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Maggie Gallagher Vs Jenn Q. Public

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Posted on March 22 2010 6:00 pm
Feminist Hawk is a superheroine. She is also an Associate Editor of NewsReal Blog, in charge of running The Feminist Hawks' Nest.

One of my writers, the Great Jenn Q. Public, recently took a shot at Maggie Gallagher for her views on the government getting involved in helping discourage adultery.

Gallagher was kind enough to respond in the comments:

In re: adultery websites. As I said on the Corner, I think both adultery and sleazy websites would continue to exist. They would have to wear fig leafs. It’s a modest proposal with a modest goal. I would like to be able to listen to Fox News iwthout hearing commercial solicitations for adultery.

The second goal is to find some legal recourse for injured spouses other than exploding their own family. I’m open to alternatives. But the idea that this represents some juvenile concern, or big government is . . .well not very mature imho. Should there an absolute right to commit adultery without legal consequences? And should that right include a right to market adultery? If the answer to either question is “no.” (I say no to both) then the question is: how–other than the cirminal law–can we acknowledge the wrongdoing to third parties of adultery and provide recourse for that injury?

My Hawk had a great rebuttal:

Maggie, thank you for taking the time to respond here at NewsReal. You have my apologies if I misinterpreted your piece as an earnest proposal rather than a modest one.

You write, “The second goal is to find some legal recourse for injured spouses other than exploding their own family.” Off the top of my head, I have three problems with that:

1) The “injury” is caused by the spouse who cheats, and that’s who should take responsibility for making amends. Third parties outside the marriage should not be held responsible, and in states where they are, it’s a huge waste of judicial resources.

2) If a couple managed to save their marriage after an affair and the injured spouse collected damages from the extramarital lover, the spouse who cheated would also benefit financially. How will that deter affairs?

3) I disagree that the hurt feelings caused by an affair should result in legal restitution. We have a legal remedy in place for those who feel their marriage has sustained permanent damage: divorce.

I think we simply differ here on the role of government. I believe that asking the judicial system to punish a person who slept with your spouse is like asking your dad to call the parents of the kid who was mean to you.

To answer your questions: yes, I believe we should be able to commit adultery and market adultery without legal consequences. I don’t want the government setting intrusive rules about what consenting adults of sound mind do with their bodies. Bodily autonomy is one of our most fundamental freedoms, and I won’t give it up just because I agree that infidelity is wrong.

Thanks again for taking the time to respond.

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