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Friday, February 05, 2016

Defining "Consent"

One's choice of consensual sexual expression is a freedom-of-conscience issue that must be respected, if we expect others to respect our own freedom of conscience.
Can you see the hidden assumption in the statement above?


It assumes that we share a common definition of  "consent" But what if we don't? For instance, what if two men consensually decide that one of them should be cannabilized, that one man should have parts of his own body carved off him while he is still alive, and both men then cook and consume the parts? What if that is a consensual action? Does society have no right to interfere?

This is not an academic question. Exactly these kinds of cases have been popping up during the 21st century. Google "Armin Meiwes" - a homosexual who used wants ads to find a like-minded homosexual, and both proceeded to act exactly as I have described.  Now, Armin was prosecuted and jailed (so much for consent), but this Japanese cook was not. So, in terms of consent, which country did the right thing? The Germans? Or the Japanese?

What constitutes consensual? For Islam, an eight-year old girl can be given to a fifty year old man for marriage and sex. For libertarians, there is no legal problem with two individuals who enter into a private contract wherein one freely sells himself into lifetime slave-bondage to the second one.

So, therein lies the problem - even if we agree that "consensual" makes something acceptable (an incredibly stupid definition, but let's go with it), we are still left with the problem that not everyone agrees on the definition of "consensual". Some insist on elements (age, mental capacity, etc.) that others deny are necessary.

Without a Christian substrate to judge the relative merits, there is no way to determine who is correct. No matter which side wins, the win is arbitrary. Why should person A's values be held acceptable over person B's values? To ask the question is to despair of an answer. The conundrum is purely rhetorical.

Modern-day libertines, such as those that populate our political and intellectual classes (such as they are), tend to legalize stupid, insane behaviour for a simple reason: they intend on acting badly, but if they can define even more outrageous behaviour as acceptable, then their own behaviour will get a pass. So, they see no serious problem with using public definitions that make their own personal definitions seem reasonable. That's how we get legal contraception, abortion, homosexuality, transgenderism, euthanasia, and a host of other socially destructive behaviours out in the public square.

Sure, all of these things lead to social breakdown, but at least our fearless leaders get to do what they want. And isn't that why society exists - to give them their hearts' desires, without fear of social disdain? 

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