The Plank

Divinely Inspired Incest

By and

If whackjob Warren Jeffs, head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, does not spend the rest of his unnatural life in prison, there is no justice in this world.

The leader of this polygamy-practicing offshoot of the Mormon Church is currently on trial in Utah for, among other things, coercing one of his 14-year-old followers to marry her 19-year-old cousin.

The child bride in question, now 21, has testified that she followed Jeffs command to marry because she saw it as necessary to her spiritual salvation. You see, as church "prophet," Jeffs is revered by his flock as a direct conduit to God whose word is law. "The prophet was as God to us," the woman told the court. "He was God on Earth and his counselors were pretty much the same, so they had jurisdiction over us."

Nice work if you can get it.

Obscenely enough, the defense is arguing that because the woman in question was not physically forced into sex--and Jeffs had in the past instructed men to only have sex with willing wives--that there was no crime committed to which the dear prophet could have been party. To quote one of Jeffs' attorneys, "being unhappy is different from being raped."

Gee. Thanks for that clarification. The situation becomes more complicated, however, when the unhappy gal in question was a young teen being ordered into wedlock by a man she looked up to not only as a community leader but as the divinely ordained keeper of her soul. We are all aware of the damage fanatical leaders of any religion can do to the psyche of young, impressionable followers. (Jihad, anyone?) When you're talking about a sect as aggressively isolated as these Latter Day loonies, the potential for harm is essentially limitless.

So maybe Jeffs didn't hold a knife to this girl's throat and demand that she lie back, stop whining, and let her cousin have his way. But that doesn't mean the man wasn't intimately involved in some pretty revolting sexual predation.

Call me heartless, but I for one won't shed any tears if Jeffs winds up spending the several decades in lock-up learning exactly what it means to be "unhappy."

--Michelle Cottle

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