One more thing…

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

…given this, I think I probably owe the American Spectator’s Phil Klein an apology.

I’m relatively new to movement libertarianism. I’ve always known that LP people and grassroots libertarians can be eccentric. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I just wasn’t aware that a significant faction was flat-out nuts (I knew some were, of course, just not a large portion).

I got snarky with Klein because no libertarian I’ve ever spoken to personally has ever argued the line on child sex that Mary Ruwart argues in her book. At least not with me. But I’ve never been to an LP convention. Sadly, it looks like Klein was right. Apparently, there really is a subset of libertarianism that takes a pretty horrifying position on children and sexuality.

There are legitimate discussions to be had about the wisdom of sex offender registries, the reach and scope of sex crime laws, differentiating between pre- and post-pubescent minors in categorizing age of consent laws, and whether mere possession of child porn should be a crime on par with distribution and production.

There are no arguments in favor of adults having sex with children. None.

It’s true that Ruwart was coy in the passage about child porn in her book. She didn’t explicitly say that adults should be able to have sex with children. Here’s what she wrote:

Children who willingly participate in sexual acts have the right to make that decision as well, even if it’s distasteful to us personally. Some children will make poor choices just as some adults do in smoking and drinking to excess. When we outlaw child pornography, the prices paid for child performers rise, increasing the incentives for parents to use children against their will.

I suppose you could interpret that extremely narrowly, and presume that Ruwart was merely saying that if two minors decided to get together and make a video of themselves having sex, that shouldn’t be illegal (and I agree–they shouldn’t be prosecuted).

I also think that’s an incredibly naive interpretation of what she wrote. The third sentence gives her away. She’s actually making an economic argument for legalizing child porn. It would be foolish to argue the supply/demand issue and believe that children are capable of fulfilling the demand on their own, with no adult participation. Ruwart here is making the same argument against child porn that you’d make against the prohibition of any vice. The difference is that smoking a joint or having consensual sex with a prostitute doesn’t take any direct victims. Putting your penis in a child most certainly does. This isn’t a difficult issue. There’s no room for ambiguity.

This also wasn’t a case of misspeaking or getting caught off-guard. Ruwart presumably proofed and edited that passage several times before allowing the book to go to press. She has since issued a statement saying she opposes the abduction of children for the purposes of forcing them to produce child porn. Well, great. But that isn’t what she’s accused of supporting. Her book passage indicates she thinks children should be free to consent to appearing in porno. Her statement does nothing to walk that back. And she came in second place for the LP nomination.

As far as I’m concerned, this isn’t debatable. If that makes me a “fake libertarian” then “fake libertarian” it is.

As for the Barr-Root ticket, I’m no fan of Root, who I gather is still pro-war. Barr has come a long way, and though I think he’s far from ideal, he’s also far better than anyone the LP has nominated in a long time (remember Michael Badnarik, who wanted to chain convicts to their beds until their muscles atrophy?). That’s not necessarily a huge endorsement of Barr as it is a statement on the LP. There’s a reason why most libertarians describe themselves as “small-L libertarians.” That said, Barr isn’t nuts, and he’s orders of magnitude better than McCain and Obama.

One other thing. This talk of a Cato/reason takeover of the LP actually made me laugh at loud. I’ve worked at both places. I can assure you, the LP is little more than a source of amusement for “Beltway Libertarians” As is party politics in general. You also have to wonder, to what end? Let’s say the “takeover” rumors were true. Then what? We combine the party with the GOP? We run pro-war neocons on a third party ticket (because the uniting theme behind the whole “Beltway Libertarian” conspiracy stuff is that we’re all secretly pro-war)? We expend all that “takeover” energy so we can give Republicans an extra fraction of one percent of the vote each election? Does anyone who has read this site or reason magazine really believe that?

I have to say, it’s been rather enlightening being on the receiving end of these conspiracy theories. The leaps the “Orange Line Mafia” crowd makes to tie it all together are so absurd they’re funny.

Anyway, back to the point of the post: apologies to Phil Klein for my snark.

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77 Responses to “One more thing…”

  1. #1 |  Greg N. | 

    I feel vindicated.

    http://www.theagitator.com/2008/05/21/sigh-16/#comments

  2. #2 |  Mike Gogulski | 

    “I can assure you, the LP is little more than a source of amusement for “Beltway Libertarians” As is party politics in general. You also have to wonder, to what end? Let’s say the “takeover” rumors were true. Then what? We combine the party with the GOP? We run pro-war neocons on a third party ticket (because the uniting theme behind the whole “Beltway Libertarian” conspiracy stuff is that we’re all secretly pro-war)? We expend all that “takeover” energy so we can give Republicans an extra fraction of one percent of the vote each election? Does anyone who has read this site or reason magazine really believe that?”

    Snark away, Radley. Some of us remember when the LP platform actually *meant* something. But you’re of the faction now that’s climbed in bed with statists and tyrants for the sake of “progress”. Maybe those who came before you in the quest for gradualism and accommodation had to abandon their roots to do it, I don’t know. You though are probably young enough to not recognize where those roots were buried, and why they were important.

    Still, the “Agitator” logo graphic is very compelling. Kisses…

  3. #3 |  Mike Gogulski | 

    Anyway, nice to know you’re amused. Please, continue what you’re doing on the drug war. Stand by your guns in this area. You’ve got it right there.

  4. #4 |  UCrawford | 

    You know, the funniest thing about “hardcore” big-L libertarians is that after decades of getting their butts kicked in almost every election (especially presidential elections, where they get less than 1% of the vote) and being the epitome of political failure and incompetence, the nutjobs religiously cling to this idea that the Libertarian Party is something the neocons would actually care about subverting.

    Barr joined because he saw some potential and thought the party could do something that matters. If he really wanted to destroy the Libertarian Party, he’d just ignore it…like 99+% of the country has ever since it was founded.

  5. #5 |  Mike Gogulski | 

    UCrawford: When have people of principle begun caring about what an institutional statist like Bob Barr thinks matters? Did I miss the memo on “Party of Principle Switches to Gradualist Strategy”?

  6. #6 |  Radley Balko | 

    Mike –

    I am grateful to the libertarians who initially set up the party.

    One of the things you quickly notice when reading Brian Doherty’s book is how libertarianism has grown from literally just a handful of people in the 1950s to an ideology with exponentially more adherents today. Just a few people were able to grow a philosophy very quickly.

    But you’d have to admit that what the LP has been something of a joke for about a half generation now, wouldn’t you? I mean, there’s been no growth in more than a decade. And there have been plenty of embarrassments. Mary Ruwart and Michael Badnarik are no Ed Clarke and Ed Crane.

  7. #7 |  Cheerful Iconoclast | 

    Actually, I thought Badnarik’s notion of chaining prisoners to their beds until their muscles atrophy was one of his better ideas. Personally, I favor providing prisoners with Krispy Kreme donuts and other fattening foods, and encouraging them to refrain from physical activity.

    I’d much rather have prisoners leaving prison with their bellies flopping and muscles atrophied than have them leave, as the do now, buffed out to herculean proportions.

  8. #8 |  Greg N. | 

    Everyone knows the LP, along with Cato and every other libertarian organization except the Mises Institute, was ruined by the Kochtopus and the Craniacs.

  9. #9 |  RedtailQuack | 

    I’ll repost what I wrote on the other board, which didn’t seem to make it for one reason or another.

    While I don’t want to go into great depth on the subject, I will simply say that childhood sexual experiences fall into a pretty wide spectrum between the positive and the negative, the coerced and the willing, the serious and the recreational. Anyone making blanket assumptions about a particular child being a victim, simply by virtue of the fact that that child had a physically intimate encounter with an adult, without taking into account the thoughts, feelings and sexuality of the child, is being a bully and an hysteric. Such people bring their own assumptions about how the child feels, and are so insensitive to his/her views, so blinded by their repulsion at the act, that they frequently do more harm than good in the way they treat both the child and the adult.

    History is full of accounts of adults in societies across the world who fondly remember their childhood experiences of intimacy and sensuality, including those with older children and adults. Telling those people they were abused and psychologically damaged, and not listening to what they have to say about their experience, is ridiculous and more than a little frightening. Furthermore, speaking as an expert on what is intrinsically right and wrong for ALL human children to experience, without having the least bit of insight on how human sexuality is understood and constructed in different societies, seems like a dishonest, ideological cop out.

  10. #10 |  Mike Gogulski | 

    Radley:

    “I am grateful to the libertarians who initially set up the party.”

    But you’d have to admit that [snip] the LP has been something of a joke for about a half generation now, wouldn’t you? I mean, there’s been no growth in more than a decade.”

    I can’t but agree with you. The lack of progress of an ideology which we believe to the very core of ourselves to be right is extraordinarily frustrating. It demands action, it demands change.

    It does not, however, demand selling out to a Bob Barr for “liberty” campaign. To be sure, when one realizes that the moral ground of the political platform upon which one stands has turned to shit, one must move or face the charge of hypocrisy.

    Look, please, form the party of “Freedom, such that we can get away with”. I might even vote again, if it divorces itself from institutionalized ritual murder, drug/race oppression and tax slavery and the uncompromising principle of liberty that was supposed to define the LP since before either you or I woke up. Hell, if such a practical party arose in America next year I might even try to reclaim the citizenship I plan to renounce in the next three months. Don’t bet on it though. To be horribly biblical for an anti-theist such as myself, the issue of sin is sin, and I shall not support it.

    That the LP has been a joke for a long time is not a reason(REASON) to prostitute it out to the buffest potential polling victor.

  11. #11 |  Radley Balko | 

    #9

    History is full of accounts of adults in societies across the world who fondly remember their childhood experiences of intimacy and sensuality, including those with older children and adults.

    History is also full of virgin sacrifices, ritual killings, genital mutilation, rape, genocide, and infanticide.

    We evolve. We’ve grown more civilized. We realize that adults having sex with children is exploitative, manipulative, and violent.

  12. #12 |  UCrawford | 

    Mike,

    When have people of principle begun caring about what an institutional statist like Bob Barr thinks matters?

    Nobody who supports the “truther” movement has principles either…which includes Mary Ruwart. Their entire case is built on lies and distorted half-truths. If you think that the Libertarian Party’s worse off for losing Ruwart, I’d say that your unhappiness is a definite sign of progress for the LP.

  13. #13 |  UCrawford | 

    Mike,

    As for Barr, I’ll take somebody who’s 70% right who can get something accomplished over somebody who’s 100% right and can’t do anything but preach to the choir any day of the week.

    Gradualism is how things get changed…whether you like it or not. You can either accept that the world’s not going to change for you in one fell swoop, or you can sit around twiddling your thumbs while people who don’t try to live in a glass bubble of “pure” libertarianism actually work to bring a free society to fruition.

  14. #14 |  Mike Gogulski | 

    UCrawford: What’s a “truther”? Someone who doubts the official story? Ruwart may have been a bozo in her presentation, but for daring to gore the sacred cow of American “national security” and the mythology of the guerre du jour she is not.

    But okay, you go. You vote. Get your “I voted sticker” and be content. Wake up on post-Erection morning 2008 and realize that once again you have lost. The cause of freedom is not going to be won by voters.

    http://www.strike-the-root.com/vote.html

  15. #15 |  UCrawford | 

    Mike,

    What’s a “truther”? Someone who doubts the official story?

    Anyone who believes that the government was responsible for planning or carrying out the 9/11 attacks.

    The cause of freedom is not going to be won by voters.

    I’m suspecting that they’ll have more to do with it than you ever will :)

  16. #16 |  RedtailQuack | 

    Radley, you have responded in an irrational manner, ignoring the substance of my remark (that humans across time and place – including this ever so enlightened American time and place – have recalled positive sexual experiences as children with older children and adults). You have invoked an entirely unrelated narrative of liberal social progress that does not address the concern that was attached to my empirical claim.

    The concern that was attached to my empirical claim was that that people who experienced some form of sexual or intimate contact with older persons when they were young are told that society’s interpretation of what they experienced should supersede their own, that what they experienced as tenderness or friendship or fun MUST instead be understood as abuse, exploitation, and violence.

    In responding to the post as you did, you have only proven my point that ideologues on the subject are willfully and hysterically resistant to hearing and acknowledging the younger person’s point of view if it doesn’t correspond to their own preconceptions.

  17. #17 |  Kevin B. O'Reilly | 

    Badnarik may have been a kook, but at least he wasn’t — like Barr — involved in prosecuting the drug war, which is pretty goddamn indefensible. Listen, I’m no Barr-hater. I’m glad he’s come around, and I hope he runs a libertarian campaign that can appeal to lots of different types of people. But considering the Libertarian Party has never and probably will never have a decisive impact in elections, the least it could do is nominate actual libertarians. Maybe Barr is one, but it is very reasonable to have doubts.

    That said, I’m relieved Ruwart did not get the nod. The only attention she’d have gotten would have been negative — for the child porn statement and for signing the 9/11-was-an-inside-job pledge. On adult-child sex, I generally agree with Balko’s POV. The cognitive ability to properly appreciate the risks and benefits of different activities and meaningfully consent comes with age. This is why 8-year-olds should be allowed to buy chewing gum, but not join the military.

    Some 14-year-olds are much more mature than other 30-year-olds, so ideally the law should be flexible enough to allow for minors to emancipate themselves (with a judge’s approval) and make decisions on matters ranging from work to education to drug use to, yes, sexual relationships. In the meantime, we have state-imposed age-of-consent laws that are creaky and as Radley pointed out sometimes enforced in a heavy-handed and capricious manner. Age-of-consent laws are a transitory injustice, at worst. But is this the hill I want to die fighting on, as a libertarian? Certainly not.

  18. #18 |  J Mo | 

    If people ask me about my politics I always same I’m an Independent. It’s sad that Libertarians who should be the most reasonable people end up being just as unreasonable as every other political group. Some people I think are Libertarians simply because they want to be different from the status quo. It is best to ignore these individuals, especially when they try to defend things like child molestation.

  19. #19 |  RedtailQuack | 

    Kevin, a person’s sexuality does not belong to anyone else. It cannot be taken away, locked up, or switched on an off at the times deemed appropriate by society or by guardians in the case of youngster. It is not equatable to a drug, a career in the military, or a dangerous appliance such as a toaster. It belongs to the body, and any attempt to treat it as an unavailable device or activity is futile and laughable to boot. The idea that young people do not have the cognitive ability to experience an irrevocable aspect of their physiological being (sexual feeling and contact) seems far stranger than the alternative.

  20. #20 |  SusanK | 

    I must be missing something – Radley’s not allowed to question the Libertarian Party’s leadership/nominating decisions because . . . because why? Is he some leader of the party? Is he the press secretary/propagandist for it? Or are the Libertarians all pissed off at him because he has a presumably large audience, has converted many people to his rational way of thinking (me included), and now dares to point out the things he disagrees with?
    Huge Agitator fan here, but last I knew Radley was a journalist/blogger and not a Libertarian Party hack.
    This debate is doing nothing to endear me to the party. Even Democrats and Republicans can sometimes disagree with their party without being called schmucks. I always thought being a libertarian meant being reasonable. Oops.

  21. #21 |  Les | 

    Redtail, I think it’s possible to agree with everything you wrote in #19 and still say that it’s reasonable to enforce strict prohibitions on adults having sex with prepubescent children.

    If Ruwart has, anywhere, been clear that she doesn’t believe that it should be legal for adults to have sex with prepubescent, I’d appreciate a link.

  22. #22 |  Justthisguy | 

    Barr needs to show that he understands Rule 1, that is, IT’S LOADED, before I’ll vote for him. I remember that negligent discharge.
    Doofus trusted non-existent magazine safety.

  23. #23 |  e. brown | 

    you got it exactly backward, susan.

    being a libertarian means being *UNreasonable*. sensible, reasonable compromises with the ever-striving statists is what got us into our current mess: social security gobbling up 15% of our **pre**-tax income; the medicare mess, which will eventually bankrupt us; cops becoming ever more militarized; the children of wacky religions being kidnapped or burnt to death in the name of their safety…..etc etc.

    “the best defense against usurpatory government is an assertive – read unreasonable – citizenry.” – some guy

  24. #24 |  EdinTally | 

    Radley,

    I would have never expected a comment like that from you (#11). Besides being incredibly fallacious, it is also completely wrong. Are you really saying that EVERY encounter between an adult and a minor should be treated in the exact same manner without thought to the totality of the situation? i.e. that the adult was “exploitative, manipulative, and violent” I find that position extraordinary.

  25. #25 |  Ben | 

    I would have never expected a comment like that from you (#11). Besides being incredibly fallacious, it is also completely wrong. Are you really saying that EVERY encounter between an adult and a minor should be treated in the exact same manner without thought to the totality of the situation? i.e. that the adult was “exploitative, manipulative, and violent” I find that position extraordinary.

    I think this bears repeating. Children, both boys and girls, become capable of reproducing 5-7 (maybe more than that) years before the law allows them to have sex. Kids also aren’t as stupid as adults would like to believe.

    Obviously, some contact between an adult and a child will be “exploitative, manipulative, and violent,” however, not all if it will be. There needs to be thought put into how each case is treated.

  26. #26 |  Chance | 

    Okay, look, if a 15 year old who is very mature for their age has sex with an 18 year old, perhaps the law should allow should allow for a little (very little) wiggle room there (and in fact, many states do exactly that). But if you actually think that an 12 year old should be able to consent to sex with an adult, you’re a sick, sick person.

  27. #27 |  Blaze Miskulin | 

    In regards to the original quote, I didn’t see it as promoting the idea that there should be no laws against child sexual abuse, but rather acknowledging the fact that such rules will have unintended and undesirable repercussions. That’s true for any law, but even more so for ones where the chance for illegal profit is so high. It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have those laws, but that we need to decide which ones are worth the cost and which ones aren’t. Punishing people for smoking a joint isn’t worth the cost. Punishing them for raping a child is.

    As for the “child” aspect, I’d like to know how you define that term. A 6 year old is very different from a 16 year old, and they should not treated the same under the law. Most states allow that 16-year old to have sex, but not to take photos of it. I’d say that’s hypocrisy. The idea that all relationships of a young person with an older person are automatically exploitative or abusive is far from true, and propagating that idea harms those young persons (teens) who have a loving relationship with an older person, and does nothing extra to protect those who don’t.

  28. #28 |  Poly Tick | 

    (responding to #26) *I* wasn’t mature enough at 12. Hell, I wasn’t responsible enough at 22. But I have meet a few 12 year olds who probably were. Damn few, and they don’t usually attend government schools.

    The problem with the child issue is that most children by nature are very vulnerable. Child protection *laws* seek to address that. The dilemma for libertarians, on both theoretical and practical levels, is that SOME youngsters are mature, practical and responsible.

    Have *I* ever wanted sex with a 12 yo? Not since I was 14…..

  29. #29 |  Dave Krueger | 

    “…As far as I’m concerned, this isn’t debatable…”

    Nothing makes me more suspicious of an argument than the declaration that there is only one legitimate position, unless it’s the immediate and aggressive demonization of anyone holding an alternate opinion. No where is that attitude more prevalent than the topic of sex and children.

    Admittedly, I am not familiar with Mary Ruwart’s book, so I can only comment in very general terms, but I am by no means convinced it’s the state’s responsibility to declare the age at which you’re allowed to lose your virginity. When it comes to post-pubescent consensual sex, the more important questions center on whether responsible sex practices were followed, not whether it was an inherently despicable act because of the age of the participants.

    Sexuality isn’t turned on like a switch at the magic age of consent. The psychological aspects begin very young and continue up through puberty which occurs at a younger age now than it did a hundred years ago when the age of consent was lower.

    If two young people have sex before the age of consent, it is usually dismissed as relatively harmless. If one of them is above the age of consent, it instantly becomes a crime sufficient to utterly destroy the older participant. The theory is that the younger person was too young to be able to make decisions about something as serious as sex. On the other hand, let that same young person shoot up a few classmates or teachers and the immediate reaction is to try them as adults.

    It’s become irrational when it comes to younger children as well. You’re now endangering a child by merely exposing them to nudity, and allowing them to be seen nude is a crime deserving of punishment equal to that of murder.

    I may not know all the answers about how underage sex should be treated, but I’ve seen a number of cases lately where the real perversion was not in the activities of the participants but the way it was handled by the justice system, press, and public. The topic of sex and children has turned into a national hysteria where almost any policy can be justified and merely questioning the popular fervor brands you as a pervert who wants to hurt and exploit poor defenseless children.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I admit to having played doctor with Katie Graham when we were in the first grade which, by today’s standards probably makes me a sexual predator who shouldn’t be allowed to live in any country where there are children.

    And, yes, I do have children. A boy and a girl who are now both grown.

  30. #30 |  Mike Leatherwood | 

    Holy cow. I cannot believe sane adults would consider a subject like this debatable. Children can do a lot of things. Kids can wage war, kill people, drink, smoke, chew, gamble, drive, and and just about anything else.
    At what point do we as a society say that the kid is now responsible for their actions? Kids are born irresponsible. It is a learned thing that can only come through age and experience. 18 has always been a good age, as our beloved Constitution has set that age for voting. Doesn’t mean that everyone over 18 acts responsibly, nor does it mean that those under cannot.
    The mere fact a kid can have sex doesn’t mean they should. Cars can go faster than 65, but we set limits for safety concerns. It is not unLibertarian to justify some regulation. Chaos and anarchy is the absense of regulation, not Libertarianism.
    So, we must regulate some things. And setting an age at which consent is given is perfectly justifiable. The same argument can be used to lower drinking ages as well.

  31. #31 |  drobviousso | 

    I used to joke that I could never vote for a ‘big-L’ libertarian because they are all barking mad insane. I later found out they are just a random sampling from the average ‘big-L’ population.

    Radley, myself, and his other readers are the kind of people a ‘movement Libertarian” should be reaching out to, not shoving away.

    Radley and Cato have done more to bring around my way of thinking to a much more libertarian point of view than anything ‘big-L’. This thread reaffirms why I, and so many others who agree with ‘big-L’ in many ways, will continue to ignore you.

  32. #32 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #30 Mike Leatherwood
    The mere fact a kid can have sex doesn’t mean they should.

    The mere fact that they shouldn’t doesn’t mean that it needs to be controlled by criminal law.

    And thank you for your characterization that “sane adults” would not consider this debatable. It serves as the perfect example of the point I was making in my wordy post. Maybe there should be an internet site that lists all the topics that have been decided once and for all so we don’t waste time discussing them further (or giving people the impression that we’re insane).

  33. #33 |  Mike | 

    Actually, the general accusation is that beltway libertarians are liberals with some libertarian tendencies. It’s an accusation that many of the Reason/Cato group have earned from other libertarians because of certain behaviors like the liberal-like vitriolic attacks on Ron Paul over perceived racism, and the cosmopolitan dismissal of the idea that in much of America illegal immigrants really do take jobs away from poor Americans (yes, I know, it’s hard to imagine poor rural whites and blacks actually working many of the jobs that illegals perform in the DC area).

    Anyway, welcome to the club. Now you have an idea of why some of us have grown cynical about calling ourselves libertarians. This is why I call myself a “minarchist” instead of a libertarian among people that understand political terms more complex than Republican and Democrat.

    The single biggest problem with the LP is that it is representative of “autistic libertarianism.” That sort of libertarianism that only values freedom, even if the freedom is so extreme that it undermines the support structures necessary to maintain society.

  34. #34 |  Christian McClellan | 

    Radley (and others categorically opposed)-
    While I admit that state regulation of underage sexual activity falls somewhere around the beneficial tax treatment given colleges and universities on my list of priorities for libertarian activism, I must say I find your absolute certainty surprising. Your categorical response raises a few questions:

    -If it is categorically wrong to take advantage of a minor, why does the age of the perpetrator matter? Why is it heavy handed to prosecute consenting partners of close age if you believe that the underage are categorically unable to consent?

    -How do you feel about the prosecution of children as adults? Is a child who plots to murder his class mates capable of moral agency? If so, is there a morally relevant characteristic of the sex act which makes children unable to exercise moral agency in this realm only?

    -What about adults who may be unable to consent? Should their be statutory rape laws to criminalize sex with those of diminished capacity (e.g. IQ below some threshold)? Do those with developmental disabilities not have the right to exercise that most sacred form of self ownership?

    -How do you feel about parental/guardians consent as justification. In many realms where we recognize children’s inability to act as their own agent, we authorize guardians rather than merely reserving total ownership for the state. Why in this case is it not practical to allow parents to make these decisions, at least until it is shown they are not acting in the child’s interest?

    After finding your blog through your contributions to reason, I have had the great pleasure of witnessing your ability to, and propensity for making nuanced arguments. Why in this case can you so quickly and comfortably dismiss all nuance?

    -CM

  35. #35 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #11 Radley Balko
    #9
    History is full of accounts of adults in societies across the world who fondly remember their childhood experiences of intimacy and sensuality, including those with older children and adults.

    History is also full of virgin sacrifices, ritual killings, genital mutilation, rape, genocide, and infanticide.

    We evolve. We’ve grown more civilized. We realize that adults having sex with children is exploitative, manipulative, and violent.

    That was a non response. Those who have been sacrificed, killed, mutilated, etc obviously don’t look back on those experiences with fond memories (those who survived anyway). This is typically how this subject is argued, though. If you equate underage consensual sex with mutilation and murder, then obviously only a monster could argue about it.

    If, later in life, a person looks back on their early sexual experiences and doesn’t see themselves as a victim, insisting that they are isn’t a sign of having evolved. It’s a sign of having no respect for the individual’s ability to think for themselves.

  36. #36 |  Mike | 

    History is also full of virgin sacrifices, ritual killings, genital mutilation, rape, genocide, and infanticide.

    We evolve. We’ve grown more civilized. We realize that adults having sex with children is exploitative, manipulative, and violent.

    Yet we have “evolved” to the point where we call infanticide committed while the baby is in the womb “a woman’s right to choose.”

    Clearly, we need to keep evolving if we are going to get to the point where society respects human life in all forms that it comes in.

  37. #37 |  Mike Leatherwood | 

    Dave K-

    Then what are criminal laws for? I have taken a very large leap with your logic and come up with this, sans internet site:

    Since you can do something, it has to be legal.

    Yes, you are all insane (as well as I de facto).

  38. #38 |  recovering republican | 

    look at what this has degenerated to: a discussion of whether and how age of consent laws should be relaxed/abolished

    Is this really a big problem in our country? Big enough that it has to be an issue in the presidential election? Big enough that it is the defining touchstone of whether one is truly libertarian?

    By all means, have a late night bull session on an issue guaranteed to offend 99.99% of the population, including radley balko and the now departed executive director of the LP for godfuckin sake — and have that define your cause for the public!

    Debating such issues doesn’t make the party pure, or courageous. It makes it scary, stupid, and irrelevant.

  39. #39 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #36 Mike Leatherwood

    Dave K-
    Since you can do something, it has to be legal.

    No, Mike. My point is that, just because something is bad for you, doesn’t mean it has to be illegal. The law doesn’t have to be the arbiter for every human activity.

    Criminal laws are for injuries committed against people against their will. Forcible rape is an example. No one here is arguing against rape laws. I do think it’s arguable that before you prosecute someone for an injury to another person, the injured party must concur that they were injured.

    Children are capable of making some decisions. If not, then how can the be held responsible for anything? How can you hold a kid responsible for killing a classmate, stealing from a store, or vandalizing a church and then think they are incapable of making decisions about sex?

    In any case, I’m not trying to make a case that sex at a young age is a good thing that all teenagers should be doing. I’m simply saying that the circumstances under which young people have sex and the resulting ramifications don’t always rise to the level of a crime worthy of destroying someone’s life for, even if one of the parties is outside the allowable 2 year age difference (depending on the state).

  40. #40 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #34 Christian McClellan

    That is an excellent post. Thought provoking with being anger provoking. I should take a lesson. :)

  41. #41 |  Chris in AL | 

    I can understand why Radley does not want, or cannot afford, to have anything other than a hardline stance on record regarding this issue.

    That said, I hardly consider us to be more advanced or more civilized for any absolute, zero-tolerance stance. The 800 pound gorilla in the room is that we all know it is bogus. We all know there are people out there that, while under 18, had sex with someone over 18 and were not victimized or damaged by it. That have pleasant memories of it.

    We all know that once we were sexually mature we (or most of us) could not wait to do it. We did not need to be manipulated or coerced. We needed an opportunity. And age was irrelevant. If, when I was 15, that 28 year old from Penthouse that I was VERY familiar with had suddenly appeared in my room, I would have given her the best 30 seconds of my life. And she would NOT have been a criminal for it. Jailing her would have served no purpose, nor protected society in any way. And I imagine many females out there can, if honest, make a similar statement.

    We are never really outraged when we read about these female teachers having sex with high school students. Because we know that nobody was ‘scarred for life’ because of it. And it is a sexist double-standard to assume girls are so fragile that they are all ‘victims’ where boys are not.

    I am not suggesting that all of this should just be ok. I am saying that for the most part our society’s official response to it all is an over-reaction. We attribute more ‘evil’ to someone that has sex with a minor than to someone who murders one.

    Ask yourself, how many times have you heard a news story about a murdered kid and your first thought was ‘wonder if there was sex first?’. And when we find out there wasn’t, it is almost a non-story. Just murder? Oh ok, well at least there was no sex. Would have felt bad for the kid if there was sex. It is part of the same mentality that allows us to show a beheading on tv, but not a breast. Breasts are worse than beheadings. For the children.

    I am not referring to any pre-pubescent children here…let me make that clear. They are victims, and adults who find sexual gratification in the idea of children who have not reached sexual maturity have a problem, a defect that flies in the face of our biology. These children need and deserve society’s protection, as the act is, by its nature, violent and damaging.

    But those types of perpetrators can’t help but benefit from all of the resources wasted investigating, prosecuting and incarcerating people who may have touched our teenagers, when our teenagers were out there trying to get laid! And the real child molestors benefit from being mixed in and lost among this outrageously inflated list (or registry) of offenders. Every college guy that pokes a high school girl he met on spring break that gets added to these lists dilutes them and restores anonymity to the true predators.

    Sorry for the long post.

  42. #42 |  Les | 

    I think this bears repeating. Children, both boys and girls, become capable of reproducing 5-7 (maybe more than that) years before the law allows them to have sex.

    Umm, don’t girls have to start ovulating before they can reproduce?

  43. #43 |  Zeb | 

    I think that one of the best reforms to criminal law would be to require that in order to convict someone of a crime, you have to prove not only that the act was committed, but also that some harm was done by said act.

    Sex with a pre-pubescent child is always bad. I hope we can agree on that. And an adult having sex with a sexually mature teen is probably often if not usually bad, but I am certain that there are cases when it is not. In a case like this, there should be more to prove than how old the participants were.

  44. #44 |  UCrawford | 

    Chris in AL,

    These are all valid points you’ve raised and I agree with almost all of what you’ve said. There is ample room for debate regarding our government’s approach to teenagers and sex…and while I tend to believe that age of consent laws, to be determined by each state, are currently the best way to approach the matter I concede that they’re far from a perfect solution and that sometimes those laws will be misused by officials and cause considerable damage to people who don’t deserve it (Genarlow Wilson being a case in point). On the other hand, I also believe that such laws are necessary to protect the individual rights of children (and yes, I’m primarily talking about pre-pubescents or very young teens) who often cannot protect themselves (either through lack of comprehension or fear instilled by their attacker). Pedophiles are criminals, not a misunderstood “sexual minority” as RedtailQuack seems to believe, they aren’t particularly rare and the harm they inflict is very real and long-lasting…and I’ve no problem with laws designed to prosecute and punish them for victimizing children (who pedophiles know usually can’t stand up for themselves). A person who targets a child for sex is no different than a guy at a bar who sleeps with a girl after slipping a roofie into her drink…they’re both predators looking for someone who can’t fight back, and there’s no place for them in a society that respects individual rights.

  45. #45 |  Garrett J | 

    I said it before and I’ll say it again. What is wrong with you people?

    How difficult is it to understand that there is a difference between a debate over the precise setting of age of consent laws and a debate over whether adults should be permitted to have sex with preschoolers.

    What Mary Ruwart wrote in her book may be right about teenagers, but that doesn’t make it right about little kids. Her argument is suspicious because of the way it is framed- it doesn’t talk about 15 year-olds, but about all children. I get the impression that some of you weirdos would do away with all age of consent laws altogether, which is just absolutely insane. Sure, the specific setting of age of consent laws can be debated, as can the enforcement around the periphery, but come on, little kids … Kids who can count their age on two hands? Come on.

  46. #46 |  Chris in AL | 

    UCrawford

    I agree with you entirely. My sister used to be a social worker and my aunt was a detective in a child sex crimes unit. I know, possibly better than some others, the things people are capable of doing to small children. It is truly, truly horrifying.

    So you bringing up the Genarlow Wilson case is a very good point. For our society to equate what he did to what these children my aunt and sister used to deal with went through is belittling and trivializing their suffering. Furthermore, by his inclusion in that same arena, we are forced to have some sympathy for other people who have been accused. We have to question whether these are all really monsters. This is a disservice to the real child victims. I know I can’t have much faith in a system that holds up a Genarlow Wilson to me and suggests they caught a bad guy. These are the people entrusted with protecting my children?

    I am also afraid of any ‘at all costs’ approach, even where children are concerned. It is NOT okay that a few innocent guys go to jail even if it helps protect the children. In our society, it is supposed to be understood that a few guilty people will likely go free, in order to protect our all around freedoms. We can’t throw that out the window just because children are involved.

  47. #47 |  UCrawford | 

    Chris in AL,

    I am also afraid of any ‘at all costs’ approach, even where children are concerned. It is NOT okay that a few innocent guys go to jail even if it helps protect the children. In our society, it is supposed to be understood that a few guilty people will likely go free, in order to protect our all around freedoms. We can’t throw that out the window just because children are involved.

    We’re in complete agreement on those points…even with perfectly written and all-inclusive laws, I think it’s naive to assume that government would ever be able to do a flawless job of enforcement. That’s just not the way the world works, and I tend to err towards the side of being a little too lenient in enforcement than too severe (since unleashing the police out of hysteria usually does more to harm the innocent than the guilty). That said, I still believe strongly that we need laws in place to protect childrens’ individual rights…particularly in this arena. But I don’t think we disagree on that point either :)

  48. #48 |  nicole | 

    #42: Umm, don’t girls have to start ovulating before they can reproduce?

    Yes, what’s your point? The average age for a first period is under 13.

  49. #49 |  Johnny Lemuria | 

    “I said it before and I’ll say it again. What is wrong with you people?

    How difficult is it to understand that there is a difference between a debate over the precise setting of age of consent laws and a debate over whether adults should be permitted to have sex with preschoolers.

    What Mary Ruwart wrote in her book may be right about teenagers, but that doesn’t make it right about little kids. Her argument is suspicious because of the way it is framed- it doesn’t talk about 15 year-olds, but about all children. I get the impression that some of you weirdos would do away with all age of consent laws altogether, which is just absolutely insane. Sure, the specific setting of age of consent laws can be debated, as can the enforcement around the periphery, but come on, little kids … Kids who can count their age on two hands? Come on.”

    Right now, the law, on average, treats both the above cases the same. A set of laws that would treat a a 19 year old and 17 year old couple physically expressing their love for one another the same as a creepy pedophile exploiting a 12 yr old is a very bad law, one that ruins lives, and erodes civil liberties. I am very much opposed to age-of-consent laws, if by those you mean blanket, arbitrary, prohibitions against behaviors that are illegal the day before a birthday and the legal the day after. I would personally favor some sort of age-independent licensing system for dealing with most of these sorts of problems.

  50. #50 |  KBCraig | 

    Here’s another “child rapist” in jail:

    http://www.ktbs.com/news/Substitute-teacher-jailed-for-inappropriate-relationship-12444/

    She’s 27. He’s 18. Wait… 18?

    Yes, 18. Because she met him while working as a substitute teacher, their otherwise-legal affair has resulted in felony charges.

  51. #51 |  UCrawford | 

    KBCraig,

    According to the Louisiana Age of Consent law, the teacher has actually committed no crime since Louisiana recognizes a “minor” as somebody 17 or below. So, either the news station reported the wrong age for the kid or the police department and school district improperly charged her because according to Louisiana statute she hasn’t actually committed a felony charge.

    http://www.moraloutrage.net/staticpages/index.php?page=Louisiana

    Therefore invalidating your gripe with age of consent laws in this particular instance.

  52. #52 |  David Nieporent | 

    UCrawford: When have people of principle begun caring about what an institutional statist like Bob Barr thinks matters? Did I miss the memo on “Party of Principle Switches to Gradualist Strategy”?

    There’s nothing unprincipled about gradualism.

    And from your “don’t vote” page, it appears that you’re an anarchist, not a libertarian, so this whole discussion seems somewhat academic. (I don’t say that pejoratively, just descriptively.)

  53. #53 |  Les | 

    #48 Yes, what’s your point? The average age for a first period is under 13.

    I misunderstood Ben’s comment at #25 that, “Children, both boys and girls, become capable of reproducing 5-7 (maybe more than that) years before the law allows them to have sex.” I thought he was saying that kids could reproduce at 5-7, which was silly of me.

  54. #54 |  Garrett J | 

    “I am very much opposed to age-of-consent laws, if by those you mean blanket, arbitrary, prohibitions against behaviors that are illegal the day before a birthday and the legal the day after.”

    So you mean like laws about when you can legally sign a contract or laws about when you can drive a car?

    Of course it’s arbitrary and has consequences, but it’s a hell of a lot simpler and far less expensive to taxpayers than the alternative. Now that doesn’t mean the ages we set are at all correct (Maybe it should be 16- maybe 14- whatever- debate it), but we sure as hell need some sort of age of consent. It just makes more sense to have the law say that it was wrong for that adult to have sex with that 13 year-old girl rather than have a trial to sort out the intimate details of the relationship. Having an age of consent just plain makes sense- there are no realistic alternatives.

  55. #55 |  JustinC | 

    There are so many horrible things going on in this country that we could try to fix. But no… you jerk-offs would rather sit around and debate sex with children and remain irrelevant within our government. The LP will never amount to anything until they get rid of the Mike Gogulski’s and will likely never see a dime of my money.

    Cato, Reason, and IJ, on the other hand… money well spent.

  56. #56 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #54 Garrett J

    “I am very much opposed to age-of-consent laws, if by those you mean blanket, arbitrary, prohibitions against behaviors that are illegal the day before a birthday and the legal the day after.”

    So you mean like laws about when you can legally sign a contract or laws about when you can drive a car?

    No, that would be age of majority.

  57. #57 |  supercat | 

    How about this for a proposal: any “consent” for sex given by a minor ‘n’ months before they turn 18 may be retroactively revoked at any time and for any reason the person chooses until ‘n’ months have elapsed after the person turns 18. I should think that would seem pretty fair from a libertarian standpoint.

  58. #58 |  UCrawford | 

    supercat,

    The problem with that solution is that you’d be treating pedophilia as a contract between consenting parties (which you’re proposing the younger party should be able to revoke for a set period of time)…but in most cases it’s not a contract between consenting parties. It’s an assault where an adult takes advantage of a child incapable of granting informed consent or resisting the advances (not to mention that the perpetrators are very often family members who can use all manners of coercion to force continued compliance and prevent prosecution). It just doesn’t break down as simply as your solution suggests…that’s why I don’t think you can get by without the age of consent laws. Although, as Garrett J has noted, the actual age used in those laws is probably open to some debate as are some details about who should be punished under those laws. But I also don’t think the creation of those laws should be directed by the federal government.

  59. #59 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    I don’t like child porn, but I don’t like censorship either, and as a childless adult I’m more scared of governments than of pedophiles. This has lead me to dream up a way to go after child porn publishers and buyers without allowing the government a category of publication to censor (somehow when you do, everything the government doesn’t like ends up in that category)

    Photographic or video representations of sex with or between children is evidence of a serious crime. Persons in possession of such should have a legal duty to turn it in to the police for investigation, and such investigation should be thorough and annoying enough to make publication or possession of child porn seriously unattractive.

    This would also draw a bold line between drawings of chid sex and porn produced with actual children. The first is creepy, but I’m damned if I can see why it should be illegal.

  60. #60 |  Dave Krueger | 

    I tend to blindly vote for whatever candidate the Libertarians put up for President. That’s just my own apathetic uninformed automatonic brand of civic involvement. I know very little about most of the candidates aside from my gut feeling that they are most likely to be several orders of magnitude more appealing than the major party candidates.

    But, while we’re on the topic of protecting children from the sadistic predatory world around them, it should be noted that most abuse is perpetrated by friends and relatives, while the hysteria-happy media like to portray it as random attacks by strangers conveniently listed in a state sex-crime directory registry.

    Since many folks seem to think that the LP is on the skids and irrelevant (etc, etc, etc), it would probably not be a great loss for them to, just once, offer a candidate who isn’t afraid to alienate the zillions of voters who think nothing of indoctrinating children from the time they can walk with the terrifying mandate that they must worship an imaginary infallible super-being and obey his laughable and contradictory edicts or suffer perpetual earthly guilt followed by incineration in hell for eternity. And, of course, that only scratches the surface.

    Since I believe parenting is better left up to the parents rather than the state, I would be opposed to any attempt to outlaw such teaching. On the other hand, the fact that so many people practice it doesn’t make it any less an abusive practice. As long as it doesn’t involve sex, you’re mostly free (and even encouraged) to do whatever you want to their little pliable trusting minds. When an element of sex comes into the equation, you are suddenly transformed into the evil spawn of Satan.

    If I weren’t an alien from another planet, this would probably all makes sense.

  61. #61 |  UCrawford | 

    C.S.P.,

    The first is creepy, but I’m damned if I can see why it should be illegal.

    I could agree with that…drawings of kids having sex is creepy and I wouldn’t buy them or associate with anyone who had them, but I don’t consider it criminal because there’s not a victim in that instance. Child porn or sex involving actual kids is very much different.

  62. #62 |  UCrawford | 

    C.S.P.,

    Unless there were models involved in the drawings, I suppose…some enterprising creep would definitely try to push that limit.

    No easy answers, I guess.

  63. #63 |  Dave Krueger | 

    The opposition to child porn that does not use children in its creation is based on the idea that it feeds the evil appetite and will ultimately lead a pedophile to go after the real thing, the same way adult porn turns everyone onto a practicing rapist. In fact, it’s gotten so bad that rapists are now tripping over each other when they’re out hunting prey and it’s not unusual to see several of them fighting for same victim like a bunch of squirrels after the same nut.

  64. #64 |  UCrawford | 

    Dave,

    The opposition to child porn that does not use children in its creation is based on the idea that it feeds the evil appetite and will ultimately lead a pedophile to go after the real thing

    I’m well aware of how ridiculous the “porn creates rapists” argument is. That’s not what I was saying…just that determining which child porn is using children and which isn’t is not going to be as clear cut as some people think it might be.

  65. #65 |  Dave Krueger | 

    UCrawford, I wasn’t really addressing your post. Just kind of making a general comment. Since somewhere someone referred to you as an anarchist, so I have now decided to treat you with more respect. :)

  66. #66 |  UCrawford | 

    Dave,

    Actually Dave Nieporent was calling somebody else an anarchist but he used a quote that had my name at the front of it. I’m definitely a minarchist, although I’ll admit to dreaming of a world someday in which people are able to live in peaceful anarchy. I just don’t believe that world is possible with people as they are now.

    Hope that doesn’t change your opinion of me too much…I agree with most of what you have to say. :)

  67. #67 |  Steve Verdon | 

    Look this issue of age of consent is really a side issue to what RedTailQuack has been writing. He is arguing the case for pedophiles pretty much across the board. He is not saying, “A mature 16 year old…” or “A 15 year old with an 18 year old….”. Instead he is speaking in general terms and I’ll point out that he has NOT limited himself to children who are in or past puberty.

    As for the age of consent laws, sure there are always going to be cases where the law is just flat out dumb. That is the way with any law that addresses something that is a “gray area”. However, in such cases you can’t base the laws on the rare exceptions because then you’ll be allowing far more cases that are damaging that beneficial to occur. Having a law that is flexible would be great but can have its own issues.

    And to be quite clear here, Radley has already stated at least once probably several times that discussions of issues such as age of consent, sexual offender lists, etc. are wide open for debate. Hence, it is not all that unreasonable to conclude that when Radley says “child” and sex with said child is “violent, manipulative, and exploitative”, etc. he is talking about pre-pubescent children. It isn’t that fucking hard to understand people. Read what he has written and engage your brain.

  68. #68 |  Steve Ely | 

    Amen to #67. Good points well put.

  69. #69 |  supercat | 

    UCrawford: The idea, perhaps not expressed terribly well, would be that the person wouldn’t really ‘consent’ until after age 18. Perhaps the ‘limbo’ state (where the person hasn’t yet given adult consent, but hasn’t affirmatively indicated non-consent either) needs to be better defined, but I see no particular reason someone who is 18 shouldn’t be allowed to give adult ‘consent’ to acts performed shortly before the 18th birthday. Nor do I see any particular basis for a rule that would say an adult can give retroactive consent to actions performed after a certain point, but not those before.

    I would fully recognize that there could be some difficulties with intimidation; I’m not really sure how those would best be handled. Fundamentally, though, in cases where the alleged victim is an adult now I think that person should have broad latitude to decline charges whether or not the person was an adult at the time of the alleged offense.

  70. #70 |  Dave Krueger | 

    I must be old fashioned. I think laws ought to be designed to ensure those “rare exceptions” are avoided rather than just freely sacrificing the occasional innocent in the name of ensuring we don’t miss any of the bad guys. That goes double when the so-called rare exceptions get so common that they don’t even really raise an eyebrow anymore.

    By the way, most of the events discussed on this site are supposedly “rare exceptions”.

    My standards are incredibly high and probably naive. Regardless of the age of anyone involved, before you put someone in prison, there must be an actual identifiable injury to an actual identifiable victim. Independent of anything in the law, the prosecution must have to prove that much. You are never going to get all the bad guys. And you are certainly not going to get more of them by locking up good guys.

  71. #71 |  UCrawford | 

    supercat,

    I discussed this with a commenter on the other thread touching on the topic as well, but I just don’t see how this retroactive consent system could work…particularly when you take into account how difficult it is to prosecute a rape case (especially one involving a minor or incest) to begin with. In many of the cases you wouldn’t have evidence, the case would be hinging on testimony that could be coerced or perjured (from either side), testimony would be compromised by time and all sorts of weird pressures (let’s not even think about what effect this would have on divorce proceedings). It would be almost impossible to prosecute unless you let the prosecutors turn it into a complete witch hunt (meaning you’ll have more debacles like the McMartin daycare center trials). I just can’t see this working at all.

  72. #72 |  UCrawford | 

    Dave,

    I see what you’re getting at, but child molestation is really just a form of rape because it’s taking sexual liberties with someone who can’t give consent (and, like rape, it’s not really about sex…it’s about power) so the laws are necessary. Like Radley said, we can argue a bit about ages of consent with teenagers and special cases, but when it comes to children (especially those who are pre-pubescents or just entering puberty) there’s no case to be made that adults having sex with them is acceptable. It’s no different than having sex with someone after you’ve spiked their drink or found them passed out unconscious…there’s no argument for consent to be considered there. And it’s not something to be ignored simply because we would rather not make laws…unless you’d rather we just handle the situation by mob justice (something I think would be worse than a law).

  73. #73 |  WMB | 

    Shame you Radley. I lost some respect with your first distortion of Ruwart’s views but to repeat it is outside the bounds. I have now lost all respect (and we have worked together but I suspect not anymore). Ruwart wrote a series of question on the issue of children and the entire series provides the context which you are leaving out. Roderick Long, who appears to be your intellectual superior, went through the whole series of questions to see what Mary was saying. His conclusion was that Mary doesn’t say what you pretend she is, that ignoring the context distorts the conclusions and that Mary’s worst sin in the matter was being unclear in a couple of places but generally right on the issues.

    Mary herself wrote a reply to the smear from the Barr/Root campaigns on the matter explaining precisely what her position was. Yet you neither quote from her longer response on the matter or any of the other questions that put this one paragraph in context. You take the paragraph as an isolated one and interpret based only on what is there. That is intellectually dishonest.

    I don’t know who said there was a Reason/Cato takeover. I’m close to both Reason and Cato and I was a supporter of Mary (because I also know her actual position not your distorted view of her position). The people were talking about a take over by conservatives led by Barr and Richard Viguerie — and that seems very true. The main people involved from within the LP got some nice pay offs from Viguerie in the process and that is now public knowledge.

    I am ashamed of you Radley. Read the full context of all the questions, read Mary’s remarks on the questions and read Roderick Long’s essay investigating Mary’s views in context. You are wrong and helping conservatives like Barr smear libertarians in the process. I thought better of you but you have taught me I was wrong to do so.

  74. #74 |  Radley Balko | 

    WMB –

    Don’t come on my site and talk down to me as if I were your child, particularly if you’re going to be too cowardly to do so under your own name. I linked to Ruwart’s longer statement. I read Roderick Long’s defense. I found them both unconvincing. I’ve also since spoken with people who were at the LP convention. I’m told that child porn was the topic of choice among Ruwart supporters, and that this was the issue for which they chose to rally around her. Way to to draw a line in the sand, gang.

    I’m sorry, but when it comes to sex with young children, there can be no debate. And if there is a significant faction of the LP that’s going to defend that crap, the LP is never, ever going to be taken seriously. Nor do they deserve to be.

    You’re “ashamed” of me? Please. Why the hell should I care what you think of me? Go elsewhere then. No one is forcing you to read this site. Of all the work I’ve done over the years, if taking a stand against an LP candidate who wrote ambiguously about child porn makes you “ashamed,” then I really don’t want your support, anyway.

    Go read Roderick Long, if you find him to be my “intellectual superior.”

    Tell you what, while the LP nuts are debating the merits of child porn, I’ll keep working on wrongful convictions, police misconduct, and the drug war.

  75. #75 |  Brian N. | 

    In what sense did Ruwart use the word “child”? In its legal definition? That would include anyone under 18. In the biological definition? That varies from person to person, of course. If she used it in the first sense, which is unfortunate, Ariel Durant and Virginia Poe would have qualified as children. If you’re going to say Ariel Durant was exploited by her husband Will…well, there is no answering that, is there? If that’s the case you’ve defined a concept in your mind, and you will wrap reality around it, like a Jacobin or a Marxist, and you won’t stop until reality monolithically conforms to it. It’s a combination of ideological berserkergang and a bizarre case of “rationalism” run amok. What may have been a simple failing of language has provoked endless controversy. That’s a conditional statement, of course.

    Let us start (and it’s impossible to speak directly to Ruwart’s position right now) with an agreed-upon definition of child as a pre-pubescent. Let us further stipulate (as I think you’ll agree, with some justification on my part) that all pre-pubescents ought to be considered incapable of giving consent. Let us further add that after puberty the question is up to debate, and must be considered in a case-by-case basis. Further, recognizing the positive law, we’re forced to accept an impasse; on the one hand, the law stipulates that anyone below the age of 18 is a “child” though this does not answer to reality. The problem is really that consent is not contextually bound to the age of the participants; but their capacity to understand and choose to participate. An aside; using that same litmus test, robbery, rape, taxation, murder, conscription, enslavement and many other things are shown to be equally criminal, but there’s no shifting context; they’re always wrong. We’ve already stipulated (if you’re still with me) that no pre-pubescent child can consent. If you wish to hold to the model of a state, it’s obvious that the positive law needs to be reformed to consider the problem as it actually exists. If you don’t then we can only speak of individual judgment and speak of what to do, as an individual, if one knows of such a thing taking place. It’s unnecessary to go into any detail on that. I will say, however that, like you, I’m completely uninterested in the silly consequentialist/pragmatist/utilitarian arguments on such a question. The moral question comes first, always.

  76. #76 |  JOR | 

    Since I could never support a couple of useless clowns who supported, and still support mass murder, I can’t vote for Barr&Root (as for the LP – they were always a joke).

    If the battlecry be, “They’re better than McCain and Obama!”, well, isn’t that inspiring. I still think I’ll pass.

  77. #77 |  Wirkman Netizen: Insert ideas into head; observe at safe distance. | 

    [...] as I followed links, I came to a page that is typical of libertarian argumentation, a blog comment page where the disputants almost seem [...]

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