Putting Teeth Into Megan's Law, or, When Will We Get Serious About the Invasion Across Our Northern Border?

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Reader Sandy Smith sends in the story of Stephen A. Marshall, a 20-year-old Cape Breton dishwasher who, during a visit to his father in Maine, borrowed dad's truck, rifle and two handguns, shot two men in two different towns, then tried to take a bus to Boston, where he was approached by police and shot himself. Although police are still looking for a motive in the crimes, it's clear where Marshall found his victims: on Maine's sex offender registry.

Interestingly, this news report notes that Marshall had to enter his name and some personal information to get the addresses of his targets. That makes Maine's registry slightly more restrictive than California's, which provides a home address—down to the apartment number—along with a brief description of the crimes, aliases, tattoos information, etc., without requiring you to enter any information. Maine's registry is generous in another respect: When I looked up one guy at random (crime: possession of child pornography), I got the addresses of both his places of employment, but only a general area for his home address. Whether a general location is more likely to spread public hysteria than a specific address is an open question, but according to the site there's more information available on request:

Additional information will include:

  • alias name
  • registrant's sex, race, height, weight, and eye color
  • mailing and home address
  • legal description of the crime for which the registrant was convicted, date of conviction, and the sentence imposed

The Department of Public Safety in the Pine Tree State took the site down during the search for Marshall, but it's back up, and according to a spokesman, there are no plans to change it.

I'll admit that I've checked out California's registry and been relieved that there are no preeverts within striking distance of my family (a fringe benefit of living in one of America's most intolerant and segregated cities), but this case illustrates the dangers of having the state brand convicts who have already served whatever sentence the state deemed fit for their crimes—particularly when that branding is based on questionable psychological theories. As it happens, one of Marshall's victims, 24-year-old William Elliott, was registered for the crime of having sexual relations with a girl under the legal age. Since there's a separate category for sexual misbehavior with children under the age of 14, that means this was a girl between the ages of 14 and 18, a simple jailbait situation*. William Elliot may not have been a nice person, he looks creepy in his mugshot (but then who doesn't?), and he may have deserved prison time for whatever he did. I don't think he deserved to be marked for life for it. And he certainly didn't deserve to be killed.

* Update: Boston Globe reports Elliot's crime was that he had sex with a 15-year-old (two weeks shy of her 16th birthday) when he was 19.

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  1. one of Marshall’s victims, 24-year-old William Elliott, was registered for the crime of having sexual relations with a girl under the legal age. Since there’s a separate category for sexual misbehavior with children under the age of 14, that means this was a girl between the ages of 14 and 18, a simple jailbait situation

    Remember when you had to read The Scarlet Letter in high school? I’ll bet part of the lesson plan involved how back-asswards those people were, branding a person for life for having had sex. Good thing we’ve evolved so far beyond that, huh?

    At least nobody tried to kill Hester Prynne.

  2. This is a real problem. First, who ever reads these things? I find it difficult to beleive that anyone is made safer by these lists. Second, like any other government program, these registries take on a life of their own and grow to include people never contemplated by the public when the supported their creation. No question, most people would not support making a 19 year old who had consensual sex with a 15 year old register for life on the same registry as someone convicted of raping and abusing 8 year olds, but that is the situation we have. Moreover, activists have managed to whip up so much hysteria over child sex abuse that it is nearly impossible to have a rational public conversation about these registries. I am not surprised this kind of stuff doesn’t happen more often. These registries are really just lists and directions for the lynch mob.

  3. As the parent of a 14 year old….”a simple jailbait situation” doesn’t seem too simple to me.

  4. There’s also a strong tendency for any crime that even vaguely involves sexuality to land someone on the list.

    Bestiality (I guess you have to subscribe to the belief that animals are people, too, to either engage in the act, or find a victim for it), laundry theft, peeping-tom incidents and so on have all been considered for such treatment.

    Could these behaviors be indicative of a *possible* deeper problem and a potential threat to society? I suppose so. At the moment, our country has chosen to weigh the (grievious) harm to a single 7-year-old victim of child rape as greater than the (less serious, but still significant) harm to hundreds or even thousands of sex offenders.

    As the father of a 7-year-old girl, I can certainly feel the emotional appeal of this tendency. However, as a rational human being, I can also recognize that the cost/benefit analysis has been skipped over here.

  5. Sally,

    If your 14 year old sneeks out and goes to a college party and lies about her age to a 19 year old college freshman and then sleeps with him, that 19 year old is just as much of a preditor and criminal as someone who babysits a seven year old and molests them? Your 14 year old bears no responsibility for her actions is just as much of a victim as the 7 year old? I think that was Tim’s point.

  6. “As the parent of a 14 year old….”a simple jailbait situation” doesn’t seem too simple to me.”

    Well, duh. No one wants their teenaged daughter to get porked, but you have to admit that someone having consensual sex with her is light years away from actual rape, or any kind of sex with an actual child.

  7. Sally,

    If your 14 year old sneeks out and goes to a college party and lies about her age to a 19 year old college freshman and then sleeps with him, that 19 year old is just as much of a preditor and criminal as someone who babysits a seven year old and molests them? Your 14 year old bears no responsibility for her actions is just as much of a victim as the 7 year old? I think that was Tim’s point.

  8. There’s also a strong tendency for any crime that even vaguely involves sexuality to land someone on the list.

    Bestiality (I guess you have to subscribe to the belief that animals are people, too, to either engage in the act, or find a victim for it), laundry theft, peeping-tom incidents and so on have all been considered for such treatment.

    Could these behaviors be indicative of a *possible* deeper problem and a potential threat to society? I suppose so.

    At the moment, our country has chosen to weigh the (grievious) harm to a single 7-year-old victim of child rape as greater than the (less serious, but still significant) harm to hundreds or even thousands of sex offenders.

    As the father of a 7-year-old girl, I can certainly feel the emotional appeal of this tendency. However, as a rational human being, I can also recognize that the cost/benefit analysis has been skipped over here.

  9. As the parent of a 14 year old….”a simple jailbait situation” doesn’t seem too simple to me.

    I second what Sally said. I’m sure if Tim’s daughter were 14 and some 45-year-old guy were courting her, he wouldn’t be exactly thrilled. Not to mention the legal responsibilities of the parents if the daughter were to conceive. Even 18 is really young…looking back at myself then, although at the time I thought I was pretty sophisticated, I was still quite naive.

  10. I tried posting this earlier, but the server squirrels were on their lunch break.

    Amplifying John’s point regarding the hysteria associated with sex offender registries, I submit the following column from WND in which Kevin McCullough calls for the public execution of people who have consensual oral sex with 16 to 17 year-olds:

    http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=49207

  11. Fucking eh. The love affair this country has been having with cruelty needs much more attention.

    Everything from sex offenders, hate crimes, and torture, to a host of other ways we’ve been ramping up the penalties and abuse of those we deem unworthy of human decency. Once people are put on the other side of prison bars, it seems the general public will accept anything that’s done to them. Prison rape is regarded as a desirable part of the prison experience. Worse than that, it seems that many of us take delight in the suffering of others (but of course they deserve it for being a child molester, terrorist, drug dealer, etc). Some people get so worked up over what we should be doing to “them”, you’d think they’re about to orgasm. The way we treat criminals is a crime.

  12. So, Cavanaugh, you know for a fact that this guy didn’t rape a 14-year old girl (sometimes prosecutors charge to the level that they have a better chance to prove)?

    I love it when people put lipstick on a pig to dress up their side of the argument. This shit happens all the time with the anti-death penalty folks.

    Yeah, yeah.. due process.. double jeopardy.. yada yada yada. Come up with better poster boys and I may give a crap.

  13. And let me add that our tent seems to attract “if there’s grass, play ball” types. Seriously, you all are a bunch of creeps.

  14. *joining the Mr. Nice Guy fan club*

  15. Uh, all we know right know about the late Mr. Elliott is that, sometime prior to the age of 24, he had some sort of sexual contact with a girl between age 14 and age 18. Nobody else knows any more than that. If you do, I encourage you to speak up. If not, how about everybody calm the fuck down until and unless you do find out more?

    Are we seriously positing that if, say, a 21-year-old Mr. Elliott had consensual sex with a 17-year-old Ms. X that he’s the moral equivalent of a child rapist?

  16. In Texas you can select your county and get a map showing the location of each offender. Clicking on the dot leads to a record including the offender’s offense, home address, description, photo, etc. “Risk Levels” are High, Moderate, Low, Civil commitment, and Unknown.

    Offense includes title (i.e. “Indecency w/child Sexual Contact”), counts, victim’s sex and age, date of disposition, and offender status (i.e. “Probation”).

    The map also locates schools and parks. You can also search by zip code. The interactive map zooms, so you can get exact directions.

    A prominantly displayed notice says, “NOTICE: DPS cannot guarantee the records you obtain through this site relate to the person about whom you are seeking information. Searches based on names, dates of birth and other alphanumeric identifiers are not always accurate. The only way to positively link someone to a criminal record is through fingerprint verification.”

    I guess as long as you haven’t done anything wrong you have nothing to worry about. ;-|

    Yes, I ran my name. So far, so good.

  17. I was listening to the talk radio station in South Portland, ME today and they were discussing this incident. There was little sympathy for the murder victims. I find the whole incident kind of disturbing. No one seems to have thought about what would have happened if the information in the registry was wrong and someone who had not been convicted of a sex crime was shot. You can argue all day about the punishment for these times of crimes and if they are too harsh, not harsh enough, etc., but you can’t excuse vigilante justice.

  18. he looks creepy in his mugshot (but then who doesn’t?)

    In the interests of full disclosure, I think Tim should put his mug shot up on the web…

  19. Sounds to me like you parents of 14 year olds should keep them locked up tight instead of letting them vamp the whole town at all hours of the night!

  20. I don’t think they can register a preevert until he becomes a postevert.

  21. The statistic I used to hear was that the average age at which females lost their virginity in this country was 16. …which suggests that as many lose it at 14 as 18. Are you with me?

    The average age at which males first have sex is said to be higher on average. If we place that average at 17, that would put many in the over 18 age group than in the under 18 group when they first had sex.

    Assuming that the girls having sex under the age of 16 are having it with guys closer to their age, that would lead me to believe that 18 and 19 year old males having sex with females under the age of 16 isn’t such an aberration, statistically speaking. …and when something is relatively consensual and not so incredibly uncommon, I’m not so sure 18 and 19 year old perps should be shoehorned into the same category with rapists and pedophiles, at least, for purposes of criminal law.

    ..and I think Tim’s logic is sound regardless of the age of his children. …and I don’t think Tim was saying that 45 year olds shouldn’t be punished for statutory rape.

  22. Remember when you had to read The Scarlet Letter in high school?

    It’s almost a point of pride for me that I somehow managed to not read The Scarlet Letter in school; also, I’ve never seen the movie ET.

    Believe it or not.

  23. According to the Boston Globe, the ages in question were 19 and 16. Make of that what you will.

  24. According to the Boston Globe, the ages in question were 19 and 16. Make of that what you will.

  25. So, Cavanaugh, you know for a fact that this guy didn’t rape a 14-year old girl

    Do you know for a fact that he didn’t?

    Actually, he probably did not; it is my understanding that the crime of “having sexual relations with a minor,” which is what this man did, is distinct from “rape”, which is to say, forced sexual relations.

    I was also going to post a hypothetical about a teenager who vamps herself up and lies about her age, but John beat me to it.

    And let me add that our tent seems to attract “if there’s grass, play ball” types. Seriously, you all are a bunch of creeps.

    I’ve seen 14-year-olds who were more developed than I was at seventeen. (I was a late bloomer.) If I had a 14-year-old kid I’d just as soon she stay at home and remain a virgin for awhile longer, but if a 14-year-old looks like a legal adult, and lies and says she is one, I don’t think a man who has consensual sex with her deserves to go to jail, let alone be murdered. If that makes me creepy, then so be it.

    Oh, and I see Grant posted that the man was 19 and the girl was 16. I feel even less creepy now in saying this man should not have been imprisoned or killed.

  26. “And let me add that our tent seems to attract ‘if there’s grass, play ball’ types.”

    I don’t subscribe to that particular theory, but it is worth noting that the last 120 years or so have seen a virtually systematic elimination of the rights of young people with really the only notable exception being revising the voting age downward. Legally permissible ages for sex, working, consuming alcohol/tobacco, buying firearms, drivers licenses, etc. have all been consistently trending higher. There’s even subtle movement toward suggesting that adulthood doesn’t really start until age 25. (Google “emerging adulthood” if you don’t believe me.) I fully anticipate that I will see laws introduced within the next 10 to 15 years aimed at curbing the rights of people under the age of 25. To reduce that risk in the future, it is important today to refuse to buy into the whole defining-childhood-upwards trend.

  27. Yeah, yeah.. due process.. double jeopardy.. yada yada yada. Come up with better poster boys and I may give a crap.

    Well, lets say that a buisness rival wants to take you out of the competition. He goes to a party at your house, and hides a CD of child porn under your mattress… then calls the police with an anonymous tip, and you are in jail for the next 20 years (and on a public death-squad hit list for the rest of your life).

    You can claim you are innocent, but no-one is going to believe your child-molesting child-porn self! Even the lawyers who represent mafia members or terrorists or whatever, don’t represent sex offenders, so you are going to be stuck with either a public offender, or a guy who specializes in “getting sex offenders off the hook”. There is no way possible, that you aren’t going to jail.

    One of the reasons for having a calm and reasonable legal system, is that you might find yourself in the crosshairs one day! It is all fun and good when someone else is being lynched… but lets see how well you survive when I post a few pamplets, anonymously, giving your address and calling you a pedophile! Or when the pedophile that you purchased your house from forgets to file a change-of-address form (or the people vandalizing the house every couple months don’t check the website to see if it has been updates). Or, when they accidentally list 223 East Glendale Street (where you live) instead of West Glendale Street (where the pedophile lives). Or, like recently, a girl who claimed to have been molested in a public bathroom pointed to a homeless guy and accused him of being the pedophile, and the girls family almost kill the guy… then it turns out the guy with the foot long beard couldn’t have possibly been the clean shaven man who molested her… but the police decide not to press any charges against the vigilant family, because they “were just looking out for their daughter”. What happens when a black pedophile moves to a predominatly white neighborhood, and every black man is now suddenly a suspected pedophile.

    The think about “sex crimes”, is that it generates paranoia, and seems to trump any sort of rational thought and common sense… which is exactly what the legal system is supposed to bring to these cases.

  28. There’s even subtle movement toward suggesting that adulthood doesn’t really start until age 25. (Google “emerging adulthood” if you don’t believe me.)

    You…you mean, I’m a fully emerged adult now? But I feel like I only hatched just yesterday…

  29. There’s even subtle movement toward suggesting that adulthood doesn’t really start until age 25

    Funny you should say this; just yesterday I was reading somewhere that men’s minds don’t mature until they’re 25. I forget the context, though.

    You’re probably right about the law being used to extend childhood even further, though, and then in a couple of decades we’ll see guys on the sex offender lists for being perverted sickos that had consensual sex with a 21-year-old woman. I mean, 21 is just a child! What kind of pervert would find one so young to be sexually desirable?

    When I was in my late teens I preferred to date men much older than I was. Were they being predatory toward me or was I being predatory toward them? Legally, I suppose I was the poor innocent victim, but my attitude back then was “Since I am clueless and inexperienced in regards to sexual matters, I don’t want to date someone my own age; I want someone who knows what the hell he’s doing.” Damn the law for trying to condemn me to a sexual ghetto of fumbling ignoramuses as bed partners.

  30. The statistic I used to hear was that the average age at which females lost their virginity in this country was 16. …which suggests that as many lose it at 14 as 18. Are you with me?

    By your logic, as many lose it at 10 as at 22. I just don’t think you can say that.

    There are a lot of good points made here in favor of rational thinking toward what is and isn’t really a crime. Let’s not discredit the arguments with sloppy thinking.

  31. I wonder if the victim’s family will go after the father for letting his child take his guns.

    I have a feeling that this is one of those crimes that wouldn’t have happened if the 19 year old did not have access to guns during his visit to the U.S.

  32. I wonder if the victim’s family will go after the father for letting his child take his guns.

    I have a feeling that this is one of those crimes that wouldn’t have happened if the 19 year old did not have access to guns during his visit to the U.S.

  33. As a reluctant supporter of statutory rape laws (I don’t want the government messing around in decisions to have sex, but what else are we gonna do?) I would contend not only that 19 and 16 isn’t on a level with child rape, and that it shouldn’t go on a sex offender registry, but that it’s not even particularly sketchy. I mean, I know a few couples here in college who are 21 and 18; 19 and 16 is a little worse than that, but not enough that I’d be terribly concerned about it unless there was something else going on. BY itself, it’s shouldn’t be enough to put you on the registry, and certainly not enough to merit the death penalty. And nsMNG, do you really want to punish people for things they may have done but couldn’t be convicted for?

  34. When I was in my late teens I preferred to date men much older than I was. Were they being predatory toward me or was I being predatory toward them?

    I can somewhat relate to that. My longest-standing crush in college was on a man significantly older than me.

    Still, part of the reason that a minimum age of consent is necessary is exactly what Jennifer is saying. There are some young Lolitas who are all but predatory towards older men. In that sense, they are “bait”. The truth is that plenty of young people don’t realize how young and naive they are, despite their protests to the contrary. Not to sound like an obnoxious parent, but many kids at that age still don’t know what’s best for them even though they think they do.

    That said, if I could have been with that older crush of mine when I was 19, I would have thought I’d died and gone to heaven.

  35. Rex:

    What was that middle hypothetical again? 🙂

  36. By your logic, as many lose it at 10 as at 22. I just don’t think you can say that.

    You can get pretty close. The local high school here has a day care center mainly for students’ kids, and some of the mommies are from the district’s junior high.

  37. Jen:

    I only attach “creep” to the Y chromosome (in this particular discussion).

    I think what throws this off is the “teen” thing. SixTEEN and nineTEEN. But let’s say this is a case of a guy a year out of high school seducing a sophomore. Pretty damned creepy, if you ask me. What we’re ignoring is that, in teen years, a year can make a world of difference.

    And what if the girl is tarting up and passing herself off as someone older? I think the onus is still on the man. Buyer beware.. because that girl very likely has a father/brother.

  38. Still, part of the reason that a minimum age of consent is necessary is exactly what Jennifer is saying. There are some young Lolitas who are all but predatory towards older men. In that sense, they are “bait”.

    And yet the predatory 14-year-old who looks 18 and says she is is viewed as the legal victim, whereas the 19-year-old who thought he was having sex with a woman a year younger than he is now viewed as a predatory rapist who needs to be kept apart from polite society forever.

    I don’t think the government has any damn business regulating consensual sex. Yes, some girls will end up sleeping with guys they wouldn’t look twice at if they were older and more sensible–I still cringe when I think of the guys I had a fondness for in my younger days–but the purpose of government should not be to prevent people from doing things they might possibly regret later.

    And what if the girl is tarting up and passing herself off as someone older? I think the onus is still on the man. Buyer beware.. because that girl very likely has a father/brother.

    Great-so a man has to date a woman with wrinkles and gray hair to make sure he’s not putting himself at risk of prison? Hooray for me–in another five or ten years I might be able to get laid for the first time!

  39. In terms of rape, my understanding is that children cannot legally give their consent. So even if they they “consent”, that “consent” doesn’t count. …which puts statutory rape in another category than, say, a girl who didn’t want to have sex and had it forced upon her. Of course, that doesn’t mean it isn’t wrong or that it shouldn’t be illegal.

    I wonder, though, about how much of an effect the drop in the average age of puberty has had on our perceptions and how little of an effect it’s had on the law. According to Wikipedia, in England in 1840, the average age of the onset of puberty in girls was 16.5 years old. (See “Historical shift in the onset of puberty”) Above that item, on the same Wikipedia page, it shows where the average age is for different stages of puberty now–and it has dropped!

    …a 19 year old man having “consensual” sex with a pre-pubescent 16 year old girl seems really bad to me, but then I’m having a hard time imagining a pre-pubescent girl wanting to have sex. …in 1840, it might have been easier to assume that sex with a 16 year old girl was indeed non-consensual.

  40. The question isn’t whether 16-to-19 sex is a crime. The state has decided that it is and Elliot served his time for it. The question is whether he needed to be kept on a public list of menaces to society after he had served his sentence. The entire point of giving a finite sentence is that after that you get out and are expected to become a productive member of society. If Elliot was never going to be able to do that, then he should have been given a life sentence. That his crime obviously did not fit the kind of pattern Megan’s law was designed to register sharpens the issue, but it’s not the main point. Sex offender registries are wrong both ways: If the psychological theories about high recidivism are true (follow the link in my original post for skepticism on that point), then the state has no business letting these people out to keep preying on the rest of us; if the theories are not true, then the state needs to treat them like any other convict who has finished serving a sentence.

  41. I think what throws this off is the “teen” thing. SixTEEN and nineTEEN. But let’s say this is a case of a guy a year out of high school seducing a sophomore. Pretty damned creepy, if you ask me.

    I don’t think it’s that weird for a freshman girl to date a senior guy. So they date for a year and then suddenly he’s a power-wielding pervert? It’s definitely a complicated issue but on this particular case, I just don’t see it.

  42. Mr. Nice Guy,

    Maybe even if the guy’s behavior is creepy, do you think it necessarily reflects the kind of compulsive perversion that supposedly afflicts sex offenders all their lives? Don’t you think a 19 year old could learn from being punished and from getting older? I haven’t read all the posts, so maybe you’ve addressed this, or someone else has. But this seeems to be the relevant issue, whether the guy needs to be treated like a permanent danger for the rest of his life, and moreso than murderers and thieves, not whether or not the shtupping in question is simply “creepy”!

  43. Mr. Nice Guy,

    I think your desire to speak for and defend the sixteen year old girls out there to be a little bit creepy. Unless your input is requested by one of them, mind your own business. Nineteen year old women have brothers and fathers too. Does that mean that if some brother or father finds something inapropriate about that persons sexual choices, homocide is an appropriate response?

    Consensual sex between teenagers should not be a death penalty offense. There, I said it. I guess I’m a creep now.

  44. Also conspicuously absent from this debate is mention of what is apparently now required by Florida statute: that there be at least at least a one-to-one ratio of overage female/underage male episodes for each overage male/underage female trysts.

    Assuming that the behavior was verbally consented to (regardless of whether the state recognizes the ability to form consent), how happy would everyone be if one of the victims had been a woman?

  45. I don’t infaltilization of adolescents. For most of human history, people got married when they were 14 or 15 years old. They had to because they could only expect to live until they were 40 or 45. If you only have a 45 year lifespan, you can’t exactly wait until you are 30 to have children. While I do not want to go back to the days of old men taking 15 year olds as a third wife after the first two died during child birth, I don’t buy the idea that people cannot be responsible for their actions or make informed decisions before their 18th birthday. Granted we have to draw a line somewhere, but I think 18 is too old. There is a difference between something being social or morally unacceptable and being illegal and no I am not saying this so I can troll the high schools. I just think we need to be realistic.

  46. By your logic, as many lose it at 10 as at 22. I just don’t think you can say that.

    Yeah, I would guess they’re more concentrated above 16, and that there are more long term abstainers than molestation victims. …but I’d still bet that the instances of 19 year old men having “consensual” sex with 16 year old girls isn’t way out there statistically. …and I don’t think it’s so sloppy to assume that might follow if the average age of females losing their virginity is around 16–rather than say 19 or 21.

  47. I don’t think the government has any damn business regulating consensual sex. Yes, some girls will end up sleeping with guys they wouldn’t look twice at if they were older and more sensible–I still cringe when I think of the guys I had a fondness for in my younger days–but the purpose of government should not be to prevent people from doing things they might possibly regret later.

    Amen!

    Also, “creepy” and criminal are not synonyms. You can believe whatever the hell you want is creepy, but to use your personal “creepiness” factor as a determination of someone criminality is wrong. Esp when history (including recent history) is littered with relationships that many people would consider creepy by today’s standards.

    Marrying a 2nd and 3rd cousin is creepy, to me. My aunt getting married at age 15 to a man over 10 years her senior in the old country is creepy, to me. Celine Dion’s husbands infatuation with her as a teen is creepy, to me.

    That doesn’t mean someone should be labeled a sex offender for life becuase of my standards

  48. I’d like to point out one strictly legal point about the Texas list, and, I presume, some of the others as well. In Texas, sex offenders can receive a deferred adjudication, meaning that final ruling on the indictment is put off until the perp has completed a period of probation, usually in exchange for a guilty plea. If the accused completes probation, then the charges are dismissed and no conviction entered. However, the perp remains on the sex offender list, even though he has never, technically, been convicted of anything.

    Just for the record, though, anyone who gets on these lists deserves the label creep, but I would prefer that the government not be the one applying it.

  49. Remember when you had to read The Scarlet Letter in high school?

    Oh Puh-leeze, Jen, this isn;t even close to a scarlet letter.

    It’s more like a yellow star.

  50. Ken Shultz wrote:

    …in 1840, it might have been easier to assume that sex with a 16 year old girl was indeed non-consensual.

    In 1840 the age of consent in England (and the US, and everywhere else with a legal tradition derived from English common law) was 13. It didn’t get raised to current levels (a Google search reveals that it’s now 16 in the UK) until the Victorian era.

    I recently came across a really good article that deals with this very subject.

  51. Considering the origin of the shooter, it’s somewhat ironic that the legal age of consent in Canada is currently 14.

    (The conservative government is drafting legislation raising it to 16)

  52. Mr. not very Nice Guy:

    ‘And let me add that our tent seems to attract “if there’s grass, play ball” types. Seriously, you all are a bunch of creeps.’

    Apart from the straw man, would you like to take this opportunity to apologize for smearing me with the ‘goes trolling for highschoolers’ brush?

    Yeah–I don’t think a 19 year old having sex with a 16 year old is as bad as a 50 year forcing himself on an 8 year old. And I think that’s not only a pretty normal, non-creepy point of view, it’s reflected in current law–with the notable exception of sex offender registries, which is one reason I forwarded the story.

    Explain again how that makes me a creep who is salivating at the thought of having sex with underage girls?

  53. If the accused completes probation, then the charges are dismissed and no conviction entered. However, the perp remains on the sex offender list, even though he has never, technically, been convicted of anything.

    I’m all for puttin’ away dangerous sex offenders ’til the cows come home, but I’m not sure stigmatization for stigmatization’s sake doesn’t become cruel and unusual.

    I’m okay with a parent’s right to know that there’s a convicted sex offender living next door too, but I’m havin’ a hard time understanding how someone could be innocent enough not to get convicted but guilty enough to require stigmatization.

    If being on the list was something people pled to, I suppose that might make a difference. …Is cruel and unusual punishment okay so long as the perp agrees to it?

  54. In the Texas database I just found a guy near me who’s crime was “Possible Promotion of Child Pornography”. I didn’t realize “possible promotion” constituted a crime.

  55. Karen,

    When you say

    “Just for the record, though, anyone who gets on these lists deserves the label creep…”

    do you mean anyone who legitimately gets on these lists, or do you not need such a qualification because you believe nobody gets on these lists without doing something?

    I ask because it appears that in some states, sufficiently little evidence is needed to get convictions and/or plea bargains that it seems unlikely to me that 100% of the people on the lists should be there. I’m not talking about a 19 year old who had sex with a 16 year old, I’m talking about someone who didn’t violate any law, but was falsely accused.

  56. I thought y’all would want to award the guy a medal for being a free-market disposer of trash. Oh yeah, you are just using libertarian website as a cover for your peace and freedom ideals. I suppose you are supporting Belhaven and Souell for pres in ’06.

    I’m glad all of the listed child molesters in the US woke up this morning to read that a couple of their buds were wasted.

  57. I’m not sure why there’s a big deal here. It’s not like the cops have ever kicked in the door at the wrong address.

    Even if they have the wrong info posted, is the state responsible for some goober who fancies himself Charles Bronson?

    I’d be satisfied if the state proffered a bureaucratic “oopsy daisy.”

  58. anon2: I was being snarky and expressing my personal distaste for promiscuity in a place where it was both irrelevant and inappropriate. As for getting on the lists, I review criminal histories as part of my job, and more than once have I found a guy on the sex offender list who had no conviction. Makes the work day really long.

    Ken Hagler: I know this is really tedious and pedantic of me, but 1840 WAS the Victorian era. Vicky came to the throne in 1836 or 1837. The age of consent was raised in, I believe, the 1880’s under William Gladstone.

  59. I seem to recall that when California’s registry was first created, it included people who had 30+ year old convictions for sodomy and masturbation.

  60. In 1840 the age of consent in England (and the US, and everywhere else with a legal tradition derived from English common law) was 13. It didn’t get raised to current levels (a Google search reveals that it’s now 16 in the UK) until the Victorian era.

    I was thinking about that, as well as the fact that people married younger back then. I think marriage was considered consent back then; it was legally impossible for a man to rape his wife. I thought too that, both then and now, women marry for lots of different reasons. For all I know, 16 year old brides in the 1840s looked forward to sex like the middle-aged men of today look forward to a checkup with Dr. Jellyfinger. …just as something they had to do rather than as something they wanted to do.

  61. Most of the girls in my high school class (well okay, the pretty ones) were having sex by the age of 15 – usually with their football-playing boyfriends of the same age. (I wonder which one they put on the list if BOTH of them are under-age …) I figure if a 15-year-old is going to have sex, it’s probably BETTER that it be with someone a few years older, so the chances are increased that at least one of them will have some maturity and common sense about birth control.

    Jennifer, I agree with your comments 100%. When I was a teenager I was after guys in their 20’s, too – that kind of thing wasn’t even uncommon in the small, rural town where I grew up.

    I wonder if these kinds of registries will make people view sex offenders the same way they look at DUI’s. When you only got a DUI for being really drunk it was one thing. Now that they hand them out left and right, for maybe as little as one drink, I tend to look at them like nothing more than a really expensive traffic ticket. The stigma is definitely gone – I tend to feel sorry for the people who get them and think ‘dickhead cops.’

    I can’t believe it’s even shocking to people anymore that 16-year-olds might have sex with 19-year-olds. Didn’t anyone see the movie ‘Thirteen?’ When that 19-year-old is now viewed as a “sex offender” for life, maybe people will start to think that being a sex offender isn’t such a big deal after all.

  62. When that 19-year-old is now viewed as a “sex offender” for life, maybe people will start to think that being a sex offender isn’t such a big deal after all.

    It’s when the homeboys start getting “Sex Offenda 4 Life” tattoos that I’m really going to worry.

  63. And I think that’s not only a pretty normal, non-creepy point of view, it’s reflected in current law–with the notable exception of sex offender registries, which is one reason I forwarded the story.

    Not entirely true. In New Hampshire, where I went to college, anyone older than 18 having sex with anyone under 16 has perpetrated statutory rape (apparently at the age of 17, no one could even care). At the age of 18, I was dating a boy one class below me who had not yet turned 17 (he was a month away). Had a I had sex with him, I would have committed statutory rape. Seriously?

    I think it’s so hard to put an objective age limit on something so subjective as an individuals a) ability to consent to sex b) ability to reason and make their own decisions.

    Is there really a good, reasonable, and fair answer?

  64. I know this is really tedious and pedantic of me, but 1840 WAS the Victorian era

    And yet think about this: in the Victorian era, the age of consent was set a year or two before the average girl entered puberty. Whereas now the age of consent is set anywhere from two to five years after the girl reaches puberty. If anything, the two should have been reversed: give the Victorians our age of consent, and let us have theirs.

    Some people on this board seemed absolutely terrified by sexuality. Especially the thought that teenage girls might actually have certain urges. Perish the thought!

  65. ekbunny,

    I used to be a military prosecutor at Fort Hood, Texas. I saw several cases where some 18 year old private would show up at Fort Hood and get a 15 year old pregnant and then be prosecuted by the locals, after Mom and Dad realized to late their daughter got around. Now, if you have ever been in an Army town for more than 5 minutes, you know the local girls chase the enlisted like crazy, because the enlisted are from far away and more importantly have money to burn. I just can’t see those 18 and 19 year olds as criminals. If it were my 15 year old daughter who chased some private and got pregnant, I would be disapointed in her, not demanding the DA throw the guy in jail.

  66. Some people on this board seemed absolutely terrified by sexuality. Especially the thought that teenage girls might actually have certain urges. Perish the thought!

    And some think that 19 year old boys are Casanovas who can seduce teenage girls at will.

    When I was 19 I had a hard time untying my tongue long enough to say hi to women.

  67. “I suppose you are supporting Belhaven and Souell for pres”

    Who and who?

  68. And some think that 19 year old boys are Casanovas who can seduce teenage girls at will.

    Greasy-mulleted Casanovas in Trans Ams – with tattoos.

  69. Some people on this board seemed absolutely terrified by sexuality. Especially the thought that teenage girls might actually have certain urges. Perish the thought!

    Full disclosure: I have a personal stake in this. I never got to do what I wanted with whom I wanted at a younger age, so I’m not very enthusiastic for the cause of lowering the age of consent — that’s just the way it was when I was young and I had to deal with it. On the other hand, I’m getting older. Why would I want competition from girls who are 14-15-16? Fuck that! It would be a losing ordeal for older women.

    So not only would younger children (yes, children) have the benefit of seeing guys who are my age or older (a benefit I never had at that age), then I’d also be in stiff competition with them at this age (couldn’t…resist…pun). So it’s a lose/lose situation for me…if they change the laws after I’m dead, I probably won’t care then.

    In summary, I want all of the older men to myself.

  70. I wouldn’t worry Smacky. I don’t think you would really want the 35 year olds who were going for the 16 year olds.

  71. “Some people on this board seemed absolutely terrified by sexuality. Especially the thought that teenage girls might actually have certain urges. Perish the thought!”

    I notice the same thing. What’s so scary about it? The idea that these girls might get pregnant? The vast majority of them get their butts on the Pill. Or is it just a bunch of parents who can’t accept the uncomfortable fact that their kids grow up? Is it some rose-colored idea of “innocence lost?” I mean really, if you want to avoid the sexist old “slut” label, you might not want to be the first girl in your class to lose your virginity – but would you honestly want to be the last one, either?

    I know, let’s advocate the “abstinence-only” solution, and everyone wait till they’re married. Of course at the age of 36 I’ve never been married, but what the heck …

  72. In summary, I want all of the older men to myself.

    Good luck dating them–they’re all in prison or dead for violating the stupid age-of-consent laws.

    Another thought occurs to me: I wonder how Eliot’s former 15-year-old sex partner feels about the fact that his life was first ruined and then stolen from him? These age-of-consent laws are supposed to protect young girls from psychic trauma, by saddling them with the knowledge that they played a role in destroying a man’s life. Yes, that makes typical government sense.

    If I found out that one of my former sex partners was in jail exclusively for having had sex with me. . . my God, I don’t know how I’d be able to live with that guilt. And I’d ask any posters here to kindly avoid feeding me some patronizing bullshit about how those evil, evil young men deserved what they got for the loathsome crime of giving me exactly what I wanted exactly when I wanted it.

  73. Another thought occurs to me: I wonder how Eliot’s former 15-year-old sex partner feels about the fact that his life was first ruined and then stolen from him?

    I was wondering the same thing. She’d be about 20-21 now.

  74. It is interesting that the biggest champions on this thread of strictly enforcing age of consent laws are men with daughters and the biggest critics are two women.

  75. Matt L, unless this young woman is some sort of sociopath, I’m willing to bet that the trauma she’s experiencing right now is far, far greater than the supposed trauma she felt as an almost-16-year-old having sex with a 19-year-old boy. Yes, those consent laws sure as hell made her better off, huh?

  76. I’m willing to bet that the trauma she’s experiencing right now is far, far greater than the supposed trauma she felt as an almost-16-year-old having sex with a 19-year-old boy. Yes, those consent laws sure as hell made her better off, huh?

    The government will never let us women catch a break, huh?

  77. “Another thought occurs to me: I wonder how Eliot’s former 15-year-old sex partner feels about the fact that his life was first ruined and then stolen from him?”

    I wonder if she was even the one who wanted charges pressed against him, or if it was her parents.

  78. “I wonder if she was even the one who wanted charges pressed against him, or if it was her parents”

    I would bet anything it was her parents. See my post above about fathers with daughters being the biggest advocates of these laws. It was something like “my little girl would never do …, it was all his fault.”

  79. I wouldn’t worry Smacky. I don’t think you would really want the 35 year olds who were going for the 16 year olds.

    Wouldn’t I? Or is that just sour grapes?

    I don’t think the argument that kids are going through puberty at an earlier age holds water. So what? Women are now having kids at later and later points in their life. It’s not like the reproductive cycles of women are shortening and there’s some urgent biological reason for really young women to be having sex or getting pregnant.
    On the contrary, if the age of consent were lowered, there would only be a push to lower it even further a few years later. Pretty soon there would be people claiming, “well, the median age for having a period is now 11…bring on the older men if the “women” want them!”. A second ill effect would be that women over the comparably older age of say, 25, would have that much harder of a time finding a mate and reproducing, because there would be even more competition from girls much younger who want the attention of men who ideally would be utilizing women within their own age range who still have reproductive capabilities.

    If there were a trend of women being less and less likely to reproduce when they are older, the argument might have some sway. As it is, I call bullshit on that line of reasoning.

  80. I had planned to throw an early monkeywrench into this thread by mentioning that …(*just imagine*)… er, that I lost my virginity at the age of 15 to a 20yr old swedish au pair.

    Which I do not regret in the slightest, i might add.

    But, just curious – was it a crime? Is there a swedish au pair exemption clause? Well, there should be.

    But really, (fingering the blades of this double edged sword)… isnt this what those ‘romeo and juliet’ laws are supposed to be about? Exempting from ‘crime’ things that people do voluntarily, if one of them happens to be underage but the other one is just a teeny bit over-age?

    Then you add the whole, “oh, if it’s the *chick* who’s a little older… oh, thats not a crime at all”

    Maybe i’m just confirming dudes, ‘you’re all a bunch of creeps’ observation, but i really dont think voluntary sex should ever be criminalized over differences of a few years in age. And by ‘few’, i’m going to say, oh, 5.

    Good night, sweet Else…

    JG

  81. Jennifer’s post about puberty got me to thinking about something I’ve read recently. In the past, up until WWI, there really wasn’t much in the way of adolescence. Kids went from toys to jobs and responsibility with little space between. Age of consent laws with any teeth date mostly from the period in which the industrial world invented teenagers — that is, people who were sexually mature but still maybe a decade away from being economically self-sufficient. (These days there may be 20 years between the onset of puberty and completing grad school and getting a job.) In the past, once you were no longer physically a child, you could get married and start a family, and pretty much didn’t have a choice in the matter. The industrial revolution changed all that, and we still haven’t figured out what to do about it.

  82. “Some people on this board seemed absolutely terrified by sexuality. Especially the thought that teenage girls might actually have certain urges. Perish the thought!”

    If the average age of puberty’s hittin’ new lows, then people should be a little freaked out about sexual desires in children. If social mores react to hormonal changes in children over generations, then we should expect the reaction to lag those changes.

    Mores change at a slow crawl, and the laws based on those mores should change at a slower pace still. In the meantime, we should expect the law to account for due process and not be cruel and unusual too.

  83. “I had planned to throw an early monkeywrench into this thread by mentioning that …(*just imagine*)… er, that I lost my virginity at the age of 15 to a 20yr old swedish au pair.”

    Lucky Bastard.

  84. I don’t think the argument that kids are going through puberty at an earlier age holds water. So what? Women are now having kids at later and later points in their life. It’s not like the reproductive cycles of women are shortening and there’s some urgent biological reason for really young women to be having sex or getting pregnant.
    On the contrary, if the age of consent were lowered, there would only be a push to lower it even further a few years later. Pretty soon there would be people claiming, “well, the median age for having a period is now 11…bring on the older men if the “women” want them!”. A second ill effect would be that women over the comparably older age of say, 25, would have that much harder of a time finding a mate and reproducing, because there would be even more competition from girls much younger who want the attention of men who ideally would be utilizing women within their own age range who still have reproductive capabilities.

    Smacky, I thought you were being snarky when you suggested that you support age-of-consent laws to reduce the competition? I hope you were, but just in case I’ll treat this comment as though you were serious:

    One, why should age of consent laws be raised just because women are forgoing childbearing for longer and longer periods of time? Surely you are not suggesting that the sole purpose of sex is to get pregnant. You are basically arguing for laws that would require sexually mature individuals to not have sex for years and years, just so people don’t have to feel icky about teenaged sexuality. Why do you have so little respect for teenage girls, that you’d burden them with the knowledge that if they wish to have sex with a man they may be destroying his life in the process?

    Two, it’s not the government’s job to reduce the competition so that women who are starting to lose their attractiveness can still get laid.

  85. Someone mentioned enlisted men in the military. That’s a good point. I have in the past argued that a drinking age of 21 is stupid because a man can join the Marines at age 17 (with parental consent), and then get shore leave in Bangkok.

    Well, a quick Google search reveals that the age of consent in Thailand is 15.

  86. Women are now having kids at later and later points in their life. It’s not like the reproductive cycles of women are shortening and there’s some urgent biological reason for really young women to be having sex or getting pregnant.

    I won’t claim any expertise on female sexual desire, but it’s my understanding that prepubescent females don’t have as much sexual desire as post pubescent females. Way back when, these questions may have been less of an issue. …if the average 16 year old female didn’t have much in the way of sexual desire, then “consent” may have been less of an issue.

  87. Why do you have so little respect for teenage girls, that you’d burden them with the knowledge that if they wish to have sex with a man they may be destroying his life in the process?

    I don’t disrespect them. And it’s not the young girls’ burden; it’s the grown men’s burden to realize, “hey, lots of young girls think they know what’s best for them, but I recognize that this girl is still immature emotionally” or, “hey, my peers will think I’m immature and disgusting for doing this, I should probably find someone around my own age range”.

    Two, it’s not the government’s job to reduce the competition so that women who are starting to lose their attractiveness can still get laid.

    Agreed. I didn’t say it should be the goverment’s job to do this. I was just explaining my candid personal reasons for not particularly supporting lowering the age of consent.

  88. When I was in high school, I would have lost my virginity to a college girl I was chatting up on a mainframe I had access to. However I was too young to have a driver’s license, so I couldn’t get across state to her campus.

    She knew my age, and I knew hers. Did that make either one of us a creep?tag=reasonmagazinea-20 It’s a rhetorical question. I really don’t care what people think.

    I hope that by the time my children are old enough for it to be an issue that we’ll have better tools for dealing with STDs and avoiding pregnancy and that the law will allow them to screw around. I’m still fearful of sexual predators, but I’d rather my children explore sexuality earlier and alcohol/drug use later than the other way around.

  89. Jeez. Notice that in my original post I did not mention anyone specific as being a “creep”. But I seem to jangle some nerves. HEY, IF THE SHOE FITS!! 🙂

    We can argue all day on “what if a 17 1/2 year old male sleeps with a 16-year old girl who acts like she’s 21?” hypotheticals. But this is my bottom line: guys shouldn’t be playing in the wrong yard. And it’s obvious when that happens. And there should be serious consequences.

  90. I’m still fearful of sexual predators, but I’d rather my children explore sexuality earlier and alcohol/drug use later than the other way around.

    Oh yeah, because we all know drugs r bad, mmmkay.

  91. And it’s not the young girls’ burden; it’s the grown men’s burden to realize, “hey, lots of young girls think they know what’s best for them, but I recognize that this girl is still immature emotionally” or, “hey, my peers will think I’m immature and disgusting for doing this, I should probably find someone around my own age range”.

    Is it also the grown men’s burden to do some sort of DNA age test to ensure that the girl who claims she is eighteen isn’t actually a well-developed 15-year-old?

    How far is “within his own age range,” anyway? Elliot ultimately died for having sex with a girl three years younger than he.

    And as I pointed out much earlier when I reminisced about my own teenaged tastes, these laws basically condemn young people to having sex only with people as clueless and incompetent as they are. I fail to see how my younger self would have been better off with some fumbling kid my own age, rather than a responsible older man (who also was smart enough to take proper precautions that a boy my age might not have done).

    Also, if I’d had sex with guys my age I would have had to do it in cars parked in public places, rather than in houses.

  92. We can argue all day on “what if a 17 1/2 year old male sleeps with a 16-year old girl who acts like she’s 21?” hypotheticals. But this is my bottom line: guys shouldn’t be playing in the wrong yard. And it’s obvious when that happens. And there should be serious consequences.

    There ARE serious consequences, indeed. For example: William Elliot is now dead, and his former lover is probably wracked with guilt.

    I’m also kind of offended by the notion that my youthful relationships were nothing more than some dirty old man “playing in the wrong yard.” It’s almost like you’re trying to imply that you somehow know more about my sexual history than I do. I assure you: your assumptions are wrong.

  93. Oh yeah, because we all know drugs r bad, mmmkay.

    Oh come on, smacky. We’re talking about children here–people’s own children. Who want to legalize drug use among children?

    There was this thread once where someone suggested joe was being paternalistic–to his daughter! …let’s not fall into that trap.

  94. …I don’t find the suggestion that people would rather their children abstained until they were 18 or so all that daunting either, I should add.

  95. I’ll second the notion that if I had a teenager, I’d rather she have (safe) sex than do drugs while her brain is still developing.

  96. Ken,

    That’s not a trap we’re falling into. “Randy Typist” seemed to be suggesting that drug use is the clear alternative to having sex at a young age. (Whatever happened to Glee Club, anyway?)

    That simply isn’t true, so I was just mocking that assertion.

  97. Jennifer,

    Whatever your lieasons were, you were not a defenseless child and you knew what you were doing. I don’t see why it should have been illegal. It wasn’t the wrong yard as nice guy puts it. Again, I hate the way we have infantilized teenagers and extended childhood in this country. You were not ten and if there had been any bad consequences to your actions (i.e. pregnancy, disease, ect.) it would have been just as much your fault as his.

  98. I didn’t read him that way, and I apparently read you wrong–sorry ’bout that.

    And Glee Club’s still on. …We’re singin’ from the same score in the same key, it’s just that I’m a second tenor and you’re like a first alto.

  99. You were not ten and if there had been any bad consequences to your actions (i.e. pregnancy, disease, ect.) it would have been just as much your fault as his.

    More to the point, while there were no bad consequences to my actions, any possible bad consequences–pregnancy or disease–could have happened just as easily had I been with someone my own age. So I’d still aprreciate it if Mr. Nice Guy or some others could tell me just what the hell those laws were protecting me from? God forbid–I dated men in their early to mid twenties when my own age still had a “1” as its first digit! I was an intelligent girl who had little in common with people my own age, and so preferred the company of older people!

    The only effect of those laws was this: had I wanted to be a vile and hateful bitch, I would have had the power to utterly destroy those boys’ lives. So let’s pretend for the sake of argument that I did. How is the republic now safer?

  100. I think Jennifer and Smacky have started an important discussion. I don’t think anyone thinks 11-year-olds should be having sex, drinking or doing drugs, or that there’s any legal problem with 21-year-olds doing same. The devil is what do in between, with kids who are physically mature but nowhere near emotionally or economically mature. At least in my experience, the only 15-year-olds mature enough to handle sex, drugs, and booze were smart enough to avoid all of the above. (Please note that this is strictly limited to my adolescence in a small town in East Texas. Your mileage may differ, & c., & c.) That applies to boys as well as girls, and one thing that seriously bugs me about the enforcement of age-of-consent laws is that we presume that girls are more harmed than boys. (I have two sons. I would much prefer that they wait until they’re out of high school for this kind of thing. Actually, I really want to implant them with a microchip that delivers an incapicitating electric shock in the presence of sex hormones, certain drug metabolites, and higher than .07 blood alcohol, but that’s for my own blog at a later date.) There is a pervasive sexism at work that permits Boys To Be Boys but divides girls into, well, you all know what. We really do need to figure this one out, though, because as this story indicates, lives are at stake, and not just The Children.

  101. I’m also kind of offended by the notion that my youthful relationships were nothing more than some dirty old man “playing in the wrong yard.”

    Jennifer, your posts keep cracking me up, because we had such similar backgrounds and you keep expressing my thoughts out loud!

    When I was a teenager I thought it was great being with guys in their early 20’s. They always had their own cars, jobs, and places of residence. They talked about interesting stuff like politics or atheism or current events – not the high school football team. They had money and could buy beer. Plus they could actually TEACH me things. (nudge nudge, wink wink)

    I knew EXACTLY what I was doing. I was very mature at my age, and guys my age seemed very dumb and boring. I wanted to spend my time with guys who challenged me. People can insist all they want that I was just too young to know better, but I was ready to grow up. I was one of those kids who could have moved out of the house at 15, gotten a job, and managed just fine. But I was stuck living at home a while longer, so to keep from getting bored to death in the meantime, 24-year-old men seemed like the way to go. I was barely 17 at the time, and now, at the age of 36, I’d still say they have their uses. 😉

  102. Jennifer,

    I think you are right about the trauma the girl is experiencing NOW as opposed to the “trauma” of having sex with a 19 y/o when she was 16. And it probably was her parents who pushed for prosecution.

  103. I don’t think anyone thinks 11-year-olds should be having sex, drinking or doing drugs

    What’s wrong with that?

  104. But this is my bottom line: guys shouldn’t be playing in the wrong yard. And it’s obvious when that happens. And there should be serious consequences.

    The problem is, you’re absolutely wrong about it being “obvious”. Yes, there are obvious cases when a person is not pubescent. However, development occurs at different rates for different individuals, there is an incredible gray area where someone can appear on the long side of the development curve for their age. And as we’ve seen people in the grey area of the law often get unduly fucked over. If you’re not concerned about people getting unjustly fucked over by the law, I have no idea what you’re doing on a libertarian forum. I suspect that you have the fairly common paternalistic/sexist notion that no teen girl could possibly have enough sense to consent to sex with an older guy. Let me tell you, they do pursue older guys, they get as much as an ego stroke out of it as GILMORE did with his Swedish Au Pair. Girls can enjoy sex in the same ways and as much as guys can, Mr. Nice Guy.

  105. Here’s something that might blow a few minds — I’ve known two married couples who somehow started dating when the man was 30 and the woman was 14.

    That age difference, when the girl was that young, strikes me as a bit bizarre and I would even say creepy. I can’t imagine the parents agreeing to this (and in at least one case I know the girl’s parents were hostile). However, by the time I actually met these couples, the women were almost 30 (and seemed a little bit older) and the men were in their mid-40s, and it didn’t seem so odd. They seemed to have normal, healthy, stable, co-equal married relationships. But if such a relationship had been outlawed (and maybe technically it was), these long-lasting marriages and their children would never have existed.

    Both couples skewed more or less conservative, so I guess it’s possible they weren’t having full-fledged sexual relationships until at least a couple years after they started dating, but I don’t know that for a fact. I doubt they waited a full four years until the girl was 18, although I could be mistaken.

    On the other hand, when I was a senior in college (just turned age 22), I stumbled into going out a few times with a senior in high school (not quite age 18). There was no danger of sex happening, because we were both quite Catholic and I was a nerd’s nerd besides. But the age difference kinda freaked me out at the time. What got to me was when we reminisced — I’d say, “I remember a few years ago, when I was in high school,” and she’d chime in, “Yeah, back when I was in grade school…” YAAAAGHHH!

    Of course, the age differences become less meaningful as both parties get older. When I was 40 I had a relationship with a girl of 30 and the age difference was negligible. (Actually, she was far more experienced than I was.) And when I was 30 I knew a couple that got engaged when the girl was 27 and the guy was 47. (It didn’t last, but that was because the guy was opinionated and self-centered.) At the time, I thought that was stretching it a bit, but now that I’m 45, it sounds pretty good.

    I’m sorry, I think I started out having a point, and I forgot what it was. My apologies. Half my posts are just therapy for me.

  106. When I was a teenager I thought it was great being with guys in their early 20’s. They always had their own cars, jobs, and places of residence. They talked about interesting stuff like politics or atheism or current events – not the high school football team. They had money and could buy beer. Plus they could actually TEACH me things. (nudge nudge, wink wink)

    Exactly. What the hell did I have in common with teenagers when I was one myself? Not a damn thing. I had no school spirit and didn’t give a rat’s ass how The Team did; the benefit of my older companions wasn’t just sex, but also conversation.

    And my One True Love to this day still benefits from a couple of things I learned back in the day. Uh-huh.

    I was very mature at my age, and guys my age seemed very dumb and boring. I wanted to spend my time with guys who challenged me. People can insist all they want that I was just too young to know better, but I was ready to grow up.

    And I highly doubt that you and I were the only two teenage girls who had more in common with adults than with the stereotypical “teenager.” For that matter, I think a lot of teenage immaturity is forced on them–how can you be responsible if you’re not allowed to have any responsibilities? And how are you supposed to have a healthy view of your own body if you’re told that anyone you allow to touch it needs to go to jail and be marked as a dangerous felon for life?

    “Playing in the wrong yard.” Pfffft. Kiss my magnolia-white ass.

  107. If glibness could solve anything, I’d wanna make Mr. Nice Guy king.

  108. Girls can enjoy sex in the same ways and as much as guys can, Mr. Nice Guy.

    But it’s a hell of a lot easier if we’re not stuck with some teenage kid who’d probably do something stupid like put the condom on inside out. Gimme a man who knows what the hell he’s doing, thankyouverymuch.

  109. Jennifer,

    When I was in college I went out with a woman in her early 30s, don’t ask me how I pulled that one off. Wow was it an education and only then did I realize how useless I must have been to all of my previous girlfriends. Woman are just too mysterious of a contraption for the teenage guy.

  110. It’s almost like you’re trying to imply that you somehow know more about my sexual history than I do.

    So I’d still aprreciate it if Mr. Nice Guy or some others could tell me just what the hell those laws were protecting me from?

    What these laws would be protecting you from is yourself. Because the lawmakers (and supporters of the laws) know what’s good for you, despite your belief to the contrary.

    It all starts with the basic assumption that teens can’t be trusted to make sound decisions for themselves which renders “consent” meaningless.

    The laws also serve to appease the parents who want to control every aspect of their kids lives, but can not — so it gives them recourse. It gives them a way to punish and scare the shit out of any no good older kid who might even consider having relations with his/her little angel.

    It also gives mom and dad a way to wash away any negative feelings that go along with acceptance of the fact that their little angel decided to become sexually active. It’s a lot easier to just pretend that “my little angel just didn’t know any better and was tricked by that older devil” than it is to realize that your little kid is growing up and has a mind of their own and might do things you dont approve of.

  111. I’m w/ you Jen. I dated almost exclusively older women when I was coming up, the ones my age mostly bothered me. I was w/ a 21yo when I was 17 and a 30yo when I was 20. I was not harmed be either of these relationships, but rather learned quite a bit.

  112. Wow was it an education and only then did I realize how useless I must have been to all of my previous girlfriends. Woman are just too mysterious of a contraption for the teenage guy.

    No offense, but yeah. You probably were useless back then. That’s why a girl’s first few times should be with someone who knows what the hell he’s doing. And so too should a boy’s first few encounters. Two teenage virgins going at it is like the blind leading the blind, only more embarrassing and a hell of a lot messier.

  113. Do guys still use nicknames for their private parts, by the way? I never did, but if I had then maybe I could’ve called mine “The Felonmaker.”

  114. No offense, but yeah. You probably were useless back then. That’s why a girl’s first few times should be with someone who knows what the hell he’s doing. And so too should a boy’s first few encounters. Two teenage virgins going at it is like the blind leading the blind, only more embarrassing and a hell of a lot messier.

    That’s one point of view, and strictly an opinion. I don’t know, call me overly romantic, but I was fine with my highschool sweetheart and his nervous fumbling…I thought it was cute at the time.

  115. I was fine with my highschool sweetheart and his nervous fumbling…I thought it was cute at the time.

    And if it worked for you, then fine. But don’t make the law force others into the same situation if they don’t want to be there.

  116. I certainly could have been a lot better, but at the same time, they didn’t seem to complain and being a teenager and a guy I wasn’t too concerned about it.

  117. I certainly could have been a lot better, but at the same time, they didn’t seem to complain and being a teenager and a guy I wasn’t too concerned about it.

    Absolutely, but at the same time if they wanted to date someone outside of high school they should have been allowed to do so, without their dates facing the ruination of their lives.

  118. But don’t make the law force others into the same situation if they don’t want to be there.

    I’m not. I am simply fine with the status quo in this instance, for the most part. It’s not like I’m advocating disallowing sex for anyone under 18. I do think that sexual coercion would be a greater problem if an age limit weren’t imposed, though, so I’m fine with an age limitation.

  119. Do guys still use nicknames for their private parts, by the way? I never did, but if I had then maybe I could’ve called mine “The Felonmaker.”

    I’m thinking of calling mine “the Locust” because it only comes out every seven years.

    Seems like.

  120. A lot of states have clauses that allow consentual sex as young as 16, so I don’t see this as particularly restrictive in any sense.

  121. I am simply fine with the status quo in this instance, for the most part. It’s not like I’m advocating disallowing sex for anyone under 18

    No, you’re advocating making people under 18 only have sex with people who are unlikely to know what they are doing. You’re also saying that a girl who is intellectually mature for her age shouldn’t be allowed to date a man old enough to have a decent conversation with her, but must instead limit herself to high-school boys.

    And you’re suggesting that people like the late William Elliot really were dangerous predators for daring to have had consensual sex with a girl three years younger than he was.

    Why this need to control other people’s sexuality?

  122. A lot of states have clauses that allow consentual sex as young as 16, so I don’t see this as particularly restrictive in any sense.

    Except when a 19-year-old guy has his life ruined, and then taken by a repressed vigilante, because he dares to fuck somebody two weeks shy of the Magical Age of Consent.

  123. No, you’re advocating making people under 18 only have sex with people who are unlikely to know what they are doing. You’re also saying that a girl who is intellectually mature for her age shouldn’t be allowed to date a man old enough to have a decent conversation with her, but must instead limit herself to high-school boys.

    No, I’m not.

    And you’re suggesting that…

    No ” ”

    Why this need to control other people’s sexuality?

    Who said I’m trying to control other people’s sexuality? I think you’re reading more into my posts than I’ve written. Sorry, but I stand by my assertion that the status quo for age of consent isn’t particularly oppressive to anyone in most cases, and I think having an age of consent does prevent what would normally result in more coercion at a younger age from older people.

    I’d defend myself more, but I think all of these accusations are flagrantly false and manifest themselves so. Plus, I have to be somewhere in a few minutes so I gotta go for now.

  124. Sorry, but I stand by my assertion that the status quo for age of consent isn’t particularly oppressive to anyone in most cases

    I guess you won’t be reading this anyway, but it was oppressive to me, it was oppressive to Pirate Jo, and it sure as hell was oppressive to the late William Elliot. And probably is causing all sorts of psychic fuckups to the woman he’d slept with. All in the name of keeping her safe.

  125. Do guys still use nicknames for their private parts, by the way? I never did, but if I had then maybe I could’ve called mine “The Felonmaker.”

    I call mine ze Sperminatah. Vas zaht too fahst? Dun’t vurry, ahh’ll be bahck!

  126. Not ‘locust’, Stevo. Cicada.

  127. shouldn’t be playing in the wrong yard. And it’s obvious when that happens.

    To paraphrase the late Justice Potter Stewart: “Hard core pornography is hard to define but I know it when I see it.”

    Just as Mr. Stewart later recanted his statement because his opinion was untenable your’s is just as loose. What is obvious to you is obvious only to you because of your point of view, opinions, upbringing, etc. and is definately not “obvious” to me.

  128. Smacky: What if we had a presumption that sex with between a person over the age of 18 and a person under the age of 18 was coercive, but allowed the defendant to rebut that presumption. Why not give a defendant a chance to show that the younger person initiated the relationship or gave every impression that he/she was over the age of consent or if there was a long-standing relationship that was plainly mutual.

    If you have sex with someone over 18, the presumption is that the sex was consensual. If you have sex with someone under 18, the presumption is that the sex is not consensual. In both cases the presumption can be overcome. Would that compromise be agreeable to everyone around here?

  129. Back to the original topic of this thread, the tragic death of Mr. Elliot. Sex offender lists are as vile as asset forfieture. You can have your assets seized without conviction, and you can end up on a ‘Most Vile List’ either without conviction (as mentioned above) or be forced to remain on this list long after your sentence is completed. I agree with Tim that if these people are so vile and vicious that they cannot be trusted when they are released from prision then they should not be released.

  130. If you have sex with someone over 18, the presumption is that the sex was consensual. If you have sex with someone under 18, the presumption is that the sex is not consensual. In both cases the presumption can be overcome. Would that compromise be agreeable to everyone around here?

    But as soon as you mention the word “sex crime”, people lose their minds. You can’t ever make a case or overcome a presumption. We have entered a stage where compromise or common sense is complety abandoned. We have entered the world where pediatricians are run out of town (or people try to do so), because “pediatrician” looks similiar on a sign to “pedophile”.

  131. Stevo: don’t forget, there are also 13-year cicadas, so it could be worse.

    I feel your pain, bud.

  132. Not ‘locust’, Stevo. Cicada.

    I was using the common, but imprecise, vernacular from hereabouts. But “The Cicada” sounds cooler, as well as being more correct.

    I feel your pain, bud.

    Hey! Move your hand!

  133. if there’s grass, play ball

  134. Of course, Stevo, there’s also the problem that naming Little Stevo after an insect might further reduce the chances of his getting any action.

    Women generally don’t like insects. Feminism has done nothing to change that.

  135. I’m a little suprised that no one seems to take into account the murderer’s personal responsibility for his crime. From the tone of some remarks one might think that statutory rape laws led inevitably to murder, which, since the vast majority of statutory rapists die natural deaths, is obviously not the case.

  136. I’m a little suprised that no one seems to take into account the murderer’s personal responsibility for his crime

    I’m taking it into account, but he would not have murdered Elliot if his name and address hadn’t been posted on a Website for all the world to see. I think the state bears some liability in this matter.

  137. If you have sex with someone over 18, the presumption is that the sex was consensual. If you have sex with someone under 18, the presumption is that the sex is not consensual. In both cases the presumption can be overcome. Would that compromise be agreeable to everyone around here?

    People would probably argue over the ages of consent but it seems agreeable enough.

    Of course, you must remember that this is a country where some people think every person 18 should be need parental consent to buy soda, video games, etc. and they don’t distinguish between newborn and 17years 364 days & 23hours.

  138. Of course, Stevo, there’s also the problem that naming Little Stevo after an insect might further reduce the chances of his getting any action.

    Women generally don’t like insects. Feminism has done nothing to change that.

    You could always go for “The Swiss Army”. They’re quite capable, and hold regular excercises, but they haven’t seen action in centuries.

    Of course, you might have to point out that that has nothing to do with corkscrews and bottle openers…

  139. I’m a little suprised that no one seems to take into account the murderer’s personal responsibility for his crime.

    The people in a lynch mob also bear personal responsibility, but as John put it in the second comment on the thread: “These registries are really just lists and directions for the lynch mob.”

  140. That does raise an interesting question, though: How much are these registries analogous to the fabled websites featuring names and addresses of abortion doctors? (I’m not saying they are or aren’t the same, just putting the question out there.)

  141. Maybe only different in intention, Tim. The sex offender registries seem to have the unintended consequence of people being targeted, whereas the abortionist lists seem to have that as an intended consequence.

  142. Random factoid: my own parents were 25 years apart in age. My dad wasn’t a pervert, though; my mom was already 30 when they married. But I still get a kick out of telling people, “Yeah, if I follow in my dad’s footsteps…I should be looking for my future wife in first grade now.” I have no serious point to make, I just wanted to say that.

  143. Well Tim,

    They are not much analagous. I haven’t heard of a doctor stigmatised for life wherever he lives, not able to live close to a school, etc, etc. Being murdered is the exception, losing any chance of leading a normal, law-abiding life is the rule for people on the sex offender lists.
    Further, it seems to me that the ever-expanding sex crimes laws have as a purpose less to protect the public than setting examples to frighten people into conforming with, well whose, idea of “proper” sex. Who is driving these draconian laws anyway? Comes from all sides. Is it people enlisting the state to control their cheildren, where they otherwises can’t or don’t want to?

  144. I ask because it appears that in some states, sufficiently little evidence is needed to get convictions and/or plea bargains that it seems unlikely to me that 100% of the people on the lists should be there.

    Just ask the guy in Illinois who is on their sex offender registry because he grabbed a girl’s arm.

  145. I ask because it appears that in some states, sufficiently little evidence is needed to get convictions and/or plea bargains that it seems unlikely to me that 100% of the people on the lists should be there.

    Just ask the guy in Illinois who is on their sex offender registry because he grabbed a girl’s arm.

  146. At the age of 18, I was dating a boy one class below me who had not yet turned 17 (he was a month away). Had a I had sex with him, I would have committed statutory rape. Seriously?

    I agree with you, though you were under no legal threat. Statutory rape of boys by women is never prosecuted if the woman is merely his girlfriend.

  147. Bob Smith wrote:

    Statutory rape of boys by women is never prosecuted if the woman is merely his girlfriend.

    Sadly, that is not true.

  148. I agree with you, though you were under no legal threat. Statutory rape of boys by women is never prosecuted if the woman is merely his girlfriend.

    http://www.tampabays10.com/news/national/article.aspx?storyid=28918

    Technically not statutory rape, but similar. 18 yo boy; 22 yo woman. Tried to post that yesterday but the server kept eating it.

  149. I guess I get the honorary “joe” award for this thread..

    It’s interesting that in a supposed free-thinking individualistic forum that I get labeled, misrepresented, dismissed, and required to turn in my libertarian card (hey, you’re too late, Maryland did that already).

    I got news for some of you.. the 60s expired over 30 years ago. The “free-fuck-love” mentality just didn’t hold up. Sex is most certainly a “zesty enterprise”, and trust me, I’m a big fan. But it is a dangerous, delicate thing. Let’s put aside the obvious factors of pregnancy and diseases. There is also a huge emotional component. Some folks may be able to fuck and forget. But no one I know is like that, including myself.

    That is why I think sex, like drugs, should thrive only in the realm of consenting adults. And sorry, Jennifer, traditionally men have been the enforcers of these boundaries. It is not just rote paternalism; it is the natural order of things. Men need to act like men. And part of that is to protect the interests of the females in his sphere.. to protect them from predators.

    And nowhere have I ever said that kids should be kept ignorant or “infantilized”. They should know all the facts and consequences. But they also should be encouraged not to rush things.. to enjoy being kids for a few short years. There is plenty of time for all that adult stuff later.

  150. Coming in quite late in all this, but I did want to mention one thing that I found while looking at my city on the Texas registry site. There is one male listed who is listed for “Indecency w/child Sexual Contact” with a 12 year old female. Now for the kicker, he himself was 12 at the time of the incident. Without knowing any further details, the only thing I could only wonder if this really falls under the banner of “sexual predator” that this list was originally supposed to address.

  151. That is why I think sex, like drugs, should thrive only in the realm of consenting adults.

    When it comes to sexual matters, I don’t think the law’s arbitrary cutoff age of 18 means a damned thing. And your whole paragraph is based on the assumption that sex is so mysterious and powerful that it needs to be strictly regulated by the government, lest Bad Things Happen.

    Perhaps you didn’t notice my earlier question, where I asked how I was being “protected” by laws saying I could only date my high-school classmates and others of their age, with whom I had nothing in common? Or where I asked how the republic would be safer had I turned these guys in and had them arrested? Bear in mind we’re not talking about some men of forty or fifty who attacked me when I was six–we’re talking guys in their late teens or early twenties whom I chose to associate with when I was in my teens myself.

    I’ve suffered no ill effects from having been with them, but I’d be an absolute mess if I had to live with the knowledge that their lives were ruined solely because of their acquaintance with me.

  152. Let’s put aside the obvious factors of pregnancy and diseases. There is also a huge emotional component. Some folks may be able to fuck and forget

    Being with a boy one’s own age has absolutely nothing to do with being protected from disease. And why are you assuming that every single one of these cases involves the man loving ’em and leaving ’em, anyway?

  153. Sorry about the possible triple post, but–as someone who was chronically unpopular at my cliquey “Breakfast Club”-style high school, associating with guys a few years older who liked me and had great conversations (and other things) with me did wonders for my emotional health. I was much happier as a result–being with someone you care about and who cares about you is far better than being lonely, especially as a teenager. So how was this emotionally damaging to me, again? So damaging that the guys should have gone to prison, no less?

  154. It’s interesting that in a supposed free-thinking individualistic forum that I get labeled, misrepresented, dismissed, and required to turn in my libertarian card

    This is some impressive whining coming from an entity whose first (off-topic) comment included the line: “Seriously, you all are a bunch of creeps.”

  155. “Men need to act like men. And part of that is to protect the interests of the females in his sphere.. to protect them from predators.”

    That is rote paternalism.

  156. Yeah, Jo. A female of fifteen or sixteen is too fucking stupid to make her own decisions, so Big Daddy Gubmint has to make them for her.

  157. Oh, and remember, Jo–when you were younger you were not a human being but merely “the wrong yard,” and it is the job of the government to regulate who gets to play in it.

  158. Again, I’m being misrepresented.

    Where do I say anything about guvmint being the solution? Read it again. I’m talking about individual men taking responsibility. And exercising that responsibility on other males who may cross the line. This is just my personal stance on this matter.

    And you’re sadly mistaken, Tim. You’re thinking of someone else. For me to whine is for me to crave validation from our little collective here, and being sour grapes because I’m not getting the love. Survey says… XXX!

    And I’ll re-print what I originally submitted:

    “And let me add that our tent seems to attract “if there’s grass, play ball” types. Seriously, you all are a bunch of creeps.”

    Perhaps I worded it poorly. I’m attaching the term “creep” only to he who believes “if there’s grass, play ball”. Do you subscribe to that notion? If not, then I’m not calling you a “creep”. So it’s all good.

  159. Where do I say anything about guvmint being the solution? Read it again. I’m talking about individual men taking responsibility.

    So you’re not saying that the government should have put my old boyfriends in jail–you’re saying that my father should have been allowed to beat them up? Or are you saying that they should have been responsible by not associating with me?

    Tell me: do you think my feelings on the situation should have mattered at all? And I am still wondering how I was emotionally scarred by my experiences–after spending my entire Southern school career being told what a loser I was for wanting to talk about science and politcs and philosophy, I suddenly discovered the world was full of men who liked females who could discuss science and politics and philosophy. Why did I need to be shielded from this discovery, do you think?

  160. Jennifer,

    You just don’t get it 😉
    You needed to be shielded because you did not conform.
    Not to the prevailing attitude that intellectualism is really weird.
    Not to the overwhelming emotion that sex is dangerous and even damaging
    For a generation now we have all been inundated with sex stories. We have been digging in everybody’s private sex lives.
    Combine this with the rise of the mental health industry, law wnforcement, psychiatry, social services, victims’ rights and other assorted activists and a media that uncritically and breathlessly reports even the most obviously questionable “studies” and news releases.
    Little wonder we are where we are.
    People clamor for the Gubmint to solve their problems. And Gubmint responds.
    It’s a part of popular culture.
    What’s worse, the topic is not really debatable unless one wants to be viewed as “creepy” or “supporting sex with children”.
    There is no end in sight.

    http://sentencing.typepad.com/sentencing_law_and_policy/2006/04/a_capital_exper.html

    The devil is in the detail: An 18yo having sex twice with a 15yo could well be multiple rape of a child by simple definition. The “child” can’t consent, ergo it’s rape.

  161. Perhaps I worded it poorly. I’m attaching the term “creep” only to he who believes “if there’s grass, play ball”. Do you subscribe to that notion? If not, then I’m not calling you a “creep”. So it’s all good.

    You did it extremely poorly, because up until that point, nobody had really expressed that point of view, just that maybe statutory rape and child molestation aren’t equivalent. So pretty much you called anybody who thought that way a creep who is just itchin’ to get it on with a 14-year-old.

  162. Let me add that I think the “Divide the age by half, then add 10 years” is ROUGHLY a good gauge. So, for example, a 40-year old man going out with 30-year old female isn’t “robbing the cradle”.

    This gauge also indicates that one should stick within a year or two of their age until their early 20s. I think that’s a good ballpark.

    And people are hitting me with “what if an 18 year old male knocks up a 17 1/2 female? Is he a rapist?” If everything is consensual, I don’t think so. Don’t some jurisdictions have a sliding scale? If a male is older by one or two years, I don’t see it as something as repugnant as some thirtysomething CREEP seducing a fifteen year old. It’s relative.

    And what is wrong with a father looking out for his daughter, Jennifer? As far as I’m concerned, it’s irrelevant whether or not the government “lets” a father set things straight. And I’m talking about unwanted advances, harassment, and assault. If it’s a simple matter of a father not liking a young daughter’s love interest, he needs to convince her.

    Sandy – C’mon. The Libertarian party attracts all kinds of kooks. Bagge made a crack about the “no-helmet” motorcycle riders. We also have a bunch of screwballs who can recite the age of consent laws of every state, like it’s some hobby. I’ve seen it in these forums.

    So I was taking a pre-emptive shot at them, and by your reckoning, no one bit. What’s the big deal?

  163. Perhaps some of the issue is that although libertarians tend to want to legalize most activity between consenting adults, there’s much less consensus on when one becomes an adult for which behaviors.

    For example, in libertopia presumably, prostitution is legal. Should seventeen year olds be allowed by the government to go to prostitutes?

    Should it matter if the seventeen year old is male or female?

    Sixteen? Fifteen? Fourteen?

    How about work as prostitutes?

    Should a twenty year old be able to drink alcohol in libertopia? Seventeen?

    The meta question may be even more difficult than the specific questions. How should government policy in such matters be set?

    Mr. Nice Guy,

    Not only was your 1:38 PM post worded poorly, your post immediately preceding it at 1:31 PM is much worse. Whether you meant to it or not, your sentence says “I’m indifferent to the murder of a person because there’s a chance that he raped a 14-year-old girl” Reread your 1:31 post and maybe you’ll either see that you set a tone that is incompatible with what you actually believe, or, if not, you’ll see why you’ve bred such ill will.

  164. And what is wrong with a father looking out for his daughter, Jennifer? As far as I’m concerned, it’s irrelevant whether or not the government “lets” a father set things straight. And I’m talking about unwanted advances, harassment, and assault.

    Harassment and assault are already illegal. I’m talking about consensual sex, and the bullshit idea that until I was 18 I was too damned stupid to consent to sex with anybody except a fellow minor. I am further talking about your implication on this thread that William Elliot deserved to be locked in prison, and on this sex offender list, because as a 19-year-old having consensual sex with a young lady aged 15 years and 50 weeks old, he was somehow a predator.

    And once again, I’ve heard nothing from you about what was so bad about my youthful romances that I needed to be protected from them. You’re the one who keeps talking about the need for Daddy to protect these poor dumb little females, so explain what we need protection from. Rape and assualt are already illegal; what dangers were there in my consensual relationships?

    Seriously. Pirate Jo and I are both of the opinion that we’re better off for our youthful dalliances–what do you know about them that we don’t?

  165. [jog, jog]

    *wheezing*

    Ok, I’m back. After I left yesterday I gave some thought to it, and I realized that the reason age of consent laws are typically 18 is that “children” aren’t considered adults until the age of 18. Some states already lower the consentual age to 16 (and perhaps lower…I’m not one of those people who memorizes age of consent laws). But in many it’s 18, and that’s because until that magical age, parents are 100% legally responsible for their children. If the age of consent were lowered, I think it would only make sense that the magical age of adulthood be lowered, too. If that’s not going to happen, then I don’t see why lowering or abolishing the age of consent would help anything.

    I do think there are compromises that can be made…for instance, what Kwix suggested (about giving the minor a chance to explain that their actions were consentual) and dealing with the situation duly. However, lower the age of consent much further, and even if there were a, say, 12 year old who was having sex, I’m sure many of them would lie when faced with their parents’ anger. It’s a practical limit. I’m not saying that an additional clause allowing for consentual sex at an earlier age would cause the downfall of society (because as a matter of fact some of these clauses already exist). But if the age limit were abolished completely, yes, I strongly believe a lot more sexual coercion of minors would occur (I’m talking to the creeps who had Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen’s 18th birthdays marked on their calendar).

  166. 12 year old who was having sex,

    should be “12 year old who was having consentual sex”

  167. I remain thoroughly convinced that parents should ultimately decide how these things play out. …I suspect, as has been suggested by others, that parents are the ones pressing these charges, often to keep unwanted suitors away from their children. As a society, I think we should defer to parents, even the dumb ones I’m afraid, and if you’re dating someone under age, I think you should just have to deal with that.

    Criminal law is another matter entirely. I don’t have a problem with a parent getting a protection order from a judge to keep away some unwanted boyfriend, and I don’t have a problem with a judge throwing someone in jail for violating such an order. …I doubt many of you do either. Should a nineteen year old kid go to prison for having sex with a sixteen year old girl apart from a court order? …that’s a question for the state legislature, the parents, the prosecutor, a jury and a judge if you ask me.

    And if we do decide to punish him, I don’t see why that nineteen year old kid should be stigmatized for life, like some child molester or a rapist, as part of his punishment. That just seems pointless, cruel and unusual to me. Someone brought up prostitution–why don’t we make pimps, prostitutes and Johns register as sex offenders? Isn’t the answer because the registry is indefensible other than as a tool to protect children from sexual predators? …and that pimps, prostitutes and johns, generally speaking, present little or no threat to children?

    How much of a threat does that nineteen year old kid present to the children in the community where he lives?

  168. anon2:

    Yes, I didn’t RTFA originally and was going mostly on the initial write up. I was pissed because I was detecting an apologist slant in favor of predators. Even the original article that Cavanaugh cited wasn’t clear exactly what was Elliot’s “crime”. Now that we’ve gone through several rounds I concede that, as far as Elliot is concerned, the argument stands whether or not he should’ve been on the list to begin with, much, much less get killed by some whack-job who didn’t have a personal beef with him.

    But I’ll still point at the slant. Notice that we have completely ignored the other “victim”, who:

    “Gray’s name was posted on a state Web site because he had moved to Maine after a Massachusetts conviction for sexual assault on a child under 14”

    So yeah, I was wrong with my callousness towards Elliot. But this Gray guy.. anyone here want to shed a tear for him? And why is this the first time that we’re talking about him?

    Jennifer: I don’t think I’m in the position to comment on your personal choices and experiences. I’m not being snarky by saying that I’m glad it worked out for you.

    But for every sophisticated 15-year old who carries condoms in her purse and deftly handles her sexual encounters, I think there are hundreds, if not thousands, of girls who aren’t ready. And to have sex imposed on them by predators who are significantly older than them is simply not acceptable.

  169. And to have sex imposed on them by predators who are significantly older than them is simply not acceptable.

    Where the hell are you getting this idea that sex is being “imposed” on them? That’s what I don’t get–every post you made here is based on the assumption that these helpless little girls with no sexual desire whatsoever are being either forced or tricked into sex. Where the hell are you getting your information from, anyway?

    So yeah, I was wrong with my callousness towards Elliot. But this Gray guy.. anyone here want to shed a tear for him? And why is this the first time that we’re talking about him?

    Because pretty much everybody here agrees that sexually assaulting anybody, regardless of the victim’s age, is wrong. So I doubt you’ll find people here complaining about laws that punish rapists. We’re talking about laws that punish people who have consentual sex with a willing partner, which you apparently justify with the bullshit outdated notion that we females all need to be “protected” because we are too young to consent, and even if we think we’re consenting we’re obviously wrong, and furthermore Pirate Jo and I are apparently the only two women in America who had teenage relationships with older guys and didn’t wind up emotionally scarred for life.

    Why are you assuming that all these men are so evil? Or, to put it another way, when did Andrea Dworkin come back to life and grow a dick?

  170. Ken: I think the problem with the “let parents decide” rule, if applied broadly, is that it gives too big an opening to real sickos-the parents who say, “So you like ten-year-old boys? Well, if you give me…”; or even worse, “So you like little girls too? How about we swap?” I think kids are in general the hardest thing to deal with as a libertarian, since they aren’t consenting adults; and I think this is one case where just giving discretion to the parents would have costs much greater than benefits. That said, I think maybe the rules should be a bit more permissive than they typically are; maybe a four-year window?

  171. Jennifer: I think MNG’s argument is that for every girl who’s as precocious and mature at fifteen as you were, there are lots and lots who aren’t, and aren’t really able to give informed consent. I’m sure you agree with me that three-year-olds really aren’t capable of consenting to a sex act; you and MNG would just be arguing about whether on average that line falls above or below the age of fifteen.

    A second argument is very similar to one that you keep making on this board. You point out that, say, there’s a power imbalance between a boss and his secretary that makes certain “consensual” acts on the part of the secretary not really consensual at all. There’s a legitimate argument to be made that a similar power imbalance exists beween a nineteen-year-old guy and the average fifteen-year-old girl. I’m not entirely sure where I fall on all this; as I said, I’m a reluctant supporter on age-of-consent laws, and probably could be converted to a reluctant opponent. But MNG’s side of the argument is hardly absurd, even if it may have been presented a little strongly.

  172. MNG,

    Many people ignore many things. It’s a common net fallacy to assume that because someone is talking about point X that he’s unconcerned with point Y. I didn’t talk about Gray, because I didn’t read the article and nobody else brought him up.

    Now you’ve brought him up, but his situation isn’t one that I want to spend time researching or typing about. That doesn’t imply that I’m glad he’s dead or that I am crying over his death. It also doesn’t imply that I agree with every post that I haven’t explicitly disagreed with.

  173. You point out that, say, there’s a power imbalance between a boss and his secretary that makes certain “consensual” acts on the part of the secretary not really consensual at all. There’s a legitimate argument to be made that a similar power imbalance exists beween a nineteen-year-old guy and the average fifteen-year-old girl.

    The “power balance” between a 19-year-old and a 15-year-old is not like that between a boss and an emplyee; it’s more like the “power balance” between a 16-year-old captain of the football team and a 16-year-old geek who really, really wants to be a member of the “in” crowd. And outlawing sex between two people three years apart to protect the allegedly weaker one makes as much sense as making it illegal for the “popular” kids to have sex with the “dorks.”

    Unless one remains a virgin until marriage (and often, even then), there’s a good chance that at some point you might have sex with somebody and later think “Eh, I wish I hadn’t done that.” But unless you’re unstable to begin with, it’s not so catastrophic that the government needs to step in and make sure you don’t run the risk of making a choice you might later regret.

    Purposes of government: protect the borders, print the currency, and reduce the chances that some poor foolish little girl will willingly have sex with somebody and later think “Boo-hoo.”

  174. Jennifer:

    I just heard the horror movie sting “Da da da daaaaaaaaaaa” play in the background while reading about Dworkin coming back to life and growing a dick. It would make a good Hammer film.

    From what I understand, generally, females AREN’T at the age of consent until they turn 18. Some people here seem to have a beef with that, but I’m not one of them. You have to draw the line somewhere. And I’m a little suspicious towards older men here who argue to push the age limit down. What exactly do you have to gain from it, dudes?

    Of course, it’s all pretty relative. There are probably 14-year old girls who are emotionally ready to have sex with 30-year old guys and not be scarred for life. I do know that there are 17-year old girls who still like to collect Barbie dolls. I’m not the type who is going to throw up my hands and exclaim “Okay, then. Anything goes!” Again, we should draw the line, and I think 18 is a good marker.

  175. Again, we should draw the line, and I think 18 is a good marker.

    Why is it good to draw the line at a point where the woman has been sexually mature, and has had sexual desires, for several years?

    And I’m a little suspicious towards older men here who argue to push the age limit down. What exactly do you have to gain from it, dudes?

    As a woman well above the age of consent, I’m still pushing to lower the age limit though I have absolutely nothing to gain from it. I also push for the legalization of heroin although I’ve never touched the stuff and never plan to. Stop pretending that the only people who can be offended by an injustice are those who stand to personally gain by its eradication.

    There are probably 14-year old girls who are emotionally ready to have sex with 30-year old guys and not be scarred for life.

    The topic here is 15 or 16 year olds having sex with 18-20 year olds. If you’re not talking about sex being “imposed” on girls, you’re inventing scenarios far worse than the one presented here. Why can you not simply discuss the topic at hand? More importantly, why do you think the government should be in the business of regulating willing sexual behavior between sexually mature individuals?

  176. “why do you think the government should be in the business of regulating willing sexual behavior between sexually mature individuals”

    Jen:

    Let me get this straight: sexual maturity for a girl could be 12.. maybe younger? Are you saying that “anything goes”, as long the parties involved are under the impression that they’re consenting?

    Is there a line that we, as a culture, should generally agree on? If so, where?

  177. Let me get this straight: sexual maturity for a girl could be 12.. maybe younger? Are you saying that “anything goes”, as long the parties involved are under the impression that they’re consenting?

    Jadagul earlier made an analogy about my belief that there should be worker-protection laws. Most of you guys here are against them, however, and I think your attitude can be summed up like this: “It sucks when a boss mistreats an employee, but if you make laws to solve it then the cure would be worse than the disease.”

    I feel the same way about laws criminalizing voluntary sexual behavior. The main reason for that is in your statement about people who are “under the impression” they are consenting. That is the exact same attitude behind the drug war–“You think smoking pot is not harming you, but we of the government know better than that and we will use all the force at our disposal to stop you.”

    So you want the government running around reading people’s minds? “Honey, you may have been under the impression that you were consenting, but believe me, you weren’t. You don’t know what you want–only I can know that.”

    I have no problem with parents telling their kids not to sleep around, and I have no problem with parents even going so far as to take out restraining orders against their kids’ partners, if they wish. But this blanket one-size-fits-all idea that sex is sooooooo inherently horrible that it needs to be regulated by the government, and people put in jail for it, is antithetical to freedom.

  178. “I think the problem with the “let parents decide” rule, if applied broadly, is that it gives too big an opening to real sickos–the parents who say, “So you like ten-year-old boys? Well, if you give me…”; or even worse…”

    Even if I supported legalizing prostituion, I’d never support allowing people to prostitute their children. Endangering your children is, and probably always will be, against the law regardless. …meaning that if parents engage in something like that with their children, then the criminality aspect is something a state legislature, prosecutor, a jury and a judge decides.

    “…I think this is one case where just giving discretion to the parents would have costs much greater than benefits. That said, I think maybe the rules should be a bit more permissive than they typically are; maybe a four-year window?”

    I have a libertarian issue with the state inserting itself between parents and their children in determining appropriate behavior. The parents say no, but the state won’t punish the child’s boyfriend, ’cause he’s only 19? I think I’ve got a legitimate libertarian concern about the state doing that.

    I’d like to see libertarians become the party of parental rights. …but that doesn’t mean I think that children don’t have any rights–I think they do. …and I think those rights can be violated by parents.

  179. I have two daughters, both one and a half years old. If they grow up to be young adults with strong sex drives, it seems to me very likely that they’ll lose their virginity before turning eighteen. I don’t have any problems with that; I like sex, I hope they grow up to like it too.

    As a father, I’ll try to provide as much good information and to set good examples as I can. I believe my wife will do the same. Depending on what state we reside as they get older, it’s possible that they’ll be breaking the law. I don’t know what the laws are, nor do I know the ages of the hypothetical people my daughters will eventually have sex with.

    So, what do I have to gain from arguing to push the age down in some cases? Probably nothing, because it’s highly unlikely that any argument I make will actually change the law. However, if I had a magic wand and I could change the law to allow more leeway in my child’s sexuality, both age-of-consent as well as same-sex sexuality (it appears to still be illegal in some states), I’d change it, essentially for the same reason Jennifer would change it.

    It’s real hard for me to think about sex as a woman. I’m a man and will probably die a man. On the other hand, my mother was a woman, my sister is a woman, I’ve dated and slept with many women, my wife is a woman and two of my three kids are female. I’m going to assume that if my kids wind up having sex with someone older than themselves that it will be consensual and that they’ll know what they’re doing. If so, I think it would be horrible for the state to make felons of their lovers.

    BTW, I strongly suspect they’ll be drinking alcohol before they turn 21. I’m also a proponent of lowering the drinking age. Perhaps this is so I can get some young kids drunk and then take advantage of them. Perhaps I would prefer that the laws don’t make hypocrites and criminals of so many people.

  180. I guess, Ken, that we basically agree: we want to give parents as much local control as possible, but still want to protect the rights children have against their parents. I guess my point was that if parents have the absolute final say on whether sex with their kids is kosher, we wind up with some pretty clearly unacceptable outcomes. You know, the “Of course my daughter really wants to have sex with me,” or “of course my daughter really wants to have sex with him, and his with me.” So there have to be some limits on what parents can consent to on their children’s behalf. On the other hand, I want to give sixteen-year-olds some autonomy from their parents on sexual matters, at least a little bit. So I think this is one of the cases where the ‘parental discretion’ rule breaks down-though more for the former case than the latter.

    And Jennifer: in my continuing quest to piss off everyone on this thread, can I ask you if you do, in fact, agree with me that three-year-olds aren’t capable of consenting to sex, and thus that sex with a three-year-old is automatically non-kosher? If you do, I think you and MNG are just arguing price, as the old Winston Churchill story goes. And one more point: I think the reason that we can’t in general leave fourteen-year-olds to decide for themselves has very little to do with biological maturity. That’s why it was okay to run things like that two hundred years ago. But since we don’t give fourteen-year-olds any responsibility in any other area, they’re not prepared to deal with it. I’m all for increasing the freedom and responsibility that older teenagers have-though I realize that my own experiences were an aberration-but I don’t that we should increase freedom and responsibility only, or even primarily, in the field of sexual decisions. I think lowering the age of consent to a universal fourteen would have to follow giving under-fourteen-year-olds more responsibility so they get a chance to learn how to make decisions for themselves. Whether that’s even reasonable in our current in-school-til-you’re-25 setup is another question entirely.

  181. I think lowering the age of consent to a universal fourteen would have to follow giving under-fourteen-year-olds more responsibility so they get a chance to learn how to make decisions for themselves.

    That’s exactly what I was saying. Didn’t anyone read my posts? Or have I reached “skip over” status (or did I reach that status long ago and was just not notified?).

    If “kids” aren’t legal adults until the age of 18, can’t drive until the age of 16, can’t drink until 21, why are people here arguing for abolition of minimum age of sexual consent? I don’t care what anyone says to the contrary, there *is* a minimum age of consent. There might be an incredibly astute 10 year old who knows exactly how the world works and won’t be traumatized by her “informed” decision, but I highly doubt it. And I think the minimum age of consent being 18 reflects the minimum age of legal adulthood, whereby a child no longer has to obey her parents’ rules and, similarly, her parents no longer have to keep her under their roof or support her financially in any way.

  182. And I think the minimum age of consent being 18 reflects the minimum age of legal adulthood

    Yes, and the illegality of heroin reflects the fact that heroin is illegal. So what? That’s close to circular reasoning–it ought to be against the law because the law says you can’t do it.

    But since we don’t give fourteen-year-olds any responsibility in any other area, they’re not prepared to deal with it.

    Exactly–they can’t handle responsibility because we never let them have any. Why argue in favor of a self-sustaining status quo? It’s like arguing “15-year-olds shouldn’t be allowed to drive because they don’t know how, because they’re not allowed to drive.” Or, if you belong to the Taleban, “Women shouldn’t be taught how to read because they don’t know how because we won’t let them learn how to read.”

    I’d settle for a compromise position–for a minor who has reached sexual maturity, let them choose to sleep with someone within five years of their own age. (And that’s five years minimum, by which I mean: I have a friend who is five years older than me, but for about three months per year–between his birthday in June and mine in September–he is technically six years older than me. But according to my proposed law he should be considered only five years older.)

  183. I’d settle for a compromise position

    Again, something I said. I don’t see exactly what everyone’s still arguing about, like someone else just said, we’re really just arguing price. I was merely saying that the status quo, although not perfect, doesn’t especially bother me in this respect, particularly since I’m sure many of them are dealt with privately outside of the law.

  184. The point that keeps coming to me is that it is very hard to discuss this single issue without also addressing the surrounding ones. What indeed about “our current in-school-til-you’re-25 setup?” Comments have been made about infantilizing teenagers, and both Jennifer and I have experienced that as teenagers we had more in common with adults than kids our own age. Has anyone read John Taylor Gatto’s comments about government schools? Maybe Jennifer is right – maybe if we actually gave teenagers some responsibility, they would BE more responsible and mature.

    Why do so many parents seem to want to shield their kids from adulthood? Do they actually think they are doing their kids any favors? So some lessons in life are unpleasant – they still need to be learned. Isn’t the whole point of parenting to teach kids how to handle themselves as adults someday? Teach them to take care of themselves so someday you won’t have to? Just because you enjoy the “cute ‘n cuddly” phase of parenthood more, doesn’t mean you should try to keep your kids stuck in that phase forever.

    What about the school system? Sticking kids in a building with a bunch of other kids the same age all day. What does that really teach a teenager about adulthood? I keep reading about how micromanaged kids are today – how little free time they get to themselves. Everything’s got to be structured and risk-free. A recent letter to Dear Abby bemoaned the fact that a large number of college students can’t even make it to class on time because Mommy and Daddy forgot to call them and wake them up for class. Hello, it’s called an alarm clock! Do we really need Dear Abby to tell us that kids should be able to get themselves out of bed by the time they’re 12 years of age? Don’t parents who are still getting their 18-year-old out of bed ever stop and say, ‘Wait a minute …’?

    Given this kind of environment, it’s no wonder people look at the average 16-year-old and have doubts about their decision-making abilities. But maybe it’s the environment that’s the problem. The system seems to prolong immaturity and dependence in young people. I think being a teenager today might be like the experience I had working for a micromanager a couple of years ago. When every attempt to take on any kind of ownership or responsibility is met with suffocating resistance, maybe they just shut down and wait for marching orders. When no one will let you take responsibility for anything for fear you might make a mistake, how do you ever learn anything?

  185. Sounds plausible enough, Jennifer, but I think you’d run into trouble with determining what constitutes a “minor who has reached sexual maturity”, especially from the “child = anyone younger than eighteen whose every decision must be made by their parents” crowd who seem to drive most legislation.

    It seems to me that another focus would be working on better defining who should go on the Sex Offender registry. I’m not sure how exactly, but obviously the all inclusive list don’t seem to fit the purpose. Some effort should be made to distinguish between those like William Eliot, or even those in he said/ she said cases from people who lure in young children, or who drag women into alleys at knifepoint.

    When no one will let you take responsibility for anything for fear you might make a mistake, how do you ever learn anything?

    Good point, Jo. Have you seen promos for those “What your kids might be doing at college (binge drinking, sex, etc.)” designed to freak out parents, and wonder what people thought their long repressed kids might be doing when finally free to do what they please?

  186. “Have you seen promos for those “What your kids might be doing at college (binge drinking, sex, etc.)” designed to freak out parents, and wonder what people thought their long repressed kids might be doing when finally free to do what they please?”

    There’s always some previously-overprotected freshman who drinks himself to death because he truly has no idea what the effect of alcohol can be. His parents probably thought they could protect him by keeping him ignorant. Where I think a parent’s primary job is to teach, some people clearly have the opposite view.

  187. This thread is about to vanish into the archives, but one last thought occurs to me:

    There are indeed some guys who are absolute pigs, and I can see where it might be nice to have a law against them. But the problem is, not all guys that age are pigs, yet the law as written assumes they are. I view it like the drug laws, or the old Prohibition laws–some men become vile beasts when they are drunk, therefore nobody gets to drink alcohol.

    You know and I know that the government is pretty much incapable to judging cases on their individual merits these days, especially in regards to kids; we’re going to have a blanket law that applies to everybody. So what’s our choice? A blanket law that will hurt all the pigs as well as the nice guys, or a law that lets all the nice guys go along with the pigs.

    I don’t like the idea of a law that is guaranteed to ruin lots and lots of innocent/good people to ensure that the guilty/bad ones get hurt, too.

  188. This thread is about to vanish into the archives

    Let history record that this thread was originally about the wisdom of sex offender registries, not about when and how various commenters lost their virginity.

  189. I’m sure no one will actually read this, since the thread is long-dead by now, but here goes anyway. Jennifer and Pirate Jo: I agree with you, roughly 90%, that we way over-infantilize teenagers and should give them more freedom and responsibility (the 10% comes from my concern that I only believe that because I was just a teenager myself and would have liked more freedom). I just think that sexual freedom is not where we should make this change first. If we increase the sexual freedom of fourteen-year-olds without increasing any other sort of freedom or increasing freedom and responsibility for thirteen-year-olds, I think we’d have problems; I’d like a comprehensive package of increased freedoms and responsibilties, not just more sex.

    Jennifer, I agree 100% that the problem with stat rape law, or any law of that sort, is that it’s a blunt instrument. On any subject like this, we’re faced with a choice: we can pass a law that will hurt a bunch of people who want to do perfectly innocent things to stop a few people from doing incredibly depraved and corrupt things, or we can allow the depraved and corrupt things to occur to avoid screwing over the innocent people. I think that the question of whether we should pass such a law or not is highly sensitive to how many innocents, how badly they’re affected, how many evil people, and how evil what they’re doing is. I describe myself as a reluctant supporter of those laws because I don’t like blunt laws of this sort, when at all possible; but I’m a supporter because there are some things that I think are pretty clearly unacceptable (see my posts to Ken) and I think we can write a law that doesn’t screw too many people too badly (e.g. you’re free in a four-year window, maybe only minor penalties a couple more years out). However, I do totally agree that the good law we could write isn’t the one that’s actually on the books, so I think we need some real reform.

  190. TC:

    C’mon. Tell me how many H&R threads keep on topic with laser-like precision. If you want the comments to stay on track then there needs to be a moderator (man, I miss Morton Downey, Jr.)

    And I lost mine when I was 19. So, technically, I was still a teenager.

  191. MNG,

    It would make a nice finish to the thread if your girlfriend was 17 at the time. 🙂

  192. C’mon. Tell me how many H&R threads keep on topic with laser-like precision. If you want the comments to stay on track then there needs to be a moderator (man, I miss Morton Downey, Jr.)

    And I lost mine when I was 19. So, technically, I was still a teenager.

    Oh my god! You lost your moderator when you were only 19? I am so sorry.

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