27 February 2007

Should incest be legal?

This will stir people up.
Patrick Stübing and Susan Stübing are taking a case to Germany’s constitutional court to get a law overturned. Patrick Stübing is 29 years old and his sister Susan is 24, he was given a sentence of 2.5 years for incest. They are adults and in love. He was adopted in east germany at the age of 4, and was not allowed to find his biological family until he was 18. The details are in this story in The Independent, but in short they fell in love and had four children, all but one is in care and two have “mental damage” from inbreeding. Patrick has been in jail twice, his sister in the care of social services. Patrick has since chosen to be sterilised, but his relationship with his sister remains criminal. You might think they are probably stupid or ugly or something else, you know the sort of things that lesbians get accused of as to why they don't want sex with men. I don't know if they are or not, and frankly it doesn't matter. The concern in Germany is that the law against incest has its origins in the Nazi era - which makes sense if it is all about reproduction. In NZ and the UK it has religious origins, even though it is impossible for the bible to make sense without incest (who did Adam and Eve's kids breed with?).
Now the first reaction of most to this is rather quick judgment. Starting with “eww yuck”, which frankly is irrelevant. I can think “ew yuck” if I think about sex with most people I know, or meet. What you think of a particular relationship is per se, neither here nor there. Secondly, remove any questions of abuse or violence, as there is none. Presumably the sexual relationship started once his sister was of legal age, as prosecution for that would have followed as well. Besides, today they are both adults. Thirdly, the issue that most raise is “what about inbreeding”, in which case I would ask, what is your eugenics policy?
It is not illegal in Germany (or New Zealand) for people with hereditary diseases from having children even when there is a very high chance the disease will be passed on. Two of the four children the couple had were “mentally damaged”, but the other two were not. It is not a good idea for siblings to reproduce, but should it be criminal?
Furthermore, given the couple can no longer reproduce, why is it anyone else’s business whether an adult brother and sister live together as a couple and have sexual relations? Ask yourself if your revulsion is no more different than the revulsion 20-30 years ago for same-sex relations, and whether that revulsion justifies a criminal record. Who are these people harming? Is the “yuck” factor enough to put someone in prison? Seriously!
Finally, the word incest automatically brings to most people images of abusive relationships, and these do exist and the law exists to rightfully prosecute the offenders. However, some brothers and sisters (and sisters and sisters etc etc) do engage in sexual play in their youth. Would it be more appropriate to treat incest as a factor to consider in sentencing in cases of abuse, rather than for it to be a crime in itself?
By the way, about twice a year a similar case arises in New Zealand between adult siblings, and typically the man gets convicted. I wonder why?


Sr. Bateman said...

El incesto no es natural ni moral ni bueno para el alma. Debe ser considerado como algo repulsivo y un autentico crimen contra la humanidad a la que degrada en su patrimonio genetico.

No seas un enfermo,
di no al incesto!!!!!

Libertyscott said...


Anonymous said...

People doesnt want to understand the reasons of the others.
We need love to see this family.
And no more religion aspects.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Liberty Scott: it seems it was not an abusive relationship but a mutual love, and so we should go beyond the "how sick!!".
I was abused as a child (by the father) so i know how incest can be harmful. But in this case, it seems to be a form of genetic sexual attraction, which is totally different i think.

Despite the jail, despite 6 or 7 years passed, they still want to keep on their relationship. i think it's a good proof of their attachment for each other.

For me the main problem of their request is not the risk of birth defects. And saying we want to avoid birth defects is somewhere saying to those who are genetically "damaged" :"okay, we tolerate you but we hope you won't be too numerous because, hey, you are quite a nuisance for normal people, and anyway, your life will be unhappy.
The problem for me is that the taboo of incest protects people, especially children, against abusive relationships. Alas, it is not 100 % efficient, but i fear that if this taboo wasn't there, it would be WORST.
I think incest shouldn't be legalized in the law, but that in particular cases, as the Stübbing, these couples should have special favors and not be sent in jails.It s'a very difficult question.

Anonymous said...

I understand your concern "anonymous", and i can't fault your emotions about it considering your past, but that really isn't a valid argument. Think about how much homosexual sexual abuse there is. Groups like NAMBLA exist, but people still fight for gay rights. Homosexuality is increasing in many ways because people are more comfortable being open about it, but according to your logic, this legalization of homosexuality and the social normalization of it would increase the amount of man-on-boy sexual crimes, which i think you would admit is an absurd idea. What we're talking about here is consenting adults, and people are aware about that concerning homosexuality, which is why same-sex abuse of children is just as reviled as it ever was, despite the legalization of homosexuality.

The same is true of this. People aren't stupid, and everyone who supports the Stuebing family is not also therefor in favor of parents abusing their children. It's an issue about liberty, and whether one group should have a monopoly on the definition of a "family". In fact, if it becomes less of a social stigma, people may be more willing to come forward about sexual abuse.

During the 1800s sexual abuse was much worse than it was now, which had to do with the fact that everything was LESS socially acceptable and legal, and so people were unable to come forward. If that shows anything, it's that sexual repression of any kind only creates and environment in which sexual predators can get away with their crimes.

Anonymous said...

The law is insane! It doesn't agree with ANYTHING.

The Stubing family are not hurting anyone so the law should spend less time harrassing them and more time catching murderers and rapists.

Anyone who says incest is "sick,disgusting, barbaric" or anything along those lines is completely ignorant and doesn't have a clue what they're talking about.

The only "bad" things about incest is that it is risky should children result from it and it can be emotionally stressing if it happens unintentionally.

Apart from those things I don't think anyone can truly say there is anything bad or wrong about incest. People always say incest is sick but they can never answer the question "Why is it sick?".

The reason they can't answer - because it's not sick.

I hope the Stubing's can make the law and society see sense. I'm glad some people here also can see incest is not a evil bad thing. It's good to know not everyone is an ignorant ass about incest. Best of luck to the Stubing's. If there's a God I hope he helps them.

frank said...

i do not agree with incest. that's all.. but i like this articel in your blog very much.. thank you.