Friday, July 25, 2008

Escape stupidity

I went to a library to check out “Escape” by Carolyn Blackmore, and the waiting list for the book was 52 people long. Amazing. So I went to Barnes and Noble and asked the clerk if they had the book “Escape” and she didn’t hesitate but brought me right to it; in hardback for 25 bucks. Nope, I’d rather flush $100, so I gave $20 to a homeless lady instead. But I did sit down and read the first few pages and found it interesting how such a exaggerated and bitter story could be so intriguing to people. Had she not been a plural wife her story would not even been worthy of more than a blog post, but fear and hatred of the FLDS religion is so cult-ivated that even an obviously ridiculous sensationalized story of what is commonplace in most divorce courts has become a best seller. Women “escape” their marriages every day, and most of them have exaggerated the “awfulness” of their life with their ex-husband. But not every day do they leave the FLDS, in fact it said right on the cover that no wife had “escaped” in 20 years. She couldn’t even get that right.

What I can’t figure out is why people even want to believe her. Are people really that gullible?

How come the women who freely leave the FLDS are the only ones who were forced to stay?

Why are the ones who plead stupidity and say they were once “brainwashed” considered the only smart ones?

Why is several adults sharing the responsibilities of a home considered prison to “escape” from, when a single mother with the entire burden is considered freed?

Is marriage really as awful as rape to most people?

Why are more believable if you say something bad about someone than if you say something good about them?


abbracadabbra said...

Pliggy, it's a shame you didn't read that whole book ("Escape" by Carolyn Jessop). If you had, you might have noticed that every instance she relates is one that refers to her own family relationship, not to the culture or religion as a whole. Despite her bad marriage, she clearly depicts growing up in a warm and loving polygamous family, where the wives respected and supported each other.

Unfortunately she didn't marry into a family that operated the same way. Nor did she operate the same way. Her husband didn't treat her with the same affection and respect her father gave her mother, but she didn't treat her husband or her sister-wives with the same affection and respect her mother offered to her father and his other wives. Marriage is a two-way street - it goes both ways.

In the entire book, Carolyn only related one story that remotely resembled abuse at the hands of her husband: it was an argument with Merril that became physical and he pushed her. I'm not condoning his action, but in 17 years of marriage this one act doesn't make her an abused wife.

She also tells of a husband who sent her to college, paid her tuition, rented her an apartment near campus and provided her with a vehicle. She may not know how fortunate she was to be able to continue her education after having children, because she may not know how other women struggle to get child care. Her husband sent one of her step-daughters along to care for her babies while Carolyn was in class or studying. That sounds pretty supportive to me.

Carolyn also tells of a husband who continually supported her career goals throughout her marriage. When she wanted to teach, he encouraged her to teach and helped her get opportunities. When she wanted to quit teaching he was fine with it. When she wanted to start an online business, he provided computers and office space. At one point Carolyn managed one of Merril’s hotels. She had a bad experience with an employee there, and blames Merril for hiring the employee, but when she wanted to leave the hotel Merril got someone else to run it and welcomed her back home. When she chose to stay home with her children, neither her husband nor economic realities forced her into the workforce. I wonder if she knows how many other women would love to make that choice but can’t.

There were times when finances were tight, and Carolyn feels that the family suffered undue hardship while Merril and another wife continued leading a privileged lifestyle. And Carolyn wrote about several occasions where she observed that same other wife abusing the children. But I can't understand why Carolyn never stepped in to protect the children.

Carolyn spoke about watching her sister-wives suffer through various difficult experiences. Though she freely discusses their suffering, she never mentions offering her sympathy, her empathy or a helping hand. Is it any wonder that she felt her sister-wives didn’t offer the same to her?

Carolyn's biggest problem with her marriage is that she was married to a man who was deeply in love with another wife, and she often felt neglected. I can understand that - I wouldn't be able to live that way, either. Carolyn was right to get out. But the situation doesn't make her husband an abuser. And it's not an indictment (in my mind, anyway) of an entire religion, community, or way of life.

I, too, have been divorced. Anyone facing reality not measuring up to their hopes is going to experience anger, and I did too. But ultimately I came to a point where I realized that the marriage didn't end because my husband was a terrible man or because I was a terrible woman. It ended because we weren't the right people for each other. The same is true of Carolyn and Merril - they weren't right for each other.

Isn't it a shame Carolyn hasn’t reached that realization yet? It’s time to live and let live, wish each other well and move on.

Pliggy said...

I don't know if you will ever come back here and read this, but here:

I would rather flush money down the toilet, than buy her book. I read the first few pages and that is all it took for me to want to chuck it across the room. But I did read enough to tell that you are "spinning" her story to look mundane. Your version sounds more like possible reality than hers does.

She paints her story as "normal FLDS" when she relates bad things, and atypical from other FLDS women when good things happened. It is bull crap exaggeration and lies, and you are not telling the truth about it.

you said:
"she clearly depicts growing up in a warm and loving polygamous family"
You mean after her daily beatings from her jealous and depressed mother? (I read that far) Puleez

And you must have missed these parts from the book (I got from Donald Richter, he had much more patience than I did)

-Women in the community wore dark glasses in public to hide the black eyes and mottled bruises.-

-Violence toward children was a part of the FLDS belief system. It was common to see a mother slap one of her children, sometimes very hard.-

-Beatings for children were an accepted part of the culture and were considered “good discipline.-

-Brutality toward children was the norm within the community, but there were different levels of tolerance among families about the level of violence that was acceptable.-

-There were stories of physical and sexual abuse in other families, but no one ever tried to stop it. Anyone who reported to the outside would be considered a traitor.-

-Law enforcement under FLDS police consistently looked the other way when there was abuse.-

All complete BS, and you can't spin it any other way.

I suggest you read




You may feel she was right to leave because you couldn't live that way. SHE DIDNT EVEN LIVE THAT WAY.

abbracadabbra said...

Pliggy, yes I came back because I enjoy reading your posts. I will continue to come back unless you prefer that I don't, in which case I would, of course, honor your request.

Pliggy, what I detailed in my previous post is what any reasonable person with an open mind would glean from reading that book. I have not put a "spin" on the synopsis, nor have I been dishonest. Neither do I mean you any disrespect. My sole point is that it is worthwhile to take information from multiple sources; even some that you expect to present a biased point of view. If we only expose ourselves to like-minded points of view, we limit our own thought processes, we can never arrive at anything that resembles truth, and we can never credibly refute erroneous claims. I didn’t have to spin her story to make it look mundane – it WAS mundane.

I can understand you not wanting to support the author by buying her book. But before you can effectively refute it you need to READ it. I can’t effectively refute her book since I have no point of reference with which to compare. But I can effectively refute some of the more outrageous claims that she’s made recently, since they stand in stark contrast to the information she provided in her book. Donald Richter understood this – he read the book before he wrote about it. And yes, I’ve read his posts at

You refer to “daily beatings from her jealous and depressed mother.” What you don’t mention is those “daily beatings” were spankings, which Carolyn fully admits she provoked. The last time I looked, spankings weren’t unique to the FLDS culture. Lots of parents spank their children. I don’t spank my children, but I certainly don’t judge those who do as child-abusers.

Carolyn really didn’t depict her mother as “jealous”. In fact, Carolyn loved and admired her father’s second wife (Rosie), and Carolyn speaks of love and affection between both of her mothers. Carolyn did say that her mother (Nurylon) suffered from depression. But depression knows no culture, creed, or class – there are women in all walks of life that battle depression. Ultimately, Carolyn writes about her mother being her greatest help and support. So apparently she overcame her depression when her daughter needed her the most.

I guess she did say that women in the community wore dark glasses to hide black eyes and bruises. I had forgotten that part since I immediately discounted it as being supposition rather than fact. First, I thought that if the women were truly hiding something, it would be unlikely that Carolyn would have seen it, or would have known the circumstances surrounding it. And second, I recognize that domestic violence occurs in a small percentage of all sectors of society. I didn’t read that as an indictment of the FLDS – I read it as Carolyn displaying her own bias.

Reading with an open mind doesn’t mean that you have to accept everything you read as truth. We evaluate every piece of data that enters our mind. Some data resonates, other data is discarded. I discarded the sunglass segment, and promptly forgot it.

Next, you point out three paragraphs that basically say the same thing: the book depicts violence towards children as an accepted part of the culture and belief system. If the claim was made, it wasn’t supported by the facts related in the book. This book depicts Barbara (Carolyn’s sister-wife) as a child abuser. It does not depict Merril as a child abuser. It does not depict either of Carolyn’s parents as child abusers, and it does not depict any other member of the group as a child abuser. It’s pretty clear that Carolyn despised Barbara. I don’t know Barbara, so I don’t know if the facts presented were true or false. But I do know that they don’t indicate an entire culture of child abusers – the facts (as they are related in the book) indicate one woman as an abusive, power-hungry bitch, who not only abused other people’s children but who neglected her own.

I do not recollect any stories of physical or sexual abuse in other families. If you read the book and find those stories, please refresh my memory.

I’ll close with a direct quote from page 146 in the book:

“What I was experiencing seemed like an aberration. I wasn’t questioning my faith, but I was questioning Merril. If people knew what was really going on in our family, I thought, Merril would be condemned. We weren’t living in accordance with FLDS values.

Carolyn wasn’t depicting a culture or a religion, she wrote about an extremely dysfunctional family. Her behavior since has shown that she, too, was a part of that dysfunction.

Pliggy said...

you just said
"what I detailed in my previous post is what any reasonable person with an open mind would glean from reading that book"

I think you are a reasonable person with an open mind. And I think you gleaned from the book what you wanted to, and ignored the purpose, and and what her goals were in writing it. Your book review differs SEVERELY from those I read on Amazon, from Brooke Adams, and from Donald Richter. It differs from my own reading of the first few pages.

She describes a family that does not exist, using names of people who do exist. I knew her mother some as she was my co-worker at the store that Carolyns father ran. Her father was my boss. Her mother was far from depressed, and her father was far from gentle, but I got along okay with both.

The "daily beatings" is practically a direct quote from her, and you are pretending she was being mundane. She wasn't.

I will quote the book too, page 12 (found it online)
"Everyone in the community thought she was an excellent mother. But that was a public facade. In private, my mother was depressed and volatile. She beat us almost every day....Once the beating was so bad...and even though she slapped us throught the day... There were several times when my mother spanked me and then screamed at me. "I'm going to give you a beating you'll never forget!..."

And the next page:
"When my mother beat me, she would always say she was doing it because she loved me. So I used to wish that she didn't love me.... I never told my father about the beatings BECAUSE IT WAS SUCH AN ACCEPTED PART OF OUR CULTURE What my mother was doing would be considered "good discipline... Spanking your children was widely seen as the way to reach that goal. It wasn't considered abuse; it was considered good parenting"

The FLDS CULTURE does not promote spankings at all. She was portraying it as more than just normal, she was portraying it as all but required.

You say:
"I guess she did say..."
"It does not depict Merril as a child abuser" (No, just a wife beater)
Proof that you are trying to put a positive spin on this fiction.

is what she wanted you to believe by reading her novel.
(right click and "open in new window")

I understand that you have no other refrence about Merrill and Barbra, but I do. I have tons, including my own. Carolyn was lying.

She WAS "TRYING" to depict a CULTURE and RELIGION as being dysfuncional, and while you might want to agree with her without admitting it to me; I do not, and will not. I know better.

abbracadabbra said...

Pliggy, thanks for your comment that I am a reasonable, open-minded person. I try to be. I didn't read into that book what I wanted to, nor did I read into it what Carolyn wanted me to. I read into it what the facts as depicted in the book supported.

Sure, Carolyn had an agenda. But the facts she detailed in the book didn't support it. If you read the book (instead of the first few pages and various reviews) you'd see that.

Don't you think the people who reviewed that book had agendas, too? Amazon had an agenda - they want to sell books. Donald Richter has an agenda, too. He wants to discredit the book.

Pliggy, every (human) source of information has an agenda. But you don't have to buy into someone's agenda just by listening to their point of view. And it doesn't make sense to only read that which you already agree with because it only serves to restrict your access to information.

The challenge is to disregard supposition, innuendo, incosistencies and bias, and then evaluate the rest. Sometimes you learn something new. And more often than not you make reasoned judgements because you've looked at each story from multiple angles.

The synopsis I provided does just that - it discusses the things which Carolyn claims to have first-hand knowledge of, and eliminates rumors, innuendos, supposition, inconsistencies and biases. I didn't "spin" the synopsis - I took the spin out.

Pliggy said...

The only thing you are not reasonable and openminded about is analyzing your own agenda in describing what you read.

Go to Amazon and look up her book
There are over 280 reviews of that book. Please tell me that those people are not "normal"

The "facts" that you gleaned, vs the "facts" that thousands of people gleaned, are both more than suspect. Her personal stories can only be trusted as much as her stories of "normal" child and spousal abuse among the FLDS. It insults my intelligence, but I am glad you could "synopsis" some of her garbage in a semi-positive way for your own sake.

She not only accomplished much of her agenda against innocent men, women, and children, she is still using this "mundane" book to push it further. It is her agenda that hurts innocent people. I doubt you could even understand unless I put it into the context of your family and church, I wouldn't even want to. Just think of asking a Jew to be open minded about "Mein Kampf"

We will have to agree to disagree, because I have nothing to learn from Carolyn's book that is useful to me. Novels don't suit me, especially ones that push the agenda of destroying the people I love.

I will finish the one I am reading instead "The Web of Debt" by Ellen Hodgson Brown. I prefer non-fiction.

Or do you have any that slander your people that I could read? I promise to disregard all the things I don't WANT to believe.