So I read with interest this article about an Australian father/daughter couple. I also read a few weeks ago about a German brother/sister couple. In both situations, the relationships had become court cases and great fodder for the media, turning Der Speigel into something more akin to The Jerry Springer Show.
Incest is a sexual relationship between close relatives. The standard of closeness can varry, but generally parent/offspring, grandparent/grandchild, aunt and/or uncle/niece and/or nephew, and sibling/sibling are all held to be very taboo in many cultures. Not surprising, it’s very nature as a taboo makes it fodder for its own particular variety of porn (and, for the record, I have a copy of Double Czech. Yeah, it’s just what it’s described as, and exceptionally hot, though I’ve a sibling incest fetish I’m entirely unapologetic about).
There’s a lot of reasons for the strong taboo, of course, inbreeding being one of them, and issues of consent being another. Proponents of strong anti-incest laws point to the possible birth defects that can result from matings between closely-related people. There’s also, of course, the fact that likely very few incestual relationships are entered into with informed consent on the part of all the people involved.
But what about those that are? What about the very few cases where siblings hook up? Or the more common one with cousins? I’d find it a bit of a strech to picture truly consentual parent/offspring relationships, but I suppose they aren’t impossible. We can’t know for sure that the people involved are fully consenting, but really we can’t know for sure about the status of any relationship people have. Ultimately we have to take their word for it.
As you can probably imagine, I’m in favor of repealing any laws against consentual incest. If a pair of siblings really want to get it on, why should we as a society throw them into prison for it? How do we benefit by turning people into criminals because of who they choose to sleep with? Heck, in Sweden siblings can legally marry each other!
Arguments against this mainly center around the aforementioned issues of genetics and consent. I’ve already addressed the consent issue. The genetic issue is a little different. Yes, there’s a greater chance of children being born with birth defects (which isn’t an issue in same-sex incestual relationships), but so what? If you want to prevent people from having offspring with congenital birth defects, then don’t you have to make it illegal for anyone with a greater than average chance of having children who have congenital deformities to have children? I’ve also read at least some literature (forgive me, I don’t have links to it at the moment), which contends there’s a chance of having children be born with the better traits of their parents. Rather like breeding champion dogs.
Let me reiterate. I have no sympathy for anyone who is forcing someone else into an incestual relationship. By the same token, my love of freedom is such that I’m more than willing to let people marry whomever they want. If it’s a heterosexual incestual coulple, I’d hope they’d use birth control, but if they don’t, that’s their choice, and ultimately to me, the freedom of choice is what is most important.
Turns out there was an American case like this fairly recently, too. Check Muth v Franklin, which, true to the nightmares of Rick Santorum, tried to use the precedent of Lawrence v Texas to contend that incest laws were un-Constitutional. They lost, and, just like in the German incest case I mentioned above, there was prison time imposed. Also, just like in the German case, the male was sentenced far more harshly than the female.
* UPDATE *
The original draft this article described the father/daughter couple as “Austrian”, which turned out to be slightly prohpetic. The couple are actually Australian.