Sunday, June 08, 2008

MOVE Child Abuse Or Nature's Course?


(Editors Note: The following question came from a long-time reader of this site and I thought it well worth sharing. It cuts to the heart of how MOVE will take a nugget of truth and twist it into something ugly, twisted, and cruel. The question for me is first and my answer follows in italics).

A "philosophical" question that I personally have trouble reconciling and when you have time would like to know your thoughts.

It is a fact that it is the norm for women in cultures untouched by our own to start having children shortly after puberty. Adulthood is a title and responsibility that comes much sooner in primitive cultures. Of course, their whole tribal societies have evolved to support this over tens of thousands of years and people are ready to function as adults at that point because of it.

In this country, I have not a shred of doubt that the conditions in which Move girls are raised is abusive and illegal.

But I have a hard time arguing with the rationale, at least on the surface, that Move gives as a reason for it.

I believe deeply that those girls in Move deserve something much better. But it is equally criminal to me when this civilization takes it upon itself to impose its worldview and morality on primitive cultures as it has historically always done.

What do you think?

I do not disagree at all with your observation that cultures that have no or limited contact with that of our own do indeed start having children at a young age, roughly around the time of puberty.

Certainly, many of these civilizations have existed for far longer than our own and it is doubtless that their cultural practices, including the impregnation of very young girls have contributed to their longevity. Moreover, I am not a believer in the concept of "Manifest Destiny" that supposedly arms us with a kind of "divine right" to strip peoples whose cultures are different from ours of their identity, religion, and way of life.

That said, we are a species whose genetic code is roughly 99% the same as that of a Chimpanzee. We are a poorly evolved species, whose pre-frontal lobes are too small, while our adrenaline glands are far too big. We are burdened by unnecessary, biological mishaps that occasionally turn on us and kill us. Despite our ages of "enlightenment", we still fear the dark, are beholden to as many silly superstitions as our ancestors were a thousand years ago, and despite religious and secular prohibitions and punishments haven't yet figured out that whole "do unto others" thing.

The reproductive organs of our species have remained largely un-changed, basically because they work rather well, while as a whole, we as a species have undergone tremendous changes. For example, life expectancy has drastically changed in the past thousand years. In 1000 AD the life expectancy was around 24 years. A hundred years ago, the life expectancy was around 50 years, while now it is nearly 80 years.

Infant mortality rates for !000 years ago are widely debated, but the general consensus is that it was at a much higher rate than it is today.

Therefore, if you look at life expectancy and infant mortality rates, in addition to hunter/gatherer societies, which usually benefited from more children (i.e. more people to work), the coupling of barely pubescent girls was a necessity for the survival and success of our species.

With regards to MOVE, and their rationale for their following this model of children having children, one would be remiss not bring up the disconnect between their rhetoric and the reality of what they do.

The "back to nature" group, which is anything but, has largely turned it's back on the primitivist ideology and practices which John Africa imparted on the early MOVE members.

MOVE is a haven for the technology they claim to despise. Name a modern convience and the group has it at their disposal. Their homes, once absolutely austere, un-heated, lacking television sets, now have all of the modern amenities that would have their former leader rolling in his grave. The raw food diet has been all but abandoned . Yet, one of the core tenets still embraced by the group is that of barely pubescent girls being impregnated by older members of the group.

My contention is that this "practice" is not culturally inspired, nor an homage to the cult's founder, but rather an instrument of control that has proven it's value and I believe it's destructiveness.

There is more than just a compulsory inculcation of faith at work, but also a demonstration to the girls of MOVE that their intellectually deprived minds are owned by the group as well as their bodies, and ultimately their children.

This has the net effect of facilitating absolute, authoritarian, control. While there are some examples of male members of MOVE who were raised in the group and left, there are no examples, to my knowledge, of girls with children doing the same.. These girls, have their youth snatched right from underneath them just as soon as they start to realize that some semblance of the possibility of freedom exists.

When Pam Africa's youngest daughter Pixie, around 11 years old at the time began to show an interest in the non-MOVE children in her neighborhood. Soon, it became one of those inescapable issues that made it's way around the Organisation as fear grew that she would involve herself further into the outside world.

Not surprisingly, and rather quickly, she was pregnant. And soon after came the "marriage". It was disconcerting to see such a bright, naturally intelligent girl, being forced to shoulder a burden that women twice her age can have a hard time with. It was an example of stolen innocence and a symbol of MOVE's assault on the undefended mind by cynical adults, enabled by supporters of the group, and allowed by officials who are aware of MOVE's lawlessness but who turn a blind eye to it.

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