Perspective, lads; perspective

Further to that business about the Turkish government advancing, and then as quickly aborting, plans to criminalise adultery, the very valuable ?????????? (Histologion) notes that:

It’s a good thing that the state of Virginia won’t be applying for EU membership anytime soon, since it is one of the 23 US states, where adultery is considered a crime (while having sex out of wedlock is considered a crime in ten)! In the American Bible Belt Erdogan’s Islamic party would be considered way too permissive I fear…

Which only goes to show what I have always said: comincia il paese di Deliverance venti kilometri al’ovest dell’ Hudson.

If I may lapse into pedantry for a moment, though, I believe it’s safe to say the state of Virginia will never be in a position to apply for EU membership, for Virginia is not a state but a commonwealth.

8 thoughts on “Perspective, lads; perspective

  1. Well, yeah, and it’s apparently illegal in Washington D.C. to have sex in any other position than missionary, and in Washington State it is, according to google, illegal to have sex with virgins at all, not even after marriage.

    And even though there are signs that a number of civil rights as well as the legal system are headed in a problematic direction in the US, I would say that it is a difference to have a couple of volumnes of clearly unenforceable legal code in the US (I think Alabama has recently and repeatedly opted to keep an unconstitutional/unenforceable obcenity law banning the sale of sex toys) or to change the criminal status of a common fact of life in a partly still very patriarchic society in which domestic violence against women is much rather rule than exception.

    Not that any law will change these practices quickly, but it will certainly make much of a difference.

    On the other question, I think it would be a valuable experiment to apply the Kopenhagen criteria to the US :).

  2. Ah, then I can only hope for the sake of all law-abiding newlyweds in Washington State that none of their spouses ‘saved themselves’ for the marriage bed…

    Seriously, though; there’s a school of legal thought that says law has three components: rules (statutes), stories (caselaw) and commitment. Where one component is missing, what you have isn’t law. So a stupid or antiquated statute maintained on the books but never enforced isn’t really law.

    I see the point. But still, I object. It seems that Texas (for example) rarely if ever enforced its antisodomy statute before the case that gave rise to the recent Lawrence decision. Robert Cover might have argued that, without enforcement, Texas law really didn’t forbid homosexual activity. But I would say that an unenforced statutory prohibition meant merely that gays in Texas were free to be who they are only at the state’s sufferance. This was an absence of law to be sure, but only in the sense that it was a lawlessness of the state. To my mind the state acts legitimately only insofar as it is lawful, i.e., sets itself rules agreed to democratically, and then sticks to them. When it acts otherwise, it is not the state but a mere mob.

  3. >To my mind the state acts legitimately only >insofar as it is lawful, i.e., sets itself >rules agreed to democratically, and then sticks >to them. When it acts otherwise, it is not the >state but a mere mob.

    Are not all agencies one of a kind? Just kidding. I agree and yet… I think you’re requiring too much of the law (which is always, in my interpretation, a temporary formal and informal institutionalisation of social reality).

    Abortion cases are classic examples. Take ?218, or the “Sittenwidrigkeit” of prostitution. The same code, the same constition – in 1975 the constitutional court said no to legalising abortions within 12 weeks, in 1993 its verdict was a qualified yes. Society changes, judges change, and they need to. I sometimes think of a legal system as some sort of WINDOWS registry. It would be great to get all the bollocks out as soon as possible, but most of the time it’s simply not worth it.

    Of course, the costs of not wiping th registry are increasing significantly in an environment where suddenly some people begin claiming that it’s still enforceable.

    And in the end, “when the rules run out” we are all exercising freedom by recognition/at the prevalent agency’s sufferance, aren’t we?

  4. Or indeed applying the Copenhagen criteria to the existing members. I am told that the Bertelsmann Foundation briefly considered including existing EU members in its transformation index, but quickly realized the potential embarrassments in store. F’rinstance, one of the the criteria is stability of party systems. One element of that is that parties should not be person-centered. Which pretty much wipes out the French right.

    This is sort of like the regular exercise in seeing how many EU member states are actually implementing all of the directives they are supposed to. Amusing and yet depressing.

  5. Tobias pointed it out first, but massacheusets also has a law saying it is illegal to have sex in any other position than the missionary position.

    Goes back to the puritan days I suppose, though no one enforces such silly laws.

    Oral sex is also outlawed in 13 states.

    Just isn’t worth the time and money to go through the work of removing them, I suppose. Sodomy is against the law in most states, so I guess being gay is illegal too… That would probably jive well with Bush and co… I can just see Cheney now tossing his daughter in jail.

  6. Sodomy is against the law in most states, so I guess being gay is illegal too… I can just see Cheney now tossing his daughter in jail

    But then again, Cheney’s daughter is less likely than most of us to be guilty of sodomy.

    (Yes, yes, I see your point, though. We all know what ‘sodomy’ means, but as a technical legal matter, in the USA it means whatever the criminal laws of the state in question say it means; and some of them say it means things that most of us would never consider sodomy. In some states, then, I suppose Ms Cheney could be a sodmoite — along, I daresay, with most of the rest of the sexually-active population.)

  7. Just isn’t worth the time and money to go through the work of removing them, I suppose.

    I suspect it’s more that politicians, being cynical, feel they have more to lose by removing the laws and annoying the conservative lunatics than by keeping them unenforced and not annoying anyone.

  8. Blair treason case thrown out

    An anti-Europe campaigner who sought to put Tony Blair on trial for treason had his case thrown out yesterday because he had failed to realise that the 209-year-old legislation was repealed six years ago.

    Derek Bennett, chairman of the Walsall branch of the UK Independence Party, admitted after the hearing, at Walsall magistrates’ court, that he had “slipped up with my homework”.