19th Dec 2015

“Do you think incest and polygamy will be legalized?” – Part 2

I came across a poll on the subject of the future of full marriage equality:

I was watching a TV show recently and surprisingly, three characters (two men and a woman) got together in a sexual AND romantic relationship – as in, it wasn’t just a kink, they were serious about it, they even made their relationship official to their family/friends. And it got me thinking, do you guys think polygamy will ever be legalized? And incest? And should they be, and if not, why? Will our society ever see it as acceptable/normal like with gay relationships?

The argument continues:

The first few posters and replies I saw were above average in their knowledge of the issues and their open mindedness. A majority have even voted in favor of full marriage equality on the poll. For example:

TheAsianGuy_LOL, on 27 Apr 2014 – 5:47 PM, said:

I do believe the both incest and polygamy will be legal in the future. With genetic mods and VR, they wouldn’t be much of a problem. IMHO, I agree on only incest however. No, I don’t have sexual relations or feelings with my own relatives, but in the future, people may choose to fall in love with their siblings or cousins if they happen too (like in the many news of it) and because of genetic mods, won’t lead to genetic mutations. I agree […], they won’t all love you and it’s terrible. If I had a girl, I would love her with my life.

This is actually an important point. The advent of (soon to be commercially viable) genetic engineering and gene therapy will completely break the relationship between the genes of the parents and the genes of their children. Under such circumstances, the whole idea of policing peoples sex and reproductive lives for eugenic reasons is ridiculous.

However, it only took one more page to get to the usual stuff: knee-jerk eugenics, unjustified “eww gross”, ad hominem attacks on supporters, and jokes about pedophilia. Fun, right?

ayubelwhishi, on 27 Apr 2014 – 9:10 PM, said:

If incest is legalized so should pedophilia! Man-Boy marriage rights for all!

Child abuse is not the same as consenting sex between adults who love each other. Do I really have to explain why we need to have a legal framework in place to allow minors who are sexually abused by adults to get help from the law in getting away from their abuser(s)?The picture makes it seem like a joke, in which case the equation of consenting adults to child molesters is disgusting. It makes me wonder if you really think that two 30 year old siblings having sex is morally equivalent to a child being raped…

OrbitalResonance, on 27 Apr 2014 – 8:25 PM, said:

Never to incest. But normalize polyamory. Relationship policy should be by consent. But incest is the exception because of genetic defects and an evolutionary implanted emotional abhoration of it. Plus we have a duty to the potential offspring to limit potential social and physical deformities.

So you’re a fan of eugenics then? It’s acceptable for the state to throw people in jail for having sex when it may result in pregnancy, and that child may have deformities? Then I’m sure you’d approve of policies that throw anyone with known genetic diseases in jail. Maybe we should throw people in jail longer, the worse their disease is.

And why should we stop? What counts as ensuring the population’s genetic health? Should we doom babies to suffer, growing up with low intelligence that won’t allow them to be competitive in the modern economy? Maybe we should ensure that people with low test scores aren’t allowed to reproduce. Reductio ad absurdum. I could keep going, getting all the way back to the original use of eugenics: “sterilizing” poor people and racial minorities.

Besides, even then eugenicists knew that blanket bans on having children with close kin made no sense, because some families have more or fewer genetic diseases than the general population. “We have a duty”? Who are we to decide that a child with a heart problem, or a slightly weaker immune system, is unworthy of life or can’t contribute value to society, when both their parents want them and are willing to raise them? That’s some seriously paternalistic, potentially anti-democratic logic, which can be used to deny human dignity to people with any kind of disability.

And “emotional abhoration”? Since when is bigotry a justification for bigotry? Homophobia, a lack of exposure to normal homosexual couples, and people’s personal aversions to having sex with someone they have no attraction toward, contributed (and contributes) to straight people being disgusted by the thought of homosexual sex. It’s a known psychological mechanism: personal disgust inspired by someone else’s actions, combined with a desire to enforce conformity, result in taboos. By your logic, any place where homophobia is rampant should be justified in outlawing homosexual sex acts and making same-sex marriage illegal. I hope we base our laws and ethics on more solid things than purely what’s popular.

Ryan94, on 27 Apr 2014 – 8:24 PM, said:

I can’t believe you sick f*cks want incest legalised. (12 out of 21 voters think incest should be legalised as of when i’m writing this). Just because it’s ‘between two consenting adults’ (as it is often repeated here), doesn’t make it right.

This is between many consenting adults. Want this legalised?http://www.news.com.au/world/new-twist-in-creepy-german-cannibal-case/story-fndir2ev-1226777979030

[The link is about a case of consensual cannibalism.]

Do you really not see the distinction between two siblings meeting for the first time at 30 and falling in love and having vanilla sex, and a man being eaten alive? It’s not only a question of consent, but also a question of harm. Who are two relatives, or two family members (remember, step- and adopted family count under some laws) actually hurting by being in a relationship (except for making you feel uncomfortable)? You mind your business, they mind theirs, and life goes on.

And trust me, it happens, and it may happen to your kids whether you like it or not. Just like homosexuality, even as a minority act, it’s a fact of life. Given how people like you behave, they’d likely hide it from you. Are we really trying to run our society on the dictum, “Out of sight, out of mind”? Seems like a great way to crush good relationships and let bad ones fester.

There’s still a debate to be had on whether someone should be legally allowed to consent to being cannibalized, but it’s related to the ethics of euthanasia, not consanguineous sex and marriage. They are clearlyseparate issues. Just because the concept of “consent” pops up in both, does not mean they have overlap.

Anyway, you skipped a lot of the prior arguments. Most of the people in loving, consenting adult relationships with a relative didn’t even grow up with that person. They’re relatives, but not family. And many other people fall in love with step-siblings or adopted siblings – is that or isn’t it “incest”? Some states consider it “incest”, but still consider having sex with a relative you never grew up with “incest”. Which is it then: family, or relatives? It can’t be both and still make any sense. One implies social engineering, and the other implies eugenics.

And why isn’t it “right”? Give an actual reason besides the fact that it’s what you were told, and that you personally wouldn’t do it. The consenting couples I’ve talked to, read about, and seen, are quite normal in every other way. (Though their lives are made hard by being beaten by parents, ostracized by friends, and forced into hiding from the law.) Many of them have perfectly happy, healthy children, and many of the others can’t have children or don’t want to.

I’d like to add something: this isn’t even just euthanasia; this isn’t  somebody at the end of their life asking for a quick and easy way out, this is prolonged, excruciating physical torture for immediate sexual gratification. Is that really comparable to anything? Euthanasia’s just the least not like it. Consenting adults falling in love and having a family together, contributing positively to society and the next generation, are about as far from being tortured to death as you can get.

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The “deformity” stereotype is an old one

Perhaps no opinion, upon subjects of a medical character, is more widely diffused among the public, or more tenaciously held, than that the results of the marriage of blood relations are almost uniformly unfortunate. This opinion has been so long held and so often reiterated, that by sheer force of these circumstances alone it has come to be regarded as an unquestioned and unquestionable fact.

– Dr. Bell, a New England physician in 1859