BC Supreme Court rules against polygamy

The Supreme Court of British Columbia has upheld the law which forbids polygamy.  This is an important ruling – and one which is bound to end up before the Supreme Court of Canada.

It is also an issue I am deeply conflicted on:  just where does the line lie between individual choice and State interference lie?

This article by Lorne Gunther in the National Post captures much of my own thinking on the subject:

“On an intellectual level, polygamy amongst men and women who have reached the age of consent should be no one else’s business but the participants’.”

“The cold, hard fact is that in the real world, non child-abusing polygamists are pretty much non-existent. Non-wife-abusing polygamists are rare, too.”

While I might disagree with some minor points Mr. Gunther makes, these are tangential to the subject of his article, the body of which reflects my own opinions quite accurately.

Let’s hope that now that we have confirmation of the validity of anti-polygamy laws, these laws will be applied to all members of our society equally!


7 Responses to “BC Supreme Court rules against polygamy”

  1. john s Says:

    Actually you can do better than that! “non child abusing polygamists are pretty much non existant” . Really? Any stats for that? Does that apply to people living as secular polyamourists? Thats a scandalous lie. “Non wife abusing polygamists are rare too” . That might be true if you define abuse as including the act of having more than one wife. Otherwise, it is just another baseless unsupported statement.
    While i see problems with polygamy as a religious institution one has to admit the facts: Over a year of police investigation failed to bring out a single supportable allegation of wife or child abuse in the community of Bountiful. I doubt you could say the same would be true for any silmilar sized community in Canada.
    Further, it is a stain upon the intellectual reputation of this country that so many people cannot separate the practice of polygamy from the religions that practice it. It is like saying marriage should be banned in order to eliminate spousal abuse. People need to think a little harder on this subject. They also need to refrain from broad statements of ‘fact’ that are nothing of the sort.

  2. CodeSlinger Says:


    This ruling is a travesty.

    It is the height of hypocrisy to allow gays and lesbians to call their relationships marriages, but refuse to extend the same tolerance to polygamous relationships.

    The justification on the basis of preventing abuse is a transparent contrivance, given that it is well known that the highest rates of abuse occur in lesbian relationships. If those relationships are not prohibited to prevent abuse, then it is grossly unjust to prohibit polygamous marriage on that basis. Or anything else, for that matter.

    The claim that polygamous relationships necessarily lead to abuse of wives and children is utterly vacuous, because it is based on a world view that defines abuse to be whatever goes against the cultural Marxist feminist agenda. Even (or especially) such normal, healthy things as proper discipline of children and the husband being the head of the household.

    In sum, this is a hypocritical ruling based on fallacies motivated by an agenda.

    Xanthippa says:
    While I think that the wording of this ruling is poor, I could not disagree more with you in the points you make.

    Sexism is decidedly unappealing and indefensible – beware of its trap.

  3. CodeSlinger Says:


    Sexism is just the recognition that the sexes are different.

    Impugning it is a trap set for naïve egalitarians by feminist cultural Marxism.

    It’s hard to think constructively about the differences between the sexes when one has been trained to feel guilty for even noticing that those differences exist.

    Xanthippa says:

    Thanks to scientific evidence, we now know that ‘gender’ does not work out neatly into two discreet categories.

    Like it or not, society will reflect new scientific findings. Slowly, over time, but it will.

    Ignoring scientific progress in order to preserve 19th century morality is self-evidently counterproductive.

  4. frances Says:

    Reality is that, in a society such as that at Bountiful, it is also young men and boys who are seriously abused. Not sexual, but treated as surplus to the herd. Go to any study about herd animals such as elk, where a male has a ‘harem’, and you will find a bunch of young males which have been cast off from the herd and who hang around the edges hoping to snare a female.

    The difference is that – at places such as Bountiful – the young men are just kicked out and have to find themselves a place in the surrounding community. Unfortunately, these young men are not well educated, and nor are they socially equipped to function well outside the colony.

    A veterinarian from the Creston Valley has written on this subject. While he dwelt mainly on the issues with the women and young girls, he did discuss the abuse of the young men.

    BTW, I don’t know where John S gets his ‘facts’. There have been women who have broken away from Bountiful and will testify to the abuse there.

    Xanthippa says:

    You are absolutely correct!

    It is precisely in societies where the ‘rich, powerful and established’ males get multiple wives that young males are deprived of potential mates.

    In ‘small’ communities, like ‘Bountiful’, these are simply excommunicated (with all the mental torture and socioeconomic consequences this has).

    Any society which is larger, making the expulsion of surplus young males impractical, needs to find an alternate solution to this ‘problem’…

    The most ‘common’ way, traditioally, for a society to rid itself of excess young males is through warfare. Whether through ‘suicide bombings’, clandestine or open warfare, this is the way humans have traditionally dealt with this type of a situation…

  5. CodeSlinger Says:


    The absence of perfectly crisp boundaries between categories is nothing new, and treating different things like they are different has never required a perfectly crisp boundary between the categories they belong to. I have addressed this quite thoroughly in my comment on your post about sex education in Ontario.

    Treating different things like they are different is not a matter of morality.

    It’s a matter of common sense.

    Xanthippa says:

    And, as I have responded to that comment, trying to pretend there are discrete and discernible categories when one is faced with a scientifically demonstrated continuum on multiple levels is counter productive with respect to social development and devastating when considering individuals.

    Any time you reduce individuals to ‘group identity’, it is time to examine your premises…

  6. CodeSlinger Says:

    Xanthippa and frances:

    It is unjust to outlaw polygamy due to the potential for abuse, yet allow lesbian relationships, which are known to be the most abusive of all.

    Justice demands that it must be both or neither.

    Personally, I say we should outlaw neither, because it is never right for the state to interfere in the private lives of citizens to prevent potential future crimes.

    But if you insist on nanny-state interventionism for polygamists, then you must also insist on it for lesbians.

    Otherwise, you want the law to discriminate based on your personal taste.

  7. CodeSlinger Says:


    At noon and midnight, it would be foolish to treat night and day as though they were not discrete categories.

    It is only for a short time around dawn and dusk that we must make the extra effort to deal in continuous shades of grey.

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