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  1. #1
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    Adultery should be a crime

    Disclaimer: I am aware that some countries and states in the US do list adultery as a crime. However, the law is seldom enforced and is non-existent for all intents and purposes. Also, there are many other countries that don't make adultery illegal. Thus for the purpose of this thread, assume that adultery is legal at the moment.

    In this thread, I propose that adultery should be made illegal. Here's why:

    1) Adultery undermines marriage. When a couple gets married, they typically undertake an oath to stay committed to each other till death. The act of adultery is against the spirit of the vows the couple undertook, and cheapens the institution of marriage. If we see marriage as a legal contract, it is preposterous that people are allowed to enjoy the benefits of a contract without having to uphold its terms and conditions. By outlawing adultery, it would make marriage that much more sacred and not something to be entered into lightly.

    2) Adultery, if found out, can also tear apart families, often harming children in the process. If we cherish our family values, if we want to foster a healthy environment for our children, we ought to outlaw adultery.

    3) Adultery bears the potential for physical harm. If a spouse (let's assume it's a male) has unsafe sex outside of marriage, he may contract STDs and spread it to his unwitting wife. We all know that the best way to prevent the spread of STDs is not contraception, but monogamy and fidelity.

    4) Adultery is overwhelmingly viewed as immoral, be it by secular or religious people.

    5) (Related to #4) We outlaw many other acts that are viewed as immoral by fewer people, and don't even pose any demonstrable harm, such as necrophilia and bestiality.

    So, we have here an act that has all of the following elements - the breaking of a contract (figuratively speaking), harm to individuals (the spouse, the children), harm to society at large (by undermining a cornerstone of social organisation), and moral culpability. Can someone tell me why it shouldn't be outlawed?
    Trendem

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    Re: Adultery should be a crime

    point three doesn't hold water, t. there's plenty of harmful legal things out there and extra marital sex doesn't equate to unsafe sex.

    furthermore, adultery is about as illegal as it needs to be. a spouse proven to be sleeping around is going to lose BIG in a civil divorce case. do we honestly want to throw even more people in prison? for having sex?

    there are plenty of acts which are harmful but not criminal. why make more laws? do you really think handing out scarlet A's will do anything to stop anyone?

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    Re: Adultery should be a crime

    What would You suggest as Punishment? Surely not Prison in out already heavily overcrowded Prisons. Then there are the costs of Incarceration.
    http://www.uscourts.gov/ttb/may04ttb/costs/index.html
    Imprisonment in Bureau of Prisons Facility
    Community Correction Centers
    Supervision by Probation Officers
    Daily $63.51 $52.29 $9.61
    Monthly $1,931.97 $1,590.66 $292.21
    Annually $23,183.69 $19,087.94 $3,506.53
    Not to mention the Judicial costs to Tax Payers.
    A fair estimate of Adultery rates is around 25% over the course of a relationship (This stat was after reading several different articles)
    Who is going to pay to uphold these Fidelity laws? Who is going to determine what is Adultery and what is not?
    In a recent poll I read while scanning a MSNBC Poll ,21 percent of women say even sexually fantasizing counts as cheating; only 12 percent of men agree with that.
    People that stray from marriage are punished, even if only by the laws of Karma or the guilt and shame they have to live with.
    It is up to those in a marriage to preserve it, not the Governments.

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  5. #4
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    Re: Adultery should be a crime

    Quote Originally Posted by Trendem View Post
    Disclaimer: I am aware that some countries and states in the US do list adultery as a crime. However, the law is seldom enforced and is non-existent for all intents and purposes. Also, there are many other countries that don't make adultery illegal. Thus for the purpose of this thread, assume that adultery is legal at the moment.

    In this thread, I propose that adultery should be made illegal. Here's why:

    1) Adultery undermines marriage. When a couple gets married, they typically undertake an oath to stay committed to each other till death. The act of adultery is against the spirit of the vows the couple undertook, and cheapens the institution of marriage. If we see marriage as a legal contract, it is preposterous that people are allowed to enjoy the benefits of a contract without having to uphold its terms and conditions. By outlawing adultery, it would make marriage that much more sacred and not something to be entered into lightly.
    What are these supposed benefits of the contract, in your opinion?

    If one party of the marriage contract believes or knows that the other party has violated its terms, (s)he can seek to break the marriage contract -- divorce. There could well be compensation required from the contract-breaker to the contract-keeper.

    2) Adultery, if found out, can also tear apart families, often harming children in the process. If we cherish our family values, if we want to foster a healthy environment for our children, we ought to outlaw adultery.
    You're going to have to be more explicit, if I may be so bold. What do you mean by "tear apart families" and "harming children"? Somehow I don't think you're talking about physical harm, in the latter case.

    3) Adultery bears the potential for physical harm. If a spouse (let's assume it's a male) has unsafe sex outside of marriage, he may contract STDs and spread it to his unwitting wife. We all know that the best way to prevent the spread of STDs is not contraception, but monogamy and fidelity.
    Indeed, I would say that the prevention of STDs was the reason why monogamy and marriage were invented in the first place. But to go along with Zhav's post, STDs are hardly the most harmful thing out there, especially with today's medicine and hygiene.

    Analogy: Driving a car bears the potential for physical harm. If a married person drives a car unsafely, he may cause an accident while his spouse is in the car with him, and she may be harmed. Therefore, it should be illegal for married people to drive cars.

    4) Adultery is overwhelmingly viewed as immoral, be it by secular or religious people.
    I think this is at least an appeal to tradition, if not also an appeal to consequences.

    5) (Related to #4) We outlaw many other acts that are viewed as immoral by fewer people, and don't even pose any demonstrable harm, such as necrophilia and bestiality.
    That begs the question, should "we" outlaw those other acts as well?

    In the context of private property, necrophilia could be legal when one obtains custody of a corpse. If one murders in order to engage in necrophilia, he violates other people. If he robs graves, he is trespassing and committing theft.

    Likewise, bestiality could be legal when one owns the animal. If he commits bestiality with someone else's animal, he is committing trespass and perhaps also property damage (if the animal is harmed).

    So, we have here an act that has all of the following elements - the breaking of a contract (figuratively speaking), harm to individuals (the spouse, the children), harm to society at large (by undermining a cornerstone of social organisation), and moral culpability. Can someone tell me why it shouldn't be outlawed?
    Wait a minute. Where did you claim that adultery commits harm to society at large? I must have missed that.

    Otherwise, I see no reason as to why adultery should be declared illegal. Furthermore, you have not clarified your meaning of "adultery" sufficiently for me. Aside from the "not with your spouse" aspect, does it require vaginal intercourse? Foreplay? Kissing? "Lusting in one's heart"?

    Then again, you also have not specified the legal penalty that you favor for adultery. After all, declaring something "illegal" is rather meaningless unless one or more penalties are specified. So are you thinking fines? Imprisonment? Execution (murder by the State)? Or what?

    In any case, it seems that any special legal prohibitions against adultery are unnecessary, as it can be covered by contract law.

  6. #5
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    Re: Adultery should be a crime

    Quote Originally Posted by Zhavric View Post
    point three doesn't hold water, t. there's plenty of harmful legal things out there and extra marital sex doesn't equate to unsafe sex.
    Never said it did.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zhavric View Post
    furthermore, adultery is about as illegal as it needs to be. a spouse proven to be sleeping around is going to lose BIG in a civil divorce case.
    Sure, if an adulterer gets a divorce, he may suffer a unfavourable divorce settlement verdict. But the size of the penalty would depend on their combined income and many other factors. The question is whether adultery is heinous enough to warrant official criminal sanction, instead of letting penalties for it be contingent on unofficial, extraneous factors.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zhavric View Post
    there are plenty of acts which are harmful but not criminal. why make more laws?
    What are these harmful but non-criminal acts do you speak of?

    Why outlaw adultery? How about for all the reasons I cited in my OP?

    Quote Originally Posted by Zhavric View Post
    do you really think handing out scarlet A's will do anything to stop anyone?
    Yes, I think people do respond to incentives/disincentives. That's the very reason why we criminalise stuff after all. If, say, adultery comes with a hefty fine, people would think twice before committing it.

    Quote Originally Posted by tink
    What would You suggest as Punishment? Surely not Prison in out already heavily overcrowded Prisons. Then there are the costs of Incarceration.
    Firstly, prison need not be the punishment - a hefty fine would do. Secondly, the overcrowded state of prisons has no bearing on whether or not an act should be criminalised - that decision should be made solely on the demerits of that particular act itself. Surely you don't think we should relax our laws on thievery just because there is not enough space for prisoners.

    Whichever the case, though, I would prefer to discuss the principle behind criminalising adultery rather than the practical aspects.

    Quote Originally Posted by tink
    People that stray from marriage are punished, even if only by the laws of Karma or the guilt and shame they have to live with.
    Umm, then why have laws AT ALL? People who steal, murder, cheat, etc will be punished by the "laws of karma" or by guilt, right?
    Trendem

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    Re: Adultery should be a crime

    Quote Originally Posted by Trendem View Post

    Firstly, prison need not be the punishment - a hefty fine would do.
    You fine the cheater, you are fining the spouse and innocent party as well...Where is the Justice in that? Secondly, who would report it? Seriously, my husband cheats on me, I'm not taking money out of our family's pocket to punish him! If I cheat on him, well I'm not employed, so he would be liable as my spouse to pay my debt.

    Secondly, the overcrowded state of prisons has no bearing on whether or not an act should be criminalised - that decision should be made solely on the demerits of that particular act itself. Surely you don't think we should relax our laws on thievery just because there is not enough space for prisoners.
    Certain laws, yeah...I do find the punishment is too hard for the crime and not worth the cost to tax payers. Community Service or house arrest would be much better alternatives to such non violent crimes.


    Umm, then why have laws AT ALL? People who steal, murder, cheat, etc will be punished by the "laws of karma" or by guilt, right?
    The majority that are never caught for their crimes are punished that way. There are laws that are just non-enforceable, such as punishing someone criminally for cheating.

  8. #7
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    Re: Adultery should be a crime

    Quote Originally Posted by Autolykos View Post
    What are these supposed benefits of the contract, in your opinion?
    I refer you to Wikipedia for a list of benefits spouses in the US enjoy through marriage. They are quite substantial.

    Quote Originally Posted by Autolykos View Post
    If one party of the marriage contract believes or knows that the other party has violated its terms, (s)he can seek to break the marriage contract -- divorce. There could well be compensation required from the contract-breaker to the contract-keeper.
    The distribution of assets from a divorce depends on numerous factors, and is further subject to its own particular set of rules. If we deem adultery harmful enough, then we cannot allow its penalties to be contingent on divorce settlements alone.

    Quote Originally Posted by Autolykos View Post
    You're going to have to be more explicit, if I may be so bold. What do you mean by "tear apart families" and "harming children"? Somehow I don't think you're talking about physical harm, in the latter case.
    I thought it should be obvious. If you, as a child, found out that your father was having sex with someone other than your mother, how would you feel? Also, how would you feel if your parents' relationship is soured because of this?

    Quote Originally Posted by Autolykos View Post
    Indeed, I would say that the prevention of STDs was the reason why monogamy and marriage were invented in the first place. But to go along with Zhav's post, STDs are hardly the most harmful thing out there, especially with today's medicine and hygiene.
    AIDS remains one of the top killers in the world, and numerous other STDs are still quite potent, such as HPV which can lead to cancer. Furthermore, just because something is not "the most harmful thing out there" doesn't mean it isn't harmful. By your reasoning, since thievery is not as harmful as murder, we shouldn't outlaw thievery.

    Quote Originally Posted by Autolykos View Post
    Analogy: Driving a car bears the potential for physical harm. If a married person drives a car unsafely, he may cause an accident while his spouse is in the car with him, and she may be harmed. Therefore, it should be illegal for married people to drive cars.
    Your analogy fails because my case against adultery is not contingent on the potential harm of STDs alone. I have shown that adultery is akin to reneging on a contract. I have also shown how it devalues an important social institution, and how it is viewed as immoral.

    Finally, driving serves the important purpose of transportation. Adultery serves no such purpose. When considered in combination with all its demerits, there is a case for it to be criminalised.

    Quote Originally Posted by Autolykos View Post
    I think this is at least an appeal to tradition, if not also an appeal to consequences.
    You misunderstand what fallacies are. The above are only fallacious if I use them to support an objective truth claim. I am making no such truth claim. My claim is that adultery should be a crime, which is a normative one. When determining what acts should be crimes, public moral sentiments are very important, and the moral culpability of an act has always been an important consideration in the crafting of our laws.

    Quote Originally Posted by Autolykos View Post
    That begs the question, should "we" outlaw those other acts as well?

    In the context of private property, necrophilia could be legal when one obtains custody of a corpse. If one murders in order to engage in necrophilia, he violates other people. If he robs graves, he is trespassing and committing theft.

    Likewise, bestiality could be legal when one owns the animal. If he commits bestiality with someone else's animal, he is committing trespass and perhaps also property damage (if the animal is harmed).
    My personal view is that these acts should not be criminalised, but that is irrelevant to this topic. They were brought up as examples to support the viewpoint that acts can be criminalised solely on the basis of moral repugnance; there is a legal precedence for that. Adultery is not only morally repugnant but also harmful. Why shouldn't it be criminalised?

    Quote Originally Posted by Autolykos View Post
    Wait a minute. Where did you claim that adultery commits harm to society at large? I must have missed that.
    Point 1, where I argued that being able to commit adultery without criminal sanctions cheapens the institution of marriage, which is an important unit of social organisation. In order to reinforce the notion that marriage is sacred, stiff penalties should be levied on those who stray.

    Quote Originally Posted by Autolykos View Post
    Otherwise, I see no reason as to why adultery should be declared illegal. Furthermore, you have not clarified your meaning of "adultery" sufficiently for me. Aside from the "not with your spouse" aspect, does it require vaginal intercourse? Foreplay? Kissing? "Lusting in one's heart"?
    I would define adultery as deliberate sexual contact with someone other than your spouse. This includes mutual masturbation, oral, anal and vaginal sex.

    Quote Originally Posted by Autolykos View Post
    Then again, you also have not specified the legal penalty that you favor for adultery. After all, declaring something "illegal" is rather meaningless unless one or more penalties are specified. So are you thinking fines? Imprisonment? Execution (murder by the State)? Or what?
    I am thinking of fines, and possibly short periods of imprisonment.
    Trendem

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    Re: Adultery should be a crime

    Quote Originally Posted by Trendem View Post
    Sure, if an adulterer gets a divorce, he may suffer a unfavourable divorce settlement verdict. But the size of the penalty would depend on their combined income and many other factors. The question is whether adultery is heinous enough to warrant official criminal sanction, instead of letting penalties for it be contingent on unofficial, extraneous factors.
    Well, that brings up a good point. Any penalty levied against one spouse would adversly impact the non-cheating spouse.

    If they reconcile the affair and stay together, then one party of the marriage has to pay money / spend time in jail not earning money.

    If they divorce, in addition to court costs and lawyer bills, at least one party is giving up a chunk of change or time to the state. If there are kids involved, this isn't good for them.


    What are these harmful but non-criminal acts do you speak of?
    I can think of drinkin alcohol and unsafe sex off the top of my head as harmful but legal. Then there's the category of "safe but risky" into which falls nearly every extreme sport (including sky diving).

    Yes, I think people do respond to incentives/disincentives. That's the very reason why we criminalise stuff after all. If, say, adultery comes with a hefty fine, people would think twice before committing it.
    Doesn't work that way.

    Look at pot.

    If there were no laws against pot, even more people would smoke it because there wouldd be nothing stopping them. There's no incentive to not smoke pot except the stupid laws outlawing it that most people ignore. People who want to get high are going to get high.

    With adultery, there's already a deterrent. Cheating spouses have a partner who will be royally pissed off if they catch their hubby or sweetie swapping bodily fluids. Divorce laws already favor the spouse who's NOT cheating. So why do we need the extra deterrent? What will this accomplish? Do you really think it merits jail time? I don't. Other breaches of contract certainly don't.

    So, what you're saying is that people who weren't deterred by the thought of losing their spouse will be deterred by having to pay a few bucks? That doesn't make much sense to me.

    Finally, the state of prisons does have an impact here because this isn't something that people should be rotting in prison for. At worst, this is a breach of contact which should be misdemeanor punishable with a fine... which spouses are already paying in the form of divorce procedures. It's an unnecessary law, T.

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    Re: Adultery should be a crime

    Quote Originally Posted by Trendem View Post
    1) Adultery undermines marriage. When a couple gets married, they typically undertake an oath to stay committed to each other till death. The act of adultery is against the spirit of the vows the couple undertook, and cheapens the institution of marriage. If we see marriage as a legal contract, it is preposterous that people are allowed to enjoy the benefits of a contract without having to uphold its terms and conditions. By outlawing adultery, it would make marriage that much more sacred and not something to be entered into lightly.
    But marriage is a civil contract between two people and like any civil contract, it is not an arrestable offense to violate it.

    And frankly our personal relationships are not a legitimate state interest and interference in our relationships is an infringement of liberty. If my wife and I are having problems in our marriage, regardless the reason there's a problem (adultery or something else entirely), it's not even one person's business, let alone everyone else's business.


    Quote Originally Posted by Trendem View Post
    2) Adultery, if found out, can also tear apart families, often harming children in the process. If we cherish our family values, if we want to foster a healthy environment for our children, we ought to outlaw adultery.
    But then there are so many other ways to screw up a marriage. What if the husband ruins the marriage by never acknowledging his wife's birthday and anniversary and that leads her to dump him? Shall we mandate that whatever else might ruin a marriage be forbidden by law - that birthdays and anniversaries MUST be celebrated under penalty of law?


    Quote Originally Posted by Trendem View Post
    3) Adultery bears the potential for physical harm. If a spouse (let's assume it's a male) has unsafe sex outside of marriage, he may contract STDs and spread it to his unwitting wife. We all know that the best way to prevent the spread of STDs is not contraception, but monogamy and fidelity.
    But it's not only adulterous sex that can spread STDs. So we either must outlaw any sex that might spread STDs or we are engaging in selective prosecution in outlawing only adulterous sex on that concern.


    Quote Originally Posted by Trendem View Post
    4) Adultery is overwhelmingly viewed as immoral, be it by secular or religious people.
    It is likewise commonly viewed as not a state interest, hence the CURRENT laws not outlawing adultery.

    There is a difference between "that's wrong, but none of my business" and "that's wrong, we need to have the police stop it."

    Quote Originally Posted by Trendem View Post
    5) (Related to #4) We outlaw many other acts that are viewed as immoral by fewer people, and don't even pose any demonstrable harm, such as necrophilia and bestiality.
    Unlike adultery, both on those acts are having sex with non-consenting beings. We outlaw animal cruelty and the dead are given "rights" to some extent.

    Quote Originally Posted by Trendem View Post
    So, we have here an act that has all of the following elements - the breaking of a contract (figuratively speaking), harm to individuals (the spouse, the children), harm to society at large (by undermining a cornerstone of social organisation), and moral culpability. Can someone tell me why it shouldn't be outlawed?
    The contract is not one that's arrestable for breaking (like any civil contract), the harm does not rise to the level of state concern (just because it's harmful does not make it a state concern), and morals are not something that needs to be enforced by laws.

    And in many of your points, your reasoning for outlawing adultery can be applied to many other things (there are other ways to ruin marriages and spread STDs), so unless you arguing that we should enforce good behavior from spouses and outlaw promiscuous sex from non-married people, many of your points are not consistent.

    ------------------------

    And what if adultery is made illegal and the police catch a couple of people who are married, but not to each other, having sex and that couple explains that they are wife swapping and their spouses are currently having sex as well. And they all believe that wife swapping helps their marriages. Since they believe it helps their marriages, you can't say you know that it hurts their marriages. Since they do it in private, the outside world does not know about, let alone is harmed, by their activities. They aren't going to spread any STDs that way. Since no one is suppose to know about it, it can't offend their morals. This scenario pretty much knocks down all of your points unless you want to stick to there being a legitimate state interest in forcing morals on people's private activities even when it's doing no harm to anyone.
    Last edited by mican333; April 5th, 2008 at 04:35 PM.

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    Re: Adultery should be a crime

    Quote Originally Posted by Trendem View Post
    1) Adultery undermines marriage. When a couple gets married, they typically undertake an oath to stay committed to each other till death. The act of adultery is against the spirit of the vows the couple undertook, and cheapens the institution of marriage. If we see marriage as a legal contract, it is preposterous that people are allowed to enjoy the benefits of a contract without having to uphold its terms and conditions. By outlawing adultery, it would make marriage that much more sacred and not something to be entered into lightly.
    By this logic, why not make divorce illegal as well?

    Quote Originally Posted by Trendem View Post
    2) Adultery, if found out, can also tear apart families, often harming children in the process. If we cherish our family values, if we want to foster a healthy environment for our children, we ought to outlaw adultery.
    It is not the governments job to keep families together....

    Quote Originally Posted by Trendem View Post
    3) Adultery bears the potential for physical harm. If a spouse (let's assume it's a male) has unsafe sex outside of marriage, he may contract STDs and spread it to his unwitting wife. We all know that the best way to prevent the spread of STDs is not contraception, but monogamy and fidelity.
    So does drinking...and talking....and going shopping....and having an opinion...so do a lot of other things...we cannot start outlawing everything that has the potential to cause harm.

    Quote Originally Posted by Trendem View Post
    4) Adultery is overwhelmingly viewed as immoral, be it by secular or religious people.
    Argumentum ad verecundiam, just because it is viewed by the majority as immoral, does not make it immoral. Aside from that, it is not the governments job to enforce morality.
    5) (Related to #4) We outlaw many other acts that are viewed as immoral by fewer people, and don't even pose any demonstrable harm, such as necrophilia and bestiality.

    Quote Originally Posted by Trendem View Post
    So, we have here an act that has all of the following elements - the breaking of a contract (figuratively speaking),
    I really do not think you actually hold this opinion....this thread is better suited for the role reversal forum.
    Last edited by Dionysus; April 5th, 2008 at 09:45 AM. Reason: Repaired quote tags

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    Re: Adultery should be a crime

    I will take the opposite position...

    I think adultry should be enforced by law. Think of the marriages it would save.

    Husband comes stumbling in at 3AM, reeking of perfume, cigarette smoke, and booze. The wife, ever watchful springs forth from the bed, "Where have YOU been" she screams. "I've been waiting up for hours, worrying myself to death!"

    The husband turns a tearful face to her and says in a broken voice, "I'm sorry honey, they made me do it. The Adultry police raided the pub we having beer in after work and the next thing I know, I'm in prison with some 30 yr old hot blond in my lap. It was terrible...."

    Now that's a world we could live in.
    But if you do not find an intelligent companion, a wise and well-behaved person going the same way as yourself, then go on your way alone, like a king abandoning a conquered kingdom, or like a great elephant in the deep forest. - Buddha

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    Re: Adultery should be a crime

    Each and every one of the points in the op, can be made to oppose the idea of gay marriage. That being the case, I'll use a response similar to one of the popular pro-gay marriage arguments:

    They are consenting adults. We are not a nanny-state. Almost every action we take can have the potential for negative effects. Furthermore, if it doesn't affect me if other people commit adultery, then they should be allowed to do as they please.
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    Re: Adultery should be a crime

    Cut off their genetals - problem solved. Better yet, turn the offenders over to the religious zealots since it's a sinful action.

    DISCLAIMER: The above is sarcasm.
    Last edited by Snoop; April 5th, 2008 at 12:11 PM.
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    Re: Adultery should be a crime

    So, we have here an act that has all of the following elements - the breaking of a contract (figuratively speaking), harm to individuals (the spouse, the children), harm to society at large (by undermining a cornerstone of social organisation), and moral culpability. Can someone tell me why it shouldn't be outlawed?
    First, the contract is at-will on both sides, so either party can "break" it whenever they want to.

    Second, adultery doesn't "harm" anyone in a legal sense.

    Third, granting that adultery undermines marriage, the proper solution is not to criminalize it, but to allow for greater civil penalties (disadvantage at child custody hearings, loss of property claims in divorce proceedings, etc.), which, as a matter of course in prenuptial agreements, is a matter of course.

    Fourth, unless the moral culpability exceeds public interest in liberty, the mere existence of moral culpability does not establish the criminality of an act.


    _________________________________ Post Merged _________________________________


    If they divorce, in addition to court costs and lawyer bills, at least one party is giving up a chunk of change or time to the state. If there are kids involved, this isn't good for them.
    The same is true if the parents are convicted of murder instead of adultery; inconvenience, even to one's own child, isn't a defense against criminal charges.


    With adultery, there's already a deterrent. Cheating spouses have a partner who will be royally pissed off if they catch their hubby or sweetie swapping bodily fluids. Divorce laws already favor the spouse who's NOT cheating. So why do we need the extra deterrent? What will this accomplish? Do you really think it merits jail time? I don't. Other breaches of contract certainly don't.
    Erm, to deter more, I'd imagine.
    Last edited by CliveStaples; April 5th, 2008 at 12:59 PM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
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  16. #15
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    Re: Adultery should be a crime

    Due to the large number of people I have to respond to, I will not respond individually but instead thematically.

    1) Adultery is like gay marriage
    Absolutely false. In gay marriage, no one is breaking any vow they made to another party. No demonstrable harm is caused to third parties.

    2) There are already mechanisms by which adulterers can be punished
    They obviously aren't sufficient, since adultery is still very prevalent. Furthermore, they are indirect in nature and don't specifically penalise adultery (such as unfavourable divorce settlements). Thus the need to criminalise adultery if we want to reduce its incidence, and fully express the grave nature of this act to the public.

    3) Penalising the adulterer will penalise the spouse and children as well
    This is not true if they are going to get a divorce. In this case, penalties for adultery will not diminish the pool of income to be distributed to the spouse/children because the penalties will be levied on the adulterer's share of the income pool, of course.

    In the case of couples who are already married, it is not a major problem either, since spouses who feel that reporting on their cheating partners will cause more harm than good can choose not to report it. The point is not to throw all adulterers in jail, but to increase the potential costs of adultery, so as to deter them from committing it.

    4) The government has no business interfering with marriage or family relations
    Actually, it does. Just because an act occurs within the context of a family doesn't make it exempt from government scrutiny. We do prosecute wife and children beaters. Polygamy is a crime. As stated before, marriage is a legal institution, with attendant legal benefits. Since the government is granting these benefits, it has a valid interest in ensuring the integrity of these marriages. If you don't want the government interfering in your "personal relations", don't get married.

    5) Many other actions have the potential for harmful effects as well
    This point has been addressed in my response to Autolykos, but I'll address it again. I'm not saying that adultery should be criminalised just because it has the potential for harm. The decision to criminalise it is based on a combination of its actual harms, its potential harms, its morally culpable nature, and its lack of any utility to society. If I had to rank the reasons, I would say that the potential harm of spreading STDs is the weakest one, and even without it I would still say that adultery should be criminalised.

    6) Adultery should be criminalised only if its moral culpability exceeds public interest in liberty
    Of course it does. What public interest is there for the liberty to screw around outside of marriage? None. It brings about no benefits to society whatsoever.
    Trendem

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    Re: Adultery should be a crime

    Absolutely false. In gay marriage, no one is breaking any vow they made to another party. No demonstrable harm is caused to third parties.
    Lying, then, should also be a crime, by your logic.

    Merely because you "break a vow" doesn't mean you should be held criminally liable. The question is whether the vow (or contract) was legally enforceable.

    And what demonstrable harm is done to a third party by committing adultery?

    2) There are already mechanisms by which adulterers can be punished
    They obviously aren't sufficient, since adultery is still very prevalent. Furthermore, they are indirect in nature and don't specifically penalise adultery (such as unfavourable divorce settlements). Thus the need to criminalise adultery if we want to reduce its incidence, and fully express the grave nature of this act to the public.
    Those do specifically penalize adultery; if you commit the act of adultery, you will receive a less favorable divorce settlement. That is a better way to redress the "undermining marriage" harm done by adultery, since it will only punish those instances of adultery that cannot be forgiven and fracture the marriage.

    4) The government has no business interfering with marriage or family relations
    Actually, it does. Just because an act occurs within the context of a family doesn't make it exempt from government scrutiny. We do prosecute wife and children beaters. Polygamy is a crime. As stated before, marriage is a legal institution, with attendant legal benefits. Since the government is granting these benefits, it has a valid interest in ensuring the integrity of these marriages. If you don't want the government interfering in your "personal relations", don't get married.
    Which is why adultery is largely a matter of civil and common law. Making the act of adultery a crime is government intervention greater by orders of magnitude. What justifies this intervention? Interest in preserving marriage and punishing acts that detract from that goal? Then unkindness, nagging, failing to do one's allotted chores, leaving the toilet seat up, etc., should also be criminalized. Harm done to the children? Then divorce should be illegal.

    6) Adultery should be criminalised only if its moral culpability exceeds public interest in liberty
    Of course it does. What public interest is there for the liberty to screw around outside of marriage? None. It brings about no benefits to society whatsoever.
    There is a significant public interest in having the liberty to select one's own partner for consensual sexual activity without coercion from the government.
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    Re: Adultery should be a crime

    Quote Originally Posted by Trendem View Post
    3) Penalising the adulterer will penalise the spouse and children as well
    This is not true if they are going to get a divorce. In this case, penalties for adultery will not diminish the pool of income to be distributed to the spouse/children because the penalties will be levied on the adulterer's share of the income pool, of course.

    In the case of couples who are already married, it is not a major problem either, since spouses who feel that reporting on their cheating partners will cause more harm than good can choose not to report it. The point is not to throw all adulterers in jail, but to increase the potential costs of adultery, so as to deter them from committing it.
    So adultery would only by punishable if the wife reports it? What if the police catch some guy in the act of adultery?

    Quote Originally Posted by Trendem View Post
    4) The government has no business interfering with marriage or family relations[/B]
    Actually, it does. Just because an act occurs within the context of a family doesn't make it exempt from government scrutiny. We do prosecute wife and children beaters.
    And we likewise prosecute anyone who beats another person. So it's not interference with family but the prosecution of battery no matter who the victim is or the relationship to the violator.

    Quote Originally Posted by Trendem View Post
    Polygamy is a crime.
    And the reason for that is?

    Quote Originally Posted by Trendem View Post
    As stated before, marriage is a legal institution, with attendant legal benefits. Since the government is granting these benefits, it has a valid interest in ensuring the integrity of these marriages.
    No it doesn't. And the only valid interest the government has concerning the benefits it gives are related to the benefits themselves. It does not give the government the right to regulate the relationship itself.


    Quote Originally Posted by Trendem View Post
    If you don't want the government interfering in your "personal relations", don't get married.
    So if a couple respects their own privacy, they should not get married?

    I married my wife, not the government. And the government CURRENTLY does not have a right to interfere with out relationship. Maybe you want to change that - I don't. And if that was the state of marriage prior to me marrying, I might not have gotten married - we might have just lived together and avoided marriage to maintain our privacy. So the rules you want might decrease marriage (at least from those who value liberty).


    Quote Originally Posted by Trendem View Post
    I'm not saying that adultery should be criminalised just because it has the potential for harm. The decision to criminalise it is based on a combination of its actual harms, its potential harms, its morally culpable nature, and its lack of any utility to society. If I had to rank the reasons, I would say that the potential harm of spreading STDs is the weakest one, and even without it I would still say that adultery should be criminalised.
    But none of those things individually are justifiable reasons for outlawing something, not to mention incredibly vague.. The only one that's not vague is spreading STDs and other actions that might spread them is not outlawed.


    Quote Originally Posted by Trendem View Post
    6) Adultery should be criminalised only if its moral culpability exceeds public interest in liberty
    Of course it does. What public interest is there for the liberty to screw around outside of marriage? None. It brings about no benefits to society whatsoever.
    Liberty itself is a benefit to society.

    Not having law enforcement unnecesarily interfere with out personal lives is a benefit to society.

    Not spending our tax dollars to pay for police to interfere with out personal relationships is a benefit to society. Would you rather have police spend their time chasing robbers and murderers or chasing cheating husbands? Every dollar or hour you spend on one crime is a dollar/hour you aren't spending on the other.

    -----------------------------

    And since this was not responded to, I will repost it:

    And what if adultery is made illegal and the police catch a couple of people who are married, but not to each other, having sex and that couple explains that they are wife swapping and their spouses are currently having sex as well. And they all believe that wife swapping helps their marriages. Since they believe it helps their marriages, you can't say you know that it hurts their marriages. Since they do it in private, the outside world does not know about, let alone is harmed, by their activities. They aren't going to spread any STDs that way. Since no one is suppose to know about it, it can't offend their morals. This scenario pretty much knocks down all of your points unless you want to stick to there being a legitimate state interest in forcing morals on people's private activities even when it's doing no harm to anyone.
    Last edited by mican333; April 6th, 2008 at 09:00 AM.

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    Re: Adultery should be a crime

    Quote Originally Posted by Trendem View Post
    Due to the large number of people I have to respond to, I will not respond individually but instead thematically.

    1) Adultery is like gay marriage
    Absolutely false. In gay marriage, no one is breaking any vow they made to another party. No demonstrable harm is caused to third parties.
    Strawman. I never claimed gay marriage is like adultery. I said specifically:

    Each and every one of the points in the op, can be made to oppose the idea of gay marriage. That being the case, I'll use a response similar to one of the popular pro-gay marriage arguments:

    They are consenting adults. We are not a nanny-state. Almost every action we take can have the potential for negative effects. Furthermore, if it doesn't affect me if other people commit adultery, then they should be allowed to do as they please.
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    Re: Adultery should be a crime

    As you already noted, adultery is a crime in several states. The problem is that many Americans don't care about marriage anymore, and the reason in large part is the loss of sexual morals since the 1960s, with such problems as promiscuity encouraged by abortion on demand, and the gay pride movement since the 1970s and acceptance of same-sex marriage. When people fornicate before marriage, and then divorce once they are married, and meanwhile same-sex marriages make a mockery of the sacrament of marriage, marriage is not going to be highly valued. Here is what Wikipedia says about the enforcement of adultery laws:

    "The enforceability of criminal sanctions for adultery is questionable in light of Supreme Court decisions since 1965 relating to privacy and sexual intimacy, and particularly in light of Lawrence v. Texas, which protected the right of privacy for consenting adults." - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adultery

    Privacy. Let me decode that: abortion (Roe v. Wade) and homosexuality (Lawrence v. Texas). Those are the two simple reasons why there is no enforcement of adultery laws to speak of.

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    Re: Adultery should be a crime

    know of a woman who divorced her husband because he watched sports all the time. He was either glued to the TV or actually at a game almost all of his waking non-working hours. She wanted to do family things on the weekends, he preferred to watch sports.

    Another case is cigarette smoking. Is it not even worse to cheat your spouse by consistent smoking? After all they begin to rack up medical bills, take years (as much as 20) off their lives because they smoked. Now their widow and children are without a husband and father. Should sports on TV and cigarette smoking be outlawed?

    There is no way to legislate against every issue that harms marriage, so why single out one? I know a couple who have an "open marriage". They allow each other to have sex with other people. How does that violate any agreement by them? Especially since all they did was went to city hall. They took no vows, they simply signed their names on the dotted line of which no where on that document does it enfold cheating. Nor sports on TV or smoking.

    Marriages go bad for many reasons. I dare say that by the time a spouse cheats then the marriage was almost certainly headed downhill already. It's like when a spouse chides the other for smoking because they are beginning to have health problems for it. By then, in most cases it is too late.
    Same with infidelity. It's almost always a symptom of a bad marriage and not usually the catalyst.
    When the power of love becomes stronger than the love of power, there will be peace..........jimi hendrix.

 

 
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