Legalize Prostitution, Polygamy, Incest and Bestiality
The objections to all of these phenomena are really not what people say they are.
Prostitution, Polygamy, Incest and Bestiality. I would argue that all of them should be legal. That is for the same reason that the state has very little interest controlling what people do in their own private lives in their own bedrooms unless it directly and negatively affects other people in a tangible way.
I’m not convinced that any of those particular items, whether it’s bestiality, polygamy, incest do have that affect on consenting adults or between human beings, or animals where consent is not really a meaningful question.
I think you have to assess each of these phenomena on its own terms, though. And I’ve written fairly extensively on each. I think the concerns about polygamy are structural. While it is entirely not my concern if people want to have three or four wives, or 30 or 40 husbands – some cultures they do, and those cultures survive quite well.
My one concern would be, for example, the person who decides they’re going to have 40 wives and will let social Security pay benefits to all of them after their demise. And we have to set up a system to balance the rights of people to marry who and however many people they choose with one that controls funding of this in a way so that the rest of society can function.
In the same manner, while I think bestiality, per se, should be legal, I think there may be forms of bestiality that transcends into animal cruelty and there the government might want to step in. I think the important distinction to make is, it is not inherently clear that sex between animals and humans is unpleasurable for the animals, and in fact there are documented cases where clearly it is the opposite.
There is a man who, off the coast of England masturbates with the Dolphins. Not something I would particularly choose to do, but he seems to find it fulfilling. And we know the Dolphins find it fulfilling because they keep coming back for more. I think you’re hard pressed to argue that this is fundamentally unethical. People talk about animals not being able to consent. Your dog can’t consent when you play Frisbee with it either. Nobody evaluates the question in that term.
Prostitution, we often hear the objection here is this leads to vice, this leads to crime, and we’d be undermining the social fabric of the community. In places that have legalized or decriminalize prostitution - Amsterdam comes to mind, Sweden comes to mind - crime rates have actually gone down. The prostitutes, rather than being victims, can lead stable middle-class lives and they are protected.
The objections to all of these phenomena are really not what people say they are. People say they are concerned about the welfare of the individuals, but what they are really interested in doing is imposing their own social values, or their own religious values on other people. And that’s what really concerns me.
In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock
What makes a life worth living as you grow older?
- Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel revisits his essay on wanting to die at 75 years old.
- The doctor believes that an old life filled with disability and lessened activity isn't worth living.
- Activists believe his argument stinks of ageism, while advances in biohacking could render his point moot.
The Amazon Rainforest is often called "The Planet's Lungs."
- For weeks, fires have been burning in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, likely started by farmers and ranchers.
- Brazil's president, Jair Bolsonaro, has blamed NGOs for starting the flames, offering no evidence to support the claim.
- There are small steps you can take to help curb deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, which produces about 20 percent of the world's oxygen.
The world's largest retailer has evolved "like a flea market," according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal.
- The report found more than 4,000 listings for products deemed to be unsafe, banned or mislabelled.
- These products included mislabelled pain relievers, dangerous children's toys, and helmets that had failed federal safety tests.
- There are some steps you can take to avoid buying unsafe or counterfeit products from Amazon.