Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, whose office would defend the statute, is skeptical. He called the lawsuit "somewhat of a PR ratings stunt for their show." That's an understatement when you consider that the polygamy law hasn't been used to prosecute anyone in eight years.
Local police in Lehi City, Utah, launched an investigation last September after "Sister Wives" made its debut on TLC. How could they not? They were dared to do so on national TV. Then they turned their findings over to the Utah County attorney to determine whether charges are warranted based on the state's bigamy law. Charges were never filed.
What's sad about this whole exercise is that media chroniclers of the Browns, from network TV to Oprah to blogs and wire services, routinely treat them as sympathetic figures. Every exotic alternative lifestyle is assumed to be progressive and therefore admirable and is not only to be tolerated, but welcomed. It's rare that anyone appears for five seconds on TV to protest the Browns and TLC. NBC's "Today" show has lent them two sympathetic interviews without opposition, and even allowed news anchor Natalie Morales to moonlight and interview the Browns for their own TLC special last fall.
It's even sadder that the political world would take this TLC show as an opportunity to propose further shredding the institution of marriage. On the liberal website Slate, blogger Jessica Grose blithely proposed, "Perhaps the best way to keep polygamous practice consensual and the power equal (between husband and wives) is not to just decriminalize it, but to legislate it ... polygamous couples could enter into contracts that are less like marriage contracts and more like commercial partnership contracts." Or, if we could borrow the TLC metaphor, like television contracts.
It is somehow not enough that the entertainment media would try to undermine traditional marriage and the traditional nuclear family in their bed-hopping soap-operatic scripted dramas. Now it's also the role of "reality" television to suggest that a man with one legal wife and three "spiritual wives" is exactly the same as you and me, and that perhaps our legal boundaries against polygamy are unwarranted and archaic -- as long as it scores 2 million in the Nielsens.
What about the 298 million Americans not watching?