her thoughts in a 1999 book called Short Answers to the Tough Questions. "Children who willingly participate in sexual acts have the right to make that decision as well, even if it's distasteful to us personally," Ruwart wrote. "When we outlaw child pornography, the prices paid for child performers rise, increasing the incentives for parents to use children against their will."
If any PlatCom member agrees with Ruwart that the State should not outlaw child pornography, I can add that to the candidate agenda items I'm tracking. Note that our Platform currently says: "Consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships." I favor adding to 3.5 some clarifying language like this:
Parents, or other guardians, have the right to raise their children according to their own standards and beliefs — unless they abuse, neglect, or recklessly endanger their children. Children have the right to petition a court to establish their maturity and become emancipated, with all the rights of an adult.
For a brief history of children's rights in the LP platform, see http://libertarianmajority.net/childrens-rights-plank.
Below are excerpts from Ruwart's book. She's right in saying that laws should not include age-based bright lines mandating that a sexual act start or stop being a felony at the stroke of midnight. She's wrong in saying that laws can't/shouldn't include rebuttable presumptions about competence-to-consent that are a function of age. She's also wrong in suggesting that a parent's power to restrict a child's sex life should be limited to techniques like denying transportation to the porn studio. As far as I know, she's never clearly indicated whether she agrees with Rothbard that parents have no more authority over -- or obligation to -- their children than they would have with a tenant subletting a room. It wasn't until the 2000 platform that the LP formally broke with Rothbard on these questions.
Q: How can a libertarian argue against child pornography?
A: Children forced to participate in sexual acts have the same rights and recourse as a rape victim. We can, and should, prosecute their oppressors. Children who willingly participate in sexual acts have the right to make that decision as well, even if it s distasteful to us personally. Some children will make for choice is just as some adults do in smoking and drinking to excess; this is part of life. What we outlaw child pornography, if the prices paid for child performers rise, increasing the incentives for parents to use children against their will.
Q: Should children be allowed to work, vote, marry, have sex, drive, own a gun, have the right to enter contracts, etc.?
A: Libertarians acknowledge that children have rights, such as the ones you've enumerated, but often disagree as to how they apply. In practice, children's rights are limited by their inability to take responsibility for their choices. For example, a child who wishes to work, but can't convince his or her parents to provide the necessary transportation, will be unable to exercise that right.
Q: How do you determine when children are ready to enter into contracts? Will the laws specify the age of majority? Would parents decide? The child?
A: In practice, you would decide if a child is old enough to enter into a contract with you. Is the child willing and able to provide the contracted service to you? If so, what kind of recourse would you expect from the courts if the child refuses to provide the contracted service? The age of majority for marriage, work, etc. is most often established by custom of the society and will vary with the individual's circumstances rather than being dictated by law.