It is not all black and Whyte

Last year’s post on da-boss dealing with the issue of pushing the social boundaries included these thoughts by my favourite talkback host, Leighton Smith:

Known in the past as a staunch social conservative, Leighton declared that he no longer opposes changes to the definition of marriage in New Zealand. He even said he would favour an immediate abolition of any restrictions which still exist to prevent polygamy, incest, zoophilia etc. When queried by the shocked callers he explained his stance. Once the premise that a marriage is between one man and one women who are not closely related has fallen, there is no defensible fallback position. All remaining restrictions will eventually be ground down so we may as well spare ourselves the tiresome spectacle and give up straight away.

This is quite relevant in the context of the recent public discussion on the legality of incest. The president of the ACT party, Jamie Whyte, has caused outrage by voicing his private views on the issue. The following quotes are taken from an interview with Mr Whyte published in the NZ Herald:

“I don’t think the state should intervene in consensual adult sex or marriage, but there are two very important elements here – consensual and adult. I wonder who does believe the state should intervene in consensual adult acts?”

So far so good – surely the state should not judge and grade the consensual relationships between adults. Is this not what the recent change to the legal definition of marriage to include same sex partners was all about? But let us read on:

“I find it very distasteful I don’t know why anybody would do it but it’s a question of principle about whether or not people ought to interfere with actions that do no harm to third parties just because they personally wouldn’t do it.”

Again, the parallels to the gay marriage debate are overwhelming. Personal views based on moral or religious grounds must not be imposed on other members of the society. Many people were opposed to gay marriage but they were just told to crawl back under their rocks. Perhaps the opponents of incest should do the same?

[Jamie Whyte] did not believe the increased risk of congenital disorders in children from incestuous relationships was a valid reason for it to [be] illegal. “The probability of having some problem with the children is greater when the mother is over the age of 35 but I’ve never heard anyone suggest that anyone over the age of 35 shouldn’t be allowed to have sex.”

If Mr Whyte got his facts right the logic of this argument is crushing. I am also not aware of any legal prohibition of sex by people with hereditary conditions like Down syndrome etc.  Not so long ago religious fundies tried to bring up the issue of AIDS in the context of the gay marriage debate but they were silenced. Medical statistics should not be a valid reason to limit the citizens’ choices when it comes to sex and marriage (or so we were told).

Some may argue that there are very few people who would even consider an incestuous relationship but the truth is we do not know for sure. The issue may be more widespread than we think with thousands hiding their sexual preferences for fear of copping social reprisal if they were outed. Does this angle not remind you of the arguments advanced in the gay marriage debate?

All-in-all I believe that those who sponsored the recent changes to the definition of marriage should also have a good look at the issue of incest. It may be the next moral frontier waiting to be pushed.


One Response to “It is not all black and Whyte”

  1. Gede Prama Says:

    visit your blog, read an interesting article. thank you friends for sharing and greetings compassion 🙂

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