Punish crimes, not people’s flaws

David Soler

Adultery is going to be in the spotlight soon. Hushy rumors are spreading across the country that say in some time, several states are going to enable laws toughening and enforcing it’s penalties on adultery.

This January, the Free Times reported possible harsh punishments for adultery to be enforced in Michigan. “Michigan’s second-highest court says that anyone involved in an extramarital fling can be prosecuted for first-degree criminal sexual conduct, a felony punishable by up to life in prison,” it reported.

Nowadays, such “penalties” are just blue laws. Maryland, for example, penalizes you with a remarkable $10 fine. Ho, ho, ho. But, can you imagine someday receiving a 10-year jail sentence for an illicit hide-the-cigar game? Huy, huy, huy. In Europe, no way, but in Yankeeland is another story.

Lucky number seven of the Ten Commandments left adultery at the same level as murder and stealing. And if murder and theft are punished by the present secular law, then why hasn’t this law taken the same enforcing approach for adultery as it did for the former crimes?

Why? Because being unfaithful might not really be a crime.

Something appears to be truly illegal when one of the parties involved has no choice in the activity. A theft robs you without your consent, a murder takes your life, a drug dealer gives you something you won’t be able to say ‘no’ to and so on.

But with adultery, everything changes. With adultery, both parties involved are willing to do it. It’s not something ‘imposed’ on one of them. By contrast, when sex is, you have a punishable crime. It’s called rape.

Could it be because of this implicit reciprocal consent that the laws on adultery have not been enforced for so long?

But if the powers that be decide it is a punishable crime, they are going to work to enforce such laws. And if the army of lawmakers agrees to get too real and pass anti-adultery laws, the adultery field will generate enough hilarity to ignite 10 “Daily Show spinoffs. Think of it. First, our grandpa senators will need to define the scope of adultery. Everything punishable, or just intercourse? Two years for a “Monica get down” but five for “with the lights off”? And how will you prove one and or the other? Please, don’t tell me people will need to stockpile dried body fluids on clothes!

Moreover, adultery, unlike other crimes, has an easy unilateral solution: divorce. One in two Americans is already getting divorced. If police start unleashing sting raids pursuing adulterous females and males alike a la drug dealers, that ratio is going to further increase. Does society really need to punish such a tractable human flaw?

People should be responsible first and act accordingly. In our democratic society, policymakers should focus on issues that can’t partially be solved. Adultery is not one of them.

David Soler is a biomedical sciences graduate and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].