Opinion

Keeping an open mind about incest

There is nothing quite like sophomore year of college. It is that pivotal time in your life when you begin solidifying your academic areas of study and you start to understand your identity, ideas and dreams. It is a time for experimentation and self-examination. As students, we are granted a time to question our long-standing acceptance and rejection of various societal norms and taboos. It is all a part of a process that makes us better, more well-rounded citizens.

Yet there is one issue we are indoctrinated to believe is beyond discourse. Those against its practice assume their superiority with a ripe arrogance, while those who believe in its merits are shunned and ridiculed mercilessly. I am, of course, talking about innocent, consenting, physical love between family members, or “incest,” as the Puritans who run this society have called it.

In a society that values freedom and choice, we have shamefully allowed a select few – that is, those pencil-pushers up in Washington – to determine that incest is an immoral, terrible sin for all citizens. Some democracy we live in, huh?

But what is fundamentally wrong with this type of love? Ask the average person on the street, and they’ll only stare at you blankly, or perhaps throw out some old, tired stereotype. “Incest produces terribly impaired, diseased children,” or “Eww, that’s gross! Why would anyone do that?” The former claim, that incest produces deficient children, is mostly unfounded, as well. Children born of familial love do have a higher risk for certain [genetic]syndromes, true, but they are, for the most part, normal.

Furthermore, if incest is so wrong, why did some of the most magnificent historical figures engage in it? Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein, equipped with two of the greatest minds in human history, had incestuous relationships with cousins, as did the Roosevelts. And if incest is a sin, why does the Bible depict Abraham’s marriage to his sister being acceptable to God?

As a society we assume the moral impropriety of incest because we have always been told it is wrong. But why is it so wrong? Once you push through the cobwebs of ancient stereotypes and see incest for what it really is, it’s hard to fathom the venom and animosity it continues to generate. It is that kind of opportunity for free thinking that makes sophomore year so wonderful, and it is that kind of open-mindedness that will liberate America and the rest of this world.

Daniel Drucker is a sophomore majoring in economics and political science. He may be contacted at d.drucker@umiami.edu.

April 14, 2008

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Student newspaper at the University of Miami


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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.