The Instigator
bluesteel
Con (against)
Winning
8 Points
The Contender
Pressfield
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points

Consensual incest should be illegal in the United States

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
bluesteel
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/19/2014 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,419 times Debate No: 49490
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (2)

 

bluesteel

Con

First round is for acceptance only [just type "I accept" and submit your argument].

Incest = sexual relations between two people who are closely related

BOP is shared
Pressfield

Pro

I agree to the debate.

Let us define incest as between first cousins and anyone more genetically similar? pm me
Debate Round No. 1
bluesteel

Con

== Definitions ==

Incest = sexual relations between two people who are at least as genetically related as first cousins, meaning they share 12.5% of their DNA. This would include "sexual relations" between: siblings (50%), half-siblings (25%), parents and children (50%), grandparents and grandchildren (25%), aunts/uncles and nieces/nephews (25%), and first cousins (12.5%). [11]

Sexual relations = any sexual behavior between individuals [7]

Illegal = against the law; subject to criminal punishment

C1) Accidental incest

The definition of incest contains no knowledge requirement - that the two people know they are related when they are having sexual relations. Incest should not be criminalized because a significant number of incestuous relationships are accidental. It is surprisingly common for brothers and sisters raised apart to meet and fall in love, without knowing they are related.



For example, a couple recently found out at their wedding [when mutual relatives first met each other and saw familiar faces] that they were in fact brother and sister. [1] They had been split up at birth. At the time of their wedding, they had already been together for 5 years and had a child together. [1] Another brother-sister married-couple found out they were fraternal twins separated at birth. [6] Another couple met in college, got married, and had 3 children. [4] They later found out that they were half brother and sister because their mothers were both lesbians who used a sperm donor. [5] After trying to track down their biological fathers, they found out that it was actually the same person. As use of assistive reproductive technology becomes more common (and lesbian couples have more children), accidental incest will become more common.

It seems unfair to punish people who accidentally or unknowingly engage in incest. Given that human biology is designed to avoid sexual attraction towards the people that we are raised with, accidental incest seems like the predominant type of incestuous relationship. And since relationships are more public than secretive affairs, these are the crimes most likely to come to the awareness of law enforcement and be prosecuted. Therefore, it seems unfair to ban incest because it results in unfair prosecutions.

C2) Unenforceability

In most cases, it will be impossible to enforce the law without violating the Constitution. People have a right to privacy, and the Supreme Court said in Griswold v. Connecticut and reaffirmed in Lawrence v. Texas that the bedroom is a private place that the State should not be barging into. The Constitution does not allow the law enforcement tactics that would be necessary to enforce incest laws because such methods violate the Constitutional right to privacy inherent in the Due Process clause of the 14th Amendment. Therefore, because incest laws are unconstitutional, vote Con.

C3) Harm Principle

Social contract theory attempts to define the times when that the State can legitimately exercise its power over individuals. We begin by imagining a state of nature that pre-dates society. According to John Locke, "the State of Nature, the natural condition of mankind, is a state of perfect and complete liberty to conduct one"s life as one best sees fit, free from the interference of others." [10] People then agree to give up some of their freedom in order to live in a society. [10] John Stuart Mills argued that the only reason that people give up this freedom is to be protected from being harmed by others. Thus, Mills concluded that "the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others."

The State cannot legitimately ban consensual incest because it harms no one. Both partners want the sexual contact to occur. The genetic risk to any potential child is not a sufficient argument because:

  1. (1) Children have no right to not be conceived. If anything, they have a right to life, regardless of their genetic makeup.

  2. (2) The genetics argument cannot be used to justify prohibiting people from procreating. The same "genetic risk" argument could be used to tell people who are already married and know they each have a certain genetic trait [e.g. because they have already had a child with the disease] that they cannot reproduce. The same argument would mean telling people with dominant-gene diseases that they cannot reproduce at all. The same argument would mean telling Jewish people they can"t marry other Jews, since a lot of traits - such ulcerative colitis and 29 other serious genetic diseases - are much more prevalent in the Jewish gene pool. [3] The same argument would mean telling people with Downs Syndrome that they cannot have children. A single partner with Downs has a 25% chance of having a Downs baby, whereas a couple who both have Downs have a 50% chance of having a Downs baby and a 25% chance of the pregnancy not being viable, meaning if the child survives to birth, there is a two-thirds chance it will have Downs. [2] However, most people believe that these genetics arguments would not fly in such situations because the liberty interest allows people the freedom of self-determination, as the Supreme Court stated in Lawrence v. Texas. That case held that assertions of "morality" are not a sufficient reason to justify the passage of a law. In essence, Lawrence requires a law to satisfy the harm principle or else it would violate the liberty interest in the 14th Amendment.

  3. (3) Given the risks recounted in #2, the 12.5% genetic relationship cutoff for incest seems completely arbitrary. There can be no moral reason that sex between people who share more DNA than this cutoff is immoral and sex between people who share less DNA than the cutoff is completely fine. For the rule to make sense, we would have to subject everyone to testing for genetic similarity prior to marriage and ban marriages if the similarity is too high. Otherwise, the only justification for incest laws is some arbitrary "ick factor."

  4. (4) Lastly, the genetics argument cannot justify disallowing incest between same-sex partners. Sister-sister and brother-brother incest must be legal if the only justification for banning it is that they might have messed up children because gay sex cannot result in reproduction. Banning incest using genetics as a justification would therefore be held to be a violation of the Due Process clause because laws must have a "rational basis," and it is irrationally overbroad to apply incest laws to couples who cannot reproduce. In City of Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Center, the Supreme Court held that irrationally overbroad laws are unconstitutional.




C3) Punishing children who are just experimenting is bad

Brothers and sisters sometimes play around with each other and "play doctor" as they are learning about the bodies of the other gender.



Research has estimated 10-15% of the general population as having at least one incestuous sexual contact, with less than 2% involving intercourse. [8] Because incest as defined as involving "sexual relations," this covers a much broader range of conduct than simply intercourse. If incest is illegal in all cases, we would be forced to throw children in juvenile detention for consensual sex play between young children of nearly the same age. This doesn"t make sense. Prison often operates as a "school for criminals" because it has the potential to take in someone not predisposed to crime and turn him into a hardened criminal. Once someone has gone to jail, he [or she] suddenly attracts social stigma as being a criminal and many of his [or her] peers and friends are now comprised of people he [or she] met in jail. Sending the 10-15% of small children who engage in incest to jail would merely produce a large population of recidivist criminals.

In addition, incarcerating 15% of the population for incest would cost approximately $11 trillion, assuming a relatively short prison sentence of only 2 years. [9] The costs of making consensual incest illegal are simply not worth the benefits.

[1] http://www.dailymail.co.uk...
[2] http://www.thesebrokenvases.com...
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[4] http://www.slate.com...
[5] http://thestir.cafemom.com...
[6] http://www.standard.co.uk...
[7] Google "define: sexual relations"
[8] Nemeroff, W. Edward; Craighead (2001). The Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology and Behavioral Science.
[9] $28,000 average cost of incarceration per year (assuming 2 years in prison); $10,000 cost to arrest [http://tinyurl.com...]; $42,000 per hour court costs (assuming a short 3 hour trial) [http://tinyurl.com...]
[10] http://www.iep.utm.edu...
[11] http://www.joshuakennon.com...
Pressfield

Pro

Pressfield forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
bluesteel

Con

Forfeit = all arguments are dropped, so Vote Con on "arguments" and "conduct."
Pressfield

Pro

Or better yet don't vote at all and let this pointless debate sit as it is. Anyone who votes con is a cousin-lover :).

I've failed to respond because of time constraints.

It seems to me that you're using too many unverified second-hand sources, and I just want to use this website as a personal development tool (remembering information and its source, being more consistent in my beliefs) you may have won the debate but you haven't really convinced me to change my view in a "real" sense. I personally wouldn't hate someone who commited incest but perhaps its labeling or something else but its not a good idea and general society it will kill your social value, if you believe in only one true love then go for it.

vote con for debate conduct and everything else disregard what I said at the beginning :)
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by Pressfield 2 years ago
Pressfield
I thought this was the other debate, well I'm still not able to respond as I must do something else of more importance.
Posted by Pressfield 2 years ago
Pressfield
I pressed submit at the last second and it forfeited me, but I'm still interested in this debate. If you want to put this debate up again I'm willing to post what I have and keep going with this.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Raisor 2 years ago
Raisor
bluesteelPressfieldTied
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD: I am, in fact, a cousin-lover. Also Con forfeti
Vote Placed by Geogeer 2 years ago
Geogeer
bluesteelPressfieldTied
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro forfeited.