Under The Sun

Thursday, July 03, 2003

Demonization. Last night an intelligent, politically-minded person tried to tell me that Justice Scalia had compared consensual homosexual sex to pedophilia. "That can't be right," I said. "Bestiality, yes [*]; pedophilia, no." "Pedophilia," my interlocutor insisted.

Scalia's actual list was "bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity". Not pedophilia. Scalia is wrong, dangerously wrong, but he's not an idiot. But far too many of his ideological opponents bear so much antipathy toward him that they freely invent false evidence to support their dislike. And they aren't even aware of it.

That's why my first principle when studying any political (or politicized) issue is to never, ever trust any description of a position given by its opponents. Even when they say they're being scrupulously fair. Sometimes they are. Just as often, they're deluding even themselves.

[*: Some of these will probably not be affected by Lawrence: (adult) incest, because prohibiting incest entirely is much more feasible than prohibiting incestuous conception, which is the actual problem; and prostitution, because opponents thereof will argue (wrongly) that it can never be truly consensual. Bestiality is an interesting question, whether an animal can give consent; my suspicion is that animals don't have enough legal rights to matter, but I don't know for sure. Hopefully no such case will ever come to trial.]

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