sophia_sadek (sophia_sadek) wrote in talk_politics,

Darkness 101: Perspectives on Adultery

Long before President Clinton's famous impeachment and trial over his personal love life, I had a fascination with the ways that adultery are approached by various cultures. In his translation of Ibn Ishaq's collection of Muhammadan memorabilia, Alfred Guillaume mentions a discrepancy in the prescribed treatment for that most renowned love crimes. Had I not seen Mel Gibson's graphic portrayal of scourging, I might have taken stoning to be the more brutal of the two penalties. Ibn Ishaq does not make a definitive determination on the matter except to say that Allah is said to have claimed credit for Jewish literature.

What interests me more than the variety of punishments for the act are the variety of reasons for its criminality. In Clinton's case, the act itself was not as severe as the cover-up. By the rationale of Ibn Ishaq's account, Clinton may not have qualified as an adulterer. It seems that Allah was primarily concerned with the legitimacy of offspring and the integrity of the secrecy of the harem. Where neither exist, can there be a crime?

Rationalist literature views adultery as a degradation of the body politic. The offending participants create a rift in the social fabric by sewing the seeds of animosity. From such a perspective, the act is not nearly as problematic as its exposure. People who keep the secret of the affair act to preserve the social fabric and those who bring it into the public spotlight serve to divide the body politic. We witnessed such a division up close and personally at the close of the previous century.

In a slave society, such as America, one partner in marriage is the property of the other. Adultery is a property crime where one person robs another of their due monopoly on affection. This rationale does not apply for traditionalists because it requires establishing an actual alienation. If affections were squandered prior to the act in question, a theft could not have occurred. Traditionalists prefer to ignore the reason and simply seek the sacrificial blood of the participants. Whether by stoning or by scourging, a blood sacrifice must be made to the Most High.

My own reasons for avoiding adultery include the fear of violence against my person, but not at the hands of blood-thirsty religious zealots. On the positive side, I prefer to spend my time with a partner who has no prior commitments. In such cases, fornication is a crime of lesser consequence. Free love, though an affront to the material Creator of the flat and immobile Earth, confers greater benefits on the participants and on the body politic than l'amour enchainee.

What do you think would have happened if adultery were brutally punished in America? Would Herman Cain still be running for office?
Tags: crime, marriage
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