Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Grossly illiberal

The USA. Land of freedom, where people are free to live how they choose. Unless, apparently, you live in Utah. There, one of the stars of reality TV show "Sister Wives", about a polygamous Mormon family, is being investigated for bigamy. Which is a little odd, given that he is in fact only legally married to one of his wives. But apparently in Utah,

a person can be found guilty of bigamy through cohabitation, not just legal marriage contracts.
Quite apart from the abuse of language, this is a gross intrusion into the private sphere. It is one thing for the state to police the integrity of its contracts and punish those who make false statements when entering them. Its quite another to try and dictate how people arrange their private lives. Provided everyone involved is a consenting adult then those decisions are properly the domain of individuals, and the state should keep its nose out of them.

(Note the important caveat there. I am aware that some of the Mormon subsects aren't too fussy about either the age or the consent of some of those involved in their marriages. But the proper charge there is rape, not bigamy).