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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Ruwart on whether laws must be completely age-blind

Starchild wrote:

SC)  Do you really think that in the absence of government prosecutors enforcing arbitrary standards there would be no one willing to press a prosecution of parents known to be abusing their children? (SC

Fallacy of the excluded middle.  The question isn't whether it would never happen.  The question is whether it would happen enough.

SC) Once you allow government (or a "community," a.k.a. local government) to discriminate strictly on the basis of age, there is no logical place to draw the line. (SC

Strawman.  The question is whether it's immoral for the state to legislate a rebuttable ability-to-consent presumption that includes age as a factor.  Do you claim it is?  Ruwart apparently does -- if only because as an anarchist she thinks all state legislation is immoral.

SC) If human beings suddenly became clearly capable of informed consent upon reaching a certain birthday, (SC

Another strawman.  I'm just saying that the tipping point at which the rebuttable presumption changes sign has to lie within a broad multi-year range.  I didn't say there is a magic age at which nobody, not even a profoundly mentally handicapped person, can no longer be considered incapable of informed consent.

BH) "Communities may choose the age, between 14 and 18 years, at which a person is no longer rebuttably presumed to be a child, and instead is rebuttably presumed to be an adult." (BH

SC) Talking about a "bright line rule" in such circumstances seems like just a euphemism for the law failing to treat people as individuals and to evaluate each individual case on its merits. (SC

My proposal is the opposite of a bright line.  If you're not sure what "rebuttably" means, Tom Knapp explains it at

Ruwart's not in trouble for opposing bright-line legislation for protecting minors.  She's in trouble for opposing any state legislation that isn't completely age-blind -- i.e., that doesn't make the same default assumptions about 3-year-olds as it does about 30-year-olds.  This is just one of the many corners she gets backed into by her dogmatic absolutism about abstention from force initiation.  I wish she would come to realize, as I recall you have, that such abstention isn't always and everywhere the best answer.