Article > Consent
Description :: This is going to get nasty.
Gays and lesbians joining together somehow
Does it harm me that some guys or girls decide to get together for life? Does it harm me that they may decide to engage in some form of sexual activity? Does it harm me that they wish to form a binding, contractual union? No. I don't give a damn.

Should they have the right to call it marriage? Is it enough to let them have civil unions with the same right to contract? Everything you can get through actual marriage (named as such) you can do piecemeal, via contracts that spell out all of the relationships and privileges and responsibilities between the contracting parties. In fact, if you're careful with your contracts, you can probably manage to form unions between more than two people at a time. Can they call it marriage? If it walks like a duck, ... you get the idea. Calling it a civil union but making it equivalent (that is, it has the same attributes) doesn't make it not be a marriage. It's a marriage. If you have a problem with that, then you should have a problem with civil unions. If you have a problem with that, you should also have a problem with forming the piecemeal contracts that add up to a civil union. And in that case ... we should find out what parts of the contract you have a problem with.

Personally, I don't care. It doesn't hurt me, it doesn't offend me, it doesn't get in my way. Besides, shouldn't we be happy that they're forming groups of people who care about each other and commit to each other? I get mocked often enough for not being married, something about not being able to commit (untrue, but unrelated) -- I would think we'd be slightly more pleased about this. I guess I missed the dart board again.

Pedophilia, sex between consenting children and other people, and abortion (in general)
The main question here deals with the right to contract -- you'll find that the law generally states that children under the age of thirteen (13) are not bound by the contracts they form, except under certain circumstances (kids starving on the street have the right to contract for food and shelter or other necessities, and will be bound to those contracts, unless they're utterly unfair.)

Does a young child have the right to agree to sex with an older child, a parent, a random stranger, or whoever they please? Well, they have the right to agree, yes. But does their agreement mean anything? Are they aware of the consequences of their choices?

With abortion, the question is this: is the unborn child of a nature to make choices, while not having made the choice to agree to have its life ended? On the other end of the spectrum, we have euthenasia: do people have the mental capacity left to them to make the choice to die? In fact, is any sane person ever going to choose to die? If not, then suicide and euthenasia are both covered as acts by the mentally insane, who should be protected from themselves! Of course, this sort of logic is fallacious -- determining that someone is insane because the end result seems wrong to us could just as easily allow us to determine anything to be the result of insanity (in fact, this has been done often throughout history) and therefore cause for forced restraint. Homosexual? Obviously insane, in need of treatment. Get the idea?

I look back at my past decisions and often think "gee, that was a stupid thing to do, I wonder why I made that decision?" Looking back, I sometimes can't see a good reason. I tend to think that I must just be getting smarter, more mature, more able to make good choices. But then I realize that as I get older, that threshhold of good decisions keeps moving with me. Decisions that a few years ago would still be sane-seeming slowly creep into a world of oddity, until eventually I no longer understand them. This feeling that my sense of having made good decisions is centered in time around myself leads me to think it's a bit like a flashlight, a lamp glowing around me: I can understand myself at close range, but not further out. Likely all of my decisions are rather uniform in sanity, based on the circumstances at the time of decision-making. It's just one of those hindsight-is-twenty-twenty things.

Adults are quick to judge young people as unable to make good decisions. Kids will generally be unhappy about it. As they get older, they make come to decide that this was all a good thing, and do the same to (for) their kids. Perhaps that's all good. Perhaps it's all just the result of the effect I described above. Most of us don't just thrive on decision-making. We'd like to put it off if possible, avoid responsibility and risk. If we can't do that for ourselves, we wish it at least for those we care about (but are terribly severe when it comes to the bad decisions of people we don't like or don't know.)

All the same, a child making a decision is still a thinking being, with reasoning (albeit odd-seeming) behind the decision. On what basis do we deny them this right and responsibility? On what basis do we punish those who do not? (If you're caught having consensual sex with a child, they'll punish you for not "knowing better" -- the child didn't have the right to agree, and you should have protected that child from its own folly.)

Abortion specifically
Without fully explaining my position on abortion, I'll say this in the context of consent: an unborn child is more likely than not to become a thinking human being; as such, it isn't being given the opportunity to express consent for the death it will receive, and abortion is thus a violation of consent. I say this mostly for Ensis' benefit, to explain that consent-based ethics don't have to be his arch-enemy.

[TODO -- more to be added later for underage, insanity, and other cases where you don't get the right to make your own decisions and have them respected, specifics for each as needed]