Government Cracks Down on Few Brits Actually Having Sex

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When is it PC to equate women with children? Pretty much whenever you're screwing over women by "trying to help." In defense of a planned 'zero-tolerace' approach to prostitution in the U.K. (a reversal from an earlier plan to decriminalize the sex trade), Home Office minister Fiona Mactaggart tells BBC:

It is a form of child abuse—most women who are prostitutes started being prostitutes at the age of 13 or 14 and we have got to have strong mechanisms to reduce prostitution.

Like social conservatives trying to collapse the issues of human trafficking and sex work, Mactaggart deliberately confuses questions of consent and coercion. She doesn't argue that the country needs mechanisms to reduce child prostitution, but that government needs to eliminate sex work altogether. The logic here is something like: "Some prostitutes are adolescents. Therefore we must stop adults from paying for sex." And somehow within that particular worldview, harassing adult women who choose to sell sexual gratification is the moral equivalent of prosecuting child-beaters.

Guy Herbert at Samizdata has more.

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  1. Hasn’t the anti-tobacco lobby been playing this tactic for decades?

    “Sometimes children buy cigarettes, therefore we must stop adults from smoking”.

    In fact, this equate-and-switch tactic has been used by opponents of alcohol, drugs, porn, TV violence, or explicit song lyrics, or anything else that adults might actually enjoy. Why should prostitution be any different?

  2. Okay, I have done some preliminary searches but cannot find information. Does anybody have a definative source for underage (below local age of consent) prostitution in areas where prostitution is illegal vs. areas where it is legal.

    Common sense says that if it is legal, regulated and monitored then child prostitution should be far, far less. However, due to the underground nature of the business in areas where it is illegal I can’t find any hard numbers.

  3. Wouldn’t legalizing the consensual sex “trade” prevent adolescent prostitution? I would think that legalizing it would allow the government to regulate it better. Instead of stopping two consenting adults from having sex, why not concentrate the resources on preventing adolescent sex work?

  4. Like a lot of these things that are illegal, one can claim that legalizing it will make most of the problems disappear. However, the problem still is, Who wants to live next door to it?

    In London it’s impossible (in my experience) to find a phone booth that isn’t covered with prostitute ads, most of them extremely graphic. That’s something that isn’t likely to disappear with legalization. It also is just plain unpleasant. While I can agree to the idea that adults should be able to do what adults want to do, does every citizen need to have these very visible images around them at all times?

    Yes, I know this is the exact same argument people make about the unpleasantness of smokers passing by on the street, and yes, I know I could be called hypocritical for taking offense at one and not the other. So sue me.

  5. What blows my mind is that the government went straight from one end of the policy spectrum to the other in a single bound… how can they keep a straight face when denouncing the horrible evils of prostitution when a couple of weeks ago they were planning to decriminalise it? (Did the Home Office take a field trip to Damascus?) My personal guess is that someone realised just how much work decriminalisation would mean for them, and said ‘screw that – let’s dump it all on the cops and judges instead.’

  6. In London it’s impossible (in my experience) to find a phone booth that isn’t covered with prostitute ads, most of them extremely graphic. That’s something that isn’t likely to disappear with legalization.

    It’s probably not legal to accept advertising for an illegal service. If the service were legal AND it were legal to accept advertising for it, the phone booth ads would probably be less necessary.

  7. “Government Cracks Down on Few Brits Actually Having Sex”

    I say:
    Another joke about “cracks” in here somewhere.

  8. Linguist,
    Legalization would not help your advertising problem, but regulation would. See, if there were laws prohibiting placement of ads in “common use” areas like phone booths then there would be a legitimate fineable offense that was relatively easy to track to the perpetrator (after all, ‘call girls’ have phones). More appropriately, what should happen would be to regulate the type of content in the ads, such as ‘no sexually explicit photos’ or some such along with a vendor maintained ‘billboard’ system.

    This would allow a ‘billboard’ vendor to charge $X for a certain ad space/time. I imagine that the men’s restrooms in every bar/strip club would be prime advertising locations for these vendors as well. Why use phone booths when you have a more focused audience elsewhere?

    Wow, my writing is getting rambly. I need to lay off the coffee for today.

  9. Actually, I take back part of what I said earlier. As I recall, the problem of the phone booths IS tied to prostitution being illegal. To wit, their is a sort of a “hooker card cartel” that runs around London. The authorities tear them down, and they reappear within hours. The scary thing is that the men who put them up are paid directly by pimps are are not at all afraid to beat the crap out of ordinary citizens who tear them down.

    So, now that I’ve remembered that, I say LEGALIZE it!

  10. However, the problem still is, Who wants to live next door to it?

    Gee, who would want to live next door to a high-class hooker?

  11. RC,

    Oh, Puh-leeze. It’s one thing to legalize it, another to idealize it. 🙂

  12. I’m with linguist: Lingualize everything!

    Say, when will the guy who lost 30 pounds in 30 days and the carpet-humper start having sex right here on H&R?

  13. are not at all afraid to beat the crap out of ordinary citizens who tear them down

    Uh-oh, I have a few of those (years old), taken for giggles. And what if you took a card with the intention of actually calling the number? Maybe they need flyers with tear-off numbers, like on college campuses.

  14. linguist – You do remember the lyrics to “Legalize It”, right?


    Legalize it – don’t criticize it
    Legalize it and I will advertize it…

  15. JD – LOL
    poco – yeah, I could see how those would make an interesting souvenir. And taking down one or two, as a man, alone, I doubt would cause an attack from the pimp henchmen. Being a female, walking from one to the next and removing them ALL…well…

  16. Also, good headline!

    It strikes just the right balance between humor and reality that is the cynical truth of British sex lives (again, IMHO).

  17. Being a female, walking from one to the next and removing them ALL…well…

    In that case they’d probably think you were a competitor trying to gain an advantage.

    And if you’re as good-looking as the scuttlebutt here has it, they’d probably be plenty worried. So yeah, probably not a sharp idea. 🙂

  18. Kwix,
    You will search in vain. There isn’t any reliable information for obvious reasons.
    That’s why politicians and activists can make up the numbers as alarmist as they please. They deliberately try to make the connection to children. Which politician wants to be accused of having voted against child-protection measures? All nuance and reason go right out the window. Just forget it. What’s worse, the subject can’t even be studied. No researcher will be able to withstand the pressure. Study grants will be withheld, sanctions threatened. Laws on the books would force researchers to immediately notify “authorities” if they found any children within 300 feet of anything that could be lableled as sexual. The whole complex is tailor-made for activists to get their way.
    The example on hand is another one of making the world “safe” by reducing it to the level of children with the government as parent.

  19. And if you’re as good-looking as the scuttlebutt here has it,

    Dammit, my butt doesn’t scuttle! That’s just a rumor…Oh…wait…

    So, anyway, I was going to say who the hell cares, let England rot, I wouldn’t move back there if you paid me.

    Then, in light of RC Dean’s comment, I thought, hmm…high class call girl…that might be a fun life… 🙂

  20. Gee, who would want to live next door to a high-class hooker?

    Honey, we’re out of sugar. I’m going next door for a few minutes.

  21. I’m reminded of a line from Chappelle’s last stand-up routine. How old is fifteen?

    If you want to have sex with a fifteen-year-old then they are obviously a minor that must be protected.

    If a fifteen-year-old accidentally kills a kid while playing wrestling then they obviously should be tried as an adult and thrown into a maximum-security penitentiary.

    Apparently they can’t make adult decisions about sex, but they can about murder.

  22. “In its time in office, Labour has produced more than 700 new criminal offences, criminalising behaviour at 10 times the rate of any previous government, and in far too many cases we cannot be entirely sure who is meant to be affected, and what conduct proscribed.

    The effect is very sinister: it leaves the interpretation of the law up to government agencies or, in the case of the Attorney General, government ministers. It leaves us all with a sense of free-floating dread that we could be pounced on, at any time, for doing something that thousands of people are doing every day.

    It is government by bullying and threats; and, in the case of hunting, it clearly hasn’t worked. The hunters will go on until the wretched police are forced to the random enforcement of a law so mad and bad that it should really be put down.”

    Above is a quote from MP Boris Johnson made in the London Telegraph.

  23. ralphus, you’re right! My rights have been infringed because I wasn’t able to sell my body at 15! 😉

    Just curious…what should the age of consent be? 15? 13? 11?

  24. Age of consent should be a family decision.

  25. Ruthless,
    You don’t suppose the huge increase of federal criminal statutes to almost 4000 I believe, could create the same feeling in the US?
    https://www.reason.com/0404/fe.wa.washingtons.shtml

  26. Ruthless, could you put a smiley in that last comment or somethin? That was just a little big creepy. 🙂

  27. linguist,

    I don’t know. I just think that it’s odd that in so many areas teens are treated as adults with the exception of sex. At thirteen I can decide which divorced parent I want to live with. At fifteen I can be punished as and adult if my crime is considered heinous enough. At sixteen I can drive a car, a device that kills more people than guns each year. But up until eighteen I can’t choose to fuck.

    As far prostitution goes, if a consenting adult wants to rent out their genitals it their right to do so. I just wish we would pick a definition of consenting adulthood and stick with it in all cases.

  28. does every citizen need to have these very visible images around them at all times?

    No, of course not. You can choose to live outside of London.

    When you choose to live in one of the world’s largest cities, public and perhaps shocking exposures of the vulgar are part of the price you pay for your cosmopolitan surroundings.

  29. linguist,
    My point is who would you prefer as big brother? Big brother or Big Brother?
    Granted not everyone lives in a Leave it to Beaver (hee hee) family, but we sure as hell know Big Brother isn’t a Leave it to Beaver family.

  30. I think you guys are missing something about that age of consent thing. It’s not meant to keep 15 year olds from having sex, especially with each other. It only comes into play if there is an age difference, and is rarely prosecuted in any case. In fact, it’s usually only prosecuted in cases of rape, coercion, or if the family makes the decision to do so. So in a way, the family does have that responsibility. Would you rather the family had no legal recourse when their 14 year old is plied with alcohol and loses her virginity to the 45-year-old neighbor?

  31. linguist,
    As an anarchist, “legal recourse” doesn’t do anything for me.

  32. Ruthless,
    Fair enough!

    This is a question in all seriousness, then: Under your ideal system for all of us living together in this country, what should happen in a case like my example?

  33. linguist,

    I’m with you. I think there should be an age of concent. I just think that it should apply to more than sex. If we’re going to determine what constitutes a child then that standard should be applied across the board. If you can’t rationaly choose to have sex with an 21-year-old when your 15 then you can’t rationaly be tried as an adult when you kill someone.

    However, I remeber being fairly aware and informed in my decisons when I was 14. If a 45-year-old neighbor wanted me to come over for drinks I would have known he was up to something. I’m not saying that if an old perv can get you into his house you deserve what happens. I’m just saying that you shouldn’t be shocked when he tries to paw your goodies.

  34. Ralphus,
    I do agree with you that we can’t treat some subset of citizens (underage ones) differently under the law according to our whim.

    By the same token, there must be an age of consent/age of adulthood set somewhere, and in order to be fair it has to be the same for everyone. Sure, some kids are more mature than others. But just because YOU would have cottoned on to the skeeviness of such a neighbor doesn’t mean that I would have.

  35. In addition. Who’s to say that the 14 year old didn’t choose to get drunk and lose her virginity to a 45-year-old neighbor? Are you going to prosecute the guy for being a skeevy enough to go along with it?

    I’m waiting for jennifer to call me out. I took the exact opposite stance on another age of consent thread a few months back. So let me preemptively say; you and Chappelle got me to reconsider my stance jennifer.

  36. Ah, well here’s where it gets tricky. In the interest of full disclosure, seeing as how I’m arguing for an age of consent,
    I lost my virginity to a 30-year-old at the age of 16, and I was the one who picked him up.

    Nonetheless, the two years between 14 and 16 make an unbelievably huge difference. At 14 the situation I described before would have scarred me for life. Seems to me that an age of consent of 16 (which is true for most states) is about as good as we can reasonably get for a compromise.

  37. By the same token, there must be an age of consent/age of adulthood set somewhere, and in order to be fair it has to be the same for everyone.

    Agreed. I just think we need to reconsider what the age is. 17-18 seems un-realistic and 12-13 seems gross. 15-16 seems reasonable to me. You should have more of a handle on your hormones by then and enough sense to know when you’re up to no good.

    Of course, even if the age is set at 16 I would never begrudge a father his right to kick the shit out of the 45-year-old perv that handled up on his daughter.

  38. I believe that the law as it currently stands would not require said 45-yr-old to be charged. If it were the case that the teen girl wanted to get drunk and sleep with the guy, it would, like I said, fall to the family and the girl herself whether or not to file charges (that is, assuming the man doesn’t decide to tell his buddy the cop).

  39. Last I checked, regardless of your age, if some “old perv” (regardless of his/her age) “paws your goodies” without your “consent”, that’s what we call “assault”, and there exists plenty of “legal recourse” both civil and criminal.

    How is this situation any different if the owner of the “pawed goodies” is too young to vote?

  40. Straw poll:

    How about just making people full adults at the age of sixteen? Lets face it, if we all had to wait around until every one of our peers was a truely responsible adult then none of us could vote, drive, drink, or fuck. I thought I was perfectly capable of making those decisions when I was sixteen (probably younger) and I don’t know how much more compotent I am now then I was then.

    Too High? To Low?

    seeing as liguist is fully disclosing: I didn’t have sex, smoke cigarettes, drink, or really even drive till I was about 18, But I sure fucking hated people telling me I wasn’t allowed to.

  41. I lost my virginity to a 30-year-old at the age of 16, and I was the one who picked him up.

    I’m typing with one hand now.

  42. Russ, you have a point, but again it depends what age we’re talking about. What if a 13-year-old DOES give consent to a much older person to be pawed? Is he/she really old enough to understand what that involves and make that choice? In some cases, probably yes. In most others, no. Isn’t the idea behind statutory rape that an older person is taking advantage of a young person’s lack of understanding in that area?

    The question really is, can a child of (whatever age) actuall give consent?

  43. citizengnat,
    I think that full citizenship at 16 is an idea worthy of serious consideration.

  44. I think you guys are missing something about that age of consent thing. It’s not meant to keep 15 year olds from having sex, especially with each other.

    I seem to recall some stories on Hit and Run some time ago about fourteen-year-olds who were arrested for corrupting the morals of a minor by sleeping with other fourteen-year-olds.

  45. 16 make sense to me. It’s the age you should be old enough to know better.

  46. Yeah, 16 is about as close to a divider line as you are likely to get. 17 is too old (hell I was in my first semester of college at 17) and 13-14 is just not world-wise enough. If that leaves us with 15-16, then I will choose the older of the two in order to account for “developmentaly delayed” individuals.

  47. Regarding the issue of legal adulthood, since there is no magic age that ensures one is suddenly a mature reasoning adult (I know 30-year-olds I trust less than some 12-year-olds), this is something that needs to be set based on empirical data. First step is is to pick an age, and set all adult priveliges to that age. Drinking age, voting age, driver’s licence, everything. (Disclaimer: this assumes that all these issues actually need an age restriction; I’m doubtful that all of them do. But this is a different issue.)

    Now that we’ve picked our semi-arbitrary age, we collect data for the next decade or so. If we decide that the adverse effects are too much, we raise the age. If the benefits overwhelm the drawbacks, we lower the age. Repeat the decade of data collection and re-adjust the age as necessary. Either we’ll eventually end up at some age like “16 years 4 months” as our age of majority, or the age will continually fluctuate based on the unique events of the preceding decade. I don’t think people have the patience with that approach (and uncertainty), so we’ll probably zero in on a specific age.

  48. I seem to recall some stories on Hit and Run some time ago about fourteen-year-olds who were arrested for corrupting the morals of a minor by sleeping with other fourteen-year-olds.

    You’re right, I remember that. But surely that’s the exception (or rather, a travesty, not the rule. I know in my home state, and I think in most others, there is a 2-year age difference required before someone can be charged with statutory rape.

    Actually, the case you’re talking about, was the charge statutory rape, or corrupting morals? I’d assume that’s some other b.s. antiquated law.

  49. The point of statutory rape laws is that persons under a certain age are deemed incapable of giving fully informed consent to sex. By definition, sex with someone under the age of consent is rape, because they cannot give consent that is worth anything.

    The question is, what should the age of consent be? I hear a motion for 16. . . Seconded?

  50. Portlander,
    Isn’t the real issue here if government should get involved at all? In the past it was parents’ responsibility to make sure their kids did what was good for them. Now government steps in immediately and not only where sex is involved.
    Remember this story?
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8716780/
    What bugs me about it is hearing these better-than-though folks taking the right to make decisions for others. Do they reflect a majority view or are they just a vocal minority?
    It often becomes clear to me that they don’t want to protect anybody, least of all the children. They want to impose their morals on others.

  51. Oops, I think it’s better-than-thou ??

  52. Just curious…what should the age of consent be? 15? 13? 11?

    Rather than making it a set age, I’d rather see it contingent on emancipation. Hell, if you’re old enough to support yourself, you’re old enough to decide if you want to drink, smoke, fuck, whatever, whether you’re 13, 15, 19. If somebody’s still supporting you, then I expect they’re entitled to some input into your behavior.

    Of course, that could be kind of rough on the people who are still living with mom and dad in their 40’s, couldn’t it?

  53. Is 16 the right age? How the heck should you, I or anyone else know what the right age is for anyone other than one’s self?

    That said… how about we tackle the issue like good libertarians and leave it up to the individual to decide?

    When the individual in question feels that he/she is sufficiently mature, that individual can make an irrevocable legal declaration that henceforward he/she is to be considered to be of the age of majority, thereby renouncing all protections accorded to minors, and assuming all rights, privileges and responsibilities of adulthood.

    This keeps the government from decided who gets rights and who doesn’t. All in favour?

  54. Yeah, 16 is about as close to a divider line as you are likely to get. 17 is too old (hell I was in my first semester of college at 17) and 13-14 is just not world-wise enough.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t people typically get married at 11 or 12, until a couple of centuries ago? I mean, don’t you think there’s a reason that nature makes the majority of us capable of sexual activity by that age?

    Personally, I’m for the age of consent being 15 years 7 months. And that has nothing to do with my 15 year, 7 month old next door neighbor.

  55. RC Dean,

    That’s an awfully legalistic point of view. No matter what age we choose as the age of consent, there are going to be some people below it who fully understand what it means to consent to sex, and others above it who are not capable of giving real consent.

    A set age of consent is merely a bookkeeping convenience to make it clear to potential fornicators when sex is legally permitted, and when it is not. It is not a law of nature or anything.

  56. Russ R,
    I’m with you except family should take decision-making precedence over individual. Recall “family” is whomever and however it defines itself. I’m aware I’m calling for complexity and no certain answers nor fixed ages.

    linguist,
    I can’t give you an “alternate history” of how anarchy would address the problem you assigned me a couple of hours ago. My guess is that the lives of bonobo chimps would be instructive. Also I’d guess there would be more vigilantism in the absence of police, at least during a transition period.
    Life under anarchy would be so different in so many ways.
    Let’s ask David Friedman.

  57. let England rot, I wouldn’t move back there if you paid me.

    Why — the New Cruelty fascist state?

    I was 16 (and a half) and have never regretted starting then.

  58. I’m with you except family should take decision-making precedence over individual.

    Why?

  59. Eric the .5b,
    I’m assuming that somewhere within family is some sort of parent-child mechanism. An individual may be a child unable to make certain decisions… or unable to make “good” decisions. A parent could help.

    In the absence of government as parent, intrafamily parent-child dynamics would be stronger and work better.

  60. I’m not sold on any particular age as the proper one for the dividing line between minor and adult, but I sure as hell think that the way we do things now is screwed up. The most obvious insanity in the system is that we seem to think that you are mature enough to decide on national leaders at 18, but it takes three more years before you can be trusted with a beer. Hell, there are local offices one can be elected to before you can get into a bar. Has anyone ever run across a city/town/village council that has to decide on liquor licenses that has a sub-21 member?

    In any representative polity, gaining the franchise ought to be a mark of a full adult. If we want to set legal ages for various other activities – drinking, marriage, sex, driving, work-outside-the-home, joining the military – we can, but each of those is a step on the way to full adulthood. Once that is attained, no law should debar any citizen from his rights and privileges. The trick is to decide the right order by which minor citizens can take up their rights and responsibilities, until they have them all and are, by definition, no longer minors.

    Consider the rise of graduated drivers licensing. Many states have imposed limits on sub-18-year-old drivers in regards to driving after dark, or limiting the number of passengers they can have in a car. I’ve recently heard of a proposal to ban cell phone usage by teen drivers. (Fat chance of that working.) Some states used to restrict the sale of hard liquor to 21-year-olds, while allowing beer bars for the 18-20 crowd.

    Have any of you seen MADD’s latest anti-drinking propaganda that talks about “children” under the age of 21? Then there are those who refer to the MEN and WOMEN in our armed forces as “kids.” Yes, I’m old enough to be the average recruit’s Dad, but a.) they are adult volunteers and b.) I’m not a parent. I’m not about to infantilize a Marine or an Ranger, but plenty in our media seem willing to.

    Isn’t it odd that, in the wake of the 1960s-era push to lower various legal ages and remove the in loco parentis status of under-21 collegians, we have endured a lengthening of adolescence? Perhaps it is an outgrowth of our prosperous society, but many young people are not capable of living independently by the time they hit the arbitrary signposts on the road of life.

    Kevin

  61. Forced and Consensual

    Child Prostitution encompasses both forced and consensual exchange of sexual services for remuneration or for other forms of consideration, including food, housing, drugs, or other commodities or intangibles such as approval or care. It is an age old and global problem that has existed for centuries.
    Child Prostitution: The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

    In order to set up a base document regarding legislation of the member countries of the International Criminal Police Organization-Interpol on child sex abuse, we asked member countries to provide us with a summary of the applicable legal texts regarding these offences.

    You will find attached the replies we have received, country by country, and in one of the official Interpol languages chosen by the country (Arabic, English, French or Spanish)
    Legislation of Interpol member states on sexual offences against children

    Prostitutes’ Education Network

  62. The question is, what should the age of consent be? I hear a motion for 16. . . Seconded?

    The age of consent for sex should be the same age you are considered an adult for all (most) other purposes. In the United States, this is 18 (you can sign contracts at 18, for example).

    This has nothing to do with development, it simply protects people with limited rights (minors) from being coerced by people with full rights (adults).

    Ralphus is basically right, though, there needs to be a standard. Minors shouldn’t be tried as adults for crimes for the same reason age of consent should equal the age of majority; someone with few rights can always be easily coerced. And, obviously, whatever the age of adulthood is, the drinking age should also be lowered to match that, because the drinking age in this country is just lame.

  63. Col. DuBois – The very young marriage thing was mostly among royalty, where it was for political reasons. And they weren’t even allowed to be alone together until they were a good bit older. (No, of course I don’t have any cite for this, this is the Internet!)

    Anyway, I thought that some states already had what seems like a sensible idea: there isn’t one hard-and-fast age of consent, but instead it has to do with the relative ages of the participants. Above 18, do whatever you want. Below 18, you should be within a few years of your, er, playmate. This isn’t perfect, but what is? At least it prevents stupid stuff like an 18-year-old boyfriend getting arrested for sleeping with his 17-years-and-11-months-old girlfriend (which I’ve heard of happening, apocryphally).

    I’m not really down with the “full citizenship at 16” thing, though. If we’re going to have an arbitrary age, what makes 16 any better than 18? I just wish we could pick ONE age and stick with it – none of this “voting at 18, drinking at 21” crap.

  64. So under the 16 and over rule, 16-year-olds could become prostitutes and it wouldn’t be “a form of child abuse”? Oh, wait.

  65. I’m gonna be lazy and not read any of the thread so far and inject this bit of devil’s advocacy. I’ve heard it said that trafficking activists claim that child prostitution is worse in countries where prostitution is legal, and that’s supposedly because prostitution gets less scrutiny there in general. And in a sense it makes sense that it could be the case that the percentage of prostitution that is child prostitution where prostitution is legal is lower, but there could still be more child prostitution as a percentage of the overall population just because there’s more overall prostitution. If I didn’t make myself clear, let’s say 20% of prostitutes where it’s illegal are kiddies but only 10% where it’s legal. But if there’s the proportion of prostitutes in the population is five times higher, then there’s still 2 1/2 times as many child prostitutes per overall population.

    Now, remember I’m being a devil’s advocate here, and I’m by no means arguing against lifting prohibitions on sex commerce. I suspect that IF it’s true that child prostitution is a bigger problem where prostitution is legal, or more legal, then it’s probably for other reasons than that specifically. And language which vaguely and inarticulately conflates all prostitution with child abuse for specious reasons hardly helps the debate. And hell, I’m suspicious of all these goody-two-shoes meddlers, period. But…well, you know why the devil gets advocated. Consider it done.

  66. “I just wish we could pick ONE age and stick with it”

    JD,
    You must be an absolutist. I am too: the family should also be absolute which is why the age will vary.

  67. That’s an awfully legalistic point of view. No matter what age we choose as the age of consent, there are going to be some people below it who fully understand what it means to consent to sex, and others above it who are not capable of giving real consent.

    You have to weigh the dangers and efficacy of an absolute and clear standard versus a very fuzzy and inexact standard.

    The good thing about an absolute standard is everyone knows exactly what they are dealing with. A subjective “its OK if the kid is worldly-wise enough” standard is potentially an invitation to disaster (post-facto prosecutions) and exploitation (eh, she sure seemed like she had done this before).

    Clear, absolute (if arbitrary) standards have their very definite virtues in the legal context – they give notice of exactly where the boundaries are. Under an age-based standard, someone wanting to steer clear of statutory rape just has to steer clear of 15-year-olds (or whatever the age is).

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