Massachusetts Revokes Consent of Adults Over 60

Massachusetts state representative Kathi-Anne Reinstein has introduced a bill making it a crime for anyone over 60 to pose nude or sexually for a film or photo. The person taking the photo—whether a lover, artist, or commercial porn maker—would also face jail time.

Adding insult to injury, the proposal amends a bill designed to punish those who make child pornography. It treats fully functional adults who happen to be over 60 the same as children under 18; it explicitly takes away their right to consent to be photographed in a lascivious way.

Reinstein’s office says she proposed this bill in response to requests from senior advocacy groups. They claim there’s an epidemic of “elder sexual abuse,” and cite a handful of ugly cases. What pressure groups and legislators fail to mention is that there are already laws criminalizing coercion, and protecting the mentally incompetent. Other than that, Massachusetts’ millions of older people have the right to make their own choices, poor or not.

By the way, those “older people” who would lose their right to take or pose for a nude photo of themselves include such decrepit ancients as Meryl Streep, Richard Gere, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Nicks, Tom Brokaw, Barbara Walters, and Al Gore. Not to mention Sophia Loren. Elder porn anyone?

The law also criminalizes nude or sexual photography of the physically disabled—again, regardless of mental capacity. Apparently, in Massachusetts you lose control over your sexuality when you lose control over your legs. And don’t forget the small matter of the U.S. Constitution; see Marc Randazza’s excellent coverage of the legal aspects of this law.

Predictably, Reinstein said, “If we can extend protection to the elderly and the disabled, it’s a no-brainer.” But “protection” in the form of stealing people’s rights isn’t protection. This is the same argument that was used to deny women the right to vote 100 years ago: “protecting” them from the upset of digesting political information and the pressures of citizenship.

It is, of course, illegal for adults to have sex with vulnerable children; any photo of this activity is the record of a crime. In contrast, it is legal for adults over 60 to have sex with each other; photos of this sex document only legal activity.

The proposed law, under the guise of protecting adults who are already protected, is simply an attack on adult sexuality. Is this merely a bunch of middle-aged legislators repulsed when they think about their older mom and dad being sexual? Or is it just another flag-waving attack on the legal adult porn industry?

Since 60 is, as they say, the new 40, and given the millions of older adults in Massachusetts (each of whom has a cell phone with a camera), the state is bidding to become the sex crime capital of the world. A small price to pay, Rep. Reinstein would say, to “protect” a few vulnerable people.

Where is AARP while Massachusetts seniors are being persecuted—or are their rights less important when they’re sexual rights?

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