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Incest Putting Liberals to the Test

Is incest wrong, and if so, why?

By Hobbes  |  December 17, 2010

Reuters brings us news of a most revolting sort:

A Columbia University professor has been arrested on charges of having sexual relations with his daughter, officials said on Friday.

David Epstein, 46, a political science professor at the Ivy League school, faces one count of incest in the third degree, according to a complaint filed by the Manhattan District Attorney's office.

He had relations with his daughter, now 24, from 2006 through 2009, the complaint said. Epstein was released on his own recognizance after appearing before a judge on Thursday.

People on both sides of the political aisle can unite in condemnation of Prof. Epstein's behavior.  After all, is not "incest" cited as one of those situations, right up there with "rape," which is used to justify the right to abortion?  Committing incest is one of those acts so far beneath contempt as to be unworthy of defense.

But wait!  Look again at the specifics given in the article: Prof. Epstein's daughter and accused incestuous lover is now 24, and the alleged relationship began in 2006.

Simple subtraction reveals a starting fact: The incestuous lovers were consenting adults.

For the world's liberal elites, and especially at Ivy League far-leftist bastions like Columbia, there is one and only one question permitted when judging the acceptability of any sexual practice no matter how perverse or reprobate: Were the participants consenting?  Some professors even defend the ability of children to consent to sex; nobody questions the ability of 21-year-olds to make their own sexual choices.

On what grounds, therefore, can Prof. Epstein even be criticized, much less imprisoned?  Should not government stay out of consenting adult's bedrooms?

Conservatives have no such problems; they're generally quite comfortable with answers involving "Thou shalt not" and "abomination."  This case presents a serious poser for the left, however:

The obvious answer is that, yes, there are and ought to be limits.  But if that's the case... there's no logical or rational reason why "opposite gender" can't be just such a limit, or even "the same race," to say nothing of "the same species."

We're eagerly anticipating an explanation of principle from the denizens of Babylon-on-the-Hudson.