This paraphrased title brought to you by obediah. He wasn’t talking about literal rape and childhood, but here we are.

It was first Radley Balko’s blog that brought this from William Saletan from Slate to my attention. In it the human-nature pundit discusses how age-of-consent laws lock up young adults not yet capable of the emotional maturity to behave as we would like in their actions with those who are treated as adults by their biology but as children by the law (cue John Derbyshire on the difference between ephebophilia and pedophilia). As Balko notes, there is slim chance of the laws being changed to reflect this. There’s a reason the Simpsons’ line “Won’t somebody think of the children!?” sounds familiar. It is also the case, as Saletan admits, that there is no clear line for legislators to make that separates people into distinct groups. I have previously stated that I would like to see the young incarcerated merely because I dislike them (being young myself, armchair psychologists will likely call “projection”), but I do not mean this seriously. Part of being a libertarian is recognizing that public policy is not a fantasy story in which you may enact your whims, especially the more spiteful ones. I do not have much in the way of suggestions for dealing with the young, only gratitude that I am not responsible for any myself.

On from statutory rape of the young to full-on violent rejection of the necessity of consent. The first in a series of posts from the print edition of the Hoover Hog is called Writing About Prostitutes. It’s not all that accurate a title, as only the ending section about Wendy McElroy’s “XXX” really discusses them. Most of it is about rape and pornography. If you expect issue #4 of Jim Goad’s “Answer Me!” to pop up, you’ve done your homework. The first part concerns Andrea Dworkin, whose detection of rape everywhere she looked has been mocked to no end. Chip Smith’s approach is more along the lines of John Dolan. There is sympathy and pity for her, along with the standard “don’t agree with her” disclaimer which is not the standard feminist triangulation to acceptable center of discourse but a diagnosis of her ideas being those of a sadly deranged person. The main course is on Peter Sotos, a transgressive writer and the first person convicted for possession of child pornography. He called his publication “Pure” because it contained the most extreme first-person accounts of sadistic violence and depravity without any justification or ass-covering. It was because of this that police and psychiatrists were convinced he must have engaged in some of the acts described. As is pointed out, among those are the child-abuse rings that never actually existed other than in the minds of authorities that cajoled children into testifying. In an earlier and more religious/superstitious era rather than a serial rapist and murderer of children Sotos would likely have written from the perspective of a demon or monster that haunted the imagination of the folk. I don’t mean to sound like those who think their own era is the near-culmination of history, but I don’t think we will ever look back Sotos’ writings as the sort of harmless playing-on-fears that the spooky stories of the past were, at least as long as they regard us as belonging to the same species. I will admit that I am unqualified to say just how disturbing Sotos is, as I am of the unread and prudish sort (I’ve never even read the respectable stuff like “Lady Chatterly” or “Lolita”), so if someone wants to point out what a chickenshit Sotos is and how apparent it is to anyone who knows jack, feel free.

Finally, while we’re on the topic, where did the “Rape is about power, not sex” idea come from? I often hear the claim as if it is the firmly established consensus of the scientific literature, but I don’t know where it came from and it strikes me as implausible. I discussed this a bit here and didn’t get much of a response.

EDIT: I just noticed this post at Overcoming Bias. It makes me wonder to what extent people deceive themselves about age & consent. Also, how does rape factor into those surveys? If we accepted the claim of widespread unreported rape, this could result in the type of biased reporting by one gender vs the other.

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