It was one of those oddball stories that tends to blow up the internet.
“Consensual Incest” the headlines said.
What is “consensual incest”, you might ask?
If you haven’t heard this story elsewhere, this might be somewhat confusing. Disturbing, even.
In this case, consensual incest is what happens when an 18 year-old girl reconnects with her long-estranged father after a 12 year absence. She finds him attractive. They hit it off, and she eventually yields her virginity to him. “But, wait” — just as those infomercials like to say — “that’s not all!”
The two are moving to New Jersey together, intent on a quiet life of matrimonial bliss. They look forward to having kids one day, the articles tell us.
Now, I have no way of knowing whether this is an elaborate hoax, or an actual news story. Considering the bizarre precedents set concerning marriage, I’m not even sure whether it’s the most repulsive marriage I’ve heard of. Close, to be sure. But the guy in Sudan who was forced to marry the goat he had already, *ahem*, “known”, could edge them out for sheer nastiness.
And what are the arguments in favour of their union? What do they propose as justification of a union that was once considered not merely “taboo” but (almost universally) a self-evident violation of both natural inclinations and morality?
(Tell me if you’ve heard these before.)
“We / they are both adults.”
“We / they are both *consenting* adults.”
“We / they are very much in love.”
“Who are you to tell (legislate) us/them on the right way to live?”
“Who are you to tell me / us what we can or can’t do in our own bedroom?”
“You can’t choose who you fall in love with.”
Do any of these sound familiar? They should.
These are the same categories of arguments that were raised when the definitions of marriage were first made “pliable”. People scoffed when objectors said this would create “a slippery slope”.
When people complained that overturning the traditional definition of marriage would open it to groups pressuring the acceptance of every other possibility … polygamy (check) … bestiality (check) … incest and others —
Well, these concerns were simply brushed aside, weren’t they? People made light of them. Joked about them. Mocked the people who raised them.
Ridiculous! Why… everyone knows that incest is wrong. Who would possibly even dream of such a thing…? It seems these two would. Probably others, too.
I know the “kids” concern raises a different wrinkle: birth defects. But, for argument’s sake, let’s say that dear old dad decided to get “snipped”. With the pregnancy question set aside, would you still object to father and daughter being married?
Is it an archaic rule? Arbitrary? Or sensible?
If you were placed on a debate team, and asked to present the case for why they should be forbidden to marry, what case would you build?
Would you back down, and yield ground to this new normal? (Could you do that knowing the implications and danger that “normalizing” incestual relationships could put on the already staggering number of minors being sexually assaulted by relatives?)
Would you base your argument on nature? On morality? On societal norms? On the weight of human history?
I ask this because each of these arguments has already been glibly dismissed as irrelevant, and invalid the last time around. More than that, people framing such arguments had their personal motives, ethics, morality, and social norms questioned.
Would you stand your ground, even though you were maligned for it? Or would you yield that ground, bow your head in submission, and accept this as the new normal? Would you ignore the revulsion and outrage burning within you, and teach yourself to accept this “beautiful union”? … quietly mumbling “Not that there’s anything wrong with that” until you and those around you reluctantly begin to believe it?
(Remember that broken character in Orwell’s novel? The one that eventually agreed that “2+2=5”? Would you be him?)
You should figure out where you stand on such things. What societal boundaries truly are sacrosanct… and more importantly — why.
Because, one day, you could meet a little kid who tells you that “mommy is my sister”.
(Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Or is there?)