Here Comes Incest?

More

So says Jeff Jacoby. I'm skeptical - not because the right to incest doesn't arguably follow from the logic of gay marriage, as Jacoby says, but because I think the demand for marrying one's sister is far too low to overcome the "ick" factor involved. The gay population is small, but not that small - even at 2-4 percent of the American population, it's large enough to create both a mass constituency for gay marriage and a still-larger percentage of Americans who count homosexuals as their friends and neighbors, and understandably wish them happiness as a result. Whereas even if the incest taboo begins to fray, I think the number of would-be Ptolemies and Cleopatras is so vanishingly small that Americans - including Supreme Court Justices - will never have much of an incentive to put the logic of Lawrence v. Texas ahead of their repugnance.

Moreover, the case for gay marriage appeals to Americans' sense of fairness in a way that the argument for incest doesn't. If gays can't (or shouldn't) marry straights, the pro-gay wedlock argument runs, then they deserve to marry someone. Whereas a straight guy who wants to marry his sister isn't just asking for the right to marry the kind of person he's attracted to - he's asking for the right to marry a specific person, and that's more easily refused.

Jump to comments

Ross Douthat is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity

Video

Is Technology Making Us Better Storytellers?

The minds behind House of Cards and The Moth weigh in.

Video

A Short Film That Skewers Hollywood

A studio executive concocts an animated blockbuster. Who cares about the story?

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Video

What Is a Sandwich?

We're overthinking sandwiches, so you don't have to.

Video

Let's Talk About Not Smoking

Why does smoking maintain its allure? James Hamblin seeks the wisdom of a cool person.

Writers

Up
Down