Last weekend, I enjoyed a wonderful summer vacation in Savannah. And I wasn’t the only one feeling the heat. In the same city, two half-siblings were caught hooking up in a church parking lot having sex.
Christopher Buckner (female, don’t let the name fool you), a 20-year-old, and her brother, Timothy Savoy (25-years-old), were arrested and fined immediately. They claim to have had intercourse three times after watching The Notebook.
The consequences are steep. The duo were arrested for incest, aggravated sodomy, and prowling. Savoy still remains in jail on felony charges and is being held on a $13,400 bond, whereas his sister was released on a $9,000 bond.
This is just nuts.
Collectively, the two siblings now have an arrest record and will have over $20,000 worth of debt to the state. They may have to register as sex offenders. Even though I, like many Game of Thrones fans, think that incest is unnatural and unhealthy for any future offspring they might have, I don’t think having consensual sex with your brother or sister should mean that the state has license to effectively ruin your life.
This is another example of the state butting its nose into an area where it doesn’t belong. Incest is a moral issue.
I never venture to call it necessarily immoral, but unnatural. While incest occurs frequently in nature, Nathaniel Wheelwright, an evolutionary biologist at Bowdoin College in Maine, aptly notes that, “Sex results in… diverse offspring and maintains a diversity of genes.” Having sex with one’s siblings—with whom you share over half your genes (and in this case, the half-siblings would share up to a quarter of the same genes), completely negates that point. As we all know, children that arise from incest run the risk of greater genetic mutation which can significantly decrease their quality of life. The linked article goes on to note that on the whole, “the risk of incest in plants and animals generally outweighs any of the benefits.”
But when having sex without intent of having children (which sounds like the kind of sex Buckner and Timothy were having), there really isn’t any problem. For me, this is a morally neutral issue. When procreation is involved, the waters may get murkier, but I believe that that’s the parent’s issue, not the state’s.
Some states have more lenient laws when it comes to incest. For example, Rhode Island repealed its criminal adult incest statute in 1989 and New Jersey has no penalties for when both parties are adults. However, it is still illegal to marry your sibling in both states. To me, unless the sex involved non-consent or a child, it should be good to go in the state’s eyes. There is no reason why the state should protect people from themselves if the crime is truly victimless.
Christopher Buckner and Timothy Savoy are going to go through a lifetime of consequences for having sex with each other. Even if some find their actions morally reprehensible–disgusting, even–let’s not ruin their lives over something that affected no one but themselves. Libertarians don’t have to agree with the actions of everyone else–but that’s the benefit of a free society. Don’t regulate my body and my choices, and I won’t regulate yours. Enjoy having sex with your brother if you want to.
In this case, two consenting adults decided to have sex with each other. There was no coercion involved and no loss of property, so far as we can tell. This is a victimless crime and the state has no business regulating it.