"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd." ~Flannery O'Connor

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Next "right": incest

Dave Morrison, author of Beyond Gay, takes note at his blog of a young German family that's unusual partly because it is large. But mainly it's unusual because the young, unmarried parents of four children are—well, brother and sister. Their attorney is going to Germany's highest court, with the usual arguments, to obtain for them the right to marry. Morrison asks: "Is anyone really surprised?" The question, of course, is rhetorical.

That's probably the most depressing thing about this. A taboo taken for granted since time immemorial is no longer taken for granted. One now has to come up with arguments against incest. And given what the courts are like throughout the so-called developed world, there's no guarantee of winning the debate. Sanity might win in the short term, but the handwriting is on the wall.

The inbreeding argument won't work anymore, or soon won't. Based on risk/benefit assessment, it's purely utilitarian; and not everybody can be expected to believe that the relevant calculations of utility outweigh arguments from alleged individual rights. Leviticus and sacred texts from other religions prohibit incest without using the inbreeding argument. The real argument, it seems to me, is from the psychological integrity of the family. But in our age, fewer and fewer people know or care what that means.
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