Listen, My Children...

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Thursday, June 26, 2003

On Sodomy and Pedophilia


The Supreme Court, as all have by now heard, has ruled against the Texas anti-sodomy law. According to Josh, "The Court held that the Constitution protects the liberty of adults to engage in consensual sex in their own homes."

Now, Josh's statement seems to imply that the Court held that the Constitution protects the liberty of any adults to engage in consensual sex in their own homes. One would assume that liberty would also be extended to "in any position," or else the news reports wouldn't keep pointing out that this ruling applies to rear-entry behavior in heterosexual couples as well (previously prohibited in the Lone Star State, still prohibited in, what, twelve others or so). As I've said before, I'm fine with that liberty.

Of course, Santorum got in all that trouble for saying that, if you expand the definition of what is acceptable beyond one-man-one-woman otherwise unattached and not closely related, then you have to allow any adults to engage in consensual sexual relationships. As I've also said before, each segment of those any consenting adults didn't like being lumped in with the other segments of any consenting adults, so everyone yelled at him and so forth. (And, to repeat myself again, where I differ from Santorum is that I don't necessarily think allowing consenting adults to do just about whatever they want in private, involving no non-consenting people, is bad. We agree on the equivalence of the groups. And on the moral wrongness of a few of them; we disagree on others.)

Of course, you go beyond all that and get a new can of worms... I'm a kibbutzer (in the bridge sense, not the commune sense) on a few psych and sexuality forums (they came as options with my American Academy of Religion membership), and there are regular articles and posts about the concept of "consent." Apparently there are many studies (God help the people who carried them out!) with the results, I hear, proving that in the majority of cases "inter-generational" or "adult-child" sex (formerly known as pedophilia, but this year's May APA meeting discussed saying that pedophilia should no longer be considered a disorder in need of treatment*) is beneficial to both parties. "Of course," they say, "abuse does occur, but it occurs in same-generation hetero- and homosexual relationships as well. That is just a reprehensible minority for which the majority need not be punished." Since they are not harmful, when carried out in a loving manner, sexual relations with children are fine and good and even to be encouraged. But what of consent? They're not old enough, you say? Ah, but children can be forced by their parents to go to church every week -- and we all know how harmful that is to their psychological development. Parents and other guardians are given legal permission to cause their children to do many things without the child's consent, so it's just discrimination to require consent in sexual matters.

Anyhow. I'm still up there with the consenting adults; take away one or the other of those modifiers, I'll drop my support.

*UPDATE: I've been asked by email to clarify: the APA is not changing anything yet. It was not a topic officially on the agenda for discussion. But, it was brought up by a member and subjected to a small amount of discussion before being kicked out until next year. While it's reassuring that the Association hasn't lost its mind on this issue, it's distressing that at least one member thinks it a good idea and at least a few others think it worthy of debate. Considering the number of APA members who also write for the Journal of Homosexuality, a publication gleefully advocating "Male Intergenerational Intimacy," I'm sure there's still cause to worry.

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