Cartoon from Dee's blog.
Lets not let it get like this fellars.
I have read a fair bit of material from Mary Ruwart without significant disagreement with her, in fact I generally see her as quite reasonable. I have to disagree strongly however when I find the following quote from her book “Short answers to tough Questions”: -
"Children who willingly participate in sexual acts have the right to make that decision as well, even if it's distasteful to us personally. Some children will make poor choices just as some adults do in smoking and drinking to excess. When we outlaw child pornography, the prices paid for child performers rise, increasing the incentives for parents to use children against their will."I have been involved in libertarian politics for over thirty years and have never seen a libertarian argue before against the state having the right to pass ‘reasonable laws for the protection of children’. This does not entail support for the nanny state anti any sort of reasonable discipline laws, but laws that protect them from abuse and being preyed on by the unscrupulous.
Steve Newton at Delawarelibertarian has responded with some understanding and a reasonable perspective on it when he points out: -
I don't believe that this statement was intended as an endorsement of very young children having sex with adults, and other writings by Dr. Ruwart would support that interpretation. I think, as a philosopher and scholar, that she's rejecting one-size-fits-all age-of-consent laws, and thinking about a wide variety of paradoxes in our current society (i.e., two thirteen year olds having sex or a sixteen year old having sex with a five year old--in both cases both participants would be considered children--as opposed to a 17 year old having sex with an 18 year old who might only be a few months or days older). Just as I think there are 14 year olds out there I would trust to vote (and 25 year olds I'd like to have spayed or neutered), Dr. Ruwart takes a stand against that dysfunctional ambiguity in our laws which assign the right to have sex to all eighteen year olds, even though they don't have the right to take a drink for three more years.Wayne Allyn Root has weighed in with a post on the subject, “Anarchism, Age of Consent Laws and the Dallas Accord,” some of which I quote here: -
And none of that matters, because this is the type of position that, while it may have academic or philosophic merit, reveals that the individual holding it as completely lacking the intellectual and political judgment necessary to hold executive elected office as a five year old lacks the intellectual and moral capacity to consent to sexual intercourse.
………. Dr. Ruwart did not elaborate on how predators would be prosecuted without legislation specifying age of consent. In other discussion, she explained to delegates that courts were likely to consider that pre-pubescent children had been coerced, since desire would be absent. The burden of proof would be on the pornography producer or older sex partner to show that coercion, e.g. rape, had not occurred.Wayne finishes with this point: -
One presumes that Ms. Ruwart is referring to a system of private courts in her quote, since she opposes having courts run by the state.
Ms. Ruwart readily admits to being an anarchist, and her beliefs lead her to take a position that is at odds with the vast majority of Americans, as well as with most members of the Libertarian Party. ………
At the very core of libertarianism is the belief that individuals have the right to enter into voluntary agreements with others. It is not the role of government to interfere with voluntary agreements. It is the role of limited government in a free society to enforce those agreements.
And in the absence of a voluntary agreement, it is the role of government to unwind such an agreement (if possible), require that restitution be provided to the wronged party (when appropriate) and, in some cases, punish the wrong doer.
So, what makes an agreement voluntary?
For one, it requires a meeting of the minds. One person makes an offer; the other person accepts the offer. Each party needs to comprehend what is being offered by the other. In cases where one or both parties do not understand the consideration being offered, there has been either a mistake or possibly fraud.
If I offer to sell you a high-end name-brand watch for $1,000 and you accept such an offer, we have both improved our lives from this transaction because of our different subjective values. If I unknowingly sold you a counterfeit watch, you could rescind the agreement. If I knowingly sold you a counterfeit watch, I have engaged in fraud and should be required to void the agreement, return your money, pay any civil damages awarded and possibly be punished as well.
For there to be a meeting of the minds, both parties need to have sufficient mental capacity to understand the nature and consequences of the transaction.
If your elderly parent suffers from dementia brought about by Alzheimer’s disease and he sells his $500,000 home for $1, the buyer’s participation in such a transaction is tantamount to defrauding the seller – and in a libertarian society it is a proper role of government to make and enforce laws against fraud. To protect those who are mentally incompetent, a court may even go so far as to appoint a guardian or conservator to care for the person’s estate.
While not every person as they age becomes incompetent, all individuals start out their lives in such a state. We begin life without the ability to reason and start out dependent on others for our safety and welfare. As we mature, our mental capacity improves and we slowly gain the ability to make competent decisions. No method is available today in the realm of science that enables us to objectively judge that an individual has become competent enough to consent to life-changing decisions. Until that day comes, we have little choice but to create a legal framework as a substitute. ……….
Young children will do most anything to please adults they trust because it is a hard-wired survival mechanism. A young child does not understand the life-long consequences of sex – pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and the emotional damage this can bring about.
The enforcement of laws prohibiting adults from engaging in sex with children, facilitating underage drinking and drug use, and producing child pornography all act as disincentives against those considering the commission of such crimes. It is this deterrent that protects children against risks to their health, welfare and reputations – risks children cannot fully comprehend, especially when unscrupulous adult authority figures are manipulating the situation.
Whether your philosophical position is closer to Ms. Ruwart’s vision of anarchy or my position of limited government, ask yourself this practical question:Steve Newton Made the point with “What does concern me is the idea that the Libertarian Party, instead of making profound statements on a far less bloody, less costly, non-interventionist foreign policy, or for the right of all consenting adult citizens in America to get married regardless of their gender, will become the poster child for NAMBLA and the aluminum hat brigade.”
No matter how one might attempt to present the position, do you believe we will grow the Libertarian Party, or damage it, by promoting the removal of age-of-consent laws or any other laws that the vast majority of Americans believe protect innocent children from adults who would sexually exploit them?
Both Steve and Wayne are pragmatic libertarians, Steve a reasonably ‘intellectually pure’ one, while Wayne tends to be further out toward the borderline with moderate republicanism. The LP is not an anarchist organization and those standing for office should not be pushing their own personal philosophy when at odds with the political ideals of the party itself.