Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Philled Up

The Dr. Phil Show is one of those shows for which there is little benefit for someone looking to present the reality of polyamourous or polygamous or consanguinamorous relationships to participate. This show is not unique in these respects, but it is our example for today.

It's Dr. Phil's show (hence the name), and Dr. Phil, unless I've missing something (which is possible, because I rarely watch or read anything by him) professes monogamy as the ideal for all and probably is also biased again consanguinamory. The show runs on commercial television, which means it is advertiser-supported. The target audience has fears and biases against ethical nonmonogamy. Dr. Phil's staff controls the microphones, the editing, and everything else. It is highly unlikely someone in an ethically non-monogamous or consanguinamorous relationship is going to be allowed to portray their relationship as anything other than some sort of terrible mess or abusive. They're going to be expected to be lectured by Dr. Phil.

Whatever one thinks of Thom Miller of Mansfield, Ohio, a self-proclaimed polygamist who has been in the news lately, there was no way any polygamist was going to be portrayed well on this show. Dillon Carr reported at

Thom Miller, Mansfield’s polygamist pastor, his wife Belinda and Reba, his pregnant 19-year-old “sister wife,” appeared on national television Friday as guests of the Dr. Phil show.

The 61-year-old Miller told the studio audience his lifestyle is based on the bible and that he fears the child he's expecting could be taken away by authorities. On Friday, Miller issued a press release stating that three teens were removed from the family home on Sept. 15 by order of Richland County Juvenile Court Judge Ron Spon. The order, wrote Miller, was based upon a report from Richland County Children Services.
Miller said RCCS recommended formally on Sept. 16 that “Reba (sister wife) stay out” of the home.
But you know, it would be perfectly OK for Thom to live elsewhere with Reba and for Belinda to bring some other guy into the home, and have the kids sent back and forth between the homes.
Dr. Phil: Did you ever fear that if another woman comes into your life with Thom that maybe he would like her more than you?

Belinda: No.
That's a common question, but in context, it was Dr. Phil trying to play on fears and insecurities.
Dr. Phil: Do you see a downside to this at all?

Reba: The kids being taken away and losing the baby.

Dr. Phil: Are you concerned that the baby will be taken away by CPS?

Reba: Yes.
If they all want to be together, why break up the family?
Dr. Phil: And what about your parents? Do they support you or don’t support you?

Reba: At this point, I don’t know.

Dr. Phil: Well that says a lot. So they’re not coming over for Sunday dinners?

Reba: Nope.
Dr. Phil: Your family wants what’s best for you. Is there anything you’d want to say to them?
How does he know that? I think we all know people, if not ourselves, who have families who are toxic and do not want what's best for someone.

I don't know these people. Maybe it is an abusive situation. Maybe Reba should run. But I don't know that, and Dr. Phil can't know based solely on the number of people involved, their ages, and genders.
Thom Miller: You’re acting like a woman at the age of 18 doesn’t have the right to make decisions.

Dr. Phil: You keep talking about rights and ignoring rationale. If you think for one second that at 19, I would let my daughter get into the relationship you have right now, I guarantee you that would not have happened. I guarantee it.
Someone who is 19 can do whatever they want, within the law. No matter how much Dr. Phil or anyone else dislikes the idea, if she wants to be in this relationship, nobody can stop her. A parent can withdraw their affection and contact, and can cut off any current or future financial assistance (and maybe Dr. Phil is confident a 19-year-old daughter of his would care more about his money), but they can't use law or physical force to stop someone who is of the age of majority from being with someone if it isn't against the law.

There are other people her age who have joined situations with a couple older than them. They should be allowed to marry if they want. Both of these women want to be with Thom. He can only be legally married to one. What sense is there in that?

Don't think the show would positively portray a situation if, say, two women and two men, all in their 30s, had a group marriage. This is not just about Reba being younger. This is about assuring the monogamist audience that they're right and anyone who isn't monogamist is wrong.
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