A Game that Two Can Play At

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Liberty (1881-1908)

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Benjamin Ricketson Tucker

A Game That Two Can Play At.

Would that we could command the satire of Voltaire and the invective of William Cobbett to flay the hypocritical bigots whose virtuous indignation is stirred at the existence of polygamy in this pious nation!

A Simon-pure, honest, square monogamist is a man who “keeps” on woman, and only one, who he calls his wife. So long as the “keeping” of this woman is voluntary and mutual, it is nobody’s business, even though some clergyman may score a five-dollar fee out of it.

But the kind of pious fraud whose holy indignation is stirred at the lustful Mormon is not a square, open-handed monogamist. He keeps two, three, or five women. One of these, who he deceives and betrays and over whose liberty he wields absolute despotism, is known as his wife. This fellow is a polygamist at heart, but in the place of the open-handed, above-board transaction of the Mormon, he substitutes “nest-hiding,” fraud, cowardice, and hypocrisy.

It is unnecessary to say that Liberty, though opposed to the whole “keeping” system as the degradation of a passion that should be pure and noble, denies the right of the State to say to any man whether he shall “keep” one, two, five, twenty, or one hundred women, or to any woman whether she shall “keep” corresponding numbers of men. Our pious legislators would be the very worst sufferers by such a law, even if it were possible to execute it. But even those who are honestly free from the practice of polygamy are committing an unmitigated piece of impudence and despotism when they attempt to deny to any man the right to “keep” just as many women as he pleases with his own money, and at his and their sole cost.

But the lecherous politicians of Washington, the lawyers and usurers who waste the people’s wealth on women and wine,—these make up the holy conclave that proposes to visit the Mormon households and destroy their homes.

Luckily, the Mormons have hit upon a spike game. They have been carefully canvassing the number of practical polygamists among the Washington congressmen. When pushed to the wall, they propose to publish the results of their investigations to the American public, and deliver sealed copies to the accredited wives of these virtuous political saints. Ten to one that the Mormons have already effectively spiked the enemy’s guns! The monogamists and polygamists threaten to become terribly mixed, and we hope that in the confusion all will conclude to mind their own business.—BENJAMIN R. TUCKER. (Liberty 1, 14 (February 18, 1882) 2.)

  • Benjamin R. Tucker, “A Game That Two Can Play At,” Liberty 1, no. 14 (February 18, 1882): 2.