Milo Yiannopolous seems to have got himself into a spot of bother over remarks about homosexual sex with teenagers. The gist of it – especially if you read his clarification – seems to be that he was ready to take it up the bum at 13 and if it was OK for him then it would probably be OK for others. I suspect – given the little I know about him – that Milo at that age would have been capable of weighing up the pros and cons of such a decision. But not many others.
Milo raises – albeit indirectly – an important question: when does a child become an adult? As it happens, I drafted an attempt at an answer to this some time ago but lacked the guts to publish it. It’s time I did:
As the law stands if a man has sex with a female of 15 years and 364 days he is a scoundrel who should be imprisoned for a very long time. However, if he has sex with a female of 16 years and 0 days that’s just fine and dandy.
Or to put it another way, in the opinion of the law all women undergo the transition from young, innocent child to responsible, rational adult in a split second at exactly the same age.
That’s absurd; but, for the law, hardly uncommon. Similar rules apply to all sorts of aspects of growing up: when you can drive a car, enter into contracts, vote, marry, drink alcohol, leave school, get a job etc. And in each case the state’s answer is some arbitrary, one-size-fits-all number. And often it is a different number: 17 for driving (I am referring to English law here), 18 for drinking, 16 for sex. That can’t be right.
Could there perhaps, be a solution that is – to paraphrase H. L. Mencken – simple, neat and not wrong? The argument for numbers is that you have to draw the line somewhere, meaning: the law has to draw the line somewhere. But why should it be the law drawing the line? Why can’t it be the child? What if when the child comes to the decision that he is old enough to take on the rights and responsibilities of adulthood he just does? Obviously, he would have to tell people but that implies some sort of arrangement not unlike marriage with documents, ceremonies and cooling-off periods. Hardly beyond the wit of man.
I’ve been trying to think up some drawbacks. One might be that a girl’s declaration of adulthood might look awfully like a declaration that she wanted to have sex. And women are a bit coy about that sort of thing. Another might be that some children would decide to become adults at an absurdly young age and then proceed to ruin their lives, perhaps by driving the car into a bunch of passers-by. Or drinking themselves to death. But how likely is that? My personal experience of childhood is that I was perfectly well aware of my unpreparedness for taking on the responsiblities of adulthood. Perhaps we should be more worried about the other end of the age scale. Would some people choose to extend their childhood into their 20s and beyond?
Perhaps one way to look at this is to consider when we might ourselves have felt ready for the transition. In my case I think it was about 14-15. The only issue for me at that age would have been the predatory homosexuals who made up the school’s English Department.
A recent decision of the English Court of Appeal presents a sharp, but unsurprising, illustration of the perils of marriage for those interested in keeping their property and the fruits of their labours.
Surrey couple’s divorce payments raised after 15 years
The ex-husband of a woman who was awarded £230,000 on her divorce has been told by the Court of Appeal he must support her for life.
Maria Mills, 51, was originally awarded £1,100 a month from 50-year-old Graham Mills after 13 years of marriage.
Appeal Court judges also ruled he should pay her £1,441 per month as she is “unable to meet her basic needs”.
Some 15 years after the marriage ended, with an adult child, Mr Mills now faces a lifetime of supporting his ex-wife. Why is this, might you ask?
Because Mrs Mills unfortunately p*ssed away all her money in unwise property deals, despite the apparently endless ballooning of property prices in London and Southeast England, so she has had her maintenance order reviewed. To her credit, the former estate agent is working.
Mrs Mills works for two days per week as a beauty therapist
Well, that is something, and it belies the old jibe about why estate agents don’t look out the window in the morning, since they would then have nothing to do in the afternoon.
It’s high time for freedom of contract in marriage, let the terms be negotiated and if one side fundamentally breaches the terms, why not allow the injured party to repudiate the contract with no damages to the wrongdoer whatsoever for the other side?
As for the ‘child bomb’, could the law let child support be a matter of parental conscience, or perhaps 50/50 (excluding mitochondria donors)?
If you were seeking to destroy marriage as an institution, would you have done anything differently than to set up laws that allow for judgements such as this? The moral hazard is obvious: Risk the capital, take a part-time job, and come back for more, till death.
Would any person marry someone less wealthy, less industrious, or with fewer prospects under English law?
Yet another knife in the face of the rule of law is proposed in England and Wales, to deal with the problem of stalking.
The Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, appears to be pleased with the proposals.
New stalking protection orders will be introduced to better protect victims at the earliest possible stage, the home secretary has announced.
Amber Rudd called it “a practical solution to a crime taking place now”.
A closer inspection of the proposals reveals a familiar tactic, imposing a court order on someone who has not been convicted of any crime, and making a breach of that order a crime. This has already been in place since the Protection From Harassment Act 1997 was brought in, which was, IIRC, supposed to have dealt with this problem.
And look at the box of tricks that the State is offering:
The orders in England and Wales will help those who are targeted by strangers, giving them similar protection to domestic abuse victims.
Breaching an order’s conditions will be a criminal offence with a maximum sentence of five years in jail.
Police will be able to apply to the courts for an order before a stalking suspect has been convicted or even arrested.
The requirements of the order will vary according to the nature of the case. Typically, the suspect will be banned from going near the victim and contacting them online.
So no need to even arrest someone, just dump an order on them, and that will be a good start. But there’e more, all very Soviet if you ask me.
They might also be ordered to attend a rehabilitation programme, or undergo treatment if they have a mental health problem.
So without so much as a chance to argue your case, you could find yourself ordered to undergo treatment, and risk 5 years in jail if you refuse.
Not that it is much better that this could perhaps only follow a conviction.
So what do the police think?
The National Police Chiefs’ Council’s lead for stalking and harassment, Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan, said:”We want to stop stalkers in their tracks.
“The launch of stalking protection orders will help us intervene earlier and place controls on perpetrators to prevent their behaviour escalating while the crime is investigated.”
Not, I note ‘We want to bring suspects before the courts if the evidence justifies arrest, charge and a realistic prospect of conviction in a situation where it is in the public interest to prosecute, even though prosecution is a matter for the Crown, not the police.’, which would be a bare minimum of respect for the rule of law. But clearly not a shoot-to-kill to ‘stop stalkers in their tracks‘.
And what do the ‘charities’ think?
Rachel Griffin, director of the Suzy Lamplugh Trust which manages the National Stalking Helpline, welcomed the announcement.
“We are really excited that the order allows positive obligations to be put on a stalker,” Ms Griffin said.
“But of course that mental health treatment needs to be available at local level.”
This ‘trust’ is named for a murdered estate agent. I don’t see how killing the rule of law is an appropriate memorial to her. And did you note the sly hint that (State) funding is important?
And on what pretext is the rule of law being sacrificed, with a dagger in the chest for the beating heart to be pulled out and eaten warm?
Stalking protection orders form part of a package of government action to coincide with 16 days of action following the 25 November International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women.
How about the elimination of violence against the rule of law?
Enjoy! [edit: Tuesday December 6th, SSL is now enabled.]
The Times 5 February 1916 p3
Ok, maybe the time as not quite arrived just yet but it is an idea I have long liked, and it seems I am not the only one:
You could open up futures markets in passports, you could have derivatives.
– David Card, professor of economics, U.C. Berkeley
The notion gives me the giggles and it has much to commend it. Yes, I used to be a futures trader 😉
“History,” wrote Edward Gibbon “is indeed little more than the register of the crimes, follies, and misfortunes of mankind.” One can well believe that his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire contains many lamentable tales wherein, for instance, after a barbarian attack the citizenry would take some random woman of the same tribe and humiliate her in a misdirected act of revenge.
French police make woman remove clothing on Nice beach following burkini ban
Photographs have emerged of armed French police confronting a woman on a beach and making her remove some of her clothing as part of a controversial ban on the burkini.
Authorities in several French towns have implemented bans on the Burkini, which covers the body and head, citing concerns about religious clothing in the wake of recent terrorist killings in the country.
The images of police confronting the woman in Nice on Tuesday show at least four police officers standing over a woman who was resting on the shore at the town’s Promenade des Anglais, the scene of last month’s Bastille Day lorry attack.
France, like the rest of the liberal West, gets this exactly and lethally wrong. First we forbid individuals their natural right to set the rules within their own property, to exclude and admit who they choose, to demand the burkini or to ban it. Then we set the law on people for the crime of wearing too much cloth on the public beach. A photograph is reproduced worldwide showing three armed male policemen standing over a Muslim woman and making her remove the clothes she considers necessary for modesty. Whatever your opinion of Islam and its clothing taboos, does anyone in the world believe that this makes the next jihadist attack less likely? To call it “security theatre” would be a compliment. The popular entertainment it calls to mind is that of the mob stripping and parading une femme tondue.
I must stay I found this quite interesting!
In short, Harriet Tubman was a black, Republican, gun-toting, veterans’ activist, with ninja-like spy skills and strong Christian beliefs. She probably wouldn’t have an ounce of patience for the obtuse posturing of some of the tenured radicals hanging around Ivy League faculty lounges. But does she deserve a place on our money? Hell yeah.
The frat and sorority scene didn’t appeal to me at all. Back when I was at the University of Michigan, I went to a single frat party, encountered a bunch of drunk assholes, and never went to another.
Imagine that: All the way back in the 80s, too — a young woman on campus making her own decisions about what works or doesn’t work for her…without assistance from the government or calls to discipline anyone.
– The ever magnificent Amy Alkon.
Hillary Clinton objectifies women by reducing them to mere body parts:
Mrs Clinton, meanwhile, said that she would win the nomination and unify the party. She gained perhaps her biggest applause of the night for taking on the moderators of this and past Democratic debates.
There had been “not one question about a woman’s right to contraceptive health care”, she said. In spite of attempts in some states to impose limits and “a presidential candidate, Donald Trump, saying women should be punished (for abortions)” it had not been discussed. “It goes to the heart of who we are as women,” she said.
So Secretary Clinton believes that the core of a woman’s identity is decided by her stance regarding contraception or abortion (as if all women had the same stance), or, more limiting yet, decided for her by the stance of her local jurisdiction regarding contraception and abortion. Time was when feminism was about refusing to define women by so-called women’s issues.
While I am on the subject of the decline of feminism, Guardian Clickbait-profiteer Jessica Valenti says in an article for which comments are closed,
I’m tired of having to explain, over and over again, why the tone of the comments under my pieces is indeed sexist
I strongly agree that the Guardian moderators have the right and are right to delete insults and ban those uttering them. When it comes to threats they should contact the police in any case where it appears that the threat might be credible.
But I’ve read many, many Guardian feminist articles and their accompanying comments and observed a few things.
The typical insult thrown at a woman writing online by a male troll is vile by convention. He will either denigrate some aspect of her physical appearance or sexuality, or will call her by the name of a body part. Conventions matter. These insults still hurt because all sides know they are meant to hurt. But looked at objectively, they are meaningless. The things referred to are not actually bad things. I am a woman who writes online and I have had a few such insults. I mentally sent them back to their originators with knobs on, then turned to other matters.
The typical insult thrown at a man writing online by a female troll (the Guardian sub-species of which is usually found writing above the line) is to accuse him of something that, if true, would actually be vile. She will typically call him a “misogynist”, a hater of women. That really is a bad thing to be. Worse still, she might call him a rape-apologist, a rape-enabler, or a would-be rapist. To truly be any of these things is evil. Yet such terms are frequently thrown around very casually at targets who have done no more than act in what the feminst writer sees as a sexist way, behaviour which may even be acknowledged by the writer to be unconscious, or at those who have simply expressed disagreement with her version of feminism.
I’ve had a few of this type of insult too, in the days when I used to comment on the Guardian website using a screen name that did not clearly indicate my gender. They made me far more angry than the body-part type of insult. What did I do to get me called a rape-apologist? I argued that not every claim of rape is true.
The other day, driving around Liverpool (a fine but faded city), I heard on the radio a short item looking back on the experiment of a 1980s military government in Nigeria, whereby the General in charge, President Buhari (later to become a civilian, elected President, but only after being overthrown and jailed in another coup) had got his deputy to launch a ‘War Against Indiscipline‘ or ‘WAI‘ (why?) in March 1984.
One of the visible objectives of WAI was the encouragement of customers and citizens to line up to board buses and mostly line up or queue for high demand services.
This was, like most government ‘wars’ these days, directed against its own populace. But it was one with immodest objectives such as to get officials not to take bribes (rather than getting rid of officials’ jobs), stopping students cheating in exams, and getting people to learn the national anthem, not merely to get people not to fight for a place on a bus. I wonder what government’s programme inspired it? It seems to have a touch of a Lenin Saturday.
Some elements had a slightly comical aspect, such as making civil servants turn up for work on time (anyone see that as a good idea?) with soldiers making them do star jumps in front of colleagues if they were late for work. Someone also named an album after the WAI, so it has some resonance in popular culture.
There were others programmes too, a ‘clean-up’ campaign to improve hygiene, which I’m told persists to this day. I had not heard about this ‘war’ previously, in the 1980s a military government in Nigeria seemed to be about as regular as the US Congress hiking the Federal debt limit, it was more ‘when’ not ‘if’. Nigerian acquaintances and a family member doing business there had told me plenty of grim stories about the behaviour of police and soldiers in Nigeria as it was, I had not realised that a whole new justification for State thuggery had been dreamt up.
Of course, there was the implementation, the basic idea seems to have been that the common soldiery would go around the country and would ensure that the civilian population ‘behaved themselves’. What, might you think, could possibly go wrong?
The program was criticized by some for poor planning and engaging in draconian and unreasonable punishments such as public flogging and long sentences for minor offenses. A student above 17 years of age caught cheating could get close to 21 years in prison while counterfeiting, arson and illegal oil bunkering could lead to the death penalty. (3) Some analysts also allege that some of WAI’s patriotic objectives such as reciting the national anthem and national pledge had little do to with order or corruption.
So was patriotism the first resort of a scoundrel? The radio programme reports beatings being handed out by soldiers. The ‘war’ ended when another faction in the military overthrew Buhari, and the effort at expressly changing popular behaviours by force was more or less at an end.
One might hope that the example of this dirigiste thinking, which I now see faintly echoed in old Labour Party proposals for yobs to be marched to cash machines by police in order to pay an on-the-spot fine, might be enough to make those who seek to change behaviour (other than aggression) by force think again.
But there will be no use of Prime Minister Tony Blair’s idea, floated in July, that police should be given powers to take drunken louts to a cash machine and pay £100 on-the-spot fines.
That proposal was rejected by the police as impractical.
Impractical, is it not also tyrannical? Is living with other people’s annoying behaviour (when not affecting you or your property) that hard for people? Let people be, if they see a harmony of rightly-understood interests in queueing and civil behaviour, then fine. If not, then that is how they are. A government ‘war’ isn’t going to be the right answer, unless your end is war itself. And of course, there are the Nudge Nazis.
But there’s nothing like nostalgia, and some are calling for the President to re-start this war.
And in Benin, if this report is believed, a woman motorist lashed out at their own, newer, better WAI officials.
According to the woman,one of the officials hit her in the face while the others ran away when the arguement between the woman and the WAI officials got intense.However,she was able to hold the official that hit her in the face.The official was beaten mercilessly by the woman.
Eyewitnesses made no attempt to help the man as they were not happy with the WAI officials. One of the eyewitnesses said:
“WAI officials and Oshiomole boys should be called to order.They always harass people unnecessarily….especially women.It is not advisable for any woman to drive alone in Edo State again. You should have someone in the car with you, specifically, a man unless they could pounce on you….guilty or not.”
Back in Liverpool, this facade on the oddly-named State House caught my eye; the motto ‘Trade and Navigation‘, the State playing the biggest role in that city now.
The whole notion that culture can be “appropriated” in any negative sense is one of the most absurd notions being bandied about (and that is really saying something given the carnival of absurdities that passes for critical thinking these days).
Such ideas about culture are profoundly fascist in origin, a collectivist notion that somehow culture and identity must be preserved in a “pure” state from outside influences and somehow “belongs” to an ethno-national grouping. It is very much akin intellectually to abominating miscegenation. Yet strangely the same people who spout such arrant nonsense tend not to picket performances featuring oriental ballet dancers or black opera singers (as well they shouldn’t). Sorry (not really) but the future is cosmopolitan and voluntary. I will take whatever aspects of any culture I think are worth incorporating and there is not a damn thing anyone can do to stop me. And if some collectivist jackanapes is offended by my “appropriation”, well take a guess how many fucks I give because that just makes it all the more delicious 😉