Friday, July 03, 2015

"Criminalizing millions of Americans overnight": those pushing a neo-Victorian code of sexual conduct are on the Left

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve increasingly had the experience of saying things that would have been considered pieties in the liberal catechism when I was young—and which now will get you labeled as a howling reactionary 
muses Robert Tracinski.
 … The left had the reputation of being defenders of free speech, for example, but it was always something of a case of “free speech for me but not for thee.” They were all in favor of “questioning authority”—until they became the authorities.

More important, the left has moved farther to the left, leaving moderate “liberalism” behind and embracing a more consistent, authoritarian collectivism.
Robert Tracinski goes on to list Seven Liberal Pieties That Only the Right Still Believes (thanks to Instapundit). Number 3 goes thusly:

3) Government should stay out of the bedroom.

This was one of the big selling points for the liberals. Conservatives were scary religious zealots who wanted to tell you what music you should listen to, censor your movies and television shows, and worst of all, invade your bedroom and tell you who could sleep with and what you could do with them.
It was all a bit overblown and it wasn’t as simplistic a partisan narrative as you might remember. (The campaign against rock music lyrics, for example, was spearheaded by Tipper Gore, wife of then-Senator Al Gore.) But there’s little doubt that things have changed, and now it’s the left that is pushing a neo-Victorian code of sexual conduct.
I remember during Bill Clinton’s impeachment, when Ken Starr released a report poring over the details of Clinton’s sordid encounters with Monica Lewinsky, how creepy all the liberals thought it was for a prosecutor to examine every detail of other people’s sexual encounters, like some kind of peeping Tom. Yet this is now the exact system set up on every college campus, which is prepared to produce a Starr Report for every drunken hook-up.

And the crazy ideas that start on campus have a tendency to escape from the asylum. Thus, the Washington Examiner‘s Ashe Schow reports that the campus system of “yes means yes,” in which lovers must receive express permission for every minor stage of a sexual act or risk being prosecuted by a regretful partner after the fact, is now being proposed as the legal model for criminal prosecution nationwide. As Schow puts it, this is a standard “so stringent that it would criminalize millions of Americans overnight,” and is “part of a push to bring authoritarianism into the bedroom.”

And it’s not just what goes on behind closed doors. Every statement about sex, every public depiction of anything that remotely connotes sex—from movies to music to video games—has to be loaded up with social and political significance and policed for evidence of forbidden sexual attitudes.

These days, if you want to hear someone tell everyone to lighten up when it comes to sex and to stop making everything a crime, you’re far more likely to hear that from the right. Frankly, there are a lot of us who are just wishing we could hear less about what is going on in everybody else’s bedrooms.
Indeed, take a look at Elizabeth Nolan Brown's Reason article:
The biggest threat to sex as we know it is the coming revision of U.S. sex-crime laws. For a glimpse into this frightening future, look no further than Judith Shulevitz's latest in The New York Times. Shulevitz chronicles how "affirmative consent" (the principle, often referred to as "yes means yes," that the mere absence of a "no" is not sufficient permission to proceed sexually) has been quietly spreading from California universities to colleges across the country, and could soon mutate out of academia entirely.

 … "The traditional premise in the law has been that individuals are presumed to be sexually available and willing to have intercourse—with anyone, at any time, at any place—in the absence of clear indications to the contrary," states ALI. The new model "posits, to the contrary, that in the absence of affirmative indications of a person’s willingness to engage in sexual activity, such activity presumably is not desired."
Mind you, these are not conservative prudes; these are not Americans in general; who these people are are the leftists who are allegedly open, and tolerant, and against the prudes.
The draft guidelines drew strong criticism from some members, including law professors and lecturers from the University of Pittsburgh, Duke University, Rutgers, Harvard, and Georgetown University. "If there is political consensus on anything in the United States today, it is the consensus that our government has overcriminalized and overincarcerated the American public," they write. Yet "against this political consensus and judicial backdrop, the current ALI draft is an extreme deviation, focused on expanding criminal sanctions for sexual behavior."

 … "None of this is inadvertent or the result of loose drafting," the lawyers and professors suggest.
To the contrary, the intentionality of the draft is fully disclosed in the announcement that its purpose is to create very expansive statutes and standards with a "default position" of overcriminalization