Sex laws: Unjust and ineffective

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One day in 1996 the lights went off in a classroom in Georgia so that the students could watch a video. Wendy Whitaker, a 17-year-old pupil at the time, was sitting near the back. The boy next to her suggested that, since it was dark, she could perform oral sex on him without anyone noticing. She obliged. And that single teenage fumble wrecked her life. Her classmate was three weeks shy of his 16th birthday. That made Ms Whitaker a criminal. [...]

Sex-offender registries are popular. Rape and child molestation are terrible crimes that can traumatise their victims for life. All parents want to protect their children from sexual predators, so politicians can nearly always win votes by promising curbs on them. Those who object can be called soft on child-molesters, a label most politicians would rather avoid. This creates a ratchet effect. Every lawmaker who wants to sound tough on sex offenders has to propose a law tougher than the one enacted by the last politician who wanted to sound tough on sex offenders.

source: Article 'Sex laws: Unjust and ineffective'; www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=14164614; The Economist; 6 August 2009


['Albert_Anker' wrote, 9 August:] US government in general is widely corrupt and inefficient, but especially so regarding its judiciary and penal system. In certain states it is easily possible to get a life sentence for shop lifting. In my view, this mid-age penal system in US is one of the main reasons for the decline of US economy. It does not provide security to the people and succeeds only in punishing those ones who are too poor to afford a good lawyer. Most things, which in Europe are no offense at all (for example mutually agreed sex among minors) are still punished in the US. The US are hopelessly retarded, not only in this but also in so many more respects, and this is the reason, why they start useless wars and are not able anymore to produce good cars, good aircraft, good industrial products fit for the world market.

['harvey_89' wrote, 9 August:] Personally I think that the concept of an 'age of consent' is ridiculous. The idea that, at the age of 16 or 18, every single girl becomes a consenting adult is what led to these problems in the first place. Scrap the age laws and take each case as it comes.

['Paul G.' wrote, 7 August:] America's priorities are warped. It locks up more than a million people, mostly for minor drug possession offenses, and condemns hundreds of thousands more to a miserable lifetimes as registered sex offenders for often minor or even absurd offenses. Kafka couldn't have done any better. Meanwhile, senseless gun violence continues to explode in America, and the gun lobby makes any discussion of gun regulation taboo.

source: Some reactions on article 'Sex laws: Unjust and ineffective'; www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=14164614; The Economist; 6 August 2009