December 02, 2002
Another Half-Baked Argument

I won't link to him, but Jesse of (you know where to find him) makes an unusually silly argument against sodomy laws (today, 5:26 PM):

The canon of sexual conduct laws generally stipulate[s] that sexual contact must be between consenting adults. That's it. You want to have sex with 10 people a night, as long as it's consensual, that's fine. You want to have sex with your significant other's sibling? That's fine. I find both of these things morally abhorrent, but that doesn't mean you don't have the right to do them - the Constitution has no provision in which you cannot be a jerk.

The second sentence ("That's it") is simply false. In every state, the consenting adults must be human. (Otherwise, would a dog have to be 16 or 18 in dog years, or human years?) In every state but Nevada, you cannot pay your partner or partners for sex, or take money from them. And in every state, sexual partners cannot be brother and sister, or father and daughter, or a whole list of other forbidden relationships. I believe there are still some states in which adultery is illegal, and some in which oral and anal sex are forbidden even for married heterosexuals in the privacy of their own home, though these laws are seldom enforced. Have I forgotten anything? The idea that homosexual acts are the only ones forbidden to consenting adults is utterly false.

Some of these exceptions are important. I can't prove that incest or bestiality is wrong, but I don't think laws against them are based solely on ignorance, bigotry, and tradition. Those who wish to abolish sodomy laws need to find ways to distinguish which traditional restrictions should be kept and which abandoned, and a simple preference for homosexuality and fornication over incest and bestiality isn't going to suffice. I'm sure much better arguments against sodomy laws can be devised, but it will probably take someone other than Jesse to come up with them.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at December 02, 2002 08:48 PM

Um, bestiality is wrong. I have a stake in this argument.

Posted by: Anna on December 2, 2002 09:17 PM

The law is a blunt instrument (I apologize for the cliche), and I think there is a large semantic problem here. I opine that there is a large class of behavior which should be legal (oral sex between married adults in the state of Georgia, for example) and is not, while there is a similarly large class of behavior which should not (you listed several examples). I will project my own belief system onto you and then agree that yes, the real difficulty here is in crafting the law to allow the behaviors we as a society want to allow without allowing the behaviors we don't want to allow.

Or did I misunderstand, and you actually advocate jailing people for having sex with their spouses in any position other than the missionary?

Posted by: Mitchell Morris on December 3, 2002 09:15 AM

hahahaha thanks Anne, I needed the laugh!

Posted by: R. Alex on December 3, 2002 02:39 PM

"In any state, the consenting adults must be human."

True, but that's not the best way to state it, I think. Rather, it's that animals cannot consent anymore than children can; the law does not view them as moral agents. This is what, to me, makes the "furry" lifestyle seem so creepy--it feels like child porn.

Posted by: Dave Trowbridge on December 3, 2002 07:20 PM

Dave is right, there is no such thing as a concenting adult animal, because animals do not possess the ability to give concent. Therefore, all concenting adults are by definition human.
Moreover, all adults are considered humans and persons (at least for the last century or so), by the law. Animals are property, not individuals.

Of course, if an animal is property, doesn't that mean it's owner can do whatever they want with it? Damn... now you've got me started...

Posted by: Sean Kirby on December 4, 2002 12:45 AM

'Of course, if an animal is property, doesn't that mean it's owner can do whatever they want with it?'

No, because again (whether or not libertarians much like it), "consenting adults" isn't the only standard.

My knife is my own property, but it is against the law for me to cut my throat with it--even though I'm a consenting adult.

If I own opium poppy seeds (not actually illegal, at least in some states), it is against the law for me to plant them, harvest the poppies, make opium, and smoke it--even though the only human present is, again, a consenting adult.

And if I own a donkey, I can't have sex with it. I can't do whatever I like with my property.

Other kinds of ass-sex will, apparently, be judged by the Supreme Court...

Posted by: Arkat Kingtroll on December 4, 2002 07:17 PM