Hawking Adultery


Adultery should be for fun AND profit, according to Jenn. Q. Public.

For a few, mostly unmarried, bloggers on this site, every proposal that marriage is and should be a legal contract with consequences, is a slippery slope toward theocracy and a direct attack on homosexuals.

This curiously aggressively defensive attitude generally takes an argument that either a) government has NO role in the marriage contract (which would make it the only financial contract in the system without legal consequences) or b) focuses solely—and a bit obsessively—on the sexual side of the equation.

In fact Jenn’s response to Maggie Gallagher’s rumination on whether those who benefit financially from interfering in a marriage should be liable to the injured party, snidely starts with” Maggie Gallagher has made a career out of protecting marriage from The Gay Menace.”

No, Maggie Gallagher has made a career of trying to re-establish marriage as a contract with teeth, saying the current one-generation experiment of abolishing those penalties has failed.  Gay marriage is a sideshow to her main point.

Ironically, gay marriage proponents in their attacks on Maggie Gallagher generally prove her point.  Gallagher proposes that people who advocate “gay marriage” need to water down marriage in order to make it fit a definition of “marriage.”  Then those who attack her, proceed to try to define marriage as little more than a notarized date (and some object to even notarizing it as a government intrusion).

Jenn Q. Public went after Gallagher’s objection that John Edwards’ mistress Rielle Hunter is making a career out of her status, and that some websites are profiting from adultery.  Gallagher proposed there is something wrong with a society that will make Hunter a celebrity, but further proposed that those who gain financially from such actions should be financially liable.

That aroused the ire of Jenn Q. Public in both her original post, and her response to Gallagher’s reasonable reply in the comment section.  Feminist Hawk was unduly impressed by “My Hawk’s” poorly argued response to Gallagher’s reply:

1)     [JENN] 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.

Why the quotes around injury?  Regardless of your position here, there is an injury in both the legal AND emotional sense.  Marriage is a legal contract.  If you set up a business to get other people to break their corporate contracts and come do business with you, you would be subject to be sued over people who you poached.  Maybe that’s why there are no such businesses.

Here’s a case everyone is familiar with.  Think of professional sports.  There are deadlines that must be met before one team can talk to another’s players or coaches.  Talking to them before that date is called “tampering.”  Do marriages deserve less legal protection than an NBA lineup card?

2)       [JENN] 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?

This one is almost silly.  If the couple reconciles, then the damages would be nearly nil, because the injury would be all on the emotional side, and the legal consequences would be zero.   The reasoning in this point reminds me of the kind of thing you hear from the ACLU, taking the extreme exception in a law and using that to determine its constitutionality.

3)       [JENN] 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.

Yes, we do.  However, divorce has enormous financial and legal repercussions, and if a third party is making a profit by causing those repercussions, it’s a reasonable question as to whether they should be liable.  Hawk feels the injured party must continue to bear the bulk of the financial injury.

This incredibly immature argument—that “hurt feelings” are the main point of contention—is actually somewhat typical in its focus on the “somebody stole my boyfriend/girlfriend” aspect of the problem.

The uber-libertarians generally ignore the role of children in this equation.  But they are the primary reason for marriage to be formalized and legal.  Divorce has enormous consequences for children, and no society survives without formal responsibility for children.

While they argue that Gallagher’s  real agenda is to attack “gay marriage,” this blind spot only makes sense when one’s real agenda for watering down the marriage contract is to END arguments against “gay marriage.”

Jenn’s argument would bear more weight if Gallagher were proposing we go back to a time when every mistress or home wrecker might be liable under  alienation of affection– also not an unreasonable proposal.  In fact, My Hawk pretends that Gallagher is making that argument with this straw man:

JENN: 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.

But Gallagher has come nowhere near that.  She has proposed that people who MAKE A LIVING interfering in someone else’s contract be POTENTIALLY liable for the financial results of their business.

Jenn concludes with this self-contractory statement:

JENN: To answer your questions: yes, I believe we should be able to commit adultery and market adultery without legal consequences.

Ummm, no, you don’t.  Divorce IS a legal consequence.  Of course, if you are joining those who say government has no role in marriage, that it should not be a legal contract, that would be a consistent statement…

Now, name the successful society which has made it past the Stone Age, in which everyone switches partners at will simply by announcing who they are with and no longer with– for now.  Even those loopycommunes that tried it in the 70s petered out pretty quickly because of a lack of stability.

Societal anarchy and the resulting chaos in parenting responsibility is a high price to pay in order to seem cool and tolerant.