June 23, 2006

Adultery - The Unpunished Crime


Should adultery be punished? We have the full gammit of legality to work with, starting from taking their tax benefits away to a stone on the wrist. It just seems like one of the more serious crimes that we turn the other cheek on. Of course, we can play the 'what is adultery' game, but for this argument's sake, the question is do you and how do you criminalize a physical sexual act with someone who is not your spouse?

13 comments:

Jeff said...

Wow. I can't think of an area where government would be completely overstepping its bounds to "punish" one for adultery.

Save perhaps wanting to "ban" gay marriage or Senator Santorum's argument that consenual gay sex, sex outside of marriage, masturbation, and pornography should be made illegal.

Government has absolutely no place in the private lives of the adult individual when it comes to consensual activity. Let churches decide if they want to condemn or ostracize individuals for what the deem to be deviant sexual behavior. And let couples and individuals figure out their issues on their own or within/according to their church's doctrine.

So, long comment made short, to answer "Do you criminalize a physical sexual act?" (assuming it's consensual and between adults) is a resounding NO. It frightens me that the question is being asked.

Sabai said...

We punish people for not wearing their seatbelt. I don't think adultery is off-limits for discussion. Should there at least be any limitations for receiving tax-benefits if the marital covenant is broken?

Jeff said...

We punish people for not wearing their seatbelt because it presents a dramatic increase in lives saved and decreases the medical/insurance costs involved that impact us all when we pay for health insurance. Audultery may screw up marriages and be counter to religious doctrine, but you're not going to save any lives by outlawing it (save for the occasional crime of passion, which is a soap opera anomoly).

As for the tax benefits -- those disappear if/when the marriage is dissolved, so I don't see what else needs to be done. What if a couple works it out? The people who have been cheated on should be commended, not fiscally penalized, for being able to save their marriage in spite of such an unfortunate situation.

Sabai said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Arcane Rest said...

Should premarital sex be punished would have to be on there because isnt that going to be someone's wife someday? But then what about divorce should that have consequences (more than just 1/2 of what the person with money has)? Remember that it isnt only the adulterous act but the thoughts of adultery, I think Jesus said something like that

Sabai said...

ok, how about this? IF there was a consensus that adultery was wrong... then our goal would be to convince people not to commit adultery... so are there any civic powers that could help achieve this? This is leading up to a much bigger question by the way that I'm just trying to prepare for.

Arcane Rest said...

I believe most people already know it is wrong, but they still do it because they dont know what they vowed, or the seriousness of their vows. Also, putting civic authority something like this would bring about a lot of ramifications.

Jeff said...

Like arcane rest (sorry I don't know your real name) says, there is a consensus that adultery is wrong. I don't think you'd find more than 5% of the population who would argue that it's okay. But it's simply not the role of government to intervene. If it was, who's to stop them from telling us what to eat, what to wear, who to marry, etc.?

This is the big problem I have with the neoconservative movement -- on fiscal issues, the outcry is that government spending should be extremely limited, yet on social issues they want the government's nose in everything, advocating limited religious perspectives (on abortion, on gay marriage, on stem cell research, etc.) to become law. How can you propose limited government in one area and yet want your social values reenforced by law? The contradiction of the movement couldn't be clearer.

Sabai said...

Similarly could you say that the average democrat who wants the opposite (pro-government spending, but nose out of every social issue) contradicts itself as well?

A neo-con might argue that the government sucks at handling money, and that a laissez-faire market has worked every time it's been tried, and that the social decline in specific European countries is not something that we want to imitate.

Jeff said...

I have a bit of time, so forgive this long comment.

I'd say the average Democrat sees that the government can be beaurocratic or efficient whether a Republican or Democrat is in charge -- it depends on the competency of the individuals at work, not simply along party lines. What the current administration has done, maximizing the deficit to a level unseen in US history, while Clinton's administration and a Republican congress balanced the budget with pay-as-you-go spending in the late nineties, proves it.

What an average Democrat also would argue is that the best role for government is to encourage a free market, but to keep checks on it to prevent collusion, monopolies, and the amorality that can often permeate a corporate-led world.

A laissez-faire market does not always work, as you suggest. For example, take a look at what happened in 1999 in Bolivia when they privatized the water industry -- a British corporation was given a 40 year contract and they immediately raised the price of water to the equivalent of nearly half an average person's salary. Obviously the demand for the stuff wasn't going away any time soon, and thus the people revolted to nullify the contract (they succeeded only after four days of violent protesting, with many people dying). Or take a look at what happened in California when they deregulated energy. Enron (secretly) encouraged their suppliers to shut down partial power for no reason, other than to spike demand and increase energy rates.

These are extreme examples, and both deal with utilities, but they show how the conservative push to privatize everything (Social Security, for example) and let free markets reign, is not without its many pitfalls and abundant insecurities.

Such is the place for government -- to assure some semblance of security and normalcy in regards to monetary policy.

Secondly, the "social decline" we often hear about happening in Europe, I'd argue, is largely a myth. Other than declining birthrates in Italy (more a product of their chauvinist culture than a slide in morality), what evidence do you have that the continent is in a depravitous decline? This "slippery slope" of moral relativism in Europe seems to me to be without evidence.

On the other end of the spectrum, to go slippery slope with you, let's look at Islamic Saudi Arabia as a model for the indoctrination of non-secular social policies. What's to prevent a neocon majority sliding toward such unseemly theocratic rule (where one can be jailed for discussing the Bible)? How do we legislate on matters where it requires religious faith to agree with such a perspective? And then, where does the line get drawn? How do we advocate that Intelligent Design be taught in our classrooms, without also saying that we could have been created by magic fairies, if that idea begins to gain popularity among a different religion? This is why most Democrats oppose such social mandating, and thus it's not contradictory to fiscal policy.

Alright, that's enough out of me on this topic.

Sabai said...

I hope that no-one is PRO social-mandating. I think that the idea is that we are in a democracy, and we should let the majority rule.

The majority of Americans do not want to make the Bible illegal, so that would not happen under a democracy. So, that is not a fear of mine when discussing creating moral boundaries.

A 40-year contract with no competition is NOT a free market. That's no different than a government-owned subsidiary.

I guess the social decline I am referring to can best be described where for the recent World Cup matches, Germany legalized public prostitution in a newly-moved red light district around the stadium. Of course, what I see as decline may be seen as liberation to others.

nomad said...

Hey sabai!

It's your pal Sean from EW.
I've missed our politically-charged debates from work, so I decided to post here.

Sorry to carry on.

I just wanted to chop at the root of your thought pattern on this issue. You keep approaching the situation from the mindset that a democracy is 'majority rule'. I think that is a misguided approach.

Wikipedia defines 'majority rule' as a rather negative concept (which I have to agree with):

Another conception of democracy is that it is majority rule and is justified under utilitarian reasoning. The advantages of democracy seen under this conception is that the majority of the population are satisfied with the governance they live under. The disadvantage is that the minority live under the power of the majority sometimes termed the tyranny of the majority, or mob rule. This can lead to the marginalisation of large portions of a population if the will of the majority is not restrained by a strong and just constitution and legal system.

So going from that basis, just because most people think that adultery is wrong, shouldn't make it illegal. Besides, the adulterers will 'sow what the reap' in the end. They cause themselves enough sorrow & grief on their own w/out the gov't adding more.

nomad said...

Hey sabai!

It's your pal Sean from EW.
I've missed our politically-charged debates from work, so I decided to post here.

Sorry to carry on.

I just wanted to chop at the root of your thought pattern on this issue. You keep approaching the situation from the mindset that a democracy is 'majority rule'. I think that is a misguided approach.

Wikipedia defines 'majority rule' as a rather negative concept (which I have to agree with):

Another conception of democracy is that it is majority rule and is justified under utilitarian reasoning. The advantages of democracy seen under this conception is that the majority of the population are satisfied with the governance they live under. The disadvantage is that the minority live under the power of the majority sometimes termed the tyranny of the majority, or mob rule. This can lead to the marginalisation of large portions of a population if the will of the majority is not restrained by a strong and just constitution and legal system.

You may want to see how they define a democracy:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy

So going from that basis, just because most people think that adultery is wrong, shouldn't make it illegal. Besides, the adulterers will 'sow what the reap' in the end. They will cause themselves enough sorrow & grief on their own w/out the gov't adding more.

Also, I apologize to commenting on such an old post of yours, but I just started reading your blog! I'll probably be doing it to other posts of yours too!