Anything I Write For A Title Will Just Get Me Into Trouble

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Yes, outspoken Scottish politician George Galloway is a blowhard with questionable morals at times, a man seemingly in love with the sound of his own voice, and whose business dealings are certainly not beyond reproach.

But sometimes he gets it right on the money, and there’s no denying that among Western politicians, he’s alone in having the guts to rail against the Establishment.

Take this video, for example. It’s his now infamous interview on Britain’s Sky TV, where he points out the uncomfortable truths about the Israel-Hezbollah conflict, specifically that: (a) the conflict is not a few weeks old, it’s decades old; and (b) Rupert Murdoch‘s TV stations don’t want their viewers to realize that. I highly encourage you to view the video.

(I for one will never forget the time John Malkovich issued public death threats against both Galloway and Robert Fisk, exposing Malkovich’s own ironic stupidity, given that his family is made up of reporters whose bread-and-butter is freedom of expression without fear of physical coercion. The incident has affected my ability to enjoy a Malkovich film ever again. Read Fisk’s response to the threat here.)

On another topic…

Many years ago, I went out on a date with a lovely young woman who sheepishly had a confession to make: her parents, it seems, were first cousins. While such a practice raises eyebrows here, in many cultures it’s quite common for cousins to marry. Naturally, one instantly fears for the genetic robustness of the progeny of such unions. But, I am quick to point out, this particular woman was stunningly beautiful and a brilliant lawyer in the employ of the provincial government; so clearly, the genes were doing just fine.

Today comes this story about a 47 year old man entering into a consensual sexual relationship with his 25 year old daughter. The two of them had a baby, which was subsequently abused. Now, ignore for a second the baby abuse charge. Let us, as thinking, moral people concerned for the sanctity of civil rights, consider the appropriateness of the law in this case. Both the man and his wife/daughter are being charged with incest, and there’s no denying that they are guilty of that charge. However, should there even be an incest charge where consenting adults are concerned?

Really now; I’ve always held that whatever a man, a woman, another woman and a monkey choose to do behind closed doors is none of my business, and certainly not the government’s business. (Okay, I’m kidding about the monkey bit; my opinions supporting anti-bestiality laws are on record.) The fact remains: what business is it of ours what adult humans, in an unaltered state of mind, choose to consensually do with each others’ gonads? For the most part, we accept this logic as it applies to which gender we choose to have sex with. Why is the logic not extended to degrees of relation?

One argument for the upholding of adult anti-incest laws is the real threat of genetic malformation of progeny. But consider this: in our society it is unacceptable to, by force of law, prevent genetically compromised individuals from procreating. (People with serious genetic malformations or diseases, for example, are legally and ethically free to have childen, despite the high probability of passing on their defective genes.) Why then is it reasonable to use such genetic reasoning to prevent incestuous procreation?

The answer, of course, is that it’s oogy. Ewwww. I’m with you there. But, honestly, is ooginess sufficient reason to criminalize a thing? Many, many people consider homosexual contact to be aesthetically unpleasant, as well, but we now accept that it is inappropriate to criminalize homosexual behaviour. Indeed, what of incestuous adult homosexual unions? I’m not sure of the rationale for criminalizing these.

Another argument that is sure to arise is one of power imbalance. In the cited case, the father is 22 years older than his daughter. One assumes he wields some authority over her. It could be reasonably argued that, in such a circumstance, the affair would not be consensual. This is a slippery slope argument, however, because it necessarily challenges the validity of every sexual relationship involving an age difference. And it doesn’t address the illegality of adult sibling relationships. And indeed, I perceive an assumption underlying the law, that the fact of adulthood vitiates most power imbalance arguments: either we are all adults with equal power of appeal and control or we are not.

(How sad it is that I must include this paragraph, but such are these times of ignorance and low general intellect: my questions herein are not meant to be supportive of the practice of incest, but are merely an exploration of the relationships between law, morality and civil liberty in our society. Got it?)

What do y’all think? I eagerly await your comments.