The Attorney General of Virginia—I am not making this up—has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to allow Virginia to criminalize oral and anal sex.
Early this year, a federal appeals court vacated the conviction—based on Virginia’s anti-sodomy law—of a 47-year-old man who solicited sex with a 17-year-old woman (who is over the age of consent in Virginia). Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli wants the Supreme Court to overturn the decision.
The ladies of The View enthusiastically ripped Cuccinelli. Whoopi Goldberg even threatened “I’m gonna make sure your behind doesn’t become governor.” (Whoopi, let me know exactly how much money you donate to his opponent.)
The issue of anti-sodomy legislation has absolutely nothing to do with protecting children. The anti-sodomy law applies to adult-adult consensual sex, gay or straight. Either a human is old enough to legally consent to sex, or s/he isn’t. And like every state, Virginia has plenty of laws punishing non-consenting sex as well as adult-child sexual exploitation.
But Cuccinelli is running for Governor (guess which party?), and he’s turning this into a “protect the children” thing. On his website he quotes a civic leader who’s so angry and frightened she overlooks the facts; I’ve helpfully added a few:
At the heart of the defendant’s appeal is an effort to legalize sex acts between adults and children [NOT TRUE]. A crime against a child is still a crime against a child [SHE’S OVER THE AGE OF CONSENT…. For the Fourth Circuit, an inability to distinguish between consensual adult-adult sex and a sex crime committed [SOLICITING, NOT DOING] against a child [17—A “CHILD”?] by an adult is outrageous. For Virginia’s children, the result of this case is catastrophic.”[IT HAS NO EFFECT WHATSOEVER.]
It’s a classic example of creating a moral panic, and then harnessing the resulting fear and anger for political gain. Who isn’t against adults sexually exploiting children? The real-life situation has nothing to do with this issue, but any tenuous link that Cuccinelli can make between the two can be exploited for his benefit.
The question for America (yet again) is about our desperate, recurring need to create a sexual “them,” an “other” whose sexuality is drastically different from ordinary people’s, and dangerous to everyone. So even though a huge majority of American couples have oral sex at some point, millions of people around the country support outlawing it.
Politicians, religious leaders, and do-gooders use oral sex—and sodomy, non-monogamy, nudism, S/M, vibrators, and other common erotic behaviors—as code for “those people aren’t like us,” even when “those people” ARE like us. In fact, they ARE us. But creating a dangerous, degenerate, out-of-control sexual “other” is such a dependable trope for motivating people, no political, religious, or civic leader in their right mind can give it up. They are captivated by the power the trope gives them.
As the word “homosexual” loses it power to terrify and galvanize, the political exploitation of other marginalized groups will increase. Sex offenders are the most obvious target. People into S/M and non-monogamy will also feel the heat.
There are about 6 million adults in Virginia. Say that 3 million vote. Whether he wins or loses, Cuccinelli will get at least 1.25 million votes. Statistics suggest that at least a half-million of these people periodically have oral or anal sex. But they’ll tell themselves that the sexual degenerates Cuccinelli is aiming for aren’t them. In a way, they’re right—these sexual degenerates aren’t ANYONE. They’re a terrifying, infinitely malleable idea that’s far bigger and more dangerous than any individual could possibly be.
That’s the Republican Party for you—they want to shrink government smaller and smaller until it can fit under your bedroom door. And millions of Americans keep inviting them in—as the price they willingly pay for having “others” patrolled and controlled.