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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Matthew Hames Norris is a Limited Ally for Consanguinamorists

In the US, with high disapproval percentages for both of the major party nominees for President more people are considering voting Libertarian. Now, not all Libertarian Party members are truly libertarian, and not all libertarians are the same. Also, not all libertarians are Libertarian Party members. Anyway, Matthew James Norris is "an aspiring British historian and philosopher, with additional interests in political theory, economics, and contemporary affairs" and at beinglibertarian.com he wrote an essay taking a libertarian approach to laws criminalizing consanguinamory.
I am a conservative Baptist. I believe extra-marital sex is morally wrong, and that same-sex marriage is illegitimate. I believe prostitution and incest are morally reprehensible.
However, in spite of my personal sentiments, I believe all of the above should be legal, albeit with some qualifiers. Why? Because, as Ron Paul so candidly put it, “we as individuals are responsible for our own lives and decisions.” Indeed, that statement is one to which all Baptists should subscribe.
See? It is possible to say something isn't for you, or that you think others shouldn't do it, without trying to stop other people from doing it.

The fear, then, is that by speaking out in favour of incest being legal (even with some caveats) you open yourself up to the charge that you have some sort of Oedipal complex, that you are a motherfu-…you get the idea.
Yes, yes, I believe people off all races should have their rights, which means I want to be each of those races, right?
The point is that there is a near universal taboo about incest. However, libertarians must not let that fear prevent us advocating reforms that will increase liberty.
I wouldn't say it is near universal. It is a common taboo, to be sure.


Does romantic and/or sexual love between relatives cause physical harm to others against their will? I cannot imagine a situation in which that is so. At most, the parties involved could harm themselves in the act, but that is of no concern to the libertarian – it is merely an unfortunate consequence of their own consensual choices.
Right. Usually, though, it is much more positive than harmful.


He went on to address Discredited Argument #18.

If we accept this extension of the harm principle, it seems we have to say this: incest ought to be legally permissible provided that every reasonable precaution is taken to avoid pregnancy, since the absence of such precautions would risk a violation of our caveat. Post-menopausal, homosexual, and infertile (be that through natural causes, a vasectomy/sterilisation, or something else) participants would be unaffected, and only those at a risk of pregnancy through penile-vaginal penetration ought to be required to use some form of birth control. Some of this talk of requiring birth control might seem uneasy to more absolutist libertarians, but it seems to me to be the truest libertarian – rather than anarcho-capitalist – perspective.
Many people in consanguinamorous relationships choose not to have children, but the overall principle is that adults should be allowed their relationships.

A few days later he returned to the subject.

All I did was extrapolate a premise, to which all libertarians should subscribe, that entails that incest (with the caveats I outlined) should be legal. My crime was being consistent in my beliefs, even when that requires me to commit to unsavoury positions.
Many of my critics clearly didn’t read the article itself. What I argued for was the legality, not morality, of incest. There is an important distinction, long established in positivist legal tradition, between legality and morality. I agree that incest is immoral. I explicitly said incest is “morally reprehensible”. However, the mere fact one finds something immoral or disagreeable does not justify making it illegal.
There is no good reason to criminalize consanguinamory.
Having laws against incest does nothing to prevent its practice. In fact, it makes it secretive, and makes it more difficult for cases for abominable, incestuous sexual exploitation to be brought to light.
Yes! Bring people out of the shadows.
Some of my kinder critics made less vehement remarks. Among them was a concession that I had correctly expounded the libertarian view, but that we should focus on the bigger issues.
What is a bigger issue than allowing people their fundamental freedom of association? If we're not free to love who mutually agrees how we mutually, what rights do we really have?
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