When top lawyer and world renown-columnist Alan Dershowitz in 1997 wrote the newly unearthed column headlined “Statutory rape is an outdated concept,” we may just guess what he had in mind. When an anarchist opines to be against ownership, he doesn’t mean that he wants to part from his guitar. Rather, he wants his fair shake of the wealth. Would only an old selfish man write a thing like that? Is this a case of someone who would easily take sex above romance, love, and closeness? Do we see here someone who can fathom or fancy sexual adventure with one 50 years younger but not 50 years older than them?
Everybody understands that a baby cannot give consent and a teenager of a certain age may. One can argue about the best age of consent but there must be a legal limit below which a grownup being too close to a minor is statutory rape no-questions-asked. Those who says differently must be led by their hormones, not by common sense, and should be stopped. Just like laws against theft are for people who have trouble knowing the difference between mine and thine, this law is exactly for people who “reason” that we can “now” skip the idea of statutory rape. The different legal ages of consent don’t mean that it’s all arbitrary and can be done away with.
The ‘paradisiacal’ vision the columnist brings forth, make no mistake, means that any sibling could have sex with any other sibling, any parent or teacher with any child, any older stranger with any youngster, unless the latter would scream no. And it also doesn’t matter who “took the initiative.” If minors supposedly could say no, then for sure grownups must be expected to be able to say no! The incest epidemic that Freud discovered and talked down with theory upon theory is still raging. Many may be in denial but our youth needs protection against elders’ sexual advances no less than ever.
Young people deserve to be surrounded by closeness, love, and support without worry that this could end up in sex. Could such sex ever be pleasant for the young person? For sure it can be. But A, expectations generally will be different between the two parties: the older wanting sex, the younger immediately wanting a life-long commitment. This means that the young person is just (ab)used. And B, this opens the door to all older people who have a hard time understanding boundaries.
Young people are not busy with sex as old people are. Younger people may be easily plied or seduced because they don’t know all the tricks in the book yet. Look how a practiced con artist like the present president of the United States fooled almost half of the country. Experience counts and therefore, grownups should not be allowed to be sexual with young people. This is especially meant to keep away those who cannot tell the difference between love and lust or who project their wish on what someone else wants — a lack of empathy that is very widespread.
Dershowitz’ lead argument is completely false. The wish is the father to the thought, the saying goes. “If a 16-year-old can choose abortion she should be able to choose to have sex.” Not wanting to carry a pregnancy to term is saying: I don’t want to. A proper parallel with sex would be a 16-year-old saying about sex: I don’t want to. But from a 16-year-old being able to say “I don’t want to have sex,” one cannot deduce that s/he then should also be able to give consent for sex with grownups.
Horribly, the columnist completely misses the point when he doesn’t distinguish sex between two minors, in full agreement, from sex a grownup with a minor without possibility of consent. I’m reminded of this abuser who declared that at the times of the abuse he was “34 going on 17.” Especially for such people, we must have such a legal limit!
He talks about consensual sex in cases of statutory rape. There is no such thing. A minor saying “I want to” means as much as I saying that I’m going to set the agenda for the UN. Consensual sex in cases of statutory rape is like violent peace or a peaceful war. He knows that. He’s a superb lawyer. When he’s here playing the Devil’s advocate, he surely is.
He then claims that “99%” of the cases of statutory rape are never prosecuted because the victim will not complain because she liked it — and then the prosecuted cases are because it was real rape, not statutory rape, so we don’t need the legal limit. I don’t see any proof for this 99% and the whole issue is that a lack of protest before, during or after sex doesn’t mean consent from someone who cannot give consent. Some people will say after 20 years, yes it was illegal but I’m fine with it. Many more will be scarred for life — who wants to take such a risk with our young people?! And most, I guess, will have buried the memories because they were so painful, being used and then tossed away. That’s not the way a person’s sexuality should unfold. Besides, with no legal limit, young people will be surrounded by steamy grownups who want it all the time — hurting growing up feeling protected and in true safety. This will hurt almost every child everywhere. Children are bossed around enough. At least the area of sex should be sacred and off-limits.
He argues that a better limit would not be maturity but puberty. That is completely trashing feelings over body. The fact that they look great or ready to you doesn’t mean that they will feel great about it! If you like the age difference, look for someone who is 50 years older than you.
Last but not least, may I ask why it’s so important to open a possibility of grownups having sex (and marriage, of course) below the age of 16, 15, sometimes 14? Do we lack enough grownups to be intimate with? What’s so wrong or difficult about no? A 14-year-old should not drive a car and also not have sex with you — even if no one got hurt in the process. We grownups should take pride in protecting young people instead of chasing them.
In any case, the VIP is “unapologetic” about defending alleged villains. And about his old column, 22 years on, he clarifies that his position was not that it was moral to have sex with a 16-year-old but that such youngsters should have “a constitutional right” to choose sex.
This is clever but untrue. He wrote that grownups should be able to [have a right to] have sex with 16-year-olds. He never considered the right of young people not to be bothered about sex — by grownups.
Lastly, the law as it stand is also great because there is no burden of proof. The girl or boy doesn’t need to convince judge or jury that s/he felt forced, indicated confusion or resistance which was ignored, etc. You start up with a minor, you’re guilty no-questions-asked. Great!
(I love this special legal provision for young couples when one partner passes the age of consent. S/he’s not suddenly culpable as long as their age difference is only a couple of years.)
Being liberal or nice can’t mean chucking all limits. The law must protect the vulnerable. The idea of statutory rape is not going anywhere.
Talking of Epstein (Dershowitz was the lawyer who got him almost off totally), some support has emerged for my earlier post that Barak has no proof that he was hiding his face from the cold when entering Epstein’s palace. Yet, in election time, let’s not believe any unproven innuendo.