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美国犹他州的一夫多妻现象

2006-04-30 10:21

  Americans can be shrill in their morality and selective about their history. They tend also to be blind to that fact, as I was reminded recently by the trial of Tom Green, a ex-Mormon allegedly married to five women at once. Green, the five women and their 25 children live in a clutch of mobile homes in the Utah desert, a landscape of sagebrush and salt flats 50 miles from the nearest gas station. Bearded as an old-time preacher, Green, 52, describes himself as a " fundamentalist Mormon" for whom plural marriage is a religious duty. Not minding the contradiction, he also claims he's innocent on charges of bigamy because he and his women aren't legally married. As for those girls he married as young as 14, well, sir, those were " relations among consenting adults." The jury convicted him anyway.

  Journalists as far away as London and Melbourne had a high time pawing over the strange family and gawking at the wives,who came to court covered from wrist to ankle in chaste frontier calico dresses.But beyond the bizarre legalities of the affair,I believe Green's case says a lot about America. At the very least,it is a vivid refutation of the all-too-American tendency to see the past as past,to view hsitory as irrelevant to the present.Mormon Utah renounced polygamy 111 years ago; It's simply hidden. An estimated 20,000 to 50,000 people live in polygamous families in the United States, more than half of them in Utah.

  The Green case is the third I've followed for NEWSWEEK since 1998. That year, a 16-year-old girl from a polygamous sect called the Kingston clan was beaten unconscious by her father for refusing to become her uncle's 15th wife. Far from hiding out in the desert, the Kingstons ran a $ 150 million business empire right in the suburbs of Salt Lake City. Last fall, amid the remote red-rock cliffs along the Arizona-Utah border, nearly 1,000 children of polygamy bolted the public schools after religious leaders preached that the schools blocked the teaching of what church elder (and town mayor) Dan Barlow called" our heritage." I interviewed Barlow at city hall. He wouldn't admit to polygamy, but he allowed that he'd set up a private school on his property that had more than 100 students. Oh, I said, you're letting the neighbors in, too? No, said Barlow blandly, " just my family."

  I've learned that mainstream Mormons have complex feelings about this underground life. They don't believe in it and don't live it. Their church tells them it's wrong and, in fact, excommunicated Green years ago. Many are as appalled as any other American by the reports of incest and child abuse from within polygamous sects. But they have a hard time equating plural marriage with those evils. One reason is that many come from families that were polygamous just a few short generations ago —— among them Sen. Orrin Hatch and Gov. Mike Leavitt. Often they'll begin interviews by noting, " Brigham Young was my great - great - grandfather." Granny and Grandpa weren't criminals. It follows that many folks in Utah aren't as quick as outsiders to blame polygamy for the abuses it masks.

  Utahans are also Westerners, people with a wide respect for individual liberty. More than most places, the mountain West still lives by the creed " Leave me alone, and I'll leave you alone." Never mind that polygamy is illegal in all 50 states. In 1953, government agents raided the polygamous Utah-Arizona border towns, sending the fathers to prison and carting off 260 children to foster homes. The spectacle of so many broken families virtually ended prosecutions for 50 years. If the polygamy mess gives the lie to anything, its' that America has become a homogenous mass of conformists. It hasn't.Green and Utah are full-color proof —— and in that,I can almost take a perverse comfort.

  [参考译文]美国人对他们的道德品行可能会尖声喊叫,对他们的历史可能会有所取舍。他们也会对这样的事实视而不见,最近审理汤姆·格林一案使我产生这样的看法。格林曾是一名摩门派教徒,据说同时与5个妇女结婚。他与5位妻子及25个孩子居住在犹他州沙漠地带的几所移动房子中,那里距最近的加油站也有50英里,周围蒿草丛生,到处是盐碱地。52岁的格林留着老式传教士的络腮胡子,自称是一个"原教旨主义的摩门教徒",对他来说多重婚姻是履行宗教义务。不管是否自相矛盾,他拒绝对他重婚罪的指控,认为自己是无辜的,因为他并未和5个女人办理正式结婚手续。但和他结婚的这些女人最小的才14岁,他的辩解是"先生,这属于成人之间自愿结合,"陪审团不管怎样仍判他有罪。

  远至伦敦和墨尔本的记者们迅速盯上了这个奇怪的家庭,当那些从手腕到脚裸裹着素净印花长衫的妻子们来到法庭时,着实让记者们开了眼界。但是越过事件本身奇特的法律定性,我认为格林事件很能说明美国的情况。对于那种认为过去是过去,历史同今天毫不相干的美国式看法,这至少是一个生动的辩驳。111年前奉行摩门教的犹他州宣布放弃一夫多妻制,但一夫多妻并未消失,它只是隐蔽起来了。据估计,在美国有2~5万人居住在一夫多妻的家庭中,其中一半以上住在犹他州。

  格林案件是从1998年我追踪《新闻周刊》报道以来的第3起。那年,信奉一夫多妻制教派的金斯敦家族中的一个16岁女孩,因为拒绝成为她叔叔的第15位老婆,被其父亲打得不省人事。和格林家深居沙漠不同,金斯敦家族掌管的1.5亿美元的商业帝国就在盐湖城郊区。去年秋天,在佐治亚州和犹他州边境交界处一个遍地红色悬崖的偏远地区,却有将近1000名一夫多妻家庭的子女拒绝上公立学校,因为宗教领袖宣称学校反对教堂长者(及市长)丹·巴洛所谓的"我们的传统"。我在市政大厅采访了巴洛。他不愿承认一夫多妻,但他同意出资在他的地产上建立一所能容纳100多学生的私立学校。哦,我说,你准备让邻居的孩子入校吗?不,巴洛淡淡地说,"只限于我的子女。"

  我了解摩门教的主流派对于这种地下生活有着复杂的感情。他们既不相信也不按这种方式生活。他们的教会告诉他们这是错误的,而事实上,多年前就把格林逐出了教会。他们许多人像其他美国人一样,对一夫多妻教派中的乱伦现象和孩子被虐待感到吃惊。但是他们很难把这种多妻婚姻与上面说的那些坏事联系起来。原因之一是他们中许多人的家庭几代以前也曾经是一夫多妻制的——其中包括参议员奥林·哈奇和州长麦克·莱维特。他们被采访时一开始就说,"布莱汉姆·扬是我的重曾祖父。"祖母和祖父并非罪人。由此看来,犹他州的许多人并不像其他州的人那样对一夫多妻制所隐藏的陋习更易加以谴责。

  犹他州人也是西部人,对个人自由有广泛尊重。比起许多地方来,西部山区的人们仍然奉行"别惹我,我也不惹你"的信条。他们才不管一夫多妻在美国全部50个州都明令为非法。1953年,当局派人突击检查一夫多妻盛行的犹他州与佐治亚交界处的城镇,把娶多妻者送进监狱,并用车把260个孩子送给其他家庭领养。由于众多家庭在这一事件中破碎了,这反倒使起诉之声平息达50年之久。如果说这起一夫多妻的混乱现象造成什么假象,那就是:美国已成为同一类型人群组成的墨守成规的国家。美国并非如此。格林和犹他州是任何颜色都染不了的——对这一点,我几乎有点幸灾乐祸。

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