Lust

Seth Victor

In college I learned a song. The lyrics of that song are largely unpublishable, but I will share the refrain, which goes, “Bestiality’s best boys, Bestiality’s best (something unmentionable about a wallaby)!” It was sung in jest, by both guys and gals, and the point was (I hope) to horrify and not to instruct. I admit I laughed and sang along. A sense of humor goes a long way in keeping ones sanity, and I know the song was only part of a long and raunchy college tradition. Now that I recall those days of endless road trips, listening to my colleagues tone deaf voices proclaim what wonderful sexual acts would befall a myriad of animals, I wonder what sketchy part of my university’s tradition required immortalization in such verse.

Sex is still taboo in our society, and more risqué sexual proclivities are still in the closet, so to speak, though they are not as much of a sub-culture as some people think. Animal sex, with other animals, is not taboo. From dogs in the park to the Discovery Channel, you can watch animal porn to your heart’s content. But is it porn? That depends on the viewer. Porn is sexually stimulating, erotic, and is viewed for some sexual goal. If you tune in to the mating habits of the Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock (I couldn’t make that up) to further your understanding of genetic diversity, you’re a scientist. If your heart starts racing, be careful. I’m being a bit ridiculous, but when you consider that U.S. v. Stevens refuses to apply the same exemptions to the First Amendment that were extended to depictions of child pornography in U.S. v. Williams, while in the same stroke giving the go-ahead for crush videos, it isn’t absurd to wonder where we drawn the line when it comes to human with animal sex acts.                 Continue reading

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Buggery and Factory Farming

Rodell Green was just sentenced to three years imprisonment for having sex with a horse. Over at the Atlantic Blog, correspondent Wendy Kaminer asks the following “quick question“:

Can someone explain to me why it is a criminal offense to have sex with animals but entirely legal to kill and eat them?  Surely laws against bestiality don’t reflect concern about the rights of animals, (who would probably opt for sex over death.) I don’t mean to denigrate meat eating (I’m a carnivore;) I do mean to point out the absurdities of imprisoning people for “buggery.”

In a sense, Ms. Kaminer is right. It is simply inconsistent for the law to send someone to jail for three years for having sex with a horse while simultaneously allowing billions of animals to unnecessarily suffer as a result of factory farming.

Nevertheless, I believe that there is a way to explain this inconsistency. As I pointed out in a previous post, it’s unclear whether the purpose of bestiality statutes is to protect animals from cruelty. As a matter of fact, I think that bestiality statutes have little to do with preventing animal suffering. Instead, it’s more likely that the purpose of bestiality statutes is to enforce a moral principle, namely: that it’s against natural law and morality for human beings to have sex with an animal.  This reading of bestiality statutes is supported by the history of laws criminalizing such conduct.

The first statute criminalizing bestiality in common law jurisdictions was England’s Buggery Act of 1533. The statute made engaging in anal sexual intercourse or having sex with an animal a crime punishable by hanging. These acts were criminalized because they were unnatural and against God’s will. After all, as Blackstone (in)famously asserted in his famous Commentaries, someone who engaged in these acts committed the “abominable and detestable crime against nature”. As a result, it seems fairly obvious that what inspired bestiality laws was the state’s desire to enforce a particular moral view.

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Oral Sex, Animals, and the Criminal Code

calf_aIs oral sex a crime?  Not necessarily, of course.  But absent consent, it sounds like a crime to me.

Not so if the mouth belongs to an animal, according to a Burlington County, New Jersey judge who dismissed charges against a police officer accused of putting his penis in the mouths of at least 5 calves for the purpose of gaining sexual pleasure.  The judge said it was questionable that the acts constituted animal cruelty.  Why don’t calves deserve protection from sexual predators?  It doesn’t make any sense.

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Bestiality and the Sex Offender Registry

If you were wondering whether judges in Kansas were paid enough, the answer is “NO.”    Judges in Kansas have to sometimes decide whether a person caught en flagrante with his ex-girlfriend’s dog (after sneaking into her garage) should have to register as a sex offender.  (Apparently so.)  That type of work, in my humble opinion, defies a compensatory dollar figure.

For the full, unadulterated skinny on this, read State v. Coman, 2009 WL 2633688 (August 28, 2009).  For a great analysis of the opinion and the legal morass through which the court must wade, visit Leonard Link.

H/t to Bridget Crawford for the heads up.

–David Cassuto

Anthropornography

Animal Blawg is proud to present Bridget Crawford, our first guest blogger.  Professor Crawford blogs regularly at Feminist Law Professors.

Anthropornography

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The design firm Süperfad has created an unusual ad for Durex condoms, a brand of SSL International plc.  The video – one of the “virals” on You Tube – shows pastel-colored condom balloon animals simulating all sorts of human-like sexual activity.  The still shot (above) hardly hints at the video’s content.  The video link is here.  The video is not one to watch at work.  Don’t watch it if you’re easily embarrassed.  And don’t watch if you are offended at the possibility of others finding humor in balloons made to look like animals made to act like copulating humans.

I saw the video after a friend posted it to his Facebook page, with the comment that it was one of the “most hilarious” condom ads he had ever seen.  I was at home – alone – when I blithely clicked “play” to watch the video.  I immediately started having nervous laughter.  The sounds, the images, the “Get It On” slogan – all funny, right?  I’m not so sure now.  At one level, my nervous laughter expressed, “I can’t believe someone was brash enough to make an ad like this.”  At another level, my nervous laughter expressed embarrassment, as in, “I can’t believe I’m watching this.”  And at still another level, my nervous laughter expressed some discomfort with what I’ll call anthropornography.

If anthropomorphism is the attribution of human characteristics, behaviors and feelings to inanimate objects or animals, and pornography is graphic sexual imagery intended to arouse (thanks, American Heritage), then anthropornography is the depiction of inanimate objects or animals engaged in human-like sexual behavior, where the primary purpose of the depiction is the viewer’s arousal.

Why do people find the ad hilarious?  I’m not sure.  I’m having nervous laughter right now.

-Bridget Crawford