On any other matter, people largely divide into left and right camps, each trying to legislate their own morality, but if you look at the two major government parties, you would think that nobody believes speech should be as free as sex.
The left wants to censor anti-environmentalists and the right wants to censor anti-imperialists. Speech is okay so long as it is pre-approved by those in power. We can’t allow racist speech or hate speech or unpatriotic speech. Commerce and trade is even more regulated.
But not sex. Even the most heavy-handed politicians on either side of the aisle wouldn’t dare directly regulate sex. It may be our last free act.
You can have sex with whoever you want. Of course, it’s not the lawlessness of anarchy, but the justice of libertarianism: Do what you like as long as you don’t harm others. You can’t have sex with people who don’t want to have sex with you, or who don’t have the capacity to agree to it. And you can’t have unprotected sex with people if you knowingly carry a deadly disease. That would be murder. But otherwise, rock on.
You can discriminate with your partners. There are no equal opportunity statutes for sex. You can discriminate on the basis of gender or race or religion or age or nationality or sexual preference or even political beliefs. Only want to sleep with tall, blonde, lesbian Swedish libertarians? Go ahead. No one will arrest you, ticket you or torture you. Just don’t try discriminating with speech or trade. Both government parties will denounce you as a villain.
You can boast as much as you want about your prowess. Are you the world’s greatest lover? There is no federal agency that will review your claim, and no one for your partners to complain to if they disagree. There is no penalty for being inefficient and no subsidy for environmentally friendly sex. But try running a campaign ad without explicitly approving your own message at the end. Try selling a toilet that flushes instead of drizzles. Try hanging on to your non-green-starred incandescent bulbs. That would be evil!
You don’t need to fill out any forms to have sex. There is no licensing requirement. There are no approved or unapproved sexual procedures. There is no department you have to wait in line and register with, no mandatory exams, no federal agency certifying safety and efficiency, not even a standardized aptitude test. But try starting a company without putting up harassment posters and paying unemployment insurance. Try offering medical or legal or electrical or plumbing advice to your friends. It’s the fast track to jail.
You can even have babies nine months later. You can create life without any form of government approval, but you can’t issue your own currency. You can have twins and octuplets, but you can’t opt out of killing innocent Iraqis and Afghanis. You can grow a miracle in your belly, but you can’t keep your earned money or owned property without paying taxes on each.
If the left and right did try to legislate sex, they would be laughed out of town. We would suggest to our elected officers in quite graphic terms what sexual activity they could do to each other instead.
But there is no such indignation when they tell us which doctors we can see, what loans we can make, what businesses we can start, what citizens of foreign countries we can support.
We wouldn’t stand for sex insurance for the unattractive or sexual social security for the elderly or sexcaid for the poor. If you are a sexual libertarian — and most people are — then you should be a libertarian about every other policy issue as well.
Otherwise, we are just choosing which particular politician, the one on the left or the one on the right, will be the next to screw us.
Dr. Phil Maymin is an Assistant Professor of Finance and Risk Engineering at NYU-Polytechnic Institute. The views represented are his own.