Vic: that doesn’t mean it’s arbitrary. In fact, that’s exactly what arbitrary means. “they decided on those numbers when making the law.” That doesn’t make the numbers “good” or “correct” or mean that the law is a good idea. It just means it’s the law. You’re falling into your usual trap here of arguing against something that non one is arguing about. Everyone here acknowledges that she broke “the letter of the law.” Everyone acknowledges that the teen in the sexting case broke “the letter of the law.” The interesting question is whether or not these arbitrarily defined limits (and whether you like it or not, that’s what arbitrarily means… it means defined at the discretion of an arbitrator… in other words, they needed a law, so a legislature made up a number) are a good idea. We’re arguing no. In fact, you’re even arguing no.

The problem is you’re conflating your argument with irrelevant points and some things that are simply untrue. Case in point “legal adulthood is 18 in America.” NO, it’s not. This is just a common misconception based on a really simplistic generalization that is usually used for TV. Depending on what we’re taking about, the age of adulthood varies in America by both location and statute/concept from anywhere from about 2 years old to about 35 years old. This is specifically the case I use when I’m explaining definitional arguments in the class I teach. You need to be 18 to buy cigarettes. But you need to be 21 to drink alcohol (mostly). Age of sexual consent varies greatly by state and gets really complicated, as Tara and Keith pointed out earlier. You need to be 35 to run for president and 25 to rent a car (most places). You can enlist in the armed services at 17 (not 18), you can drive a car at 16 (or 14 in some cases) and you can be tried as an adult at 11 or 13 depending on jurisdiction. For purposes of nutritional value and vitamin needs, the FDA considers you an adult a age 2. When you’re reading the back of a box of cereal and it has percentages for children and adults, by children, they literally just mean infants. Everyone else is an adult.

So it gets very complicated. But we don’t like complicated, so we tend to simplify and say “you’re an adult at 18.” Which leads to trouble when the laws don’t actually simplify the way we expect them to.

In any case, it’s pretty clear that I’m not even questioning ambiguity in the law in either of these cases. I know what the laws say. I looked them up before I wrote both blogs. What I’m questioning is the logic behind them. Laws are designed to impose order and protect victims. In both of these cases, the laws are being used maliciously to victimize an innocent because a parent, uninvolved int he actual situation doesn’t want to acknowledge the subjectivity of their own daughter.