Thursday, November 25, 2010

Prolotherapy and Polygamy

No, those two don't have anything to do with each other, besides both being at the top of my brain right now.
No, I'm not interested in getting a second wife. I can barely cope with one. If there was two they would gang up on me, I'm sure, and who knows where that would end up.

As many of you know I've been diagnosed with a slight tear in the medial meniscus of my right knee. There may be some issues with the patellafemoral area. Prolotherapy was recommended. Today was the day. I knew there were needles involved, though I don't particularly have an issue with them. I've often donated blood, and have had any number of injections over the years. But something about several (turned out to be 6) needles into my knee area was making me a bit nervous. I was worried about the pain.

Dr. Ahlan has a very deft touch, and carefully explained everything first. The first needle was a bit of a pinch, and we chatted during the others. To be honest I didn't even notice some of them. The last one was a bit of a poke. Turns out one of them was 1.5 inches into my knee to find the right spot. Afterward we chatted about followup. I'm to keep it mobile, going to spin class is ok, but no big power or fast rpm. I'm to continue with core exercises. I'll be back in two weeks for the next set of shots.

Bountiful, BC has been in the news periodically because there is a group of people in the FLDS church practicing polygamy, which happens to be against the Canadian Criminal code. BC has been under increasing pressure to prosecute, and there's been a bit of back and forth on the issue. Currently there is a hearing in BC's supreme court about the constitutionality of such laws.

This post is to help me understand where I am on this.

Firstly, I abhor the practice of Muslim and some Christian sects taking multiple wives. I figure it's just an excuse for randy old buggers to boink teenage nooky. Is that a clear enough statement for you? It's a tool of oppression and coercion aimed at subjugating women and children. The women have little or no choice in the matter, and that really makes my blood boil. As far as I'm concerned, a religious reason for doing something is almost certainly a bad reason.

Secondly, if there is a conflict, religious rights should be secondary to any and all other rights or societal concerns, if they should be allowed to exist at all. Believe what you like in your head, but beat your child with a stick and you should go to jail. If you don't like Sunday shopping stay home or go to church. If you think abortion is murder, you'd best be in favour of birth control and funding adoption services; in fact, you should have several adopted children yourself. There are lots of other examples.

Thirdly, there are any number of cases where adult people have chosen to live together communally. The hippie communes of the 60's are one example, and there didn't seem to be much enthusiasm to prosecute. There is a woman living with two men in BC that just discovered she could be prosecuted under the current polygamy laws. I listened to her on CBC and it seems that this is a consenting relationship that works for all involved. What's important to me is that they are all consenting adults, and the children are being taken care of properly. Neither I nor anybody else needs to know any further details of their relationship.

How do we resolve those examples? One speaker had mentioned that if 3 people are sharing a house as room mates, technically, they could be prosecuted. They'd have to argue their case in court, and how do we draw the line between room-mates, room mates with privileges (so to speak), and a long term polygamous relationship? I think that adults of sound mind ought to be able to set up whatever family units work for them and their children. But how can we be assured that the people involved ARE consenting, without prying into the intimate details of their relationship? How do we keep religious whacko's from abusing women and forcing them into marriage against their will? Or prevent the religious brainwashing that makes them feel they have to consent? What laws or practices govern what happens if the relationship breaks up?

I guess the essence of my dilemma is this: how can we write a law that allows adults to manage their own relationships, but bars those formed because of a coercive religious regime? And yes, I'm quite clear that I'm willing to discriminate against the religious. See above. Religion has been used as a cloak for centuries to cover up all sorts of abuses and provide the priesthood with an easy living. That needs to end.

One speaker very cogently noted that abuse to children is not limited to polygamous relationships, and that that in itself is not grounds to bar polygamy. She noted there were other legislative processes to deal with abused children and they should be applied no matter the relationship of the adults. Fair enough, providing the processes are in fact applied. Allowing religious reasons makes it easier to hide child abuse, since any investigations run into "freedom of religion."

What about spousal abuse? We've been coming to grips with that, but there is still a long way to go. People don't like to admit they've been physically beaten or mentally abused, and sometimes even make excuses for their abuser. If it's that hard to deal with in an accepted relationship like monogamy, imagine how much more difficult it would be in a relationship that is technically unlawful, or based on a dominant/subservient relationship?

Hmmm. What about a registry? Married people are registered as such. Would it work to register a polygamous group? Let's think about that. It would be a legal document, so all the people involved have to be of legal age. That ought to deal with the under age issue, especially if parents can no longer consent to an under age marriage. All current spouses would have to agree on any additional spouses. Given the divorce and separation rates I think it's entirely reasonable to ask if the people getting married have made provision for a separation, and that would work for both monogamous and polygamous weddings. In civilized countries gender is not an issue, but maybe a polygamous relationship needs to be required to be as gender balanced as possible. That makes it harder for the the old pervert to accumulate child brides. I can see where many traditional religions would not perform a polygamous service, but if the relationship was decriminalized, there no doubt would be Justices of the Peace or equivalent to perform the ceremony. Some religions perform pre-marriage counseling, and I don't think that's a bad idea. I don't think it would be unreasonable to have both traditional couples, and a polygamous unit going through a pre-marriage session of some kind. The polygamous unit might have more complex issues to cope with, but this all meets my criteria for informed consent. What's more, it's DEMONSTRATED informed consent. DNA testing can determine who the biological parents are, and that can be accounted for in their agreements. A monogamous marriage is no guarantee of who the child's parents are.

This registry, of course, would be a government one, not a church registry, and if the two get into an argument the government registry wins. In fact, the government registry should happen first. In Alberta I believe it would be done at the same place you renew your driver's license, deal with a variety of business permits and stuff, renew auto registration, and the like. It ought to be a straightforward procedure, with similar procedures for all. Hmmm, how public should these records be? Not sure.

There are many issues that need to have details nailed down. Just as an example, the Canadian tax laws allow a variety of financial transfers to happen between spouses. In theory, the same should be permitted of a polygamous group, but I can see there would have to be guidelines set up. I haven't a clue in the world what that should look like. Medical benefits are another issue, what does it do for premiums if a married person can claim for several spouses and potentially many more children than the norm? There are no end of forms that would have to be modified to allow people to list multiple spouses. It would take a while for people to get used to it. I hope it's clear that my idea of a polygamous marriage is one where all are married to all the others, not where one is married to each of the others are each only "sister-wives" to each other.

The more I think about it, the more I believe there is no real way to enforce the law as written, and un-enforced laws lower the respect for other laws. There are any number of circumstances where it makes sense for small groups of adults to band together in a close relationship. Right now they have to essentially lie about their relationships, just like many gay and lesbian couples did. This makes it easier to hide abuse. I think it makes sense to declare the relationship in public and register it in the appropriate places.


  1. Dude, I can't keep up with you sometimes. I think I heard some of the same stuff on CBC as you, so here goes my take:
    - We've had the anti-polygamy law for 60(?) years, 0 prosecutions. It's not doing anything.
    - Is the problem "polygamy", which, as you point out, becomes difficult to define, or is it child abuse, human trafficking, and/or other sexual or coersion problems, which it was pointed out, we have criminal laws to deal with? How well do these other laws work/ are enforced is another question entirely that spans a wider scope of situations ALL of which are abhorrent.
    - I agree that religion should not be used (or allowed) to be used as an excuse for morally questionable behavior, whether the law works or not.
    - Goes to your 'zero tolerance' post... sometimes laws push behavior underground, which makes matters worse in many cases

  2. I think our society has become too "politically correct". If I start my own religion does that mean I can now do whatever I want and claim religious beliefs? Where do you draw the line? As you mention Keith, lots of questions and no answers at this point.


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