Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Umm, guys? You're still a member of the Union....

In a startling case out of Raleigh, North Carolina, two men have been charged with "Crimes against Nature" for engaging consensual sex with each other in the privacy of one of the mens bedroom.

Complicating the issue, one of the parties is charged with assaulting the other (non-sexual). Something not stated in the article, but that seems to me fairly good guess pops up here before we jump to the central issue.

The assaulting party may fall into a "curious & closeted buyers remorse" category - where the confused young gentleman, goes out and either gets drunk to create an excuse to explore or simply decides what the hell...and then after the deed is done, takes a deep dive into the guilt pond and surfaces all self-righteous spewing "I'm a GOOD boy, I'd never do anything like that, you "tricked me/got me drunk/worked voodoo/etc and it's all your fault and you must be punished/abused/beaten/threatened". A variation on this theme is the closet queen who, when discovered doing the deed, makes very similar noises to officers and/or the discoverer and the community at large.

This is part of why I tend to regard the newly out as stark raving mad for about a year after the "big disclosure", and try to resist any urge to date them. There are other reasons, as well, mainly other paths to excess drama.

The main course, however, is that pending further notice, North Carolina remains part of the Union, and as such, subject to the rulings of the Supreme Court of the United States. The previous is just dressing, it's the main course that results in a WTF moment.

In 2003, in Lawrence et al. v. Texas, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled for Lawrence and Co. finding that private consensual sexual acts between consenting adults could not constitutionally be prosecuted. This had the effect of striking down in one fell swoop laws barring same sex intercourse between consenting adults across the land in one fell swoop (13 states at the time of the ruling), and casting severe doubt on laws barring oral sex between consenting adults of the same or opposite sexes, and finally regarding adultery legislation.

There was no special exemption carved out for North Carolina.

Two months after the Lawrence decision was handed down, the attorney advising the Raleigh police department instructed them that they could keep charging people with crimes against nature only for publicly committing the acts. Subsequently, police in the state (according to the article) have used the "Crimes Against Nature" statute to prosecute public sex, same-sex prostitution and opposite-sex prostitution involving oral sex.

Efforts to repeal the statute have been rebuffed.

A day or so ago, the Raleigh police charged two men with "Crimes Against Nature" for engaging in consensual sexual acts between those gentlemen. Does anyone else see simple defiance of a Supreme Court ruling?

Throw in that, in general, laws regarding prostitution are mostly counterproductive or useless. Prostitution is prostitution, whether between same or opposite sex playmates and whether or not oral sex is involved - it is simply the exchange of money for sexual gratification. Beyond that, I don't see a reason that it shouldn't be legal (and perhaps licensed and subject to health inspections) where consenting adults are the players, allowing the eternally underfunded mechanisms of enforcement and corrections to focus their limited time and funding on more critical matters.

Pimping is offensive, as is extortion. Coercion into prostitution or chemical compulsion deserve really special attention, perhaps involving a gallows. But when the players have their eyes wide open, the public interest is at minimum based in the public health model (disease prevention) and at maximum in revenue generation. Thus, a logic based prostitution approach provides for licensing, inspection/infection testing, safer sex education, and enforcement of laws regarding minors (big no-no) and coercion (ideally, a lethally big no-no).

As far as public sex goes, I propose a new pair of civil infractions with a fine of perhaps $75.00 or so - Gross Stupidity in Public and Excessive Tackiness. The elements of gross stupidity consist of engaging in sexual actions in a public place and/or in a fashion that a reasonable person would expect to draw the attention of or subject passerby to unwanted sexual visual or audible sound effects. Excessive Tackiness would be soliciting others to engage in Gross Stupidity.

I suspect being cited for "Gross Stupidity and Excessive Tackiness" on the public record would be at least as much a deterrent as any fine, but that the minimal fines would keep the processing costs down and throw a bone to the righteous sorts.

Unfortunately, the Raleigh PD appears to be more interested in being righteous than in conserving limited resources (in this instance, simply avoiding the crimes against nature statute on the same order as a good case of the trots - there exist other ways to charge the naughty) and looks to be in line for a "constitutional slap upside the head" - more than likely, a very expensive one, with a seven figure settlement figure involved.

Similarly, the North Carolina State Legislature would do well to pull their collective heads out and pass something at least vaguely constitutional rather than the current statute. Not holding out much hope for that though.

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