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Mother –

Lotta discussion of incest lately, in the context of Senator Santorum’s unwise remarks. Two observations.

First off, there is a potential qualitative difference between incest and homosexuality, and it has to do with imbalanced power relationships. The chances that an incestuous relationship embodies an unhealthy dominant/submissive relationship of some kind seems to me to be fairly high. Even if we’re not talking parent/child, the chance of an unhealthy sibling relationship is still sizable. The inherent risk of a psychologically unhealthy incestuous relationship merits separate legal treatment.

(No offense meant to healthy incestuous relationships. And there goes my chances of holding office.)

Second, if “it’s hard to provide a good distinction between consensual adult homosexuality and consensual adult incest,” then one ought also to mention that “it’s hard to provide a good distinction between consensual adult heterosexuality and consensual adult incest.” That is, after all, an equally valid logical result of the argument Volokh is making. Oddly, nobody seems to want to phrase it that way — it’s easier to lump incest and homosexuality together. Which is the same implication Santorum made.

2 Comments

  1. Actually, it’s ludicrously easy to “provide a good distinction between consensual adult homosexuality and consensual adult incest.” The probability of a consensual adult homosexual relationship resulting in the birth of a child with genetic defects is exactly 0.

  2. Interesting. I see William Saletan has already beaten me to that particular punch, and reached a conclusion from Mars.

    For my part, I was just enjoying the irony that incest is morally wrong because it can lead to children, and homosexuality is morally wrong because it cannot.

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