Saturday, January 12, 2013

Gay marriage, pedophiles, and libertarians

Recently I was forwarded a comment.  The person who made the comment claims to "lean libertarian", but can't take the final step because "libertarianism says what you do in privacy is of no concern to me" and "what you do in public is permissible as long as it does not constrain my own liberty."  Mostly correct- not only liberty, but also life and property/"pursuit of happiness".

The example that they gave was gay sex and, even more specifically gay marriage.  They were concerned because they felt libertariansism left no room for rebuttal against gay marriage and felt that, if "normalized", it leads to this:  Paedophilia: bringing dark desires to light

Other than both being "sexual", I see no connection, but, OK.

He asks "If it happens in private between consenting parties, what argument can full-throated libertarians make against the act? Would they even offer an argument?"

Some offer arguments, but I can only speak for myself.

Here was what I said in reply to the person who forwarded the comment to me:

I read the article and found it very interesting... and then it hit me- the basic difference between me and your friend. He was offended by the information and opinions presented and I was not. I took in the information presented and gave it consideration. He, apparently, couldn't do that, but only saw it as confirmation of his worst fears.

The main case against forbidding gay marriage should be an easy "conservative" fit: how on earth can the claim be made that government should be in the business of licensing private and very personal vows? It isn't that gay marriage should be "allowed", it is that government should never have been allowed to regulate, sanction, or ration marriages in the first place. It's like licensing churches. Or guns. Or cars and travel.

Beyond that, if something is truly consensual (and it needs to be informed consent, without deception) and doesn't harm either of the participants, how can you seriously advocate killing people over it? And that is what any "law" against something leads to. All "laws" are enforced by death. Sure, you can usually avoid that outcome by complying early in the enforcement process, but eventually, if resistance is made, armed government employees will arrive to either "arrest" you or kill you in the attempt. Don't believe me? Find a minor "law" and openly defy it around the government employees who are "responsible" [sic] for enforcing it- and keep refusing to comply each time they escalate their enforcement attempts. Do you think they will shrug their shoulders and say "Oh well..." as they walk away?

His complaint that libertarianism leaves "little room for rebuttal" against gay marriage, because "What happens in the bedroom between consenting adults is of no concern to the true libertarian" seems misguided. Why would anyone want to rebut that? Because it offends them? No one has a right to not be offended. I don't worry that someone might be watching MSNBC or FOX news in the privacy of their own home, even though the thought offends me and I think it can cause wide-ranging problems out in society. Until someone is actually harmed, it just isn't any of my business.

Which gets back to the article he linked to.

If it were shown beyond a reasonable doubt that pedophilia, when engaged in willingly with INFORMED consent, did not harm either participant, neither physically nor psychologically, why use the lethal force of government (which is known, beyond a shadow of a doubt to cause harm to almost everyone) to prevent or stop it? Because it offends "the majority"? Gun ownership seems to offend either "the majority" or a very vocal minority. In itself, gun ownership harms no one. Until the gun is used to coerce or attack an innocent person- one who does not deserve to be harmed right now because they are not attacking or stealing. As long as no one is being harmed and everyone is engaging in consensual acts, you can be offended all you want, but you have no right to use force against them. Nor to delegate someone else to use force that you don't have the authority to delegate. You can't delegate something you don't possess.

I suspect that your conservative friend, if he were honest, would admit that he will never believe any studies that show "no harm from pedophilia". He will continue to "know" it causes harm, no matter what. And, in that, he may be right. I simply don't know.

So, no I wouldn't make an argument against pedophilia, in and of itself- although in the past I would have. No child "belongs" to me, just as I didn't "belong" to anyone when I was a child. Would I try to convince children that I thought it was a bad idea for them to engage in sex? Yes. Would I try to talk a pedophile out of acting on his desires? Absolutely. Just because the thought bothers me personally. Do I think it is somehow worse for a child to engage in sexual activity with an adult than with another child? Not really. And I also recognize that all children engage in some level of sexual experimentation or play. I did. It was completely consensual, it didn't harm me, and I don't regret it. Where would you draw the line between "normal" sex play and "perversion"? Where do you get the authority to draw that line?

And, even if it does cause harm, if there is informed consent with both parties, I wouldn't send The State after them. I would step in, myself. And I would accept any consequences that came from that.

Tattoos and piercings cause visible harm. Damage to the body that you can see with your own eyes. It offends my aesthetic sensibilities to see them, especially when there are "too many" of either (or both). I think that people who get multiples of either don't understand what they are doing to themselves. They invariably disagree with me on that point. I would still do my best to argue a person out of going overboard with them. But I know where the line is. I respect that line even when doing so makes me unhappy. Which is increasingly rare.

This is a taboo subject, and one I address with apprehension. More than any other subject, talking about sex leads to hatred and accusations and drives people away. It is the most emotionally charged subject I have ever found. Which means, I suppose, that it is important to talk about.



  1. I think the person afraid of gays and/or pedophilia is not actually thinking of informed consent. Obviously, a three year old cannot give informed consent so sexual contact with a three year old is rape. It is unlikely, but not impossible that a ten year old could give informed consent, but I would be highly suspicious of said consent. A fifteen year old, however, is much more likely to be able to give informed consent. Many European nations set the age of consent at fifteen, but not for pornographic purposes, just private consensual sex. (The logic there escapes me. If they are competent enough to decide to have sex then they are competent enough to allow someone to photograph them or make videos of them doing so.) And, most gays, to the best of my knowledge, do not go after small children. Like most adults, they like adult relationships. And gayness isn't a virus that will spread through society and make us all gay. But, of course, if it was and did, then we wouldn't be having this discussion, would we?

  2. It is impossible for children (and animals) to provide "informed consent". Therefore, it is an assault on their person. Pedophilia does demonstrable physical and mental harm to it's victims and like rape, an initiation of violence.

  3. "It is impossible for children (and animals) to provide 'informed consent'."

    Leaving aside animals, define "children." Is there a specific cut off age? As Kent says, it's a touchy subject, but if you are going to make an assertion like that back it up with something beside your own opinion.

  4. I think Anonymous falls into the "he will never believe any studies that show 'no harm from pedophilia'. He will continue to 'know' it causes harm, no matter what" category.

  5. Good essay for thought, Hawk. You've given substance to the truism attributed to Thomas Pynchon:

    "If they can keep you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers."

    Parents are the responsible people for discerning how to inform and how to protect their kids from coercion -- and for teaching the kids how to protect themselves. Parents are responsible to teach sexual responsibility and "appropriateness".

    You and I probably do not agree on what is "appropriate" -- that's OK. It's what freedom's all about. I engage in web forums to keep my old (77) brain from coagulating. I see many things much differently today since communicating with you and the gang than I did 10 or 15 years ago. And I hope to continue to be able to think even more logically and critically 15 years from today.

    And clearly. Damn this gettin' old takes its toll!

    That said, I see through the agenda of those sociopaths called "media". They aim to present homosexuality ("gay" -- which is a laughable euphemism in my opinion) as "normal" -- just like being "black" or "Hispanic" or "Caucasian". It is one of the many divide-and-conqer tactics of the power elite, who obviously own all mainstream "media".

    My kids homeschool and home birth. My 25th grandchild is on the way. The siblings are present during birthing (those old enough -- why do birthings always seem to have to occur at 2am??!!). I believe that provides a setting for imparting sex education.

    And it helps the whole family avoid engaging in the ridiculousness of "...does pedophilia cause harm?..."

    Duh! Stay away from pedophiliacs and you'll never have to concern your little brain about it.


  6. For myself, I see no problem with a victim of un-consensual sex seeking retaliation- either immediately or ten years later.

    And even if there is moral panty-chewing from the self-appointed arbiters of "right" over all-grown-up little Johnny making Father Joe choke to death on his jewels ...the matter is between the rapist's family and the victim. It is no one else's business.

    How's that for a "rebuttal"?

    In this, like all real "crime", all the government does is protect the criminal from the victim or the victim's family.

    But that's just me.

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