Letters

Letters from the week of August 28, 2003

Humanitarian investment? I don't think so. If these had been cancer patients, no one would have dared profit by betting they would die within a year. Tarring and feathering and maybe the rack would have been resurrected as legal punishments had that happened.

Don Elliott and the Hilands are richly deserving of a heaping dose of bad karma, if not the rack and drawing and quartering, as well as legal persecution in the Hilands' case.

Pat Beck
Tempe

Budget Constraints

Strip search: The Arizona Strip! In these times of tight state budget considerations, our elected representatives are working hard to reduce the spending across the board ("Eyes Wide Shut," John Dougherty, August 7). Some of the hardest proposed areas of cuts include educational funding and child welfare. As taxpayers, many of the citizens of Arizona realize that this version of the "Arizona Strip" can be very painful and, in some cases, counterproductive to the future of our children. I think we can all agree, though, that the tax dollar can only go so far and we need to seriously consider how and where it is doled out.

Now let's take a look at another variation of the "Arizona Strip" and see if we can discover any innovative methods of using Arizona tax dollars. The "Arizona Strip" that I am referring to is the geological region located north of the Grand Canyon and south of Utah. This is a very isolated area and thus avails itself perfectly to the inhabitants of Colorado City and their budgetary crafts.

Colorado City has, according to Jon Krakauer in his book Under the Banner of Heaven, published this year by Random House, a population of about 9,000 and is the home to at least three Mormon Fundamentalist sects, not to be confused with the worldwide Mormon church (LDS). All but a handful of the town inhabitants are members of these sects.

The FLDS (as they are known) practice plural marriage as part of their religion. As an Arizona native, I have heard many times about the "plural marriage/polygamy" that exists in Colorado City and even remember reading about the unsuccessful attempt that Governor Howard Pyle made in 1953 to stop the then "illegal" practice of polygamy, which happens to still be a felony in Arizona.

Krakauer mentions that upon driving through Colorado City, the unusually large homes are quickly noticed. These are needed to house the extremely large families that are the result of the above-mentioned religious practice. Given that determining before a court of law that plural marriage is indeed being practiced when only the first marriage is legally recorded and all the subsequent "wives" are church-sealed without legal record, I doubt that the state of Arizona will be able to enforce the anti-polygamy law. As much as this situation pains me and I believe that many young girls are being brainwashed, this sets the stage for the financial issue to be discussed.

Each year, even though the FLDS believes that the governments of Arizona and the United States are evil, their community receives more than $6 million in state and federal funding. More than $4 million in funding goes into the public school budget which seems to also benefit the FLDS leaders who purchased a $220,000 Cessna 210 airplane in December 2000 to "aid" district personnel in their travels throughout the state ("The Wages of Sin," John Dougherty, April 10). Thirty-three percent of the town is on food stamps compared to 4.7 percent across the state. It appears that the school district has no effective teen pregnancy program to help educate the extremely large population of junior-high-aged "unwed mothers" in Colorado City. These young, unwed mothers happen to live in the large houses with the large families that need the welfare checks.

Currently, the people of Colorado City receive eight dollars of funding for every dollar they pay in tax. The rest of the taxpayers in Mohave County get a little more than a dollar for each tax dollar paid.

In interviews with the fundamentalists recorded by Krakauer in his book, they refer to this creative budgeting as "bleeding the beast" and "regard it as a virtuous act."

It is time for the leadership of Arizona to look hard and long at where our tax dollars go. We need to start by not funding illegal activities, even if they are thinly veiled as religious rights!

So which "Arizona Strip" will it be? Or should I say "Arizona Rape"? That's in more ways than one.

Ed Moriarity
Phoenix

Writers Anonymous

Withhold this: The unsigned letters to the editor of July 17 responding to Paul Rubin's "Off With Their Heads" (June 26) made Eleanor L. Miller from Phoenix so "sad" that she has "double-dared" those who were "too cowardly to have their names printed" to "let the world know who they are" (Letters, August 7). Last time I checked, "having sufficient conviction in [one's] beliefs" was not contingent upon publicizing one's own identity.

Personally, I've never even noticed whether letters are signed or not; and to realize someone would use threats to find out the names of otherwise anonymous letter-writers is a bit unsettling. Why does Ms. Miller yearn so badly for these names, and does she really expect folks to come forward after daring them to "make themselves known"?

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