An Example of Consensual Incest
Tauriq Moosa is a tutor in ethics, bioethics and critical thinking at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. He is currently pursuing a Masters degree at the Centre for Applied Ethics, Stellenbosch University. He has published essays and articles on practical ethics, focusing on subjects like free expression, killing, sex, and religion in public life. He debated religion with Archbishop Desmond Tutu in the BBC documentary, the Tutu Talks, and has been featured on local radio shows. He is also an avid comic book writer and reader.
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Twin Brothers in Almost Lifelong Relationship
Though I don't read "Dear Prudence" letters, I was struck by a recent headline on Slate (which I do read). 'Brotherly Love: My twin and I share an earth-shattering secret that could devastate our family—should we reveal it?' Here is a clear example of a consensual, incestuous relationship between two adult men. They appear to have had a lifetime (quite literally, considering they were born on the same day, from the same mother) of mutual affection and love for one another.
They are now adult men, who live together as a monogamous couple. Nothing indicates immorality in their actions. Or least nothing immoral by a reasonable standard of that term. Sure, perhaps we can say it is "wrong" that they might upset their family and so on, but that's hardly a basis for moral action. Simply being gay, discarding monotheism and marrying a person of a different race upsets plenty of families, too, but these are not immoral actions in themselves.
What troubles me, concerning this gentleman and his twin, is that there are possible legal ramifications for their relationship. Emily Yoffe said in reply:
I spoke to Dan Markel, a professor at Florida State University College of Law. He said that while incest is generally illegal in most jurisdictions, the laws tend to be enforced in a way that would protect minors, prevent sexual abuse, and address imbalances of power. Those aren’t at issue in your consensual adult relationship, but Markel suggests you have a consultation with a criminal defense attorney (don't worry, the discussion would be confidential) to find out if your relationship would come under the state incest statutes. Either way, it’s better to know, and if it is illegal, as long as you remain discreet the likelihood of prosecution is remote.
It is at least comforting to note that the laws are focused on protecting minors, sexual abuse and imbalances of power. After all, these should be the focus for nearly all major laws that aim at prosecution. What this should tell us, and what confirms my previous post about incest, is that there is nothing special about incest relationships, per se. These relationships, like any relationships, only should become of concern to others when there are abuses of power, a real danger to minors and so on. Again: It's not the incest that matters but the protection of innocents and preventing suffering.
There is no case for that here. Indeed, there is no reason for them to them to be discreet, except for the existence of possible backward laws, which keeps in check most people's horror rather than keeping in check reasonable applications of law. We should not be appalled at the relationship.
Rather, we should be appalled at the fact that these two consenting, monogamous and loving individuals need to check laws in order to not be prosecuted. That this still occurs is terrible, but confirms yet again that individual liberty requires constant engagement, from all sides. We overcame this backward thinking, this idea that consensual adult love requires state permission, with miscegenation and we've almost done it for homosexuality. There's no reason I can see for not bringing consensual incest into this bracket of sexual relations that require defence, too.
Image Credit: Fribus Ekaterina/Shutterstock.com
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If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.
- The cauliflower is a vegetable of choice if you're on the keto diet.
- The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
- It can be eaten both raw and cooked for different benefits.
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