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Am I The Only One?

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Who Are We to Judge?

Today I read a news story with a name that I have not heard for a very long time: Mary Kay Letourneau, the elementary school teacher that was jailed for having sex with one of the 12-year-old boys in her class back in 1996. She got pregnant from the encounter and was sentenced to 6 months in jail, after which she was released -- only to get together with the boy again and become pregnant a second time. Letourneau was then jailed for 7 1/2 years.

The story begs many questions... What led a married mother of 4 to have sex with a 12-year-old? And if she's going to cross that line, why on earth didn't she use birth control? And didn't it occur to her that if she continued having sex with the boy that she might get pregnant again?

But none of that is what I'm thinking about today.

The story got me thinking about the recent nationwide push for same-sex marriage and moral relativism. The argument goes that the government has no right to prohibit two consenting adults from marriage, and that the days of so-called Judeo-Christian mores are behind us. It's time to update the definition of "marriage".

But I wonder... who gets to write the new definition? The recent same-sex marriage proposals would define it as the union between any two consenting adults, which would certainly leave Letourneau out of luck, since the boy -- Vili Fualaau, now 21 -- was not a concenting adult at the time. If we change the definition of marriage to include same-sex unions, aren't we merely replacing one moral restriction with another? Aren't the same-sex marriage advocates guilty of judging the pedophiles?

If this seems a little far-fetched, rest assured that there does seem to be an element of sympathy for Letourneau. One paper printed headlined the story, "Teacher Accused of Rape Freed". Accused? Isn't 'Convicted' a more accurate word? And then there are web sites that present her case gently: "In the case of Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Fualaau, both parties agree that Vili initiated and enjoyed sex with Mary Kay. But because the child rape law in Washington State is gender neutral she is legally a rapist and he a victim." (source: crimelibrary.com)

Was Fualaau a victim? Does one need to be in some sort of observable distress in order to be called a victim? Moral relativism would say that it's up to the individual to decide, which is why moral relativism doesn't work in a civilized society. Society agrees on a general set of rules, like stopping at red lights and paying taxes, which together form our ethics and keep us somewhere in between absolutism and anarchy.

I believe that marriage is, and forever should be, the union of one man and one woman. This view is not based in pop-American Judeo-Christian beliefs, nor in absolute morality, but rather on societal ethics: one man and one woman is the most basic self-contained unit which, left to itself, can propogate the species. Place one man and one woman on a deserted island or on another plant, and humanity will go on. And the thing is, the same-sex marriage proponents don't disagree with me entirely -- just where to draw the line.

As for Letourneau, don't worry about her. The courts have cleared the way for her to sell her story to the highest bidder.


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