Thursday, January 13, 2011

Denial of Freedom Harms

This blogger considers the Canadian poly trial, comparing the benefit of freedom against supposed harm, and comes down on the side of being an ally for the freedom to marry.

Should polygamy be legal?

Yes. Consenting adults should be able to marry each other.

That restricting the ability to legally engage in polygamy is restricting freedom is obvious. That it is often a religious freedom doesn't specifically matter to me - although as a practical matter this will be argued in court as explicitly religious freedom being infringed on - for I think that whatever the justification, if people have a desire to do something then restricting that desire is a restriction of freedom.

On the other hand, there is the potential that polygamy leads to harm. As Craig Jones, a lawyer for the BC government puts it, "all forms of polygamy contribute to the discrimination of women and the sexualization of young girls".

Jones can say anything he wants to. That doesn’t make it true. Isn’t it discrimination against women to prevent a woman from entering in to a marriage of her own choosing?

Now polygamy has been heavily stigmatized as well as poorly represented by the occasional - but much publicized - genuinely predatory people or in very different cultures and so it gets a perhaps poorer representation as harmful than is justified. However, for the purpose of discussion let us just accept at face value all of this alleged harm.

The result is we now have to balance these two sides. On the one side, we are restricting freedoms and on the other we are preventing harm. It should be noted that the burden of proof is firmly in the latter camp to establish harm.

They haven’t, as far as I can tell.

My view is that it should be legal. Polygamy has a very large cultural stigma that is impeding the legal freedom of people to marry how they choose. The alleged harm it does I think is both overstated and not at all obvious that restricting polygamy is fixing the specific problems we wish to address.

Thank you! The writer goes on to cite the attacks on the right to same-sex marriage, and how some of theme are like the attacks on the right to polygamy.
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