Evidence so far has been overwhelming that polygamy is inherently harmful both to individuals and to society. That’s the bar that the attorneys general for both B.C. and Canada must leap in order for Chief Justice Robert Bauman of the B.C. Supreme Court to conclude that it’s okay to override the constitutional guarantees for religious freedom and freedom of expression.
So far, the experts called to support the governments’ position have held up best both in examination and cross-examination.
As controversial as British Columbia’s key expert Joseph Henrich was with his contention that monogamy may be the underpinning of both democracy and liberalized economies, the UBC professor was largely unassailable.
At least one witness for the other side, which is being argued by the amicus, helped bolster Henrich’s argument.
Todd Shackelford, a respected psychology professor from Oakland University in Rochester, N.Y., outlined his 20 years of research that suggests that male sexual jealousy is the leading cause female-directed psychological, physical and sexual abuse (including rape) and that having a step-father is the best predictor of child neglect, abuse and filicide or the killing of a child by a parent or parent substitute.
However, the violence against children in blended families dovetails with Henrich’s contention that there is a greater potential for violence in polygamous families because of large number of half-siblings.
Experts for the other side didn’t fare well.
Polygamy is harmful to society, scholar finds
Daphne Bramham has been a columnist at The Sun since 2000, winning a National Newspaper Award in 2004. Since May of 2004 she has written more than 100 columns on the fundamentalist Mormons and is the author of the book, The Secret Lives of Saints: Child Brides and Lost Boys in Canada’s Polygamous Mormon Sect [Kindle edition | Buy a Kindle].
The Vancouver Sun has an extensive Special Report: The Secret World of Polygamy