THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 607, February 13, 2011
Special to The Libertarian Enterprise
I believe that writing this essay, is the correct thing to do. It is certainly not "diplomatic" or any of the other things you've come to expect me not to care about. It isn't expedient - I'll probably lose some friends, including a few that I really care about. It isn't convenient. The timing sucks in a lot of ways. I'd rather this whole situation had never arisen. But writing this note is the right thing to do, and I believe that I have only one tangible moral obligation: to do what I believe is the right thing to do. I don't think you have any reasonable expectation that I'll do what people expect, or would rather, or think is socially acceptable. Certainly if you've known me for any length of time, you know that I really don't care what anyone thinks, or says, against me.
With that prefatory paragraph out of the way, let's proceed. My friend Dawn Eckel's son, Darryl Adkins, was charged, formally, earlier today, with "statutory rape." I believe the state cannot be raped, so I don't believe that statute makes the state any kind of actual victim. Nor do I believe that the current age of consent laws make any sense.
The circumstances of the case include the following facts: Darryl was in a motor vehicle accident recently in which he swerved to miss a deer, hit a tree, was severely injured, and brain damaged. He has total amnesia, is not mentally competent, and his mother, Dawn, has durable power of attorney. Darryl is 24 years old, has a residence of his own, but has been staying with Dawn and her husband off and on because of his mental incapacity.
He frequented an adult dating site which was clearly labelled for adults, and which had terms of service requiring that all participants be age 18 or over. He had, in the past, reported to the site's proprietors a minor whose name he had Googled and found she was a student at a Grandview school, and thus not over 18.
More recently he contacted a young woman on the site, met her, and brought her home to meet mother. The young lady had fake identity papers clearly identifying her as past her 18th birthday. She repeatedly said, in front of witnesses, including Dawn, that she was over 18. I have heard a rumour suggesting that she and Darryl slept together on one occasion.
The police allege that she is 14. So, apparently, they are making a criminal complaint against Darryl.
On Monday 7 February they came to Dawn's home, arrested Darryl and seized all sorts of things from the room he was staying in. They refused to allow Darryl to see a lawyer, although Dawn had a lawyer go to the police station, and both Dawn (his attorney-in-fact) and Darryl repeatedly asked that he be represented by counsel.
On Tuesday 8 February they released Darryl, refused to allow him to make any phone calls, sent him out in weather with 6 degrees Fahrenheit temperature and minus 6 F wind chill, without a coat or blanket.
Today Wednesday 9 February they came to Dawn's home and seized all kinds of things from her, during which time they forced her out of her home without a coat. She slipped on some ice and was injured. I gather all her computers were taken, presumably to remove all the exculpatory evidence detailing Darryl's discussions with this woman who posed as being of legal age.
I believe the relevant age of consent in Missouri is 17. You could look that up. Obviously, I don't care, because no law pertaining to people of age 17 has any effect whatsoever on people ages 13 to 17 getting pregnant, engaging in sexual intercourse, or doing anything else they think is a reasonable thing to do.
Federal law is quite a lot more complex, and works out to ignoring age of consent if everyone is older than age 12 as long as the oldest person involved is not more than age 16. No doubt you can see any number of double standards and age discriminations involved in such a situation.
Just to make things even more complicated, Missouri has a separate standard for persons under 14 than it has for persons under 17. There is no "close in age" exception in Missouri. The only difference is whether the act is statutory rape in the first degree (under 14) or second degree (under 17). Worse, still, there is no state-wide consistency. Local law enforcement and county prosecutors pursue statutory rape cases in many different ways. The general consensus has seemed to be that 14 is legal for a 20 year old, but once you turn 21 it jumps to 17. "It's really not clearly defined in the statutes though," is a frequent refrain.
Note also that this law has not always specified these ages. The law was changed in 1994 and again in 2006.
Age of consent laws in general did not come into vogue until 1880. At that time, most Western countries which had any such law indicated the age of 12 or 13. Any rancher or biologist will tell you that biologically mature members of a species are often very highly motivated to engage in sexual intercourse. By the 1920s, during one of the most racist periods in American history, the issue of child prostitution was used to create a hue and cry, and ages of consent were raised in many jurisdictions. I believe that as recently as 1976, in New Jersey, the age of consent was 13.
Information about ages of consent going back to 1880 for various jurisdictions has been compiled from a number of sources, and you can probably find many on the web. One of particular interest is "The Emergence of a New Taboo: The Desexualisation of Youth in Western Societies Since 1800." European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research 8 (2000): 466.
In the United States in 1880, ages of consent (the age at which a person could marry, for example, without parental permission) varied from Delaware at age 7, Montana and about 32 other states at age 10, up to a maximum age of 12 in Missouri and a few other states.
These figures were revised upward in 1920 in many, but not all states. As of 2007, Colorado had the lowest age of consent at 15. Globally, there seems to be no norm at all, with ages of consent running from under age 12 up to 21, with 16 being the average, and marriage frequently required for any form of sexual intercourse.
One of the most interesting elements in Missouri law as regards this particular case is the following passage: "Whenever in this chapter the criminality of conduct depends upon a child being under seventeen years of age, it is an affirmative defense that the defendant reasonably believed that the child was seventeen years of age or older." Missouri Statutes Section 566.020.
In the event that this enormous mess of law enforcement insanity, reckless endangerment of Dawn, Darryl, and others, and pursuit of a mala prohibitum false law (flaw) were to result in a judgement against Darryl, the alleged criminal act is a Class C felony which has a maximum prison term of seven years.
But is it a crime? Is there anything unnatural or morally wrong about biologically mature humans engaging in sex? I think the answer is no.
For one thing, any number of people I know personally are children of parents at least one of whom was under age 17 at the time of their birth. I could give examples, or people could simply volunteer this information if they wish.
So as to the question of whether it is unnatural for any two biologically mature members of the same species, of opposite sexes, to engage in sexual intercourse, I think the answer is clearly no. It is entirely natural. As well, there are numerous cases of animals of the same sex engaging in various kinds of acts of sexual gratification - you might be surprised.
Then the question becomes: is it immoral? And, again, I think the answer is no. No, it is not immoral. It is not evil in itself, because it is natural, biological, and occurs in "the wild" with considerable frequency. It is not immoral because it is human nature for a biologically mature human to have sex with biologically mature humans. And it is not immoral because it is irrational to make biologically mature persons into infants. The state is wholly inappropriate as either father or mother, and cannot ever be a victim.
Is there an actual victim in this case? If there is a case to be made for a person claiming to be 18, repeatedly stating as such before multiple witnesses, and entrapping a mentally challenged person into an alleged violation of the law, being a victim, I'm sure the Jackson county, Missouri, prosecutors are going to do their best to present such a case.
But there are, I think, victims in this case. Both Darryl and his mother are victims of malicious prosecution, abuse of office, violations of their human and civil rights, and repeated acts of degradation, neglect, and injury. Moreover, I believe everyone is harmed by the disproportionate application of law enforcement resources when there are cases of actual murder, theft, and other crimes (mala in se) in Kansas City, Missouri.
The question then becomes, what do you want to do about it? Dawn is attempting to gain competent legal representation for her family. You could contribute to that effort, or at least tell others about it.