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"Statutory Rape" in The Reader:

Ann Althouse discussed Kate Winslet's rejection of the term "statutory rape" for the relationship in The Reader (Winslet's new movie) between a woman in her mid-30s and a 15-year-old boy. As best I can tell, Ann does take the view that the behavior is indeed properly labeled "statutory rape," both legally and morally. [UPDATE: Ann's update reveals that I misunderstood her; I now think her view is that the behavior may well be treated as "statutory rape" from a moral perspective, but she doesn't take a stand on the legal issue. Still, the interviewer whom she quotes seems to suggest that the behavior might be condemned on the grounds that it's a crime, so the legal issue seems to still be worth discussing.]

1. As to the legal question, in the country where the movie is apparently set — Germany — sex between an adult and a 15-year-old is now generally not statutory rape: The age of consent there is 14. I don't know what it was in Germany in the late 1940s, but I can say that in many American states it was 14 until the 1990s (the latest to change, I believe, was Hawaii, around 2000). Throughout much of American history, the age of consent was 15 or less (often significantly less).

As I note in this post, even if you focus solely on the Western World (the U.S., Europe West of the Iron Curtain but including all of Germany and excluding the pinpoint countries, plus the Western Anglosphere, which is to say Australia, Canada, and New Zealand), 38% of the population lives in countries with the age of consent set at 15 or less. If you include South Korea and Japan in the West, the percentage will climb even higher.

Now none of this tells us what the age of consent should be, or how seriously the law should take sexual relationships between adults and people slightly under the age of consent. But it does suggest that we can't just conclusively assume that a fictional relationship in a movie, set in a different time and place, can be treated as "statutory rape" simply because today all American states would treat it as such, though today many Western countries would not treat it as such, and until recently some American states wouldn't treat it as such.

2. I can't speak in detail to the moral question, since I haven't seen the movie, and I don't know the social context of the time. While some crimes, such as forcible rape, are in my view wrong regardless of the social or personal context, other matters — statutory rape, copyright infringement, underage drinking, and the like — tend to turn on much subtler factors, and the arbitrary lines that the law necessarily draws can't precisely track the underlying moral truth.

I will say that my intuition is that 15-year-old boys are unlikely to suffer lasting emotional harm from affairs with 30-something-year-old women, any more than from any first sexual relationship, whether at 15 or 16, and whether with a 35-year-old or another 15-year-old. (I wouldn't claim this extends to 15-year-old girls with older men, but I don't think one should blithely disregard factors such as the sex of the parties in making the moral judgment here.) Of course, maybe that's just my remembered teenage fantasies (not, I should stress, my personal experience) talking. Perhaps I'm mistaken on it. But again I'm hesitant to say that such relationships can categorically be seen as deeply immoral behavior regardless of person, time, and place.

3. The parenthetical in the Althouse post, "By the way, the actor playing the role was only 17 when most of the scenes were filmed. They did some last minute filming of the naked parts 'literally days' after he turned 18," raises separate questions. I would assume that this was all done legally, and as a moral matter, I doubt that the actor is going to suffer any real harm from the experience; I expect he's going to derive a great deal of professional and likely personal benefit from it. But again I can't claim any expertise on that.

Note: In the factual discussion above, I refer to the age of consent for sex between a typical adult and a minor. I don't include — since The Reader doesn't deal with this — sex between people close together in age, where the age of consent is often set lower. I also don't include situations where there's some familial or authority relationship between the parties, where the age of consent is often higher.

UPDATE: Ann Althouse responds in an update to her original post; I'm busy with family stuff today, but I hope to have a chance to read it and perhaps reply in turn tomorrow.

HPH:
It would be interesting to see a study on the scope of unintended consequences that derive from having a 4-5 year difference between biological adulthood and legal adulthood.
12.25.2008 1:41pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
HPH: "Legal adulthood" is a complicated concept, since the age thresholds -- both legal and social -- for various activities differ.

I should note, though, that throughout the U.S. the formal age of majority (the age at which one could agree to a wide range of binding contracts, and possibly the age at which one was automatically freed from parents' legal control) was 21 until the early 1970s. I've heard that the age of puberty tended to be higher in the past than it is now, so perhaps "biological adulthood" as measure by sexual maturation has gotten earlier just as has "legal adulthood." But my point is that the gap between biological and legal adulthood has existed in the U.S. for a long time, and might have been bigger in the past than it is today.
12.25.2008 1:50pm
one of many:
Interesting, how do you fell about a 36 year old man having sex with a 15 year old boy? If at the age of 15 a boy/man is mature enough to have a sexual relationship with a woman are they not also mature enough to have a sexual relationship with a man?
12.25.2008 1:54pm
p. rich (mail) (www):
In an age of the pill, widespread abortion and liberal feminism, what exactly is "the age of consent" supposed to represent? The fact that it may be temporarily ensconsed in a law somewhere isn't particularly informative. Was it originally intended to prevent, or punish the creation of, "lasting emotional harm"? Or is that notion just a reflection of touchy-feely modern liberal thought?

On the other hand, if "the age of consent" is supposed to peg an age at which a child (of either sex) is capable of making an adult decision regarding the possible consequences of sex, then the current statutes are by and large a joke. The Law, as practiced on planet Stupid...
12.25.2008 2:00pm
Oren:

(I wouldn't claim this extends to 15-year-old girls with older men, but I don't think blithely disregard factors such as the sex of the parties in making the moral judgment here.)

Could you clarify the second clause there, are you saying that we ought not to disregard the sex of the parties?

[EV: Whoops, sorry, accidentally omitted a couple of words in the original version of the post; now fixed, thanks!]
12.25.2008 2:14pm
vassil_petrov (mail):
Interesting, how do you fell about a 36 year old man having sex with a 15 year old boy? If at the age of 15 a boy/man is mature enough to have a sexual relationship with a woman are they not also mature enough to have a sexual relationship with a man?

In Bulagaria, the age of consent is 14; for heterosexual, as well for honosexual sex; the age of consent does vary according to the age of the other partner. I find that very sensible and liberal - the age of consent must only serve the perpose of setting the minimal age a person should attain before being considered by the law mature enough to make inteligent decisions about sex, not a tool for the state to microminage people's sexual relationships, by setting graduated system of different ages of consent according to the age difference of the partners.
Same with marriage laws. In the past there were laws that did not recognised marriages between persons with great age difference (say a 22-year man and 72-year woman) or between persons above certain age (say 80 years). Obviously the state had tried to micromanige marriages to fit certain preconceived stereotypes or purposes. These laws are now in the past. Same must happen with the different age of consent for homosexual and heterosexual sex, as well as for teenage sex and teen-aduld sex.
12.25.2008 2:16pm
vassil_petrov (mail):
the age of consent does NOT vary according to the age of the other partner.

Sorry.
12.25.2008 2:17pm
Milhouse (www):
Statutory rape means something that is called "rape" only because there exists a statute that defines it so for legal purposes. If there is no such statute, then by definition it can't be statutory rape.
12.25.2008 2:30pm
Oren:

Obviously the state had tried to micromanige marriages to fit certain preconceived stereotypes or purposes. These laws are now in the past.

On the other hand, it has also legalized a whole set of manipulative and potentially harmful relationships. Every such system must be either over-inclusive or under-inclusive.
12.25.2008 2:36pm
Cornellian (mail):
An outright marriage between a 36 year old man and a 15 year old girl would have been considered acceptable one or two hundred years ago, especially if the man was wealthy and the girl was good looking. In fact, one could call that a traditional marriage. A sexual relationship between them, once married, must therefore have also been considered acceptable.

I'm inclined to doubt that a 15 year old guy would be harmed by the mere fact of a sexual relationship with a 36 year old woman, absent some other factor, though sadly I cannot speak from experience. In theory one might be able to say the same about a relationship between a 36 year old man and 15 year old girl, but in that case I'd be far more suspicious that such other factors exist.
12.25.2008 3:20pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
Here in AZ I think age of consent can vary with age of the other person, a little. I seem to recall there is an exemption for situations where the two persons are within two years of age. It was added because there had been prosecutions where two teens were having sex, and then one turned 18, the other was still 17, and the first got slapped with an adult felony charge.
12.25.2008 3:23pm
Cornellian (mail):
That reminds me, wasn't Newt Gingrich's first wife his high school geometry teacher?
12.25.2008 3:23pm
Putting Two and Two...:

Of course, maybe that's just my remembered teenage fantasies (not, I should stress, my personal experience) talking.


Why should you stress it?
12.25.2008 3:29pm
MikeyP (mail):
As for thr actor, Christian Slater was 16 when he did nude a nude love scene in Name of the Rose. Brooke Shields and Chrsitophger Atkins were 16 or 17 when they did Blue Lagoon. They were nude in the love scenes, I think, but it was photographed so that nothing too explicit appeard on screen.

I don't know if the law has changed since either of those movie were made, but both still get played on cable without any cuts, so I've got to assume there's nothing illegal about them
12.25.2008 3:36pm
Allan Walstad (mail):
Sex with an attractive older woman must be the dream of most 15-year-old guys. (Yes Virgie, there is a Santa Claus!) I'm not convinced of the likelihood of damage of any sort to the guy. Making a felon of the woman and putting her in jail for years seems a bit much.

On the other hand, parents are responsible for their children up to some age, and that properly gives them power to set boundaries. I haven't seen any mention in the posts so far of parental rights to make choices (or, if unable to control adult-size offspring, to kick them out of the house).

There's just bit of parallel here with alcohol--at one time it was pretty well respected that if Junior is allowed to drink a beer around the house, the cops don't have to bust in and haul the family off to jail. I still think that degree of hands-off would be a good policy. And maybe if Pop sends Junior over to Auntie's for experience, the local SWAT team needn't swing into action over that, either.

I don't have a five-point plan to settle these issues, but it does seem to me that society has become excessively paternalistic and punctiliously legalistic (except perhaps when it comes to perjury, torture, and other real wrongdoings by politicians). Hypocrisy has always been in vogue, so no need to mention that. I also recommend in general the value of a buffer belt between what we frown on and what we prosecute as felonies.
12.25.2008 4:09pm
MCM (mail):
On the other hand, it has also legalized a whole set of manipulative and potentially harmful relationships. Every such system must be either over-inclusive or under-inclusive.


Since we're talking about a bunch of idiosyncratic individuals, I would think that all laws about sex are necessarily over-inclusive and under-inclusive. Some unusually mature 15-year-olds will be "protected" from encounters that would do them no damage, just as some particularly immature 17-year-olds will fail to be protected.

This is perhaps the least rational area of human behavior.
12.25.2008 4:19pm
wm13:
"An outright marriage between a 36 year old man and a 15 year old girl would have been considered acceptable one or two hundred years ago . . ."

This is not true, particularly. (Although it depends on exactly what you mean by "acceptable.") I don't have the energy to look up the exact numbers (it's Christmas!), but 19th century censuses indicate that about 1% of girls 15 and under were married, so such marriages were actually quite unusual. Seventeenth and eighteenth century New England church records will show similar results.
12.25.2008 4:32pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
I believe some states have age of consent laws which do provide some leeway when the pair are relatively close in age, such as a 15 year-old girl and a 17 year-old boy. Something sticks in my head about this pertaining to an age difference not exceeding three years, with a requirement that the younger be of at last a certain age (14 I think).
12.25.2008 4:46pm
JohnKT (mail):
Texas has some leeway for legal age of consent when the age difference is a couple of years.

In 2005 Texas changed its legal age for marriage from 14 to 16 (with parental consent) in response to the FLDS move to Yearning for Zion. Texas State Rep Hildebrand sheparded the change through the Lege.

As for a 15 year old boy having sex with a 30 year old woman, man! that was my dream at 15. I read Aldous Huxley's Point Counterpoint, and was dying for an older, sophisticated woman to seduce me. It never happened and I've been irreparably damaged ever since.

Why would anyone want to outlaw this?
12.25.2008 5:34pm
Cornellian (mail):
I don't have the energy to look up the exact numbers (it's Christmas!), but 19th century censuses indicate that about 1% of girls 15 and under were married

I said such marriages were acceptable, not common. I'd be surprised if the number were even 1% today.
12.25.2008 5:44pm
ReaderY:
I agree with Professor Volokh on this one. I'll simply point out that the rationale he's given, in my view, represents a general reason why courts shouldn't judicially determine these sorts of questions in the name of the constitution but should leave them to legislatures. People, including judges, can have very strong views on these sorts of issues, but the fact that one has strong emotional attachment to ones own views doesn't make other views irrational.

Ones answer to the critical question of whether conduct is harmful or not can depends on circumstances. Our mosaic of parallel societies and subcultures means that people living in the same society can be living in very different conditions with respect to the harms involved, and entirely possible for one person to live a life without seeing any harm in conduct that is obvious to a person in different circumstances, and both views could be quite rational with respect to the different life experiences.

The fact that people with certain kinds of life experiences happen to be more likely to be lawyers and judges than other kinds of people -- and such people tend to have a type of experience that is likely to be more insulated from some kinds of harm and more exposed to others than their fellows -- should not deprive everyone else of a right to have a say in how their society is run.
12.25.2008 6:39pm
Ken Arromdee:
An outright marriage between a 36 year old man and a 15 year old girl would have been considered acceptable one or two hundred years ago,

That doesn't mean they didn't think it harms the girl. It just means they didn't care whether the girl was harmed. Women's rights was in its infancy that long ago.
12.25.2008 7:41pm
anomdebus (mail):
It appears most direct responders took your interpretation as read, though I disagree. To the charge being accurate, she does not say that the behavior is "properly labeled" as SR, but to "[c]heck the statute books before acting on Kate's legal advice".

I would also note that the defenses offered by Ms Winslet have nothing to do with your rationale. First offering that her character believed her partner to be older, which I do not believe is a defense against an SR charge. She then offers subjective rationale for the relationships wholesomeness, which as Ms Althouse points out, you would also expect from victimizer of juveniles.

The only thing that I can think of that separates younger males and younger females in relation to older partners in favor of the males is the possibility of pregnancy of the presumed immature person. In the girls favor, though, is apparently being more emotionally mature at that age. This latter point would suggest that girls would be better able to handle the relationship, your fantasies (and presumably anxieties on the behalf of girls) not withstanding.
12.25.2008 8:59pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
"As for a 15 year old boy having sex with a 30 year old woman, man! that was my dream at 15. I read Aldous Huxley's Point Counterpoint, and was dying for an older, sophisticated woman to seduce me. It never happened and I've been irreparably damaged ever since."

I would wager that a poll of 14-18 year old males on that situation would give results like this:

The boy is "a victim of rape:" .0001%

The boy is "lucky:" 99.9999%

Undecided: 0%.
12.25.2008 9:26pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
" First offering that her character believed her partner to be older, which I do not believe is a defense against an SR charge."

I think there AZ law has changed. Over a certain age (16?) reasonable belief that the person is of age is a defense. Before that change, tho, it was the strictest of strict liability. There was one AZ Supremes case where the girl had not only told the defendant that she was over 18, she had friends vouch for it AND produced false ID (the defendant was a lot more circumspect than most, and took some convincing). Conviction upheld: strict liability. Here's her birth certificate, here's the date when they had relations, if the two aren't equal to or greater than 18 years, he's guilty.
12.25.2008 9:30pm
methodact:
Shakespeare's Juliet is a nubile 13-year-old. Homer's Helen of Troy, is a mere pre-teen of 12-years-old, when Greek hero Theseus kidnaps her to make her his wife, thereby setting off the Trojan War.

Friedrich Nietzsche opined, "Morality is the best of all devices for leading mankind by the nose."

There already exists much concensus for ensuring, "Best Practices for Ensuring Scientific Integrity and Preventing Misconduct".

Yet the US government has seriously co-opted science for its own purposes of political ends, despite the need for due diligence and probity.

The use of moral panic as a classic device of distraction, in conjunction with institutional looting, was handicapped here - this is what we wanted:


Rind, Tromovitch, and Bauserman:
Politically Incorrect - Scientifically Correct
— Thomas D. Oellerich —

Introduction

The response to the Rind, Tromovitch, and Bauserman (1998) study was surprising. But the response of the American Psychological Association (APA) was, to say the least, startling and distressing. Rather than responding to the outcry provoked by this study with a discussion of the right of and importance for scientists to publish unpopular findings, the APA chose to distance itself from the study. This distancing included the assertion that child sexual abuse (CSA) causes serious harm and that "such activity should never be considered harmless ...'(American Psychological Association,' 1999; emphasis in the original). Additionally, the statement ignored the recommendation of Rind et al. to differentiate abusive sexual behavior from the non-abusive.

This paper addresses these two issues. First, it asserts that the idea that adult/nonadult sexual behavior 'should never be considered harmless' is not based on the evidence. Second, it supports the importance of differentiating abusive and nonabusive adult/nonadult sexual behavior both in the research and practice arenas. Additionally, this paper explains why a professional organization, such as the APA, would distance itself from the Rind, Tromovitch, and Bauserman's report. Lastly, it makes recommendations with respect to responding to the problem of adult/nonadult sexual behavior.


The issues

First, the blanket statement that the sexual abuse of children is harmful to its victims is false. And its falsity has been attested to since the 'discovery of child sexual abuse.' For example, in 1975, David Walters identified as one of the major myths surrounding CSA was that it caused lasting psychological harm. He asserted that what harm may be experienced by the child was due to factors extrinsic to the sexual abuse itself:

Most of the psychological damage, if any, stems not from the abuse but from the interpretation of the abuse and the handling of the situation by parents, medical personnel, law enforcement and school officials, and social workers (p.'113).

Four years later, Finkelhor (1979) proposed an ethical justification for prohibiting adult/child (defined as a prepubertal youngster) sexual behavior. The reason for using an ethical justification was that the justification based on psychological harm lacked cogency. According to Finkelhor, it was empirically weak since 'it is possible that a majority of these children are not harmed'(p.693).

More recently, the Past President of the APA, Martin Seligman (1994), argued that the case for CSA being a 'special destroyer of adult mental health' (p.'232) was far from proven. The existing research indicating harm, according to him,'abandoned methodological niceties'(p.233). These studies were characterized by sampling bias, lack of adequate control groups, and a failure to consider alternative explanations for the findings. He wrote:'Once the ideology is stripped away, we still remain ignorant about whether sexual abuse in childhood wreaks damage in adult life and, if so, how much'(p.234).

Of significance is the fact that the weight of the evidence, when objectively considered, has supported the notion that CSA is neither necessarily nor typically harmful. For example, Constantine (1981) reviewed 30 studies. He found that

20 report at least some subjects without ill effects;'13 of those conclude that, for the majority of subjects, there is essentially no harm; and six even identify some subjects for whom, by self-evaluation or other criteria, the childhood sexual encounter was a positive or possibly beneficial experience (p.'224).

In his review of 25 studies, Conte (1985), taking issue with Constantine's using the research 'to make a case for 'legitimate instances of child-adult sex', concluded that 'a review of the literature describing the effects of sexual abuse on children leads irrefutably to the ambiguous conclusion that sexual abuse appears to affect some victims and not others'(p.'117).

Similarly, Browne and Finkelhor (1986) reviewed 28 studies. They found that among adults who had experienced CSA less than 20 percent evidenced serious psychopathology. They noted with concern the efforts of child advocates to exaggerate the harmful effects for political purposes because of its potential to harm the victims and their families:

Advocates [should] not exaggerate or overstate the intensity or inevitability of [negative] consequences [because] victims and their families [...] may be further victimized by exaggerated claims about the effects of sexual abuse (p.'178).

Kendall-Tackett, Williams, and Finkelhor (1993) reviewed 45 studies. They found that up to 49 percent of the sexually abused children suffered no psychological harm. They concluded that a lack of symptoms could not be used to rule out sexual abuse since 'there are too many sexually abused children who are apparently asymptomatic' (p.'175). Further, among the children who were symptomatic, symptom abatement occurred for most within two years with or without treatment. These authors also found that when sexually abused children in treatment were compared with nonabused children in treatment, the sexually abused were less symptomatic than their nonabused clinical counterparts (p.'165).

In 1997, Rind and Tromovitch conducted a meta-analytic review of seven studies on the effects of child sexual abuse. Unlike prior reviews which were based primarily on clinical samples, this review involved studies that used national probability samples: four were from the United States, and one each, from Great Britain, Canada, and Spain. The findings indicated that child sexual abuse 'is not associated with pervasive harm and that harm, when it occurs, is not typically intense' (p.'237). The findings of Rind, Tromovitch, and Bauserman, which caused the recent maelstrom, simply confirmed this earlier study.

Moreover, it has not been demonstrated that CSA has any influence upon the adult personality. For example, Beitchman, Zucker, Hood, DaCosta, Akman, and Cassavia (1992) reviewed 32 studies. They concluded that the evidence suggested that CSA has serious long-term effects, but that it was not clear to what extent these effects were due to CSA per se (p.'115). Levitt and Pinnell (1995) concluded, based on their review of the literature, that 'the traditionally accepted link between childhood sexual abuse as an isolated cause and psychopathology in adulthood lacks empirical verification'(p.151). The Rind, Tromovitch, and Bauserman study(1998) indicated that CSA is non-causative. They reported that CSA-adjustment relations became nonsignificant when family environment was controlled for. Indeed, the evidence tends to confirm Seligman's earlier conclusion that

the case for childhood trauma - in anything but its most brutal form - influencing adult personality is in the minds of the inner-child advocates. It is not to be found in the data (p.'235).

Thus, contrary to the APA's assertion that CSA should never be considered harmless, quite the opposite is the case. That is, the empirical evidence gives no reason to consider CSA as necessarily or even usually harmful.
Second, based on their findings, Rind, Tromovitch, and Bauserman made the important recommendation that the scientific community use more neutral terms to study the phenomena of adult-child and adult-adolescent sexual behavior. In their view, abusive sexual behavior would be reserved to situations involving an unwanted sexual encounter with negative reactions. Those situations involving a willing encounter with positive reactions would be labeled simply adult-child sex or adult-adolescent sex (p.'46). One might wish to further refine this recommendation (e.g., abuse should be defined when the child/adolescent is unwilling regardless of whether their action was negative or not).

Similarly, Browne and Finkelhor (1986) reviewed 28 studies. They found that among adults who had experienced CSA less than 20 percent evidenced serious psychopathology. They noted with concern the efforts of child advocates to exaggerate the harmful effects for political purposes because of its potential to harm the victims and their families:

advocates [should] not exaggerate or overstate the intensity or inevitability of [negative] consequences [because] victims and their families [...] may be further victimized by exaggerated claims about the effects of sexual abuse (p. 178).

[...]

But there is an additional reason - money. As noted by Dineen (1999), the psychology industry (which she defined broadly to include psychologists, psychiatrists, psychoanalysts, clinical social workers and psychotherapists) needs victims to justify the expansion of its domain and, thus, it "manufactures victims." A similar point was made earlier by Tavris (1993) with respect to the incest-survivor recovery movement. CSA is a problem widely exploited by professionals according to Costin, Karger, and Stoesz (1996):

the rediscovery of child abuse by the middle class has also led to the growth of a child abuse industry composed of opportunistic psychotherapists and aggressive attorneys who have prospered from child sexual abuse, exploiting adults who have evidence of having been abused and encouraging memory recall from those who haven't. ... Clearly, the psychological paradigm of child abuse has been a godsend ... for mental health professionals looking for new diseases. Unfortunately, one of the casualties of this new industry has been adult victims, who risk being victimized yet again, this time by a child abuse industry seeking out new forms of economic growth. ...

... Ironically, a public that is sympathetic to the plight of abused and neglected children fails to understand that it foots much of the bill for an out-of-control and demand-driven legal and psychotherapy industry.... (p. 7)
12.25.2008 9:32pm
methodact:
This is what we got:


H. CON. RES. 107

Expressing the sense of Congress rejecting the conclusions of a recent article published by the American Psychological Association that suggests that sexual relationships between adults and children might be positive for children.
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

May 12, 1999
Mr. SALMON (for himself, Mr. DELAY, Mr. PITTS, and Mr. WELDON of Florida) submitted the following concurrent resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Education and the Workforce

CONCURRENT RESOLUTION
Expressing the sense of Congress rejecting the conclusions of a recent article published by the American Psychological Association that suggests that sexual relationships between adults and children might be positive for children.
Whereas children are a precious gift and responsibility given to parents by God;

Whereas the spiritual, physical, and mental well-being of children is their sacred duty;

Whereas parents have the right to expect government to refrain from interfering with them in fulfilling their sacred duty and to render necessary assistance;

Whereas the United States Supreme Court has held that parents `who have this primary responsibility for children's well-being are entitled to the support of laws designed to aid discharge of that responsibility' (Ginsberg v. New York, 390 U.S. 629, 639 (1968));

Whereas no segment of our society is more critical to the future of human survival and society than our children;

Whereas it is the obligation of all public policymakers not only to support but also to defend the health and rights of parents, families, and children;

Whereas information endangering children is being made public and, in some instances, may be given unwarranted or unintended credibility through release under professional titles or through professional organizations;

Whereas elected officials have a duty to inform and counter actions they consider damaging to children, parents, families, and society;

Whereas Congress has made sexual molestation and exploitation of children a felony;

Whereas all credible studies in this area, including those published by the American Psychological Association, condemn child sexual abuse as criminal and harmful to children;

Whereas the American Psychological Association has recently published a severely flawed study that suggests that sexual relationships between adults and children are less harmful than believed and might even be positive for `willing' children;

Whereas `Paidika—the Journal of Pedophilia', a publication advocating the legalization of sex with `willing' children, has published an article by one of the authors of the study, Robert Bauserman, Ph.D. (see `Man-Boy Sexual Relationships in a Cross-Cultural Perspective', Issue 5); and

Whereas the United States Supreme Court has recognized that `sexually exploited children are unable to develop healthy, affectionate relationships in later life, have sexual dysfunction, and have a tendency to become sexual abusers as adults' (New York v. Ferber, 458 U.S. 747, 759, n.10 (1982))
[cont...]
12.25.2008 9:49pm
methodact:
[...cont.]

Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That it is the sense of Congress that—
(1) Congress condemns and denounces all suggestions in the study recently published by the American Psychological Association that indicates sexual relationships between adults and `willing' children are less harmful than believed and might even be positive for `willing' children;

(2) Congress urges the President to likewise reject and condemn, in the strongest terms possible, any suggestion that sexual relations between children and adults—regardless of the child's frame of mind—are anything but abusive, destructive, exploitive, reprehensible, and punishable by law; and

(3) the Congress encourages competent investigations to continue to research the effects of child sexual abuse using the best methodology so that the public and public policymakers may act upon accurate information.

How and why this happens can be explained by Bueno de Mesquita's theory that leaders prefer to follow data that serves their own interests rather than that data which best serves society, hence our leaders do not consistantly make the best decisions for everyone.
12.25.2008 9:52pm
MarkField (mail):

Homer's Helen of Troy, is a mere pre-teen of 12-years-old, when Greek hero Theseus kidnaps her to make her his wife, thereby setting off the Trojan War.


Theseus kidnapped Helen? I think you meant Paris, and he was hardly a Greek hero.
12.25.2008 10:03pm
methodact:
Ah, in reviewing Wikipedia's Helen, under Abduction by Theseus, I see two younger ages for her at that time, 7-years-old and 10-years-old, respectively.

Yes the real flashpoint came at her Seduction by Paris.
12.25.2008 10:31pm
whit:
i've said this before, but age of consent is the perfect example of where the law is, because it has to be, arbitrary.

i was a cop in hawaii when the age was 14. a 50 yr old with a 14 yr old... perfectly legal.

WA has a 16 yr old age of consent. 15 and 14 are legal IF the other person is within so many months of the other person. i can't recall the # offhand 24 and 36 maybe, but that's off the top of my head.

regardless, the law has to be gender neutral. a 36 yr old man boinking a 14 yr old girl, if it's illegal in that state, should face the same penalty as a 36 yr old female boinking a 14 yr old boy.
12.26.2008 12:12am
subpatre (mail):
Althouse has now dropped arguing the legal end, and says it was about "using the term "statutory rape" to just mean sex with a person who is too young". IOW, Althouse is arguing a purely moral judgement.
whit writes:i've said this before, but age of consent is the perfect example of where the law is, because it has to be, arbitrary.
It is untrue the law must be so arbitrary. In your example, one day of age makes the difference between no crime at all and a felony crime. One day! That is not arbitrary, it is absurd.

The problem —one that Althouse quickly identified— is that age differences in sex are morality. To better prosecute society's moral feeling on that, there used to be intermediate crimes like 'Corruption of Youth', 'Seduction' and other (not felonious) crimes. These allowed a reasonable spectrum of increased criminalization that fit reality better than the all-or-nothing felonization of consentual relations.

One side effect is the high underage-pregnancy rate; the fathers being fugitive and most often abetted by the mothers. [Perhaps forcing a problem into the shadows, even at the risk of increasing the numbers, is what society did want and intend; if so I have misread the intention.]

Perhaps worse, we justify the elevated criminality by claiming "harm" to a person who has relations with someone else that is "not harm" if that someone else is slightly younger. We gain little by defying nature and reality.

In a similar way, gender-neutral laws on gender-based offenses defy logic. Men and women (and their underage counterparts) do not see or react to sex and sexual relations the same way. Take Dave Hardy up on his idea for a poll; his predictions for underage male reactions seem very close. It would not be surprising to see drastically different —perhaps completely opposite— results for switched gender roles. If the law can allow for gendered toilets, then it can allow for gendered and gender-specific offenses.
12.26.2008 1:26am
TruePath (mail) (www):

Interesting, how do you fell about a 36 year old man having sex with a 15 year old boy? If at the age of 15 a boy/man is mature enough to have a sexual relationship with a woman are they not also mature enough to have a sexual relationship with a man?


I'd argue that largely the harms of sexual relationships with older individuals is primarily deterimined by the social context. At the time the relation is taking place we can assume the individual finds it appealing and thus any harm that results will be from later psychological or social consequences.

Thus in a society which viewed it as normal and healthy for 14 year old girls to go out and have oral sex with middle aged men these girls would likely suffer no significant harm. Rather than feeling taken advantage of after the fact or somehow violated and embarrassed they would simply accept it as unremarkable. On the other hand if this society instilled values saying that it was deeply shameful and humiliating for a boy to sleep with an older woman it would be that relationship which was the harmful one. Arguably there are innate differences in sex drives that make such a society unlikely but that doesn't change the point.

Of course in our society we warn girls about being taken advantage of by older men and tend to view such an event as a major violation so it is indeed harmful. The question for gays is much more complicated because a large fraction of our society still views any kind of gay sex as shameful and wrong.

However, the point is that I think maturity has very little to do with it. I know 23 year olds who are less mature than your average 15 year old and 15 year olds who are as mature as many 23 year olds. This doesn't change the fact that an immature 23 year old woman will likely be harmed less by a consensual relationship with a 40 year old than a mature 15 year old given the vastly different societal reactions when the relationship is discovered.
12.26.2008 4:19am
Bruce_M (mail):
The clear and wide disparity between the various ages of consent from one jurisdiction to another is proof positive that there is no correct, bright-line age of consent.

We trust juries (or judges, or whomever the factfinder may be) to determine questions of life and death, I don't see why "mentally capable and mature enough to knowingly consent to sex" cannot be something for the jury to determine. It could either be an affirmative defense (at the very least it always should be) for the defendant to prove, or the state should have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the victim was not mentally capable and mature enough to have knowingly consented to sex with the defendant. I'd prefer the latter.

Whatever the proper resolution, one thing is clear - whether you are a rapist or not should not be dependent upon some random number of times that your sexual partner has orbited around the sun.

Additionally, it breeds contempt and disrespect for the law when a particular action is a serious felony but becomes perfectly legal once the clock strikes midnight.
12.26.2008 8:35am
JimJimJim:

my intuition is that 15-year-old boys are unlikely to suffer lasting emotional harm from affairs with 30-something-year-old women, any more than from any first sexual relationship, whether at 15 or 16, and whether with a 35-year-old or another 15-year-old. (I wouldn't claim this extends to 15-year-old girls with older men ... )

Why not? Why the assumption that there's a difference in potential damage to the "victim" based on the victim's sex? I don't get it, but it's apparently so obvious that it doesn't warrant explanation in the original post.
12.26.2008 10:42am
Rex (mail):
Okay, let me add another point to the discussion. Unless Virginia has changed its laws in the past 20 years, there was one absolute defense to the charge of statutory rape: marriage after the fact.

You could be charged with statutory rape, get out on bail, marry the girl, and the charges would be dropped.

This suggests to me that the whole idea of statutory rape arose to protect young unmarried girls who got pregnant. Making the statute run both ways with respect to boys as well as girls makes no sense from a historical perspective, and has been imposed solely because of the equal protection clause.
12.26.2008 10:49am
casimer (mail):

It's interesting that so many of the men here discounting the potential for harm against boys, and asserting how lucky they'd have felt if they'd have had the privilege of such an experience, jump to the assumption that this experience would be with an attractive 35 year old woman.

I've noticed the same pattern in other discussions of this issue. Typically men who dismiss the potential for harm haven't experienced such an incident but assume that all boys should want it. They can't seem to get past their fantasy ideal of the situation.

In my experience, the majority of women in their mid 30's aren't physically attractive. I wouldn't want to have sex with them as an adult, and I'm confident that I wouldn't have wanted to have sex with them at 15.

Ask yourself, why would a sane and attractive 35 year old woman want to have sex with a 15 year old boy? What sort of women would - what might they by like physically and emotionally?

Try envisioning what it would be like for a young boy to be coerced into a sex by your typical 35 year old woman - not Kelly Ripa.
12.26.2008 11:10am
Plutosdad (mail):
A friend of mine had a sexual relationship with a 30+ woman at 15, but looking back in his 20s he regretted it. She was also one of his teachers though, which might have caused some harm, since she was in a position of trust and authority over him.
12.26.2008 11:10am
Sk (mail):
"Now none of this tells us what the age of consent should be, or how seriously the law should take sexual relationships between adults and people slightly under the age of consent. But it does suggest that we can't just conclusively assume that a fictional relationship in a movie, set in a different time and place, can be treated as "statutory rape" simply because today all American states would treat it as such, though today many Western countries would not treat it as such, and until recently some American states wouldn't treat it as such."

This argument makes no sense to me. If I define 'statutory rape' as 'sex between a 15 year old and a 30 year old', then its statutory rape (to me). In the United States, apparently, it is defined as statutory rape everywhere. I don't think anyone is making the blanket statement 'this is statutory rape in all conceivable societies, times, and parallel universes.' Rather, they are saying 'this is statutory rape (according to my/my countrys'/my society's norms and laws).' In the United States, they would be correct.

Are we to assume that an act of 'slavery' can't be legally labelled 'slavery' if slavery remains legal somewhere on the planet?

Sk
12.26.2008 11:26am
subpatre (mail):
JimJimJim - The 'assumption' (your label) is called reality: women and men are not constructed, wired, or programmed the same way. The two genders do not perform, react to, or even perceive of intimate relations the same way. See this comment —and the lack of any refutation— for a clue to obviousness.

casimer - explain the harm you use as a basis to bash women in their mid-30s. Keep in mind the subject is not your personal wishes to have sex only with 'attractive women' or movie stars, but whether the acts voluntarily entered into should be felonies.

Plutosdad - Did you even read Volokh's article? The part where he wrote "I also don't include situations where there's some familial or authority relationship between the parties..." Even so, how many years in the penitentiary does your friend think the woman should serve?


The penalty for sex with a minor can be is the same as for homicide in Texas, other states are nearly as harsh. Are underaged people that damaged by consenting relations? ...and when the clock strikes midnight, there is no damage at all. If there is such damage, how many years of prison should co-conspirators get?
12.26.2008 12:16pm
jj08 (mail):
Have any of the readers of this thread been to a public high school lately? I used to teach in one, and many of the girls there dressed like contestants in a pole-dancing contest. Just as alarming was the openly aggressive sexual behavior by many of the boys. Needless to say pregnancy and sexual abuse were rampant.

And that is not counting the number of sexually active children that I would consider emotionally crippled. Not being bruised and/or pregnant is not the same thing as uninjured. Sex can be a tough issue for mature, stable adults - why should we expect emotionally inexperienced children to somehow escape the damage?

Movies like The Reader that contribute to the idea that teen sex in not only normal but relatively harmless are promoting an evil, selfish lie. It's nothing more than a form of fashionable (and perfectly legal) pedophilia.
12.26.2008 12:38pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
jj08:

You know, I was thinking that the more we coddle our children the more we produce weak adults. It wasn't THAT long ago (at most a few centuries) when 16-year-olds were often married (at least the girls often were), etc. Heck less than a thousand years ago, it was considered proper to marry a 13-year-old girl. The fact of the matter is that maturity is as much a factor of environment as it is age. When we don't give our children the ability to take on difficulties early, then they will enter the real world as immature idiots.

The role of the parent (and I am a parent) really ought to be to help the teenagers think through the issues, rather than categorically assert that they can't handle it.
12.26.2008 12:57pm
John Martin:


EV disclaims the case where the youth has sex with an adult in a position of power or authority.

So this limits the discussion to pretty much one-night-stands, and other casual sexual encounters between 30+ year olds and 15 year olds. I imagine such cases are rare.

Also, I would imagine the damage to the youth comes not from the sexual act but the non-sexual aspects of the relationship. Like in the movie, I guess, with the youth obsessing about the seducing older woman when he should be chasing girls his own age.


In WA the age of consent is generally 16 (lower if both both parties are close in age), but then there is this statute:

...a person who communicates with a minor for immoral purposes, or a person who communicates with someone the person believes to be a minor for immoral purposes, is guilty of a gross misdemeanor. RCW 9.68A.090.


Recently the WA Supreme court held that to violate the above statute one must be breaking another law. Overturning a conviction related to an adult who was convicted because of conversations he had with his under-18 girlfriend relating to their sexual relationship.

Also, even though you may be able to get away with having sex with someone underage - do not take photos. In WA anyway, where 16 year olds have been convicted under child-porn laws for having naked pictures of their underage girlfriends.
12.26.2008 1:35pm
pete (mail) (www):

Heck less than a thousand years ago, it was considered proper to marry a 13-year-old girl. The fact of the matter is that maturity is as much a factor of environment as it is age.


That was also an issue of survival of the species. When life expectancy hovers in the 40's and there is a good chance you will die next year of famine or smallpox or even childbirth it makes sense to marry and have kids as soon as physically possibly. Now that life expectancy has greatly increased and because of cultural changes (people putting off adult responsibilties untill their mid to late 20's) and financial reasons it generally makes sense to wait until you are in your 20s to marry.

That changes how we view consent and age. When your 16 year old's main concern is that the harvest comes in on time or that she doesn't get the plague vs whether or not he gets a new Xbox and how popular her myspace page is, the maturity levels are much different.
12.26.2008 1:41pm
methodact:
Until about the start of the 1900's, the age-of-consent in California, was at 10-years-old.

Why must we call it Rape, with a younger male and older female? That would require penetration by a foreign object, not very common. Giving lie to something to tweak the law so it works both ways, only exacerbates injustice. The laws discriminate by arbitrary age clearly enough. A call to abolish such laws is as easy a call, as to say that a woman having sex with a younger male, is "rape". They are not equal.

"THE ONLY WAY YOU CAN CONTROL PEOPLE IS TO LIE TO THEM. You can write that down in your book in great big letters. The only way you can control anybody is to lie to them." - L. Ron Hubbard, Technique 88

Just some of the ways we know these laws were crafted through frauds:

Billions of dollars of air time was spent in non-stop media-blitzes in the run-up to these laws. This is the mind control conditioning of the Big Lie technique, that Adolf Hitler called in Mein Kampf as so "colossal" a lie to be beyond belief that anyone "could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously".

Law-makers admitted only "evidence" and witnesses into hearings, in favor of criminalization and those that espoused harm by the conduct.

Fear-monguering mythical numbers were regularly put out such as that some ¾ million kids are disappearing yearly and with supposedly ¾ of them being killed in the first 3 hours.

Or that the child-pornography industry is a $30 billion annual industry, bigger than theatrical movies and television.

Or the constant drone that the average adult that is caught with a child has committed an average of 400 such offences by the time he is caught.

The origins of these current over-the top laws came from the Illuminati sponsored global conferences that had their stated goals of as being to initiate fundamental change in the laws, including, raising the age-of-consent in all 50 states, and then around the world, and passing harsh criminal sanctions against child pornography and all sexual relations involving minors.

The results have been to create Manchurian Candidate-like responses from the public where the all-too-common response to news stories of underage sex is, "we must kill!" The sentiment is expressed freely in the comments to stories on many news site blogs.

This, in conjunction with a public "Sex-offender" registry, has created a veritable Hate Radio Rwanda RTLM, for vigilante attackers.

Maybe this is all arbitrary, beyond reason, expressed as entropy like Maxwell's demon or Boltzmann, whose times craved certainty in politics and art, as well as in science and philosophy to which he responded by proving disorder with his equation S = k. log W

According to BBC's film, Dangerous Knowledge, Boltzmann's body was found hanging.

They were times that looked on the surface, solid and certain, but felt themselves to be teetering and sliding. The old order was dying, and it was as if they could already feel disaster's gravitational pull. In Vienna , which was called by Karl Kraus, a "Laboratory for Apocalypse", there was this feeling that this political construct of the Hapsburg Empire couldn't last for much longer.

They were very strange times. On the one hand those in power spent 20 years building the monuments of Imperial Vienna, to declare that "this order, firm on its foundations, would last forever".

The rich man would be always in his castle, the poor man, always at his gate.

But on the other hand, the empire was actually on its last legs, and the intellectual tenor of the times, was summed up by the poet Hofmanstal, who said what previous generations believed to be firm, was in fact, what he called "Das Gleitend", the slipping or sliding away of the world.


Our times too?

This is not arbitrary, it is by design. There are machinations and intrigue behind these laws. These moral panics serve the New World Order ambition of the International bankers. The targeting of the Catholic Church, was calculated to cause the Church to become a terror against young sex, a salient in the war. There is a push around the world to bring this panic to the entire globe. The entire global economy has been imploded by these ppl, with deliberate design, using moral panic as a diversion. That's why these laws are there, and why they never cease growing.

Dangerous Minds also looks at computer genius Alan Turing, who solved for the Naval Enigma. He helped father Artificial Intelligence and he gave us the Turing Test. But Alan Turing was gay, and in his time, the great bugaboo was homosexuality. Alan Turing was seized and chemically castrated. The film reports that in response, Turing injected an apple with cyanide and took several bites and was dead.

Perhaps that's why, besides saying that, "Morality is the best of all devices for leading mankind by the nose", Nietzsche also said, "To die proudly when it is no longer possible to live proudly..."

But then, the New World Order wants 80% of the population dead.
12.26.2008 1:59pm
whit:

Additionally, it breeds contempt and disrespect for the law when a particular action is a serious felony but becomes perfectly legal once the clock strikes midnight.



look, we live in a republic where what is also perfectly legal is a serious felony 50 ft away (in the other state).

because the age of consents vary state to state. also, iirc, canada is 14.

it IS arbitrary.

but again, despite what some say, the law HAS to be, just as it is arbitrary with drinking age, voting age, etc.

i also take great offense to the idea that a 36 yr old man and a 14 yr old girl should be treated differently by the law than a 36 yr old woman and a 14 yr old boy.

of COURSE they are different. but that's irrelevant. the law should be gender neutral. fwiw, i think a man slapping his wife is many times worse than a wife slapping her husband. but that's irrelevant to the LAW , which should be gender neutral.
12.26.2008 2:48pm
Assistant Village Idiot (mail) (www):
Men tend to assume that a 15-year-old male having sex with a 36 y/o woman is not damaging. This is based largely on retrospective evaluation. The reasoning might be something like: I wanted sex then. If I had, and were looking back on it now, I would regard it as a pleasant rather than traumatic experience. That mental picture that we make is not an exact equivalence to the reality. It is easy to imagine "no strings attached" from a distance. Yet if the 15 y/o fancies that he is in love and wants to continue the relationship, or make it public, or wants it to be exclusive, or wants to continue it when she doesn't, he is emotionally out of his depth.

I am not speculating what weight should be put on this in law and morality. I only note that there is an oversimplification of the possibilities by the adults. Better to imagine not your own self years ago, but a 15 y/o male you know now and the possible consequences.
12.26.2008 2:58pm
casimer (mail):
subpatre: I didn't realize that I have an obligation to find most middle aged women physically attractive - but not too attractive I'd guess.

As for harm, this is similar to the psychological harm that affects adolescent girls who find themselves the object of an adult male's sexual interest.

Let me tell you a story..

I was a gymnast through my teens, so I was unusually well built for a boy of that age, and as a result I got a lot of attention from older women. These women were often mothers of friends or of other gymnasts.

It's very uncomfortable being flirted with or pursued by someone so much older. I didn't find them attractive and found their advances to be lewd and manipulative. At the same time I recognized that I had to be very diplomatic about expressing my lack of interest in them. Many apparently expected that I'd be flattered by their overtures and became cruel when I turned them down. Their likely belief that, as an adolescent boy, I should want to screw any woman who offered the opportunity likely made the rejection all the more cutting.

Strangely the older women who I did find attractive never behaved inappropriately.
12.26.2008 3:17pm
Slocum (mail):
Given that some poor guy recently got prosecuted for having Japanese porn comic books, why wouldn't the The Reader count as child porn? Doesn't even matter if the boy is 18 -- if the character he's portraying is 15, it's child porn right?

I agree the law are totally insane in that respect, but that's the law, isn't it?
12.26.2008 3:54pm
Penn Handwerker (mail) (www):
Commentators miss fundamental issues. First, a well established body of evidence consistently shows that sex between 11 &12 year old children predicts no significant life trajectory alterations. The same body of evidence consistently shows that sex between an 11 year old and a 16 year old, or a 15 year old and anyone 20 years of age or other, predicts specific forms of life trajectory alteration on the younger person. Examples include a relatively high level of sexual mobility and low use of condoms or other means of disease control. This applies to both men and women. Second, the literature on 'sexual abuse' varies significantly in quality. The loaded word 'abuse' means many different things to different people. The high quality research that consistently shows the effects noted earlier doesn't investigate 'abuse.' It asks if, once we isolate the relationship from confounders, does specific behavior X predict specific changes in specific behavior Y? Age differences of 5 years or more consistently involve power differentials between 'partners' and the likely exploitation of the younger by the older, at least if the younger has not yet reached age 16. We do not yet understand why 16 rather than 15 or 17 constitutes a balance point. And we do not yet know why some sexually-exploited children do not experience life trajectory alterations -- though we have some reason to think that immediate support by family and peers may have much to do with it. It remains clear, nontheless, that first sexual experiences before you reach 16 with a partner older by 5 years or more consistently traumatize the younger child.
12.26.2008 4:01pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Methodact:

One of the real problems is that child sexual abuse is generally particularly harmful because of social repercussions of the act and this is impossible to separate out. See Prof. Kerr's post on mens rea and psychology of pain as a good starting point.

In short there is no reason to suppose that there is any more harm caused by the act itself of sexual abuse of children than of any other form of physical abuse (assuming of course the act rises to that level). Instead, what we have primarily is a socially constructed crime with socially constructed harms added on. Certainly sex between an older man and a thirteen-year-old girl itself, absent social constructions, is no more traumatic today than it was a thousand years ago. But social constructions have made it so. Marriage is a social construction, but so is the idea of statutory rape.

Is legalization an answer? I tend to be wary of big promises of making everything better in these cases. So I am sceptical of this approach. However, we need to start noting that the social constructions are a part of the harm and engage in a dialog as to how to help them evolve to be less harmful to the children.

One element.... If a 15 year old boy is having consentual sexual relations with a 30 yo woman, then telling him that he is a victim of a horrid crime is going to have, among other effects, the effect of adding guilt and shame to the alleged victim for *wanting* such a relationship to continue. Is this really necessary? Is it a good idea?
12.26.2008 4:08pm
Splunge:
The many comments about how a 15-year-old boy would just love to be seduced by a 35-year-old woman strike me, a father of a 14-year-old boy, as a load of fairly disgusting locker-room towel-snapping machismo bullshit.

Yeah, sure, it matches some of our long-ago fantasies. But reality is quite a different thing than adolescent sexual fantasy, as we're expected to understand now that we're no longer 15 years old. Probably most 15-year-old boys would fantasize pleasantly about being a porn-film star, too. Would it be cool to let them do it?

A sexual relationship involves very strong emotional currents. Someone who is 15, of either sex, but I would say primarily male, does not have the experience or judgment to understand and control those currents very well. That puts him at a considerable disadvantage with respect to his much older partner. The power balance is absurdly tilted away from him. Furthermore, there is something seriously screwed-up about how the 35-year-old is managing his narcissistic needs if he gets the horn for 15-year-olds.

The fact that the 35-year-old has unhealthy ambitions, and that the 15-year-old has unusually poor defenses, is what makes this relationship a probable disaster, with the risk of ugly consequences. (How many 15-year-old boys commit suicide? Do you suppose many of the reasons are poorly-managed emotional crises involving sexuality?)

As for all the fluff about the absurdity of a thing being a crime before midnight which is not after midnight -- give me a break. You're lawyers, right? Are you not familiar with the fact that driving 54.9 MPH is not an infraction but 55.1 MPH is? That selling Thunderbird to someone who is 20 years 364 days 23 hours 55 minutes old (in certain states) is a crime, but if you wait 10 minutes you're in the clear? That if a Marine recruiter signs a boy up who's 17 years and 364 days old, he'll be dishonorably discharged, but if he waits a day he might get a commendation for exceeding quota? For that matter, there are zillions of weird arbitrary lines in contract and business law that separate perfectly legal from criminal action -- just ask Martha Stewart.

The law is stuffed with arbitrary bright lines. Very likely it must be, since it is supposed to give useful before the fact guidance to the citizen, not merely guide the actions of prosecuting and defending lawyers after the fact.

What good would it do to tell people that the age of consent was something to be decided after the fact by a jury? How is Joe Citizen going to use knowledge of that law to govern his actions? Of course you, 35-year-old Joe Headcase, think the particular 15-year-old you want to bonk is mature enough to decide. So you expect the jury to think likewise. Won't you be surprised when they don't! But the damage is already done, then.

The law should strive to present unmistakably clear signposts for citizens, things not even an idiot can mistake. "Screw a 15-year-old and you may be In Big Trouble." That's clear enough, and even an emotionally-muddled 35-year-old can understand it.

I'm trying to imagine any serious harm that can come of enforcing such a law, and coming up blank. A relationship that is healthy, and in which the participants are responsible and reasonable people, can easily stand waiting the time it takes to make it legal. If you can't wait, I'd say that right there indicates not a mere sad "mistake" but a serious lapse in adult judgment. The law exists in part to strongly discourage such things.
12.26.2008 4:11pm
b-rob (mail):
Splunge stole my thunder. There is something seriously warped about a 30 or 40 year old who does not relate to people of their own age, but seek out teenagers. 15 year olds don't know JACK about life, which is why (a) the contracts they sign are void or voidable, (b) they are not allowed to drink, and (c) they are not allowed to join the army. So WHY does anyone think that age 15 is old enough to know about sex, manipulation, and staying away from emotionally warped people?

In fact, let's just leave the sex out of it. If you found out that a 32 year old wanted to be your 15 year old's best friend, what would you think? Emotionally immature is the least pejorative phrase that comes to my mind. But guess what else? No 32 year old is going to be honest about wanting to be friends with your 15 year old, just as they are never honest about having sex with kids. They know it is wrong, which is why they lie and sneak around.

Maybe I am more sensitive to this because my daughter is a pre-teen. Or maybe it is because of the 12 year old at her school who was raped and impregnanted by her teacher a few years ago. Or could it be the creepy neighbor who tried to entice my sister when she was 14? In other words, the whole subject of why it is "not so bad" if your 15 year old son is sexually manipulated and used by an adult, as opposed to your daughter, . . . I just don't see the difference.
12.26.2008 4:37pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Splunge:

I'm trying to imagine any serious harm that can come of enforcing such a law, and coming up blank. A relationship that is healthy, and in which the participants are responsible and reasonable people, can easily stand waiting the time it takes to make it legal.


IMO, there are harms to both approaches (enforcement and nonenforcement).

In the enforcement area, as you point out sexual relationships involve very strong emotional currents, and when you make the fifteen year old feel guilty for WANTING a crime to continue, I think you can send a very emotionally and socially damaging message (among other things, it sends a message that the law is unfair and is NOT on your side). I just don't think this means we need to get rid of all such laws. We do however need to start understanding that we should be conscious that there is at least potential harm involved for badly enforcing these laws.

One of the most interesting books I have read this last year was "Dora: An analysis of a case of hysteria" by Sigmund Freud. I think it touches on a lot of elements in this discussion and I would highly recommend that people read it and think about how criminal sanctions can add to, rather than remove, a lot of the sexual confusion that can come with adolescent relationships and attractions.
12.26.2008 4:37pm
methodact:
The "house slaves" tend to argue for their masters more than the "field slaves" do.

Most people cannot know that their opinions are largely not their own, but consist mainly of those which have been spoon-fed to them. It is all part of a bigger-picture of managing the classes, both the investment class and the wage earners to accept their status and roll over for the International Bankers to assume control in a New World Order. They invent the problems and then offer solutions.

It is not just moral panic they have going, it is a multi-pronged attack, they are also using the bogeyman of "terror". The public is being manipulated so that it can be herded like sheep, controlled.

I know the other side's arguments backwards-and-forwards and could probably argue them better than most, if I even believed them, which I don't. They stand because there is a small underlying modicum of truth in some cases. The same with the war on terror. But even in that consider this recent remark by former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook:

"The truth is, there is no Islamic army or terrorist group called Al Qaida. And any informed intelligence officer knows this. But there is a propaganda campaign to make the public believe in the presence of an identified entity representing the 'devil' only in order to drive the TV watcher to accept a unified international leadership for a war against terrorism. The country behind this propaganda is the US."
12.26.2008 5:03pm
gasman (mail):
If only the risks of sex were social.
Unfortunately, a middle age woman getting pregnant by a 15 year old is a big problem for that boy who may be asked for support for the next 18 years, in addition to the social stigma, or any STDs he may acquire. The difference from when he gets a fellow 15 year old pregnant is that the both 15 year olds share the same judgement deficit, and it's hard to assign blame. With the middle-age woman, her unequal station makes poor outcomes more her moral fault, yet the boy gets the same legal baggage.
12.26.2008 5:41pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
gasman:

Two of your three points are social and legal constructs (child support and stigma). These thus have solutions which are social and legal relating to the specific issues. Only the STD issue is separate.

I think in that case, it might be useful to state that the 30-year-old is 100% liable for ALL support of the child, and that the 15-year-old is not. Liability for transmitting an STD to a minor might also be a useful area to approach.

The social stigma is a different issue and one I was trying to address in my previous posts.

However, the key thing is that we should be open to discussing various options of public policy so that we don't create a system which causes fundamental harm to our children.

One option might be to move such things from criminal law to civil law. I.e. if you can show some degree of harm, make it something where one can sue the other party. Another option might be to create a tier of law with some elements of both criminal and civil law (pay court costs AND damages OR go to jail with your property seized to pay the victim). Another option might be to allow such things to be prosecuted provided that specific harm can be shown.
12.26.2008 5:59pm
whit:

One option might be to move such things from criminal law to civil law. I.e. if you can show some degree of harm, make it something where one can sue the other party. Another option might be to create a tier of law with some elements of both criminal and civil law (pay court costs AND damages OR go to jail with your property seized to pay the victim). Another option might be to allow such things to be prosecuted provided that specific harm can be shown.



all these options do is creat increased opportunity for lawyering/litigation. that is not a surprising "solution" coming from a legal blog :)

the beauty of the current system, as flawed as it is, is that a nice clear bright line is established. depending on what state you live in, you know EXACTLY what the "rules" are and who you can and can't schtup. i certainly would agree that strict liability should not apply. for example, you pick up somebody in a bar, you can reasonably assume they are 21. if they used a fake id, that's not your concern.

but if you know (using my state as an example), that the age of consent is 16, unless you are close in age to the other person (in which case it is 14), then DON'T HAVE SEX WITH ANYBODY UNDER 16.

by doing that, you stay out of legal jeapordy.

your solution means lots of lawyering about "harm" and other such subjective measures, about whether the person could reasonably predict "harm" and other crap.

there's obviously a wide range of "harm" or "not harm" that can happen when adults schtup juvies. heck, i live not too far from mary kay letourneau, who MARRIED the kid (iirc he was 13 when she started) she had statutorily raped WHILE in a power position (a double whammy) over him, many years later... after she got out of prison. noted that even though he apparently wasn't "harmed" (since he chose to marry her years later) this didn't stop him from suing the cops for not being proactive ENOUGH in keeping her away from him. lol. he lost.
12.26.2008 6:12pm
whit:

In fact, let's just leave the sex out of it. If you found out that a 32 year old wanted to be your 15 year old's best friend, what would you think? Emotionally immature is the least pejorative phrase that comes to my mind. But guess what else? No 32 year old is going to be honest about wanting to be friends with your 15 year old, just as they are never honest about having sex with kids. They know it is wrong, which is why they lie and sneak around.



i had a case just like this, fwiw. a male couple, in their 30's befriended a young boy (can't recall offhand if he was 15 or 16). there were no allegations or evidence of any sexual contact, but these guys were suspected of "grooming" the kid, bought him all kinds of stuff, etc. etc. the mom was pissed and got an order saying they couldn;t contact the kid, etc.

they then did this elaborate scheme to meet with the kid in california, and we ended up making a case for all sorts of conspiracy, order violation, etc. against them.

here's a little hint. if a parent tells you (repeatedly in this case) to stay the hell away from their minor child, it is best to heed that advice. and if you get served with an order prohibiting you from contacting the kid, violating that order, especially by arranging an out of state trip (seperate flights, etc... they thought they were cagey) is a VERY bad idea.
12.26.2008 6:14pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
whit:


all these options do is creat increased opportunity for lawyering/litigation. that is not a surprising "solution" coming from a legal blog :)


Your points are fair points.

However, I do think that a lot of people arguing that this is horribly harmful in itself would not change their mind if the boy was 16 instead of 15. I could be wrong though.
12.26.2008 6:18pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
whit:

here's a little hint. if a parent tells you (repeatedly in this case) to stay the hell away from their minor child, it is best to heed that advice. and if you get served with an order prohibiting you from contacting the kid, violating that order, especially by arranging an out of state trip (seperate flights, etc... they thought they were cagey) is a VERY bad idea.


I might generalize that a bit. If someone's advocate (parent, guardian, lawyer) repeatedly tells you to stay away from someone, it is best to heed that advice.....
12.26.2008 6:27pm
whit:
like i said, i agree. i've made this point many times, in many other threads. nothing "magical" happens between the day before you turn 16 and the day you do (for states where the age of consent is 16).

similarly, nothing magical happens when you reach voting age, drinking age, etc.

but the law MUST draw arbitrary lines. there are lots of 18 yr olds who probably shouldn't vote, just as there are lots of 17 yr olds who should?

so what?

do we individually litigate each case?

simply put, by drawing a bright line, EVERYBODY is on notice where the line is. it may be arbitrary, but it's FAIR because the exact same arbitrary line applies to everybody.

plenty of people commit statutory rape with no harm whatsoever, but ... so what?

if you choose to schtup somebody, wherein that act is a felony, you are playing with fire. that person gets upset at you for any reason, and tells parents, etc. that you 2 are having sex, and IT'S OVER for you.

fwiw, when i was a young boy (14, 15 etc.) i was technically a "victim" of statutory rape, at least assuming the age of consent was 16 like it is now. was i a victim? hell no. not in my opinion. but the law HAS to draw a line. maybe we should go the canada route and change it to 14. that's up to the legislature or citizen initiative.
12.26.2008 6:31pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Whit:

I think I might not have been as clear as I might otherwise have been.

My key argument is that making the statutory victim feel guilty for wanting to continue to be a victim is not going to be healthy and is likely to increase, rather than reduce, the harm from problems. If we are going to draw a bright line as to age of consent, I would prefer as a matter of public policy to see that as a generally low line. 16 is about the upper limit to what I think is reasonable there.

However, my main points were directed at those who felt that a much higher age of consent was proper (full consent only at 18). Some of their concerns could be addressed with some changes to family law, etc (for example, how child support works). Since these do require court orders anyway, I see no reason why certain specific cases couldn't be written into this area of the law (i.e. since you have to ask a court for child support orders, changing the way these are calculated is unlikely to result in a great deal more litigation AFAICS).

My points were intended to be options available for discussion, nothing more. I see your answers as quite reasonable and as viable answers. However, the question is what I would say to people who argue that there is fundamental harm to relationships between, say, a 17-yr-old and a 40-yr-old and therefore they should be illegal, or those who argue that all sexual relationships between teens are "emotionally crippling."
12.26.2008 7:01pm
methodact:
One of the crimes in bringing these draconian laws about, is that federal dollars from DoJ grants were comingled to local scare campaigns, to bring about state laws. So the feds hardly have clean hands.

People cleave loyalty to the nominal unit. They will tend to argue what they know. Cops will argue crime, psychologists, psychology, etc.

It is disingenuous to say that by not having sex with anyone under 16, one can stay out of legal jeopardy. This is a moral panic. It is engineered. It has spillover, such as Title 18, United States Code, Section 2257, impinging upon the privacy of adults who may never have, nor have had, any such contact with children. And now mere pictures of young bodies are ostensibly verboten, lest they engender the awakening of the normalcy of such things. It breeds social mistrust and age aparteid, as well. And it just keeps growing and expanding until it is finally recognized for why and what it is, an engineered fright of the Illuminati, of the New World Order, as misdirection as part of a global power grab.
12.26.2008 7:08pm
subpatre (mail):
casimer - your argument is still criminalizing those you simply don't agree with aren't attracted too. You have demonstrated no harm beyond "uncomfortable" or 'socially awkward', yet you would put them in prison. Your narrative is remarkably self-centered, cruel and vindictive, and there is no indication you preferences to felonize social situations will improve anything.


Penn Handwerker writes, "Commentators miss fundamental issues. First, a well established body of evidence ..."

It would help your case if you linked to this "well established body of evidence"s and "high quality research" papers. The current statistics —one form of evidence— show more teen pregnancies and a growing age discrepancy in these teen pregnancies; bad trends correlating with enhanced 'statutory rape' penalties.

Some evidence (admittedly biased, but certainly court-worthy) shows the highest degree of cynical, government-sponsored hypocrisy surrounding the issue of age discrepancy in younger teen pregnancy; turning a blind-eye to injustice and exploitation.

Current research shows most 13 to 16 YOA younger teens have positive experiences from their earliest intimate relationships, with only a few, "... a vulnerable minority, however, early sexual experiences were negative. They could be protected by delaying first intercourse, restricting sexual activity to established relationships and learning skills to improve control in sexual encounters."

This is not an argument for unrestricted adult-to-child relationships; minors and the vulnerable minority still clearly need protections. But the evidence is the unintended consequences of current laws are increasing these relationships (not reducing them), costing taxpayers billions of dollars in the process, and reducing chances of familial paternity.
12.26.2008 7:26pm
Ken Arromdee:
The truth is, there is no Islamic army or terrorist group called Al Qaida.

You appear to have fallen for an urban legend. He didn't say that.
12.26.2008 7:53pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Whit:

fwiw, when i was a young boy (14, 15 etc.) i was technically a "victim" of statutory rape, at least assuming the age of consent was 16 like it is now. was i a victim? hell no. not in my opinion. but the law HAS to draw a line. maybe we should go the canada route and change it to 14. that's up to the legislature or citizen initiative.


Out of curiosity, if everyone reacted with ultimate horror at your experience, would that have been damaging in itself?
12.26.2008 8:31pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Pete:

That changes how we view consent and age. When your 16 year old's main concern is that the harvest comes in on time or that she doesn't get the plague vs whether or not he gets a new Xbox and how popular her myspace page is, the maturity levels are much different.


I think your last paragraph contains the most important points. Maturity is very largely environmental.

However, let's see where this goes. As a parent, then is it a good idea to prolong immaturity, or should you be pushing your children to be more mature as quickly as possible (not even primarily about sex, but that topic will inevitably hae to be addressed)?

One of my main concerns is that by coddling children and teenagers, we produce a society where people are fundamentally immature and weak, and lack important elements of self-confidence.

When I was a kid, other kids beat me up and bullied me on a daily basis. My parents loved me and were there for me, and only occasionally did school/social issues really cause anger problems for me (these were usually bad teachers, not students who were bullies). My mother recently said she wished she could have sent me to a private school so I wouldn't have been bullied (at least that is what she said). My wife says she wants to avoid similar problems for our children.

However, my perspective is: The one thing I regret was not really learning how to fight then, not so I could have punished the people who did that sort of thing to me, or even to defend myself, but because if I had known something like a combat martial art, I would have been better able to avoid such fights (with ability and discipline comes restraint). But the final fact is that having been beat up and socially ostracised has lead to an independence and strength that I would not have had otherwise. My childhood was not generally pleasant but my adolescence and college years were pretty good for the most part (I didn't actually date until I was in college). I am glad my parents were generally supportive rather than treating everything as if it was somehow totally horrifying. Consequently my kids will learn a combat martial art as soon as they can.
12.26.2008 8:47pm
methodact:
Ken Arromdee:

Ugh, I should have known better than to stray off topic from what I know best. Thank you for the challenge. I am more than willing to revise my understanding by better information.

The source for my quote was Pakistan Daily

I confess I haven't read all of the Able Danger papers, nor watched all of the 911 films that abound. While I do have a DVD full of MP3's of the Norad 911 tapes, I haven't fully listened to them all yet either.

I've encountered several times that the name Al Qaida (The Base), was actually a code name for an early CIA Operation, and that it stuck, so that they continued calling it that. I am not wedded to the Robin Cook quote and welcome the heads up. Thank you. I will go back and find my sources for the CIA "Operation Al Qaida" reference.

I had planned to use that to segue into plugging the film, "Washington, You're Fired!". The film is about how the USA P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act, which encompasses over 30 years of spying legislation that had never previously been able to be passed into law. The copy of that draconian bill that was voted on was switched at the last minute without legislators having read what they were voting on. It was "masterminded" by Viet Dinh and still trespasses on many Constitutional Rights, including issues in this thread.
12.26.2008 9:43pm
Kirk:
"THE ONLY WAY YOU CAN CONTROL PEOPLE IS TO LIE TO THEM..." - L. Ron Hubbard
Well, L. Ron would know, wouldn't he?
12.26.2008 10:36pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
The study refers, in places, to "lasting" harm.
Nice work, there.
My kids have been to orthopedic docs for injuries which, had I inflicted them, would have put me in jail. But sports...no problem. Running your head into a bannister...? Not lasting, but certainly a felony if it had been me and not an accident who caused the impact requiring stitches. And, to the point, not lasting. Perhaps, in their sixties, the trauma might sneak up on them.
So why is inflicting harm which is defined as "not lasting" okay when it's sexual, as opposed to, say, beating?
It's either harmful or it is not. "Lasting" is a concept allowing people to claim "not harmful" at all in talking with the unwary.
12.26.2008 10:46pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Allen Walstad:

There's just bit of parallel here with alcohol--at one time it was pretty well respected that if Junior is allowed to drink a beer around the house, the cops don't have to bust in and haul the family off to jail. I still think that degree of hands-off would be a good policy. And maybe if Pop sends Junior over to Auntie's for experience, the local SWAT team needn't swing into action over that, either.


In my state (Washington), if Junior wants to rink a beer around the house in the presence of his dad, that is still legal.

I have taught my 5-year-old to taste wine and determine whether a wine is good or mediocre (no, I won't let him drink more than about 3-4 sips). He is actually a remarkably good judge of wine :-P My reasoning is that it is better for him as he grows older not to have his first major exposures to alcohol via peer groups in high school.
12.26.2008 10:59pm
methodact:
Ken Arromdee:

The closest Robin Cook quote that I have so far found to the suspect quote is:

"Al-Qaida, literally "the database", was originally the computer file of the thousands of mujahideen who were recruited and trained with help from the CIA to defeat the Russians."

Kirk:

Ugh
12.26.2008 11:21pm
James Lindgren (mail):
According to this site, in no American state is it legal for both boys and girls under 16 to have sex with significantly older people.

And in only 6 states is it legal for 15 year old boys to have sex with significantly older people.
12.26.2008 11:59pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Just as a note, if Junior is getting drunk every night at home, the cops can arrest the parents for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. However, an occasional beer or a glass of wine would not seem to me to be an issue. IANAL though, it seems we have exceptions to the laws about providing alcohol to a minor for a reason.
12.27.2008 2:32am
Ken Arromdee:
The source for my quote was Pakistan Daily

I think there are very obvious reasons not to trust Pakistan Daily on this subject.

Moreover, the quote has been floating around for a while, which means that Pakistan Daily didn't just report it (contrary to appearances)--and Googling shows the actual source: here . It's certainly not from Robin Cook, and furthermore, the actual author of the quote, Pierre Henri-Bunel, is a 9/11 Truther who believes that the Pentagon was blown up with explosives.
12.27.2008 12:48pm
methodact:
As a non-drinker, i remain ambivalent towards such movements as the Amethyst Initiative, the push by numerous college and university chancellors and presidents to lower the drinking age. It further confounds issues of consent.

I stand quite stalwart, however, in my admiration of Kate Winslet's rejection of the term "statutory rape", the original topic of this post and comments. It takes enormous courage for artists to swim against the current, thus placing their very careers in jeopardy, especially over such a volatile cause in an era and mileu of programmed moral panic within a police state.
12.27.2008 12:52pm
Duncan Frissell (mail):
I think it's best to analyze the rules in a <i>malum prohibitum</i> vs <i>malum in se</i> sense. Now the age difference does not make the crime <i>malum in se</i> but the fornication does. Statutory rape is <i>malum prohibitum</i> but fornication is <i>malum in se</i>. So watch it.
12.27.2008 3:26pm
Oren:
methodact, it seems to me that anything we can do to encourage a healthy relationship with alcohol is to our benefit. The backers of the AI assert (whether this is correct or not is beyond my expertise) that the current culture of prohibition leads to increased binge drinking and therefore more problems in the area of consent than a more open environment would. That's a factual proposition that needs to be taken seriously.
12.27.2008 3:28pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Duncan:

Why is fornication malum in se? (You seem to suggest that such acts even between consenting adults would be bad in themselves.)
12.27.2008 3:33pm
Kirk:
methodact,

Well, you're the one who thought Hubbard was worth quoting.
12.27.2008 3:45pm
methodact:
Kirk:

Point well taken. I simply wanted to avoid stepping on that third rail, and it was a choice of quoting Hubbard, or Harold Pinter, who said the exact same thing, in so many words during his nearly hour-long Nobel Prize For Literature Speech.
12.27.2008 4:04pm
Kirk:
Dude, if the only quotable support you can for your point comes down to Hubbard or the later Pinter, you might instead spend some time thinking about whether you really do have a point.
12.27.2008 4:15pm
methodact:
Kirk:

By that logic I wouldn't quote Hitler on his spectacular use of the Big Lie, or Chairman Mao, such as that "all power comes from the barrel of a gun."

Or Hermann Goering:
"Why of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back in one piece? Naturally the common people don't want war: neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country to decide policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, be it a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are under attack and denounce peacemakers for exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country ..."

Or Benito Mussolini:
"If classical liberalism spells individualism, Fascism spells government." (in reference to government by corporate interests).

I take my ideas where i find them, in this case, to borrow on:
"JE PRENDS MON BIEN PARTOUT OÙ JE LE TROUVE."
(Fr.) - I take my property wherever I find it.
(Moliere's reply to the charge of plagiarism).
12.27.2008 5:03pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
For all those interested in what case John Martin is referring to, it was:

State of Washington v. Luther which held that communicating with a minor for immoral purposes should be considered to be criminalizing any communication regarding either committing or soliciting the commission of a crime, but did not hold that immoral purposes included any discussion of any sexual actions that were otherwise leal.

In Luther, both the defendant and his girlfriend were 16, and the state tried to hold that Luther's asking for consent to have sex was an immoral purpose in itself. The court said, in effect, that it was only if it involved conduct that was otherwise illegal. IANAL though so I may be missing something.
12.27.2008 7:11pm
Rich Rostrom (mail):
EV: the initial encounter between the boy and woman takes place circa 1958. Thus "what [the law] was in Germany in the late 1940s" is not relevant, except that it probably did not change by 1958.

Someone noted that Shakespeare's Juliet was supposed to be 13. True. And it is noted in the play that she is too young for marriage. Furthermore, the outcome of the play is an argument against teen sex/marriage - the protagonists are overwhelmed by their emotions, and end up destroying themselves. Which is what kids do far too often if not restrained.

Bad enough what they do to themselves. Adults should not add to the problem.
12.27.2008 11:02pm
methodact:
These laws are not made by young people, denying themselves their full humanity, they are made by old men. When Bob Dole as Senate Majority leader pushed such laws, it was clear he had a problem. He later became a front person for those little blue pills, but long after he had inflicted cruel damage into law.


Romeo and Juliet starts with the Chorus chanting that the blood feud between the Montagues and Capulets is an ancient grudge. (cf. Dante's Divine Comedy, Purgatorio -- Canto VI, Sordello #105)

Chorus From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean

As much as a story of star-crossed lovers, it is the condign result of the anciet hatered between two families.

As per the custom of-the-day, Capulet (Juliet's father) is poised to marry his daughter off to Paris. She wants to marry Romeo, and Friar Laurence secretly marries the two. Capulet decides that his daughter should marry Paris on Thursday. It is Friar Laurence's advice to Juliet to take a potion simulating death. Romeo fails to receive the word in time so joins her in death, he thinks.

Youth suicides are up since these laws were put into place, not down.

But as to the scene in question where the suggestion is made of the ages appropriate for marriage:

ROMEO AND JULIET


ACT I

SCENE II A street.

[Enter CAPULET, PARIS, and Servant]

CAPULET But Montague is bound as well as I,
In penalty alike; and 'tis not hard, I think,
For men so old as we to keep the peace.

PARIS Of honourable reckoning are you both;
And pity 'tis you lived at odds so long.
But now, my lord, what say you to my suit?

CAPULET But saying o'er what I have said before:
My child is yet a stranger in the world;
She hath not seen the change of fourteen years,
Let two more summers wither in their pride,
Ere we may think her ripe to be a bride.

PARIS Younger than she are happy mothers made.

CAPULET And too soon marr'd are those so early made....


Yet today, with the widespread use of a chemical called bisphenol-a, or B.P.A., in plastics for baby bottles, beverage and food containers and linings in food cans, otherwise known as the plastic estrogen and with widespread use of bovine growth hormone, it is increasingly common for girls as young as 8 to start development of breasts and the onset of puberty.

But this age restriction moral panic doesn't stop. It keeps expanding and growing and growing. The New World Order has planned this out. And now the very latest angle is the New World Order's plan for an Internet rating system.
12.28.2008 12:59am
Ken Arromdee:
it is increasingly common for girls as young as 8 to start development of breasts and the onset of puberty.

1) This is like those sales saying "up to 75% of". It's pretty much guaranteed that only one or two items will be 75% off and everything else won't be as extreme. That "8 years old" is the end of a steep curve and very few people fall under it.

2) Physical maturity is not emotional maturity. Having breasts doesn't mean being ready for sex.

3)Are there really people who need to be toldthis?
12.28.2008 4:16am
methodact:
Ken Arromdee:

I do my homework, yes.

That environmental factors are driving down the age of puberty is a trend. It was not presented as that the general age of female puberty is now 8-years-old. But just as the rates of juvenile cancers and autism are soaring, that trend is now conspicuous.

You generalize about emotional development. It was long claimed that blacks were not as intelligent as anglos. Some schools still preach that. There are many theories of the developmental stages. One of the most remarkable stages of development, is the first 5 years and the ability to learn. New languages can be soaked up like a sponge up to that age.

I look forward to seeing The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, screenwriter Eric Roth's adaptation of a short story written by F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1922, where the character played by Brad Pitt, is born old and grows younger.

One of many theories of the developmental stages is Kohlberg's interesting theory on the stages of moral development.

Yet Rand has a new report out recommending we enter into a new major conflict (read World War III) in order to rebound from the global economic crisis. War is the most profitable of all ventures for the International Bankers. How mature is that? Just how mature is it to borrow on the financial posterity of the children and future generations, in order to live large, beyond our means, and to stick them with the bill? Emotional maturity? Just how well has this generation preserved the Bill of Rights for posterity, rather than frittering it away, our and the future generation's birthright, for a mere mess of pottage?
12.28.2008 12:38pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"In my experience, the majority of women in their mid 30's aren't physically attractive. I wouldn't want to have sex with them as an adult, and I'm confident that I wouldn't have wanted to have sex with them at 15."

Have you really been a 15-year-old heterosexual male?
12.28.2008 1:01pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
methodact:

That environmental factors are driving down the age of puberty is a trend. It was not presented as that the general age of female puberty is now 8-years-old. But just as the rates of juvenile cancers and autism are soaring, that trend is now conspicuous.


The onset of menarchy has generally been, in the past, tied to better nutrition. Back when I was a kid (before a lot of the growth hormone stuff), it was generally accepted that people were hitting puberty sooner because of our prosperity. If I could guess, I would connect the dots and suggest that the causes of early puberty and child obesity were the same.

As for autism, it is true that the rates are going up even when you factor out the marginal cases. However, we really have no idea why. The best explanation I have heard is natural selection (borderline autism folks were previously undesirable as mates, but the IT boom has made a difference there, so now they are getting married to eachother and having autistic kids). There is some anecdotal reason to think that children of parents in tech firms are more likely to be autistic than general kids, but to my knowledge this has never been scientifically studied.
12.28.2008 1:23pm
methodact:
einhverfr:

Those that adhere to following the common threads running through the various conspiracy goals of the Illuminati, (read New World Order), see that the very powerful International Bankers want the public dumbed down and docile, obedient, subservient.

While synthetic estrogens manipulated into our foods and packaging drive more and more females into early puberty, the predictable opposite is true with males. Studies find a general decline in sperm counts by around 2% each year over the past 23 years. Testicles are not even dropping in more and more cases.

decline in sperm counts

Flouride is understood to be New World Order's chief agent for lowering I.Q.

Environmental lead and mercury in particular, especially as added to vaccines, is believed by many to be the source for the explosion of rates of autism and aspergers. Numerous documentaries abound on this topic which my time constraints have not allowed me to dwelve into.

GMO foods (genetically modified organisms), have been linked to substantial increases in cancer and a good starting point for understanding that conspiracy is the documentary film, "The World According to Monsanto", Sony Pictures Classics. Other conspiracy followers tie the Codex Alimentarius into engineering global population reduction, through food as a weapon through the process of "soft kill".

These trends are said to follow the general eugenics movement that gave rise to Hitler's eugenics programs which some ascribe historically to the Rockefellers and which movements have largely gone underground, although more recent manifestations include the 1949 Royal Commission on Population Report and Henry Kissenger's 1974 plot, NSSM 200.

Interestingly, from Wikipedia on the etymology of the term "Dismal Science":

It is often stated that Carlyle gave economics the nickname "dismal science" as a response to the late 18th century writings of The Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus, who grimly predicted that starvation would result as projected population growth exceeded the rate of increase in the food supply. Carlyle did indeed use the word 'dismal' in relation to Malthus' theory in his essay Chartism (1839):

"The controversies on Malthus and the 'Population Principle', 'Preventative Check' and so forth, with which the public ear has been deafened for a long while, are indeed sufficiently mournful. Dreary, stolid, dismal, without hope for this world or the next, is all that of the preventative check and the denial of the preventative check."
However the full phrase "dismal science" first occurs in Carlyle's 1849 tract entitled Occasional Discourse on the Negro Question, in which he was arguing for the reintroduction of slavery as a means to regulate the labor market in the West Indies...
12.28.2008 4:04pm
methodact:
The New World Order is nothing short of total micromanagement of the individual.

Here's a quick a crash course introduction to Codex Alimentarius.

One quick note, it mentions that in our familiar culture under Common Law, "Anything not forbidden is permitted."

However, Codex Alimentarius falls under Napoleonic Code, "Anything not permitted is forbiddem."
12.28.2008 5:15pm
Anatid:
I find it interesting that so many men here are happy to assume that, in hindsight, they think they would have been delighted to have sex with a middle-aged woman at the age of 15, but are also willing to concede that there might be damage done to a 15-year-old girl having sex with a middle-aged man, yet haven't considered that 15-year-old girls might be equally eager to fantasize about (or have sex with) middle-aged men. I wouldn't call it a stretch to say that most heterosexual teenage girls find Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio attractive, and plenty fantasize about them, but it still wouldn't be a good idea to sleep with them.

At the age of 15, your orbitofrontal cortex and other regions of the brain, particularly in the frontal lobe (important for judgment, long-term planning, and social assessment), are still developing. They're not yet mature. Research suggests that the brain doesn't become fully mature until the age of 25, although since it has increasingly limited return, we draw the age of majority earlier.

Cultures that married off 13-year-old girls didn't have much of a concept of female consent, so why would they care if she was ready? The idea that a husband can rape his wife (or vice versa) is still a very new and alien one, even to our "liberated" culture. Just pointing that out. I'd also like to point out that, while it's still an understudied field, social context can affect rate of development itself (see psychosocial dwarfism, for an extreme example). The 15-year-old girls at my high school who'd been caring for their half-dozen younger siblings and helping run the household since the age of 12 tended to be far more mature than the 15-year-old girls from wealthier families whose only concern was whether or not they were getting a car for their 16th birthday. (In response to the APA report, I wonder what percentage of the "child sexual abuse" cases were ones where the minor felt s/he had consented to or sought out sex, versus the ones where the minor felt it was rape.)

Out of curiosity, since we all seem to agree that sex between two parties who have a large different in authority is a bad idea, who here thinks that a 35-year-old and a 15-year-old can engage in a completely equal and mutual relationship? The adult has a job and therefore disposable income, access to alcohol and cigarettes, and generally more social experience, maturity, and mobility, not to mention different short-term and long-term goals and expectations. I would argue that any normal 35-year-old is inherently unequal to any normal 15-year-old, in terms of a relationship, and any 35-year-old who IS of equal emotional maturity to a 15-year-old likely has some mental problems the teenager may not be able to recognize and defend against. The likelihood of exploitation is just too high. (This is not an argument against 15-year-olds choosing to have sex with, say, 16-year-olds. Who cares?)

So let's tie this back into the trusted-authority argument. Under what circumstances can a middle-aged person and an adolescent have a balanced and equal relationship?
12.29.2008 3:45am
Anatid:
methodact:

Environmental lead and mercury in particular, especially as added to vaccines, is believed by many to be the source for the explosion of rates of autism and aspergers. Numerous documentaries abound on this topic which my time constraints have not allowed me to dwelve into.


They found the causes of autism. It's a genetic spectrum disorder and has nothing whatsoever to do with vaccines (which stopped using mercury over a decade ago, yet early childhood autism rates keep rising, so please put away your conspiracy theory; the coincidence in timing between the age of vaccines and the age of onset of autism symptoms is the reason hysterical parents fueled this rumor in the first place). Basically, there's a cluster of genes that have to do with social and cognitive functioning, and if a great enough percentage of them are weak alleles, the child is autistic. The range of variation is why the genetic cluster has been so hard to pinpoint until now, and why autism and asperger's take such a myriad of different forms. The theory for why autism rates are on the rise is a combination of a higher rate of diagnosis and a higher rate of carriers (to stereotype, male and female engineers) meeting and having children. If memory serves, autism rates are higher in areas such as Silicon Valley.
12.29.2008 3:54am

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