Are You Big Enough to Tolerate Polygamy?
By Bryan Caplan
I just saw the season finale of Big Love, HBO’s path-breaking dramatic series about a family of polygamists. I can’t remember the last time I saw such a fresh artistic depiction of capitalist acts between consenting adults. I won’t give away the ending, but it was truly moving.
It’s probably just a failure of my introspection, but I can’t imagine that a person could watch Big Love and not conclude that polygamy ought to be legalized. Sure, it’s weird. Sure it can be abused – 15-year-old Rhonda is engaged to 76-year-old Roman. But is it so awful that someone ought to go to jail when all the parties are of age? Come on. “But what about the children?” It’s hardly clear that kids with more than two parents are worse off than kids with one, and no one’s proposing to use the law to stamp out single parenthood.
How about social sanctions? After seeing the human face of polygamy – fictional though it be – I would go out of my way to put any polygamist I met at ease. The people who need to be stigmatized are those who won’t mind their own business.