Metroblog

A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

23 June 2006

Aren't They Old Enough to Know Better?

Stephen Harper and his caretaker government advanced legislation this week to raise the age of consent for sex to 16 from 14.

This, one of the first encroachments on sexual freedoms for Canada since Pierre Trudeau decriminalized homosexuality with the words "the government has no place in the bedrooms of the nation", is being done in the name of "protection of children".

But that's not the real issue. This is simply a trial balloon to see whether the modern, righter-wing Conservative Party can force its morality on the country. What was wrong with the law as it was?

The Conservatives present this as the usual "mom-and-apple-pie" bill: surely one can't be against protecting children.

Wel I am. For one thing, there are children that old raising families in some countries. Under circumstances of which most of the Neo-Conservative Party would devoutly (I use the word advisedly) approve.

If they really wanted to protect children they'd introduce real, powerful, honest and enthusiastic sex ed. That might include instructional pornography for the new user, open and neutral discussion of abortion, training in birth control, queer-accepting talks about homosexuality and training in defence against sexually transmitted disease. But protecting children's not really what they're about.

As for the argument about chat-room "luring". It's a false argument. Criminal behaviour such as luring has SFA to do with age of consent. Just as rape is an assault, not sex. Luring is a crime, not sex.

Unfortunately, parents bewildered by (and largely unaware of) what their kids may be doing on the 'net may be likely to see this as some sort of alleviation of their responsibility to know and be aware.

Some people argue that by setting a "within a few years" clause, the law retains the current permissiveness while giving the law teeth. False again. We have the statutory rape laws, what's wrong with them as they stand?

No. This bill is a flexing of partisan muscle in parliament. Harper's trying to flash his true colours to the rednecks who sent him to parliament to stop them gays a-marryin'.

And simple me is not the only person who's noticed:

Alan Young, a professor at Osgoode Hall law school in Toronto, says it's the latest example of "symbolic politics" - the addition of redundant law to score partisan points.

Young said the Tories did the same thing last week with a bill to crack down on street racing, an offence already covered under dangerous driving and criminal negligence laws.

"They're manufacturing problems that don't really exist and responding to them to appear as if they're very responsive to the needs of Canadians."

--From the Canadian Press via Yahoo!

How long until they manufacture a need to "protect marriage" or something? Oh, too late.

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