Thursday, October 02, 2008

Age of consent anomolies

There's not a few of them in this country of ours. You can, for example, legally consent to have gay sex at 16 but not enjoy a post-coital cigarette. Also at this age you could have sex and you could watch someone else having sex - provided you aren't watching them having sex on DVD. For this you have to be 18. You can also work for a living and pay taxes - but you'll have to wait until you're 18 until you can decided which party forms the government that will decide how your taxes are spent.

Despite the fact that this situation isn't based on a coherent concept of consent, the case for rationalisation isn't to my mind overwhelming as most people understand that these legal provisions are inconsistent because they have evolved over time. Moreover, while the legal idea of consent might be a little hazy, generally speaking both English and Scots law generally recognises 18 as the age where the capacity for full adult consent is assumed.

The Scottish Parliament was therefore absolutely right to reject the SNP's stupid and illiberal proposal that the age at which Scots could purchase alcohol should be raised from 18 to 21. Hats off to Patrick Harvie of the Greens for this line:
"Speech after speech talking about the need to save communities from the demon drink by MSPs who then sauntered downstairs where huge trays of free booze awaited us all."
Who knows - maybe this democracy combined with liberty thing will catch on up here? It would make a refreshing change.

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