Saturday, September 03, 2005

Age of Consent

A few weeks ago, I implied that sleeping with an adult who routinely reads children’s literature is comparable to paedophilia.

I know that the argument is contentious, but I broadly stand by it. After all, the main moral objection to adults having sex with children is that - like victims of date-rape drugs - kids aren't thought to have the ability to fully provide ‘informed consent’ to an amorous overture.

Surely someone who keeps themselves in a permanent state of kittenhood by reading of witches and hobgoblins is equally vulnerable? I suppose they can’t actually be prevented from having sex, but surely it’s worth considering some kind of sterilisation programme? Failing this, we should all do our bit by slipping bromide in their tea.

All of this finds echoes in a little spat that appeared in the Guardian last week.

In a good silly-season article, Zoe Williams despaired at the number of politicians who told a survey that they were taking either The DaVinci Code or a Harry Potter for their holiday reading.

“They choose these books for the same reason that they occasionally yearn out loud for Big Brother-style phone-in voting, or praise Coronation Street, or claim to have drunk 14 pints in one go. They do it to make themselves sound more human, more accessible, more Joe Public.”

She went on, .... “...there is nothing shameful about intellectual sophistication - even if we were all as dumb as the focus groups seem to have put about, we would not necessarily recoil in horror at the idea of being represented by people who were cleverer than us.”

Every now and then, a ill-considered comment foregrounds something that should have been obvious all along. In a letter to the paper, Sophie Coulombeau of CommunicateResearch (who published the findings) supplied it:

“MPs are supposed to be representative, so why the shrill outcry because they enjoy the same books as the vast majority of us?”

Perhaps this is the reason that so many people declare themselves ‘disillusioned’ with politics?

Perhaps this misunderstanding of the application of ‘representative’ in the term ‘Representative Democracy’ is one of the causes of the alleged ‘disengagement’ that we keep reading about?

It could so easily be put right if MPs were to stop trying to ingratiate themselves like trendy vicars. It should almost tempt us to revisit John Stuart Mill’s suggestion that people should be have to pass some sort of intelligence test before being allowed to vote. Either way, there is a case for taking Sophie off the electoral roll. And DON’T try to sleep with her unless you want the News of the World on your case....

1 comment:

Ivan said...

Too right. And I speak as someone who has actually had to read the damned things - to my six/seven year old son. With each book my incredulity grew that anyone would willingly read the things. Go get 'em, Paulie.