May 28, 2001: The next time you develop a bad case of the poor-pitiful-me’s,

when you think the whole world is against you, when you think you are roadkill on the highway of life, just remember that someone is worse off than you. His name is Tom Green.

If Tom Green had been around in Old Testament days, he would have made Job feel like a million shekels. Listen to Tom Green’s plight and then tell me you’ve got problems.

Tom lives somewhere in the boonies of Utah (which covers most of the state except for the Mormon Tabernacle choir loft). In a couple of weeks, he is scheduled to be sentenced to as much as 25 years in prison. His crime? He has five wives — not one after the other, but all at the same time — and 25 children.

He is going to prison for this? Hasn’t he suffered enough already? Tom is what the dictionary calls a polygamist, which is another term for someone who doesn’t know to quit while they are ahead. But polygamy is just the kind of thing we don’t do anymore. In today’s world, you can sire children out of wedlock like rabbits and no one blinks an eye. Boys marry boys and girls marry girls, but boys don’t marry girls — they just live together. Having a couple of extra wives, however, is against the law. Go figure.

Maybe Tom Green got fed up with where things are headed. Being a good American, he decided he would just even the odds a bit. With the institution of marriage on a steep downward decline and kids not knowing whether their mama is their mama or their daddy, maybe he thought he would reverse the trend single-handedly. His mistake was trying to get it all back in one fell swoop.

Tom was also a victim of bad timing. The Winter Olympics are coming to Salt Lake City next February, and the good folks in Utah don’t need any more bad publicity. They have been under siege after revelations that some of the people on the Salt Lake City bid committee didn’t exactly play fair and square in landing the 2002 Games. Evidently Mormons can get down and dirty when they want something bad enough, and they had lusted after the Winter Olympics for a number of years. A couple of the locals seem to have greased some palms in their enthusiasm to make sure the International Olympic Committee poobahs smiled favorably upon their efforts. Of course, the IOC did nothing to discourage the bid committee’s creative efforts, until they got caught. The result was an embarrassment for everybody concerned. The last thing Utah wants now is some guy running loose with a bunch of wives and a bus full of children.

Yet even David Leavitt, the guy who prosecuted Tom Green, admits his own ancestors were polygamists. It doesn’t seem to have hurt Mr. Leavitt any, except that he ended up being a lawyer, but you can’t blame that on his 37 great-grandmothers. Anybody can turn out to be a lawyer, even in the best of families.

Mr. Leavitt told the court that ”taking more than one wife hurts people.” Yeah, like who? Who can’t get in the bathroom because somebody is always putting on makeup? Who can’t watch ”The Jerry Springer Show” because ”Oprah” is on? Who has to sit there stupefied while any one of his several wives walks in with a load of packages and announces she has ”saved” him $240 at the outlet mall? Who has to sit at the table and watch 25 kids sulk because they can’t have Coca-Cola and chocolate cake for breakfast? Tom Green, that’s who, and now he is going to jail. And who’s supposed to benefit from Tom Green going to the hoosegow? His five wives and 25 kids?

But Tom may get the last laugh on all the do-gooders in Utah. Word is he will insist the judge give him a life sentence and solitary confinement. Then he plans to walk around in his underwear and belch and spit and scratch to his heart’s content for the rest of his life without five wives telling him how gross that is. Tom Green has already had his punishment. It is time he got his reward.