubt about it.'” The Washington Times takes a page from Rick Santorum’s “man-on-dog” book, and then some. In a front-page Sunday story, the paper took on the pressing national issue of the “coming battle” over polygamists’ rights — diligently doing its part to move the issue from the hypothetical, “slippery slope” argument against gay marriage, to the top of the values-voter agenda. The Times’ reporter, Cheryl Wetzstein, brings out the usual scare quotes from attack-groups like Concerned Women for America and the marriage-defenders at the Florida Liberty Counsel, speculating on which activist jurors are about to bring polygamy into your town, as well as arguing that, on principle, the ACLU, Libertarians, liberals, feminists, and black feminists, “have to be pro-polygamy because of their tolerance doctrine and belief in a woman’s right to choose.” But from there, Wetzstein does one better: enlisting the help of TruthBearer.org, a magically convenient “Christian pro-polygamy organization” that’s become the talking-head quote of choice for numerous Christian and conservative media outlets, including CBN’s 700 Club, WorldNetDaily, the Traditional Values Coalition, and the Family Research Council, all of which have pointed to the website as proof that the threat of polygamy is real. Filling the headlines and airwaves of groups like these, and festooning its own webpages with taglines like “Bringing Christian Polygamy to the churches!” and “TruthBearer.org: Continuing the Reformation,” one could easily come to suspect that TruthBearer was doing its alleged opponents’ work for them — making the spectre of polygamy following gay marriage appear to be more than Falwellian hysterics — or at the very least, that they’ve accepted their role as media freaks a little too readily, and that’s something that should give a reporter pause.

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