Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Babes in Arms

In matters related to law enforcement and adjudication in recent years, criminal defendants, victims, and accusers have all turned to the World Wide Web to make their cases. CaptiveFLDSChildren.org deploys images of pathos to argue that children should be returned to their family groups at the Texas polygamous sect. Videos such as "Happy Children at the Ranch," which ends with a sunset and script that reads "We Miss You Dear Children" and "Sad Captive Children" (both of which only play in Explorer) use visual rhetoric to convince sympathetic visitors to the site -- and potential donors to their pending legal cases -- that women and children were in a worse position after the raid by authorities. Obviously members of the sect are not entirely anachronistic in their attachment to the past in that they clearly had access to the kinds of ubiquitous recording devices that are increasingly likely to capture footage from searches and arrests for parties on both sides. It's interesting to also note how prominent the copyright symbol is on the group's site and how even the music "composed by an FLDS member" playing in the background is prominently copyrighted. In contrast the related site, FLDS Truth, has a very different tone, which emphasizes oil paintings of the patriarchs rather than any feminine presence on the ranch.

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