Friday, March 02, 2007

Sex, Teachers, and Teenagers

Yet another story about a young female teacher having sex with teenage boys. What makes this interesting is not only that she's accused of having sex with, ah, five boys, but also the most common responses among the Digg community. These are mainly young men who say that she shouldn't be punished -- and I kinda agree. Laws should punish people for causing harm, and if these boys aren't really harmed, then I don't really see a reason to punish. Obviously any information we have as to whether they are harmed or not will be biased.

Thinking back on my middle-school years (and that flirtatious 45-year old gym teacher I had) I can think of a lot of things which seem, in retrospect, more harmful to my delicate psyche than something like this would have been. I remember being very immature and very impressionable, but not so impressionable that I couldn't make decisions. Historically teenage boys were considered men and that may not be a bad policy when considering cases like this. The career and social risks that a female teacher faces when doing something like this are large enough.

I dunno. I originally thought of approaching this story from the pretentious perspective of the philosophy of law, but it's sort of ran away from me -- I'm not inspired to write well when I'm not stoned. From my perspective crimes should be enforced in accordance with the harms they inflict on other people. John Stuart Mill came up with this and called it the harm principle. Ultimately even paternalistic laws should be based in this approach: drug use cannot be criminalized because it is harmful to oneself but only because by harming oneself the user is harming society. (I still don't think victimless crimes are reasonable.)

Those who argue that females "molesting teenage boys" should face the same punishment as males molesting young girls are idiots. There are far more risks and harms involved in the molestation of young girls. To be effective law must take into account psychology and damage in order to reach its goal: justice.

On another note, check out another story on Digg: Man Sues Little Girl After Hitting Her With His Bike (From Behind).

No comments: