FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Assault on Richard Dare

by RAYMOND J. LAWRENCE

Richard Dare, who from all reports is a solid citizen and quite talented, was made president of the New Jersey Symphony on January 2, 2013, and ten days later resigned in what appears to be public disgrace. (New York Times, 1-12-13) The press discovered that in 1996 he was charged with “attempting a lewd act upon” a fifteen-year-old girl. He was thirty-one at the time. Three years later, when the girl reached the legal age of eighteen he married her and they are married still. Dare himself spent 60 days in jail for his offense, spent two years on probation, and was temporarily listed publicly as a sex offender. He has been eminently successful in business ever since and from all reports is a person of good character.

On the face of it Richard Dare cannot be considered a criminal in any sense. He was a man looking for a wife, whose object of affection happened to be a couple of years under the legal limit. That legal age, in this instance eighteen, under which one is considered immature is course quite arbitrary.

A culture that now views Richard Dare as a criminal or a danger to the social order should be defined as a sexually sick culture. Laws against sexualizing youngsters in advance of their readiness for sexual relations are of course useful and necessary to protect the innocent. Richard Dare broke the law technically, and paid the penalty. But only in a most technical sense did he break the law. A male and a female found each other and built a life together for two decades. We should all rejoice at that.

Laws purporting to protect the underaged from sexual predation should not be used as a sledge hammer. Individuals reach sexual and emotional maturity at quite different ages. Enforcement of such laws should allow for such differences. There is a big difference between a six-year-old and a seventeen-year-old. Some eighteen year-old “adults” may still need some protection because of their own idiosyncratic emotional immaturity.

Through most of human history girls were married, or paired off sexually, as soon as they reached puberty, usually with males also in their teens. Current legal prohibitions of sexual pairing prior to age 18 are arbitrary and should be treated by courts and public opinion as such. Sometimes the prohibition promotes human well-being, and sometimes it interferes with legitimate claims of personal autonomy.

The continuing public energy in attempting to disgrace Richard Dare is essentially a fear and loathing of sexual pleasure itself. It is a fear and loathing inherited from Christianity. It is the dark side of Christianity, a religion that has in many other respects brought good things to the human family. The notion that sexual desire is the devil’s work continues to lay a curse on Western Christian culture. The story of Richard Dare is illustrative of the workings of that curse.

Raymond J. Lawrence is an Episcopal cleric, recently retired Director of Pastoral Care, New York Presbyterian Hospital, and author of numerous opinion pieces in newspapers in the U.S., and author of the recently published, Sexual Liberation: The Scandal of Christendom(Praeger). He can be reached at: raymondlawrence@mac.com

RAYMOND J. LAWRENCE is an Episcopal cleric, recently retired Director of Pastoral Care, New York Presbyterian Hospital, and author of numerous opinion pieces in newspapers in the U.S., and author of the recently published, Sexual Liberation: The Scandal of Christendom (Praeger). He can be reached at: raymondlawrence@mac.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

March 28, 2017
Mike Whitney
Ending Syria’s Nightmare will Take Pressure From Below 
Mark Kernan
Memory Against Forgetting: the Resonance of Bloody Sunday
John McMurtry
Fake News: the Unravelling of US Empire From Within
Ron Jacobs
Mad Dog, Meet Eris, Queen of Strife
Michael J. Sainato
State Dept. Condemns Attacks on Russian Peaceful Protests, Ignores Those in America
Ted Rall
Five Things the Democrats Could Do to Save Their Party (But Probably Won’t)
Linn Washington Jr.
Judge Neil Gorsuch’s Hiring Practices: Privilege or Prejudice?
Philippe Marlière
Benoît Hamon, the Socialist Presidential Hopeful, is Good News for the French Left
Norman Pollack
Political Cannibalism: Eating America’s Vitals
Bruce Mastron
Obamacare? Trumpcare? Why Not Cubacare?
David Macaray
Hollywood Screen and TV Writers Call for Strike Vote
Christian Sorensen
We’ve Let Capitalism Kill the Planet
Rodolfo Acuna
What We Don’t Want to Know
Binoy Kampmark
The Futility of the Electronics Ban
Andrew Moss
Why ICE Raids Imperil Us All
March 27, 2017
Robert Hunziker
A Record-Setting Climate Going Bonkers
Frank Stricker
Why $15 an Hour Should be the Absolute Minimum Minimum Wage
Melvin Goodman
The Disappearance of Bipartisanship on the Intelligence Committees
Patrick Cockburn
ISIS’s Losses in Syria and Iraq Will Make It Difficult to Recruit
Russell Mokhiber
Single-Payer Bernie Morphs Into Public Option Dean
Gregory Barrett
Can Democracy Save Us?
Dave Lindorff
Budget Goes Military
John Heid
Disappeared on the Border: “Chase and Scatter” — to Death
Mark Weisbrot
The Troubling Financial Activities of an Ecuadorian Presidential Candidate
Robert Fisk
As ISIS’s Caliphate Shrinks, Syrian Anger Grows
Michael J. Sainato
Democratic Party Continues Shunning Popular Sanders Surrogates
Paul Bentley
Nazi Heritage: the Strange Saga of Chrystia Freeland’s Ukrainian Grandfather
Christopher Ketcham
Buddhism in the Storm
Thomas Barker
Platitudes in the Wake of London’s Terror Attack
Mike Hastie
Insane Truths: a Vietnam Vet on “Apocalypse Now, Redux”
Binoy Kampmark
Cyclone Watch in Australia
Weekend Edition
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump is Obama’s Legacy: Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Eric Draitser
Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nothing Was Delivered
Andrew Levine
Ryan’s Choice
Joshua Frank
Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up (Bad News for Keystone XL)
Anthony DiMaggio
Ditching the “Deep State”: The Rise of a New Conspiracy Theory in American Politics
Rob Urie
Boris and Natasha Visit Fantasy Island
John Wight
London and the Dreary Ritual of Terrorist Attacks
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
Ben Debney
Outrage From the Imperial Playbook
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
Michael J. Sainato
Bernie Sanders’ Economic Advisor Shreds Trumponomics
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail