Monday, May 3, 2010

Defending Pearl Carter and Phil Bailey

An anonymous commenter wrote in response to my post on Pearl Carter and Phil Bailey. Writing May 1, 2010 4:23 PM:

really....of all the things I can tolerate, this is just not one of them. If that offends anyone here, I'm sorry you feel that way. Please take a look at history. Specifically, please look at the line of Egypt's Pharaohs. Look at what happened to they physically due to constant intermarriage. This is really not ok. Medical science has proven how bad this can be genetically. That's a good portion of the reason it should never be allowed.

First of all, Pearl and Phil not having children together biologically. They are using a surrogate.

More importantly, though, is that someone’s genes and love life are nobody else’s business. Whether or not someone has children with someone else is nobody else’s business. Ever hear of privacy and reproductive rights?

One couple does not make “constant intermarriage.”

Finally, plenty of children have been born from genetically closer relationships without significant problems. On the other hand, there are children born with problems whose parents were not close closely related. It isn’t your business.

Again, I say congratulations to Pearl Carter and Phil Bailey for finding love with each other and for not being afraid to speak up. Maybe it will help advance marriage equality, especially when more people get to know you.
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  1. Biologically speaking, nature frowns upon incest since the incidence of birth defects dramatically increases when progeny are produced between close relatives. A genetic mutation in a baby is much more likely to happen between close relatives than between a non-related couple, because there is a much higher chance that both relatives will carry that recessive allele for mutation or disease and it will be passed on to progeny. You can't really argue with genetics... If you look to the Russian royal line, hemophilia affected many of them because of their belief in intermarriage.

    Your basic argument that genetic problems also arise in kids who are not a result of close relatives is fundamentally ...well... ineffective and lacking. Genetic problems might arise in children of non related couples, but have you looked at the statistics? Compared to children of related couples, the incidence of genetic diseases in children of non related couples is much less frequent.

    The only basis you have, really, is reproductive rights. But I believe that a law that makes incest illegal for the benefit of protecting future children from a life of possible suffering from genetic diseases is fundamentally right, as seen by the vast majority of people worldwide who agree with incest laws.

    It seems rather immature to say it isn't [my] business or anyone else's business, when the consequences of incest is allowed... because it becomes my problem too. Healthcare is expensive, and who bears the burden of medical care costs when relatives have children? Yes, the couple, but I and everyone else covered by the same insurance company also bears the burden as seen by higher insurance rates, etc.

    Your argument basically stipulates that love can't be helped and that everyone should just give in to their desires, which I disagree with. People should be strong enough to resist their desires if what they are committing is illegal.

    I understand that there is such a term is GSA--but that's what psychologists and counseling is for--for the benefit of all. Incest will never be allowed in the vast majority of countries and having to live a life filled with lies is no life to live.

    1. Thank you, Anonymous, for not using Discredited Argument #1 and leaving it at that. However, you used a few other DAs.

      As I said in the entry, Pearl and Phil not having children together biologically. They were using a surrogate. So your use of Discredited Argument #18 doesn’t apply to this situation right from the start. There is no reason to criminalize their relationship or deny them marriage.

      Saying “nature frowns” on something is essentially Discredited Argument #5.

      If we take the population as a whole, a birth to consanguineous parents will have a higher chance of some birth defect, but it is still in the low single digits of percentages, certainly less than someone with a known genetic condition, and probably about the same as a woman over the age of 35, and we don’t prevent them from having children. We have this wonderful thing now called genetic counseling.

      Still, you are saying that consanguinamory should be illegal and is wrong because of an increased risk of birth defects. Let’s look the numbers. Stick with me here. Let’s exclude all of the same-gender consanguinamory and heterosexual consanguinamory where at least one person is infertile due to age, intention, or some other reason, and the ones where effective birth control is praticed, and just take the very few relationships in which there is at least one working male reproductive system and one working femle reproductive system and birth control is not used. I’ll be really generous to your argument and say their relationship only lasts five years, and they only have sex once per week, and they end up having three children together. Five years of once-per-week sex is 260 times. Without knowing anything about the genes in their family, with a total of three children, if we are being generous to your argument, there’s about a 25-percent chance that one of them will have a birth defect. This means that for each time they had sex, there was a chance of 1 in 1,040 of it causing a birth defect. Using justifications like that to keep consanguineous sex illegal is ridiculous, because we allow people engage in much more risky behavior than that every day.

      You casually dismiss reproductive rights, but they are a fact of life in many countries. Reproductive rights alone discredit your argument.

      Your argument about it being your business because of costs is scary. It is thinking like that that leads to forced sterilization of entire classes of people. There are compelling arguments that it is costly to deal with children born to single mothers, but that isn’t illegal.

      Also, you make it sound like there would be a dramatic increase of consanguinamory or births to consanguineous parents if it were not for the law. Is there something you want to get off your chest? Some latest, repressed desires you dare not admit, due to the law?

      The fact is, there are beautiful, healthy, intelligent children alive today, born to close genetic relatives. Their biggest problem is people who express bigotry towards their family. Citing such bigotry as a reason it shouldn’t happen is a circular argument. Stop the bigotry and the problem goes away. There are also people with birth defects who lead great lives, and frankly, it is insulting to them that amateur eugenicists talk as though they are a problem.

      My overall argument is for relationship rights for consenting adults. Your appeal to law is much the same argument that was used against gays and lesbians. Unjust laws should be overturned, not passively accepted and then cited as a reason something is wrong. Where consanguinamory is illegal, the law is wrong, not the consanguinamory.

    2. The calmness with which you hold such anti-democratic positions is... scary.

      Reproductive rights don't matter because of potential, theoretical harm to potential, theoretical children? I understand feeling people have an ethical obligation to care for the welfare of others, particularly children, but we make a distinction between ethics and law for a reason. Your logic could be used to curtail any rights, including political speech, if a majority could somehow be convinced that it harms children somehow.

      What strikes me as "immature" is that you seem to have no empathy or sympathy for people who aren't exactly like you, or for their children. If you care about the suffering of their children, then you should care about the perfectly healthy children of related couples who are taken away from their doting parents and put into abusive foster homes. Doesn't their welfare also count? Or does it get in the way of your moral approbation for their parents?

      Besides, the current laws are only enforced when people are actually caught. There's no effort in any country to actively police sex acts. When such laws are against victimless acts, they don't act as effective deterrents. They're more just a legal tool for the majority to make their disgust and desire for psychological harm as evident as possible, so no-one forgets.

      If you really want to stop it for the benefit of the children, then you should advocate the right for the police to enter anyone's home to check if they're having sex with a family member. The police should also genetically test every child at birth to see if the parents are illegally related.

      Why stop there though? If they have that much authority, it's a small step to apply it to unrelated carriers of genetic diseases, who are the ones who produce the vast majority of severely disabled children. Why not force everyone to be genetically tested and keep their genomes in a government database? Why not throw people in jail who knowingly have sex with someone who has similar genetic defects?

      Forcing everyone to get genetically screened would actually be a smarter way to achieve what you say you want than to target one broad group of people, some of whom are carriers, but the majority of whom are not. Once again, I must point out: even if we accept eugenics and violate our democratic norms at the threat of destroying our democracy, "incest" laws are STILL bad policy because they're BAD EUGENICS. They don't distinguish between relatives who are genetically "clean", and those who aren't.

      You ask if we've looked at the statistics. Have you? The reasonable research out there points to every drop in degree of relation beyond 4th degree leads to a few percentage points increase in the probability for serious birth defects. That's population wide, by the way, so it has no significance for any specific couple who've been tested. A few percentage points seems to give little justification for the draconian laws you advocate.

      Besides, isn't your position incredibly ablist? Who are you to deny life and family to these children because a few of them might have some problems? Aren't their lives also valuable? If one has a heart defect, but she lives through medical intervention and becomes a composer and violinist, would you claim that it would be better if she'd never been born? That would be disgusting.

      At least you made an argument though. Not everyone can even muster that much.

  2. Well, I can at least respect when a person tries to make a decent argument using proper grammar. I'm glad people are trying to be more formal in their arguments, whether they are wrong or right, rather than just saying "EWWWWW omg gross you guys are seeeeick pedoosssss!"

    Thanks for your patience with everyone Keith, you are a good role model. I try to link people to your discredited argument page before they get all into commenting on the stuff on here.


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