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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Consensual Sex Should Not Be Criminal

The consequences of unjust laws are real and serious.

On this Arizona State University news website is an opinion piece about the Arizona Sex Offender Information website, and the problem of labeling people who have really don’t nothing wrong together with rapists and child molesters.

On the surface, the subsequent creation of registries seems like an important act of legislation with the interest of children in mind. But the registry is dangerous because it doesn’t do a good enough job of discerning between the most dangerous offenders, those who’ve committed despicable sexual acts with children, and the less dangerous offenders.

On this, I am in full agreement. Rapists and child molesters are highly dangerous, and I should be able to know if I am living near one. But someone can be labeled a “sex offender” and be of little threat to anyone.

Also on the lesser side of the spectrum are those who had consensual sex with a minor who was a few years younger than themselves (think high school sophomore girl with college sophomore dude), and those who’ve engaged in unacceptable acts like incest.

Unacceptable? Why is it unacceptable, unless we’re talking about rape or child abuse (which the writer makes clear we’re not)? These articles never seem to explain why consensual, mutually enjoyed, consanguineous sex is “unacceptable.”

A recent article on ESPN.com documented the story of Tony Washington, a former all-American lineman at Abilene Christian University who, at age 16, was convicted of having consensual sex with his 15-year-old sister. Now Tony Washington is a registered sex offender. Both parties maintain that it was consensual, and that it only happened twice. Nonetheless, as a result of a mistaken prostitution bust, Washington’s sister was arrested and questioned about her childhood. She revealed that she had sex with Tony, albeit consensually, and Tony was convicted of incest.

I’ll have to check that article out for myself, but from what this writer says, that is unacceptable. It is unacceptable that a teenager would be convicted of a crime for this. Their proximity in age and their mutual consent makes this matter a private one.

What Tony did with his sister was despicable, and just plain gross.

Whoops. The writer’s bigotry is showing.

But, it was in no way a threat to the general public. Tony was not, and is not, a predator. He and his sister made a conscious decision to engage in incest.

Thank you for that, at least.

Most everyone would agree that what they did was wrong, but are they deserving of public humiliation?

First of all, many people do not agree that what they did is wrong. There are many mental health and sociological professionals who would chalk up their two sessions to healthy youthful experimentation and play, and many other people who have engaged in such behavior and have no regrets whatsoever, other than having closed-minded prejudice thrown in their faces. Secondly, no, they do not deserve public humiliation. Depending on the circumstances, they may deserve to be held up as positive examples. With all of the date rape, casual unprotected teen sex with strangers that is later regretted, and other problems in the lives of teens, including sibling animosity and sibling domestic violence, these who may be model citizens.

Is Tony a threat serius to the general public? The typical story ensues: guy finds football, goes to college and get over his sad past. The problem for Tony, though, is that the National Football League won’t touch his embarrassing rap sheet. Taking on a player with Tony’s baggage, even though his crime was non-violent, would simply be too dangerous for a professional club.

This is so ridiculous. Have you seen the rap sheets of some in the NFL? How is sibling bonding and play anything like violent crime or DUI? As the writer points out, it is the “sex offender” label being applied where it shouldn't that is causing the proble.

Enough is enough. Minor siblings close in age who experiment should not be labeled or treated as criminals. Adults engaging in consensual sex should not be labeled or treated as criminals. Nobody can point to any harm in the example cited that isn't caused by bigotry itself.
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