Professor David Epstein remains on the faculty of the esteemed Columbia University despite having pled guilty to misdemenor charges of incest in connection with the sexual relationship he had been engaging in with his daughter. That’s correct. Don’t believe for a second that incest is confined to white trash living in rural West Virginia. It’s now de rigeur among educated academics living in New York City as well.
Earlier charges of felony incest were dropped in a plea deal. Don’t ask me what the difference is between felony incest and misdemenor incest because I’ve never passed the New York State Bar Exam. It seems to me that he was either shtooping his daughter or he wasn’t. I don’t understand the distinction.
My intial reaction was revulsion, of course. I mean, that’s just gross. But then I found out that he was once a columnist for the Huffington Post, which I read religiously. I immediately sought out his columns. I liked the column he wrote about torture because I’m against it like he is, though I sorta like the naked pyramids they had at Abu Ghraib. He also hates Sarah Palin, though not quite as much as I do. From everything I can gather, he’s a liberal. I didn’t find anything in his archive about LGBTQXYZ issues (to his shame) but I’ll just assume that he’s on board. He seems like a level-headed guy, not a bigot.
But as I was crusing around the ‘net, reading about Epstein’s incestual relationship, I stumbled upon a blog comment that really spun my head around. It appeared on the website of Columbia’s campus newspaper, under the heading “Full Marriage Equality”:
“Consenting adults should be able to pursue love, sex, and marriage (or not) with any other adults. Either we take ‘consenting adults”’and ‘right to privacy’ and ‘my body, my choice’ seriously, or we don’t. A woman of age 18 can sue or be sued, go to prison for life, serve in the military, operate motor vehicles and heavy machinery, consent to sex with men or women they just met. Are we to say they can’t consent to sex with a close relative?”
I can see the logic there. Speaking from the point-of-view of someone who knows what it’s like to be shunned and hated because of my sexuality, I can hardly condemn the good professor for his forbidden love. My love was once unspeakable as well. I was forced to hide it as if it was something shameful. All through my teenage years, I prayed to God to take away my sexual desires, but nothing changed. I’m sure David Epstein prayed to his god(ess)(es) as well, asking them to please remove the burning sexual desire he felt for his daughter. But we can’t change the way we feel. You can’t “pray away the inbreeder” any more than you can “pray away the gay”.
What two consenting adults do in the privacy of their own bedroom is their own business. In fact, what two consenting adults do in the privacy of their own bedroom deserves the full governmental seal of approval that only full marriage rights provide. Anything less is a denial of human rights.
Now I know that some of you may be thinking to yourself–“But Patrick, incest leads to screwed up, inbred, three-eyed children with hemophelia and crap like that.”
Here are a few of my feelings on that.
1) A marriage license is not a license to make a baby. People can (and do) conceive children out of wedlock. Four out of ten American children are now born to unwed mothers. If two people want to make a baby, they will, with or without a license from the state. It kind of reminds me of these people who think gay people will stop being gay if the state won’t allow them to marry. Sheesh. Almost medieval thinking.
2) Obviously, Professor Epstein and his daughter do not “choose” to be incestual. There’s just no way that it can be a “choice”. Who would choose a sexuality that is so reviled and rejected by society at large? For any of you judgemental people who think that Epstein “chooses” to be incestual, let me pose a question: When did you choose to outcestual? Hmm? It must be an inborn trait. Even though no gene has ever been discovered that determines incestual behavior, we’ll just go ahead and assume that one exists. We’ll call that science. And if you don’t believe in science, you’re basically a Christofascist loser. Now, you might argue that people choose who they sleep with, and that would be true. Except then I would have to admit that I choose who I sleep with, and then that would mean that my sexual behaviors are actually behaviors. And that would make it virtually impossible to make perpetual comparisons between myself and black people. So let’s not got there, m’kay?
3) Incest has been around since the beginning of time. And that means it’s okay.
4) If the only reason we don’t accept Epstein’s relationship with his own daughter is because he runs the risk of impregnanting the poor thing, guess what? He didn’t. No harm no foul. I mean, what if Epstein were banging his 24-year old son, rather than his 24-year old daughter? That’s be cool, right? And what if he and his daughter engaged in oral sex only? What if Epstein wanted to do the horizontal limbada with his own (presumably menopausal) mother? That would be kosher. Not only would it be kosher, but we should grant him a marriage license. It’s only fair.
5) Actually, my state DOES allow incestual marriages. We’re very progressive here in the Bay State, far ahead of the rest of the nation. My state allows incestual marriages so long as they are HOMOSEXUAL in nature. Thank goodness. So if I weren’t already married to Michael, I could conceivably marry my dad. Or my brother. And the more I think about it, the more I’d really like to marry my brother. He’s a charmer. Now, from time to time, I’ve been on gay blogs and mentioned that two brothers can marry each other in my state and I’ve been accused of “lying”. So, if you don’t believe me, here is the statute, or you can simply google “Massachusetts legal impediments to marriage”:
The law is very clear. Women may not marry close male relatives and men may not marry close female relatives. It doesn’t even make a common sense exception for men who want to marry their post-menopausal mothers! But it doesn’t say anything about men marrying close male relatives, or women marrying close female relatives. So me and my brother could tie the knot. If I weren’t already married to my loving husband Michael, that is. So if gays can marry incestually, why not straights? If your answer is because straights can make babies and gays can’t, then you’re of course positing that baby-making capabilities should have some bearing on marriage, which is just LUDICROUS! Marriage is about love. The state should bless all love equally, H8ER!
6) For you Bible-thumping theocrats out there, please don’t bring your morals to this argument. We have a strict seperation of church and state in this country. It’s right there in the Consitution…somewhere. Look, I can’t find it right now. I’ll look for it again later. In any case, I’d bet you can’t find a single instance of Jesus condemning incest in the Bible. Go ahead and look, I dare you. Those are the words in red, douchebags. See? He never said it, so that means it’s okay. Also, if you’re such a staunch believer in the Bible, maybe you ought to go out and thrash yourself for eating a shrimp cocktail. Until then, STFU.
7) How many more incestual people does God have to make before you get it through your thick skulls that God wants them around? Obviously, if incest were wrong, God wouldn’t have created people who have an inclination to do it.
So, the more I think about it, the more I think Epstein is a trailblazer for equal rights. He and his daughter are SICK, but that shouldn’t mean that they enjoy anything less than equal rights. It’s not the government’s place to decide what’s sick. That would be a slippery slope–next thing you know, they’d be telling me that I’m sick.
Perverts like us have to stand shoulder to shoulder with perverts like them. Let’s not allow the churchy haters to divide us. It’s not of our business if David Epstein wants to give his daughter the business. She’s cool with it, why shouldn’t we be?