Monday, October 24, 2011

Artificial Limbs in Official Family Trees

When someone brings up the very good question of “what’s wrong with consensual incest?” or “why is consensual incest illegal?”, there are usually several people who respond confidently with Discredited Argument #18.

The idea that consanguineous parents will produce “deformed” children is an ignorant one, as I explained.

But there is something else that should be pointed out to these people with their knee-jerk reactions, often to the happy relationships of others: the very person expressing their certainty that the descendants of consanguineous parents will be severely mentally and physically handicapped have ancestors, probably not too far back, who were consanguineous.

Marriages between first cousins have been common, and are usually documented in genealogies. But even closer than that, it has not been rare for children to have biological parents who were full or half siblings, father-daughter, uncle-niece, etc. It is less likely for it to have been recorded in treasured family-kept genealogies, but it has happened throughout history, as DNA tests are now showing.

But in years past, there were no DNA tests. Add to that the fact that in many places paternity was, legally, automatically assigned to a woman’s husband. (That practice continues in many places today). Today, it is known through DNA testing that no small percentage of men believed to be the father of a child are not the biological father of that child. Some say as low as five percent, some say as high as twenty percent, which is one in five.

There was also a lack of contraception in years past. Rapes by, and secret affairs with, close family members did produce children. Some were given up for adoption, or taken in by orphanages; some were kept in the family. The same was often true of unmarried family members who were in love, or were simply scratching an itch.

There are also certainly wives who have felt the need to birth an heir, or a child who would, in a few years, be put to work as much needed help on the family farm or in the family businesses. It wasn’t happening with her husband, and so she found someone she knew, someone who would produce a child likely to look like her offspring rather than looking obviously different from her family, and could be trusted to be discreet; a close male relative.

If you go back far enough in anyone’s ancestry, you’re likely to find consanguinity, whether the family-kept genealogy reflects it or not.

So when someone judges the happy relationships of others by insisting that consanguinamory is wrong and should be illegal because they know it produces mentally dysfunctional people, they may actually be explaining why they have such a tough time grasping the idea that consenting adults should be free to share their love. All kidding aside, there are intelligent, healthy people whose parents were close relatives, and this ignorant attack by closed-minded people is personally insulting to them.
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