The Norman Transcript


May 25, 2013

“Free Kate” campaign missing the point



What was that about equality?

A disclaimer here: I believe the sex crime laws as applied to teenagers can lead to some absurd situations. Obviously, it is not illegal for two consenting adults to have sex. But in the U.S., the age of consent ranges from 16 to 18. So, it is quite possible for a 16-year-old high-school junior to be committing statutory rape on his 15-year-old girlfriend, even if they have what she says is consensual sex. In the eyes of the law, she is incapable of giving her consent.

And what if both participants are 15 or younger? Neither can legally consent, while the reality is that most of the time both of them did. So, should both be charged? Should both be brought to trial and, if convicted, have to live as felons and register as sex offenders?

Such encounters are, of course, almost never prosecuted, which seems to make common sense, but it also undermines respect for the law, and allows arguments that if it was OK for a 16-year-old, why not for a 17- or 18-year-old? After all, they’re both in high school.

That argument, if brought by Hunt’s defenders, would at least have a measure of substance. And she does have the opportunity, in court, to make the so-called “Romeo and Juliet” (although in this case it would have to be “Juliet and Juliet”) defense that they were just two teenagers in love (or lust) and neither suffered harm from the encounter.

But, that kind of creeping attempt at justification is corrosive to a credible justice system. And in this case it is weak on its face — the line between 18 and 14 is much brighter than if the two were 16 and 15.

At 18, a young person is legally an adult who can drive, vote, live and work independently, sign contracts and serve in the military. A 14-year-old is barely out of middle school and barred from all of those.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Improving children’s lives

    Social service organizations that have long-term debt for their headquarters and operating needs often spend much of their fundraising efforts meeting those obligations....

    July 29, 2014

  • Nutritional article should be accurate

    I read with interest the July 13 article “Are low-carb diets really healthy?” by Cassidie Day. Unfortunately, a number of statements in this article were incorrect. The first problematic statement was, “Carbs are an essential nutrient ...

    July 29, 2014

  • Hospital story headline was too sensationalized

    Editor, The Transcript: On July 18, The Transcript ran a front page article with the headline “Lawsuit filed against Norman Regional — Civil suit alleges improper billing practices by NRH and contracted physicians groups.” As a first page ...

    July 29, 2014

  • Congress should close gaps

    Of all of Edward Snowden’s revelations about electronic surveillance by the National Security Agency, the most unsettling was that the government was accumulating vast numbers of records about the telephone calls of American citizens. In ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Border obsession overlooks trade

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry made headlines recently by ordering 1,000 National Guard troops to the border. This bravado comes at a price: $12 million a month. Perry plans to send the bill the federal government. That’s one way to finance your ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Intercession badly needed in this world

    Yesterday was my feast day, or as the Italians call it, my “onomastico.” Since I live in the United States, it went completely unnoticed. If I lived in Italy, however, I would have been showered with cards and phone calls. That’s because ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Help better than commentary

    For the last seven years, I have helped run Hands Helping Paws, an animal welfare and rescue group that fosters Norman’s abandoned animals and advocates for spay and neuter initiatives to reduce our community’s problems with stray and ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Stick to the sports

    Editor, The Transcript: Why must we, especially us nice conservatives, be subjected to political commentary in a sports column? I hear/view Fox News routinely and find their coverage quite acceptable. I also hear/view CNN and MSNBC. I ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Corporation Commission should should evaluate quakes, fracturing

    Editor, The Transcript: Is your house at risk of being damaged in an earthquake because of fracking? Maybe. We’ve seen more earthquakes and tremors in Oklahoma seven months into 2014 than in the two previous years combined. At the same ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Norman can stop fracking before it escalates

    Editor, The Transcript: There are 163 fracked wells within Norman city limits. With growing attention to health and safety concerns, the city is considering changes to the existing oil and gas ordinance....

    July 27, 2014