Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Kaitlyn Hunt is NOT Rosa Parks...

..though she MIGHT be Genarlow Wilson...if Wilson had been a legal adult when he did what he did. 
Formal equality under the law is a funny thing. There are still some remaining exceptions to it. Women do not have to register for selective service, though I think that will change soon. Women still pay less for life insurance and auto insurance. Ladies' Nights in bars or nightclubs are generally still legal. Men are arguably shortchanged in divorce and child custody claims. Private organizations have greater latitude to include or exclude people as they see fit. Men and women are both free to take maternity/paternity leave though men often do not, which adds to inequality. And so on. 
Most Americans would probably agree that equality under the law is a good thing. If I am accused of a crime the judge, jury or prosecutor should treat, judge and sentence me based on the evidence. I shouldn't be treated differently because I am of a particular age, gender or race. There shouldn't be any laws that dictate that person A of group A receives this sentence while person B of group B gets that sentence for the exact same crime. Obviously this is the theory and not the practice as there are still several instances where people don't get equal treatment. We've discussed "marriage equality" or what was more commonly known as "gay marriage".  This means that two people of the same gender should be able to marry just as two people of the opposite gender can. Some think this to be the greatest civil rights issue of our time. Well maybe. I don't much care one way or the other. But I do think that if a community wants equality under the law for the good things in life then it must be willing to accept equality under the law for the bad things.

To wit the Kaitlyn Hunt case. You may remember the Genarlow Wilson case in which a seventeen year old young man had sexual relations with two girls (young women) who were seventeen and fifteen. This was evidently part of a group sex incident. The case facts were recently rehashed here. Some people still view Wilson as a rapist. Kaitlyn Hunt is an 18 year old woman who had sexual relations with a 14 year old girl. They met in a Florida high school. Hunt has refused a plea deal and appears ready to proceed to trial. Her parents and attorney accuse the minor's parents and prosecutors of homophobia. Contrary to what's been reported Hunt admits to being eighteen before starting a sexual relationship with the minor. Hunt doesn't view herself as a child abuser. Neither do some people in the gay community or the media.

Problem is though the law is pretty clear on the fact that eighteen year olds aren't supposed to be having sex with fourteen year olds. The law doesn't make any exception for sexual orientation or gender. 

There's an old joke that "15 will get you 20". In other words it doesn't really matter how old an adult thought a child was. It doesn't matter if the child was mature for his or her age. It doesn't matter if the child consented. It doesn't matter if the child was "experienced". There is a certain age below which a child can not consent. Period. In the arrest affidavit when asked if she knew it was wrong to have sex with a fourteen year old Hunt replies that "she did not think about it because the girl acted older". Right. Just imagine a man saying that. Would we not start measuring the rope for the lynching party?

Now it may be the case that age of consent laws were primarily written out of concern for male predators and female victims and to a lesser extent for male predators and male victims. (Attractive) female predators with male victims may cause some older men to snicker that "I wish my teachers had looked like that!!" while female predators with female victims may slip under the radar entirely. For both biological and cultural reasons people tend to be a little more perturbed about an older man with a younger girl than the opposite. But the law is the law.

I am certainly not under the misconception that Hunt was the only eighteen year old in the universe who ever had sex with a fourteen year old. She just got caught.
But if the female victim's parents and/or the police and prosecutors discover a female predator what do you think they should do? Turn a blind eye to it because it's a same sex interaction? How would that work? There are many cases where an older man or boy runs afoul of statutory rape laws and finds himself in a world of pain. In some cases you can make a legitimate argument that the law is out of touch with current realities. In other cases it's pretty obvious that the older person is indeed a predator and/or pedophile. The jury can decide the facts if the older person wants to go to trial.
But I don't automatically think we can say that the prosecutors or the parents are acting out of malicious or "homophobic" reasons in proceeding with the case. The parents may well have acted even sooner if the alleged predator were male. Listen to what the parents say here. And ask yourself what you would have done. AFAIK we lack evidence either that the parents made anti-gay statements or that the prosecutor disproportionately goes after same sex statutory rape cases. Absent that or some proof that Kaitlyn Hunt has been singled out/overcharged I don't accept charges of bias. But biased prosecution or not, no one made Hunt take those actions. And comparing Kaitlyn Hunt to Rosa Parks or the civil rights movement is ridiculous. Rosa Parks was not agitating for the right to have sex with fourteen year old girls.

Kaitlyn Hunt should be treated like any other eighteen year old who had sex with a fourteen year old. Her sexual preference and gender should not matter. And I have known too many women, who at fourteen identified one way but upon maturity identify in completely a different way to accept the argument of Hunt's supporters that this is about homophobia. No. From what I can see this is about parents who don't want their fourteen year old daughter having sex with an adult woman. And I find no fault with that... 

What's your take? Is Hunt being unfairly singled out?

Do consent laws need to be changed?

Should there be different standards for age of consent for heterosexual vs. homosexual relationships?

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