The new HBO show, Big Love, has gotten quite a play in the St. George, UT newspaper, The Spectrum. Big Love is about a polygamist family. I haven’t seen it because I don’t get HBO. But it is interesting to see that the newspaper here has already had an editorial and poll about it. The editorial has suggested that people should treat it for what it is – fiction. The poll has about 36% of respondents saying that it doesn’t accurately represent polygamy in Utah culture. Another 16% say that it does. 31% say that they won’t watch it. And 17% just don’t know. So it seems that at least 52% of the people around here know enough about polygamy to answer the question and another 31% just object to the fact that there is a show on about polygamy.
So why the brouhaha? That’s because here in St. George we are about 25 miles from the polygamist towns of Hildale, UT and Colorado City, AZ. I’ll bet there are a lot of you reading this that didn’t realize that polygamy is well and thriving in southern Utah because you thought it was against the law. It is legally unlawful to marry more than one woman. But as long as the marriage is only sanctioned within their church, it really doesn’t matter what the family unit consists of. The problem really arises when underage girls are coerced into becoming the wives and having relations with the men from this sect of fundamental Mormonism. And there really isn’t much of a route for the girls to appeal because in these towns, which are geographically very isolated, there are polygamist policemen and even a polygamist judge.
As I said, I haven’t seen the show, though I do wonder whether commercializing polygamy is a good or a bad thing. On the plus side it brings the fact that polygamy exists to the attention of the rest of the nation. On the minus, if it trivializes the plight of girls with no options, it does them a disservice.