"I just tackle everybody and then throw 'em out till I find the one with the ball." — former pro football lineman Bubba Smith

Bubba's approach sounds a lot like the state of Texas' strategy in dealing with the FLDS Church's compound near Eldorado.

From one phone call from a 16-year-old alleging physical abuse, authorities have placed 416 children as wards of the state, allowed 133 of their mothers to accompany them, and held their fathers essentially captive back at the ranch.

The only thing as astonishing that this is happening in the 21st century in the United States of America is the lack of outrage that this is happening.

Or did Texas get a pass on the First, Fourth and Fifth amendments?

While it is important that no children should be abused or held against their will, and that government should do all it can to protect them, it is just as important that in this country, those guarantees also apply to everyone else.

No one should be denied due process, be subjected to unreasonable searches and seizures, or be denied freedom of religion.

Of course the real problem, to mimic "The Music Man," is that word that starts with P and rhymes with T and stands for Trouble.


Since its murky origins in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which now outlaws the practice, polygamy hasn't been so much misunderstood by mainstream America as not understood at all.

I certainly don't understand it, and I'm LDS. Why would any man want to have more than one wife?

But I understand when a lifestyle is being singled out and persecuted. And what's going on in Texas bears haunting similarity to persecutions in the 1800s in Missouri and Illinois that brought members of the LDS Church, and polygamy, to the solitary shores of the Great Salt Lake in the first place.

More singularly, it resembles a raid in 1953 on the polygamous community of Short Creek on the Utah-Arizona border.

Under orders from Arizona Gov. Howard Pyle, residents of Short Creek, 39 men, 86 women and 263 children, were rounded up and herded to Kingman, where it was alleged the children were being mistreated and the men and women were charged with "conspiracy which includes polygamy."

Of the kids, 150 entered foster care. Most rejoined their parents within two years, although some never saw Short Creek again.

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The '53 raid had interesting ramifications. As accounts of children being torn from parents circulated around the country, public opinion turned sympathetic to the polygamists. In the end, 23 men were placed on probation for one year, and that was the extent of the prosecution. In 1954, when Gov. Pyle lost his bid for re-election, he blamed the ill-conceived raid.

Short Creek transformed into Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., polygamous enclaves that became headquarters to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints — the same FLDS Church that in 2004 set up a compound in Texas that was raided last week.

While America yawned.

Lee Benson's column runs Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Please send e-mail to benson@desnews.com and faxes to 801-237-2527.