Polygamy. Mention the word and it conjures up many thoughts to most Utahns. Of late, it brings up more thoughts to people around the country and the world, having seen or read much coverage of the FLDS in Southern Utah and Texas.
Because the "root" of the modern-day polygamist movement started with what is still called the Davis County Cooperative Society (DCCS), the Clipper believed it wise and prudent to weigh in on the issue.
For our four-part series, we have tried to get information from the Kingstons themselves. After all, how better to learn about a group, religion, country, what have you, than to visit with someone from that group?
The Kingstons are a very closed organization, however, and haven't exactly been anxious to talk to us.
Just at press time, this afternoon, however, Carlene Cannon called the Clipper.
She said she had read our article indicating the series would be running but hadn't seen our first piece which ran last week.
Cannon was evasive about her family background. We had to learn from another source that she purportedly is a daughter of attorney Carl Kingston, a Bountiful resident and one of the leaders of DCCS.
The experiences she shared about life in the society were far different from what we have learned from former members.
Admittedly, everyone's experience is a little different. But it's hard to believe their stories would be almost "night and day" apart.
Here are some examples:
- Cannon said each husband makes sure his family (of several wives and their children) is taken care of, just as it is hoped happens in traditional society.
- Healthy lifestyle is encouraged, with some members abstaining from sugar. However, that is a personal choice, Cannon said.
- Cannon maintains that women have a choice to either work or stay home. They can stay home a few years, then go to work. That is a decision for each family to make, she said.
- "We do our taxes, pay the IRS, just like anybody else does. The myth that other people are paying for our children is not true," Cannon said.
- Charges that the "empire" has lots of money are frequently brought up, referring to the DCCS. Cannon said, however, that each business is individually owned, but all of it falls under the society, because they are united as one group. An accounting arm of the society might prepare statements or books, but it is not to regulate every business, she said.
Cannon's statements, however, are disputed by those who have left the Kingston family organization. A small portion of the information we have gleaned from them appears on p. A1 of this issue.
As you'll note, there's a big difference of viewpoint between Cannon's statements and others we've interviewed, as reported on p. A1.
Our sources for our front page article remained steadfast in their positions when informed of Cannon's comments cited above. They maintain they have told us the truth and contend their stories are based on actual experience.
Essentially, we have both sides telling quite different stories and expressing widely divergent views.
We present Cannon's comments here in the interest of fairness and out of a desire to present both sides.
What you choose to believe, as is the case with all issues in our society, remains up to you.
In our next installments, we'll discuss the large business network that the Kingstons have created, while our final instalment will discuss the legal battles that have affected the group over the years.
It is our belief that the increasing federal scrutiny of polygamy may eventually lead to Davis County. What we are presenting in this series, therefore, is likely to only be a starting point.
As events unfold over the coming months or years, all of us may encounter a wide range of charges and countercharges in the Utah and national media.
We encourage everyone to weigh all these carefully and keep an open mind. After all, these people are still our friends and neighbors.