Thursday, November 21, 2013

A failed "slippery slope" argument

Some of my conservative friends, opposed to granting equal rights to the LGBT community, made the prediction that if we give in to homosexuals, then the pedophiles will start campaigning for similar equal rights.  Sadly, that prediction appears to have been correct.  That argument is nonsense, as I'll be attempting to show.  There's just no way to go from granting equality to LGBTs to sanctioning pedophilia.

First of all, the equality of rights to LGBTs harms no one.  They're simply being granted the same rights that heterosexuals have.  A relationship between consenting adults is no one's business but their own and is no basis for denying them the rights they have in this free nation.  There's no rational reason to declare this to be a crime.  The idea that it destroys the so-called "sanctity of marriage" is specious.  It's like saying that allowing Dr. Pepper to be served destroys the sanctity of Coca-Cola.  There's simply no way that homosexual marriage affects heterosexual marriage in any way whatsoever.  Fortunately, in the past several years, the public has finally begun to turn away from reviling and abusing LGBTs and denying them equal rights.  But is this the harbinger of descent down a "slippery slope" (something of a double entendre in this context) - a descent into a world where every criminal act is sanctioned on the basis of an argument similar to that used by LGBTs to gain equal rights?  I think not.

The key flaw in the argument by pedophiles to try to get license for their evil is that pedophilia involves children, not adults.  There's an "age of consent" clause in the legal system because children can be coerced in various ways (including but not limited to threats of violence) to do things they don't really want to do.  Even if the children seem to have granted "consent", this is a crime because they're incapable of giving such consent owing to their age.  We can argue about where the line should be drawn, but such lines are in fact drawn and are on the books.  Sexual acts forced on children below the age of consent do real harm to those children, both physical and mental.  That's why pedophilia is considered a criminal act, and justifiably so.  Pedophilia is so far from being within the confines of consenting adults, there's just no way it can be rationalized as anything other than what it is:  a despicable crime.

Similar arguments prohibit the sanctioning of incest.  There are good reasons not to sanction incest that extend to the obvious problem of inbreeding, even when involving young people over the nominal age of consent.  There's no good reason for society to ignore incest, even in such cases, owing to the powerful influence of adult family members on vulnerable youngsters, even late in their teens.  The "consent" granted is of very doubtful legitimacy.  Incest does real harm to people and so is not something to sanction.

Of course, sexual acts forced on anyone of any age are, and should always be considered violent crimes.  Thus, there can be no extension of the granting of equality to LGBTs to apply to rapists, either.  Sexual acts performed under duress (e.g., the threat of violence) are themselves acts of violence that any rational society would never condone.  Someone is harmed both physically and mentally by acts of violence; i.e., rape.  It's the absence of consent that is the key to this concept remaining a crime - it's a barrier to stop the decline along the putative "slippery slope".

Interestingly, the subject of multiple spouses came up in the predictions by my conservative friends as another part of the "slippery slope" argument.  However, I don't know if such arguments actually have been advanced yet.  Despite the general revulsion that having multiple spouses creates in many people, my perception is that if it involves only consenting adults, then I see no basic problem with it.  It's a choice I wouldn't make, but if my neighbor has two or more spouses, how does that affect me?  Not at all.  In religious cults, having multiple spouses is fairly common (so the cult leaders can have sex with all the partners they might want) - and in many cases, children are involved sexually in these relationships.  When children are involved, participants have stepped over the line.  Further, if one or more of the adults did not consent (or was forced to give "consent" under some threat), then that also steps over the line.  It's my perception that "open marriages" and "swap clubs" often wind up in bad outcomes for one or more of the individuals involved, but that's a risk that consenting adults can choose that doesn't affect me in any way.  I see no reason to define those as criminal acts.  Foolish, perhaps, but not criminal.

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