Sunday, April 27, 2003

A Different Take
Spinsanity has a slightly different take on the Santorum affair, arguing that "in mentioning polygamy, bigamy, incest, and adultery, however, he did not state that they are morally equivalent to homosexual acts. Instead, he made the legal argument that if the Supreme Court overturns Texas's sodomy laws prohibiting anal and oral sex amongst homosexuals, those other acts would have to be legalized by the same principle of a constitutional right to privacy." While I do not fully accept this logic, let's take it as true and deal with this argument about privacy.

It is easy to lump bigamy, polygamy and adultery into the same category for legal purposes. Bigamy and polygamy are prohibited via marriage laws, which stipulate (in many states, post DOMA) that marriage is between one man and one woman. What is criminal about polygamy and bigamy is not the sex act, but the marriage(s) in excess of one. (Of course, if one wants to pursue such a relationship polyamory is available without the marriage component). Also, adultery may be prohibited under marriage law, when viewed through the prism of a contractual agreement. Adultery is grounds for divorce in most states as it is violative of the contract entered into with state consent (marriage license). No one has suggested that police ought to raid the premises on no-tell motels to catch adulterous couples in the act.

Incest is wholly different matter. I would assume that Santorum was referring to incest in which a parent engages in sexual relations with an underage child. Such an activity would be illegal under both child welfare and rape statutes. Now, if a child is of the age of consent, my argument breaks down and as abhorrent as I find incest, relations between two consenting adults should not, in my opinion, be criminalized.

This is the difficulty of living in a free society. People are free to do some really dumb things. They are free to make some bad lifestyle choices (smoking, poor nutrition). With freedom comes the opportunity to realize one's human potential, too. What Santorum and others of his ilk would like is to impose their view of morality on the rest of us, to take away our freedom. Imagine that the shoe was on the other foot and it was others trying to circumscribe Santorum and the Holy Rollers rights to worship the god they chose, how they would howl. Living in a free society means that you have to tolerate choices that are different than yours. That is the beauty of America. Don't let the American Taliban take that away from you.


Post a Comment

<< Home