Thursday, June 14, 2012

Stories Like This Make The Case For Fornication Laws

If the government didn't end up involved in child support payment rules (and likely some TANF funding as well), you could argue that stuff like this isn't the government's business:
(Memphis) Latoya Shields says she had to sit down when she heard the news, “During the whole relationship, I only knew of four children.”
When a prosecutor told her that the father of her child had 20 other children she said her knees buckled, “At that time, three years ago, my child was the 21st child. Yeah, that would be overwhelming for anybody.”
She says after spending almost 8 years with Terry Turnage, she had no idea what he what he had been up to.
WREG tried to find out by going to Shelby County Juvenile Court.
Turnage had filed a petition there to lower his child support payments for 15 different women.
If you want to know where this is taking us: see Idiocracy.


  1. Fornification laws strike me as a particularly imprecise method for dealing with this sort of thing. As things are, neither the cost of child support payments -- for which statutes authorize everything from denial of passports to garnished wages to imprisonment in some cases -- nor the costs of raising a kid are particularly adept at instructing folk of the importance of condoms, the Pill, and/or vasectomies. I don't see the far-off threat of imprisonment being particularly likely to be a better instructor, and unless you're willing to jail people for years on end or somehow detect and prosecute every instance it's not going to seriously bust the rates down. Nor, humorous as the idea might be, is court-mandated sterilization likely to politically palatable, especially with the spectre of eugenics.

    And I'd really not be comfortable with a government that can readily enforce laws against a tenth or even a thousandth of all fornication; it flunks Joe Huffman's "attic" test in all the worst ways.

    Nasty problem to try to solve, especially with all the constraints.

  2. I agree: an imprecise tool. Fornication laws only work where there is social shame associated with this twerp's behavior. We're probably well past that stage.

  3. That doesn't strike me as the core problem; there's still a huge amount of social shame attached to this sort of behavior. In the GLBT, polyamory, and BDSM communities, unprotected or underprotected penetrative intercourse with multiple uninformed partners is still not considered socially acceptable. Even more unusual groups treat it pretty seriously: the furry fandom as a group will figuratively sew a red letter into the forehead of anyone there's even rumor of doing stupid stuff like this, and there's not much taboo in that group to start with.

    ((Yes, there are places and folk that won't raise an eyebrow to being regularly flogged or buying a 'novelty item' that looks like it was designed by HR Giger for 'personal use', but heaven help you if you don't buy rubbers.))

    It's not so much that there's no shame, as that shame can't do much to those people as have none to start with. And while turning large portions of the populace into beggars isn't the only way modern society strips folk of their dignity, it's a particularly obvious one and one that simultaneously creates many of the perverse incentives that encourage this particular result.

  4. It isn't often that we get a "Big Sleep" reference anymore?
    Even Carmen wanted her picture back.