Polygamist Going to Big House
August 24, 2001 12:07 PM   Subscribe

Polygamist Going to Big House PROVO, Utah (AP) - A Mormon with five wives and 30 children was sentenced to five years in prison Friday in Utah's biggest polygamy case in nearly 50 years. Tom Green, 53, also was ordered to pay $78,000 in restitution to the state for welfare payments fraudulently collected by his family.

now he gets to be the wife.
posted by adampsyche (40 comments total)

 
"now he gets to be the wife."

wow adam.
If your idea of a wife's role is that closely related to that of a prison inmate, I feel for any woman (or man) unfortunate enough to spend any length of time with you.
posted by das_2099 at 12:10 PM on August 24, 2001


Yeah, can we please have a moratorium on punchlines that depend on the tacit assumption that prison rape is, in and of itself, humorous?
posted by Zettai at 12:21 PM on August 24, 2001


Anyone care to explain why he is guilty but his wives aren't? It takes two, err 6 to tango you know.

Yeah, can we please have a moratorium on punchlines that depend on the tacit assumption that prison rape is, in and of itself, humorous?

No.
posted by skallas at 12:25 PM on August 24, 2001


It is a shame that he didn't stick to 4 and then he could have claimed that they were discriminating against his Muslim rights. Obviously he would also have to pretend to be a Muslim as well.
posted by Atom Heart Mother at 12:25 PM on August 24, 2001


This a sticky subject... but let me put in my 2 cents.

I don't agree with polygamy, and I certainly don't want to be in the same ring with Mormons; but I think it's pretty silly to make polygamy illegal.

Sure there's always going to be one nut in a crowd, but why hamstring the whole group because of one person? I'm sure that there are plenty of polygamists, or people who would/could be polygamists, who are just as nice as pie and wouldn't hurt a fly.

Who are we to tell someone else that their idea of love and/or relationships is right or wrong? To me, that's like saying that a homosexual couple could/should be made illegal; which is just silly. It's 2001, baby... it should be about the love!
posted by crankydoodle at 12:27 PM on August 24, 2001


I see a new skit coming from TV's Tom Green soon: "Prison Polygamist." Tom plays the too-lovable lout as he goes about his duties as husband to six lifers on cell-block D. Coming soon to an MTV near you.

Sure, inmate rape isn't funny, but neither is Tom Green.
posted by me3dia at 12:30 PM on August 24, 2001


god damn, it was a joke. sorry my taste isn't up to your standards at all times. i was in no way equating prison life with being a wife, it was an obvious reference to being on the other end of the physical sexual situation. it has nothing to do with subordination, intimidation, fear, etc. i guess i should have thought of that before i posted. my bad.

by the way. i am going to be married in a month to a beautiful woman i have been with for years and who takes no s***, so please, if you are going to comment on my personal life, get a clue.
posted by adampsyche at 12:34 PM on August 24, 2001


He (or his lawyer, rather) claimed he was only married to one at a time. So what's the problem? Is it actually illegal to have a relationship with more than one person at a time?

I can maybe understand only being allowed to marry one person at a time (for legal/financial/whatever reasons), but I don't understand how we can make laws about relationships.
posted by whatnotever at 12:35 PM on August 24, 2001


It's a tad odd if you ask me (and I know nobody has) that this guy could lead the exact same life, i.e shacked up with a bunch of women who are popping out kids like there is no tomorrow and the law couldn't care less, but by attempting to legitimize things by committing to these women and marrying them he becomes a criminal...
Now the whole fraud and thirteen year old bride thing is another matter, but why should it concern the state how these people choose to live their lives ?
posted by zeoslap at 12:36 PM on August 24, 2001


Prosecutors learned of Green's polygamist religious beliefs after he and his family made numerous television appearances, including stints on the Sally Jessy Raphael and Queen Latifah shows.

Wait, Queen Latifah still has a talk show? I thought that thing had been cancelled a long time ago!

Too bad Donnie & Marie's show got cancelled. That's one interview I would have loved to see them try.
posted by barkingmoose at 12:44 PM on August 24, 2001


"...I don't understand how we can make laws about relationships..."

!!!

That's what I'm saying, too! :)
posted by crankydoodle at 12:45 PM on August 24, 2001


OK, former Mormon (I prefer the term "post Mormon") on the board here. Although I no longer belong to the Mormon church, I do believe in clearing up misconceptions about it. Mormons no longer practice polygamy. There are polygamists in Utah, but they aren't members of the Mormon church (they stopped practicing polygamy around 1900 when it was outlawed). They call themselves "Fundamentalist Mormons."

And skallas, the reason that he is going to prison is because he is the one that is married to more than one person. His wives are all married to one person: him.

Although I believe in allowing people to marry whomever they like, the problem with polygamist communities is that there is a lot of inter-marrying and a lot of child abuse. There was a big case in SLC a few years ago with a polygamist who had beaten his 16 year old daughter, because she didn't want to stay on as his brother's (her uncle) 15th wife (link here, if you're interested). If you have ever seen some of these families it's really weird. A little like the Stepford wives. The husband is usually well dressed and looks relatively modern, but the wives all look like throwbacks to the 19th century and look a bit brainwashed as they talk about how polygamy was the best thing to ever happen to them. And seriously, how can one person support 35 children?

There is an organization in Utah called Tapestry of Polygamy which was started by former polygamist wives who help people who want to get out of the community. So, it's not all fun & games.
posted by witchstone at 12:49 PM on August 24, 2001


Here's my problem:

"A polygamy investigator for the state testified that Green and his five wives and 26 children recieved at least $46,000 in welfare, food stamps and other public assistance in a single year."

If you're going to try to support this many people, please figure out a way to do it on your own.
posted by moses at 12:52 PM on August 24, 2001


Anyone care to explain why he is guilty but his wives aren't? It takes two, err 6 to tango you know.

ummm...they only married him once.
posted by tigger26 at 12:54 PM on August 24, 2001


A few clarifications...

Green is not a Mormon... any more than a modern Lutheran could be considered a Roman Catholic. The problem here is in naming: Green's group and others like it, take advantage of the vagueness of the nickname "Mormon". It would be a better analogy if Lutherans called themselves "German Catholics".

Polygyny is a big matter (especially the many cases in which there is non-consensual sex)... but the crux of the state's case (as far as I understand it) is that Tom Green et al defrauded the government with regards to welfare payments.

"It's 2001, baby... it should be about the love!" um... what a crock! Marriage is a contractual agreement in which the state has an inherent interest. If people want to shack up --barring any illegal activities-- but don't intend to bring the state into the picture via tax rebates, welfare support, et cetera, it's their choice (regardless what I or anyone else might think of it).
posted by silusGROK at 12:58 PM on August 24, 2001


The British view
posted by feelinglistless at 12:59 PM on August 24, 2001


"Anyone care to explain why he is guilty but his wives aren't?"

I think it has something to do with the fact that he married all of them, and they just married him.... Thus he's the only one of the six who could be said to have been married more than once?

I think that would have made more sense if I'd composed it in the form of a haiku.

"god damn, it was a joke. sorry my taste isn't up to your standards at all times. i was in no way equating prison life with being a wife, it was an obvious reference to being on the other end of the physical sexual situation. it has nothing to do with subordination, intimidation, fear, etc."

After marrying no less than five women, you thought that this guy would be "on the other end of the physical sexual situation" WITHOUT the use of "subordination, intimidation, fear, etc." (?)

I get your joke and apology and so on....and accept that you didn't intend it in perhaps the way it came across, but just taking that one small comment literally, that just isn't likely.
posted by lucien at 1:05 PM on August 24, 2001


Sorry for the reiteration of you explanation tigger. My caches are now clear, albeit belatedly.
posted by lucien at 1:10 PM on August 24, 2001


Weren't they trying this dude for statutory rape too? Thought I read something a while back that a couple (all?) of his wives were under 18 - one of them was like 13-14 when he "married" her.

Damn, why's it so hard to remember the good links at times like this?
posted by PeteyStock at 1:15 PM on August 24, 2001


So prosecute him for child abuse and/or welfare fraud. The government shouldn't be telling people how many people they can marry.
posted by owillis at 1:16 PM on August 24, 2001


"um... what a crock!"

Vis10n:

What I'm talking about, and I have to admit that I probably wasn't too clear on it, was polygamy itself... not this guy in particular. This one's a nut; there's no 2 ways about it. :)

Sure; if the guy did something illegal then yes... do whatcha gotta do. I'm talking about the relationships themselves.
posted by crankydoodle at 1:23 PM on August 24, 2001


ummm...they only married him once.

I meant morally. In a way the women are married to each other and the law seems to pick on the male.
posted by skallas at 1:48 PM on August 24, 2001


Marriage is a contractual agreement in which the state has an inherent interest.

There are so many things wrong with that statement, which is, unfortunately, correct in this society. This is the reason why people are up in arms about gay marriages, because they don't want the state helping "those people." The state has no legitimate interest, marriage is a contract, true, but the role of the state in that contract is, in my eyes, fraudulent at best. Marriage has been around for a long time, much longer than any current religion or government. It is a private contract, at it's root, and if the state chooses to grant certain benefits to parties involved in such a contract, that is its choice, and a separate agreement wholely apart from the first.
posted by Nothing at 2:18 PM on August 24, 2001


I feel really sorry for this guy.

Infact, if it wasn't for ripping the country out of extra money, I'd say polygamy should be legal. Infact, any form of living which doesn't directly harm others should be legal.

Channel 4 had a long documentary about this particular family, in which the cameraman lived with the family for a week or two. And while a family could put on a charade for 2 whole weeks (unlikely), I think these are decent people. Not the way I'd live, but they seemed decent all the same.

One thing though.. if polygamy is illegal, then surely the government doesn't recognise anything over one marriage? If they don't recognise multiple marriages, then how can it be illegal to marry multiple times if you're not really married? ;-)
posted by wackybrit at 2:20 PM on August 24, 2001


If they don't recognize multiple marriages, then how can it be illegal to marry multiple times if you're not really married? ;-)

I was gonna bring that up. The "marriages" are legally illegitimate anyways and I see the women just as guilty as the man. Somehow they've been married once to the same man and he's married the rest of them. Looks like Utah should be doing some better bookkeeping. If the state is going to bust anyone, it should bust the whole lot of them or leave them alone.

Perhaps charge him with attempted polygamy. Oh that would be fun.

Green is not a Mormon... any more than a modern Lutheran could be considered a Roman Catholic. The problem here is in naming: Green's group and others like it, take advantage of the vagueness of the nickname "Mormon".

I disagree, early Mormonism does support polygamy. If anything he's a fundamentalist Mormon. Then again, if someone tells me he's a Mormon I take that on face value as its really not up to me to decide what he *really* is. You have the freedom to call yourself what you like, sure you may disagree but there's no legal authority barring you from calling yourself a Mormon or the second coming of Jesus.


I see the whole situation as just puritanical values being forced on individuals like - Yes marriage is sacred but have all the children you want. How about marriage isn't sacred and doling out certain punishments for people who decide they need over 10 kids instead. Would help with the welfare/responsibility argument.
posted by skallas at 2:40 PM on August 24, 2001


Wasn't one of his wives the mother of one of the others?
posted by bunnyfire at 2:43 PM on August 24, 2001


At least he didn't throw a puppy into traffic too.
posted by Mark at 2:44 PM on August 24, 2001


Polygamy is cool; read some Heinlein.

Assignment: Write 100 words justifying serial monogamy in a) "moral", b) practical, and c) legal terms.
posted by rushmc at 2:50 PM on August 24, 2001


I feel really sorry for this guy.

Save your sympathy. One of Green's wives was 13 when he married her, another was 13 when she accused him of rape, and he also married two women who were his stepdaughters because he had previously married their mothers.
posted by rcade at 3:45 PM on August 24, 2001


"now he gets to be the wife."

heh. funniest post punch-line in months.
posted by jcterminal at 3:46 PM on August 24, 2001


"Stranger in a Strange Land".........I hate Heinlein because of that book.
posted by bunnyfire at 5:45 PM on August 24, 2001


Polygamy is cool; read some Heinlein.

But did Heinlein think polygamy was cool? IIRC, those free-wheeling later books are supposed to be satirical (especially Stranger...). His own politics were extremely conservative...

Quite frankly, I thought that the later Heinlein novels were gawdawful. Badly written, cardboard characters--and those mass polygamous & incestuous relationships always struck me as wholly joyless. But maybe that's just me.
posted by thomas j wise at 6:08 PM on August 24, 2001


having known some mormons, it is true that they do not condone mutliple wives, etc., and denounce the practice. just raises all sorts of issues i guess i could have elaborated on, but i just wanted to see where the brilliance at mefi would take it ;-)

wasn't this guy on springer like four years ago (which is about the last time i watched the show)? and if i remember correctly, he is married to a girl, who had a daughter, who he also married. and from the article it said that he wasn't convicted yet on the statutory rape charge. sorry i can't provide a link at the moment; i am confined to 28.8K hell at the in-laws to be's house.

it was interesting to see them on springer and them being asked "well, who gets to have him?" and they respond "we share!", and showed absolutely no jealousy whatsoever. (still trying to get over the fact that i once watched that show...) who is heinlein? never heard of him.
posted by adampsyche at 6:30 PM on August 24, 2001


"After marrying no less than five women, you thought that this guy would be "on the other end of the physical sexual situation" WITHOUT the use of "subordination, intimidation, fear, etc."

granted.

"I get your joke and apology and so on....and accept that you didn't intend it in perhaps the way it came across, but just taking that one small comment literally, that just isn't likely."

granted as well. i don't think i thought it out all the way, but what i was trying to defend (however unsuccessful) was that i do not equate prison rape with a wife's role. i can see where that may be misunderstood and taken harshly by others. (though my fiancee thought it was hilarious, but then again, she is a tad more familiar with my understanding of a "wife's role," and is familiar with my sense of humor).
posted by adampsyche at 6:43 PM on August 24, 2001


But did Heinlein think polygamy was cool? IIRC, those free-wheeling later books are supposed to be satirical (especially Stranger...). His own politics were extremely conservative...

It's probably a matter of opinion to some degree, but I'm fairly sure Heinlein's own politics were extremely libertarian.

BTW, I didn't protest the prison rape joke because it was offensive. I just thought it was a slack attempt at humor. IMO, if you're going to make prison rape jokes, you should push it a little-- at least throw in a mention of shiving your cellie, or throwing a covered wagon party.
posted by Zettai at 7:16 PM on August 24, 2001


Heinlein was not a religious polygamist, but a polyamorist. There's a difference, just as between "conservative" and "libertarian". (Note: in real life he appears to have been monogamous.

As for whether he's a Mormon: Mormonism encompasses more than just the official Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Yes, the official church has disavowed polygamy, and probably most Mormons would agree that it's at the least tacky. But the other churches (like this offshoot) are still Mormon from my Protestant perspective, and most of them claim to be the real true inheritors of Joseph Smith. It's just a turn of phrase that should be used perhaps more precisely.
posted by dhartung at 12:36 AM on August 25, 2001


"What you can do RIGHT NOW to help stop prisoner rape:
Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-VA) will soon introduce a bill in Congress to stop prisoner rape. Please write and thank him for this. And write to your own Congressperson to support Rep. Frank's bill.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is seriously considering introducing the same bipartisan bill in the Senate. Please write and encourage her to go ahead and do this.


Rep. Frank R. Wolf
241 Cannon Building
Washington, DC 20515-4610
Sen. Dianne Feinstein
331 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510


A similar bill unanimously passed both houses of the Florida Legislature and was signed into law June 1, 2001 by Gov. Jeb Bush.

Letters to the editors of your local newspapers might help spread the word to responsible citizens to do the same thing. You might mention in all letters the cost to taxpayers in recidivism, increased violent crime, increasing numbers of successful lawsuits, health care and disability pensions."

More information is available at spr.org.
posted by sudama at 12:39 AM on August 25, 2001


eh? is this supposed to mean prison rape was legal before? or are they just increasing the severity from misdemeanor to felony, or something like that? everytime someone makes a new law to make something already illegal illegal, I get suspicious.

Not like the legislature can do much. They just pass laws. They can't force others to enforce the laws. That's what the courts are for. Mmmmm, separation of powers.
posted by meep at 5:37 AM on August 25, 2001


So...they pass a law making prison rape illegal and...what? Throw the prisoners in prison? That's just stupid.

A law that keeps prisoners in jail even longer isn't an effective means of stopping anything, let alone prison rape. It just promotes more prisoners to a life sentence for crimes instigated by their surroundings. Would they be committing prisoner rape if they weren't in jail?
posted by me3dia at 5:58 PM on August 26, 2001


To me this case is about what they could nail him on, not really what he did. He participates in a system that exploits women, pressuring them to marry men who have status within the faith at ages where they are too young to stand up for themselves.

I don't have any problem with multiple marriage for consenting adults, but when it's a choice of marrying this guy who already has four wives or being drummed out of your faith and the only life you know for refusing ... I'm not sure this is about marriage or a completely free choice.

It seems to be about power inequities for women who have few options and also about children who are exploited by being married off to some guy their dad's age. Ew.
posted by jillmatrix at 5:32 PM on August 27, 2001


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