Saturday, May 31, 2008


A few days ago the Salt Lake Tribune published a comment by Rebecca Walsh that pointed out that the ACLU hasn't been particularly valiant in defense of the women's issues that have clearly come to the forefront of the Texas/FLDS child custody case in recent weeks. If I remember correctly, she characterized the ACLU response as "waffling".

Ms. Antoinnette Billings of Cottonwood Heights has taken umbrage, and responded with a Public Forum Letter, which I have linked and quoted in its entirety, along with my own comments.

FLDS women brainwashed
Public Forum Letter
Salt Lake Tribune

Rebecca Walsh confuses feminists with the American Civil Liberties Union in "Feminists waffle in FLDS case" (Tribune, May 25). Polygamy is inherently sexist. It fosters the control of women. Feminists have no role in the defense of women in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Feminism rightfully selects issues that address a woman's right against subordination. It would be appropriate to assist the FLDS women in a variety of ways, but not in their "choice" to allow abuse to perpetually rain upon their children. There is no "choice" to defend when brainwashing begins at birth.

The notion that a woman gains power in polygamy is an acquiescent lie. It is something she achieves through the manipulation of her husband in the performing of her childbearing and household duties. Manipulating one's spouse instead of communicating as adults has no place in any equal partnership. Manipulation belongs in the repertoire of wily, whining children. In the adult, it is found in the dishonest and immature.

An issue of "waffling" or "conflict" does not exist.

Antoinette Billings
Cottonwood Heights

There were many comments, and I added my own.

This charge of being brainwashed is a clever but vacuous argument, designed to discredit anyone who chooses to oppose a particular point of view, in this case, a feminist one. It's manipulative, dishonest, and deceitful. It's a clever way of saying "the choice you've made is stupid, so you must be stupid."

Today's feminists are a generation who have grown up having been thoroughly indoctinated in the feminist dogma. In other words, they've been brainwashed, too.

The problem with this kind of argument is that it dehumanizes the people who are being targeted. If you've been brainwashed, the argument would logically flow, then you shouldn't be allowed to make choices, you shouldn't be allowed to vote, you shouldn't be allowed to make personal decisions, such as who to marry, or when, and you shouldn't be allowed to have children. If you've been brainwashed, then it's alright for the state to take away your children and put them up for adoption, hopefully by people who've been indoctinated in a more acceptable dogma.

If you're interested, you can go to the link and read all the comments. Be warned, some of them are pretty tedious.

Incidentally, here are some dictionary definitions of brainwashing and propaganda:

1 : a forcible indoctrination to induce someone to give up basic political, social, or religious beliefs and attitudes and to accept contrasting regimented ideas
2 : persuasion by propaganda or salesmanship


: the spreading of ideas or information to further or damage a cause; also
: ideas or allegations spread for such a purpose

To be honest, I believe there's been an inordinate amount of brainwashing and propaganda going on for several decades, in the news media, in public schools and on college campuses, and it's a liberal, leftist, socialist idealogy that has been promoted. The purpose, I suppose, is to establish this idealogy as the approved, acceptable social dogma, to which all civil society must ascribe.

To counter this trend, many conservative parents have started sending their children to private schools, or began homeschooling. And to counter that trend, there's a movement afoot to make homeschooling in California illegal. If Illiberal liberals don't like something that's going on, they just criminalize it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Jack,

I followed your link from Grits because the "brainwash" theme is one that I found fascinating as well.

I came at it not from the perspective of propoganda, but as a legitimate psychiatric diagnosis. I wondered how such a thing could be dianosed. (Turns out it's considered quackery.) There is no "brainwashing" code they can give you on your medical chart, for example.

The term brainwashing has a very intresting history and is very much linked with its usefulness as propoganda in the 1960s.

This link seems to be a decent one giving the history of the use of this term:

This weekend I spent too much time reading "Wife #19". This is a 600 page book written by the 19th century equivalent of a Carolyn Jessop--one of Brigham Young's wives after she left him. Rather than reading the book as a source of historical accuracy I was specifically looking for rhetoric about "brainwashing"...except of course they didn't have the concept of brainwashing in that century so they would have to use different terms and different explanations for behavior. I also wanted to see how the antipolygamy talking points differed at that point in time as well. I won't spoil your fun by summarizing it all for you, but there is plenty there...the effects on the children is almost not mentioned at all, even though the author claims that many children were murdered, rather she focuses on the depravity that she says it inflicts on the women. For example, a good woman with good intentions becomes a plural wife and becomes morally ruined because of the instition. Today folks say you have to be "brainwashed" to even enter it. The 19th wife says that women would leave their marriages if they had a way out, today we say that they have been brainwashed into staying in the lifestyle, etc.

You can read the entire book online here: