I want to start off this opinion piece by making something explicitly clear. I do not personally have a problem with Arvin Vohra. I have never met the man, but those I know who have, say he seems like a smart, kind person. Contrary to widespread assumptions going on with party members, I do not think that he is pro-pedophilia. I do not believe he thinks people should abuse children. I see what he’s doing. He is doing what many of us are so often guilty of. Advocating for the removal of government in what some would consider being the more controversial topics of our day. Some of us do it to test the freedom level of other libertarians, some just enjoy the discourse and debate, others just find joy in rustling the jimmies of anyone with an internet connection. I’m not sure the motivation behind Arvin’s recent statements, but there are undoubtedly negative consequences that come not only for him, but the party as a whole, and this is where our problem begins.
For those who haven’t checked their Facebook in the last 72 hours, Vice-Chair of the Libertarian Party, Arvin Vohra seems to have made it his life’s mission to advocate for the removal of age of consent laws. His argument essentially is that two consenting parties should be able to have a relationship, regardless of age. Family and culture should be the deciding factor in what is acceptable to different individuals, and that government has no role in these decisions. He sites instances of 19 year olds who dated 16-year-olds, only to later find themselves as registered sex offenders. I think we can all agree that these examples are problematic. If that is where he had left it, he might still have a leg to stand on, but unfortunately, as seems to be his MO, he doesn’t seem to know when to just let it go.
Before I go into the particular issues with exactly what he has stated, and why it’s a problem, I want to address the argument from its most innocent possible angle, as stated above. Libertarians are minarchists, not anarchists. We believe that, that which governs best governs least, but that there still needs to be a minimal government in place to protect individuals from assaults on their basic rights. It’s often said that the only logical conclusion to arrive at when it comes to individual liberty is anarchy, being a complete lack of any form of government whatsoever. Libertarians find this to be an unrealistic ideal, as functional anarchy would require widespread acceptance of individual responsibility and respect for others rights as much as their own. Unfortunately, society as a whole is severely lacking in both of these requirements. As such, I find that the only rational libertarian argument that can be made on this issue is what the age of consent should be, not whether there should be one at all. There needs to be an established line of acceptability in both society and the law so that those who would abuse children can be punished accordingly. The idea that families should decide this is absurd when you consider the fact that most children are actually abused by someone they know very well, often family members.
Now, that being said, there is reason for alarm in Arvin’s actual argument. He initially shared a post that claimed Age of Consent laws are a violation of personal liberty and unconstitutional. This is simply inaccurate. Children have rights as well, and of course need to be protected. This twisted interpretation of the constitution is troublesome. You are free to do what you want, as long as you don’t hurt anyone else. Parental consent does not make it acceptable to abuse a child. A child is a human being, not the property of its parents. He then went on to comparing an adult having a relationship with a teenager to two adult men having a relationship. This is unacceptable, and is not comparable. In this particular post, he didn’t site whether the teen was 13 or 18, and damned himself. You better make sure you are clear about what is acceptable and what is not when you want to make an argument of this magnitude. Comparing a homosexual relationship to that of relations with a child is an insult to the entire LGBT community. Arvin went on to further damn himself by following up on the previous post with a comment that stated “Pick one: “It’s totally natural for two men to have sex.” ” It’s an abomination for a 25 year old man to have sex with a 15 year old women.” This ludicrous hypocrisy is a fascinating bit of psychology. My view is simple: do what you want as long as you aren’t using force on anyone else.”
At this point, I can’t even believe this is happening. First of all, a 15-year-old is a girl is not a woman. Even if his hypothetical was consensual, as someone who was once a 15-year-old girl, I can promise you there was at the minimum, manipulation involved. When a grown man lies to a grown women and says I love you to get in her pants, we are older, and wiser, and know how to gauge the honesty of that statement. Sometimes we choose to even when we know it’s a lie, and that is our choice as two consenting adults. A 15-year-old girl talking to a man that old, likely has other issues going on, at home or at school. She wants to be loved, and when someone tells her what she wants to hear, she will believe them, to her own detriment. If you manipulate a child to gain consent, that is abuse. They are not old enough and do not have enough real-world experience to weigh the risks and benefits of that scenario. And whats with linking this topic to homosexuals again? Leave them out of it Arvin, assuming your argument can stand on its own. He goes on to another post stating “If a 14-year-old has a kid, I would prefer the other person to be an adult, with a job. #EndWelfare.” As much as I’m trying to give Arvin the benefit of the doubt here, come on. He’s essentially saying that if teens are going to have sex, it’s better that they do it with an adult, so they don’t end up on welfare. Credibility is gone. Whats also troubling is I could invest a week into writing about everything he posted on the issue, because he went on a tangent for days, posting up to 10 posts a day attempting to defend his position.
Here’s the thing. As I stated when I began this article, I don’t think Arvin’s a pedophile, I don’t think he wants others to abuse children. However, it’s no longer relevant what he actually believes. His messaging is poor. If he wants to rant and rave about controversial issues, there are outlets for that. Start a podcast. Write a blog. I don’t really care what he does as long as he steps down from his position. He’s making the rest of us look bad. It’s hard enough to be an activist without high ranking members of the party doing all they can to tear down our efforts. Public Relations has been an ongoing issue in the LP, and it’s time we do something about it. His actions on handling the outrage associated with his comments show he is unfit to be a leader in the party. He is supposed to draw people in, not scare people away. There is one purpose to a political party, and that is to get people elected. If Arvin wants a debate club, he can do that somewhere else, not in the Vice-Chair seat.