Following on from the senior policeman who thought underage sex was a "grey area", we now have an academic suggesting that the age of consent be reduced to 14.
Why? Because they are having sex before 16 anyway.
Mr Waites, whose book, The Age of Consent: Young People, Sexuality and Citizenship, is based on a global survey of age of consent laws, said sexual activity under 16 was increasing, so current law clearly did not work
"The law stigmatises much of what many teenagers regard as normal behaviour and fosters a climate of denial among parents and some professionals which prevents some teenagers from seeking information and assistance," he said.
This strikes me as an odd, but not untypical, progressive liberal approach to law. The law does not "stigmatise" anyone. Societal disapproval causes stigma and it is clear that there is no stigma attached to under age sex - if there was then teenagers would not consider it as normal behaviour.
Mr Waites needs to think a a little more clearly about this. If an illegal activity is increasing then you need to ask why is it increasing and, if you have any sense, figure out ways to reduce it again - either through law or through other methods. What is not acceptable - at least in my view - is to make the mistake of thinking that because it's happening anyway we might as well legalise it.
Burglary is increasing - should we legalise it? What about rape? Murder? Of course not, but that is effectively what Mr Waites is suggesting. It was a similar argument that led to the downgrading of cannabis - not wanting to criminalise a generation.
As a more comparable example, it could be argued that the fox-hunting ban should be lifted because they are hunting foxes anyway. Would Mr Waites endorse this view? I think not. I'm personally ambivalent about fox-hunting, but my belief is that if you are going to change a law you should do it because the force of argument has convinced you to do so.
Not because "they're doing it anyway"!
As a conservative, I'm often accused of wanting to turn back Britain to a bygone age. It was only a couple of days ago that I posted about W.T. Stead - the campaigning journalist who forced the Liberal government of the time to raise the age of consent from 12 to 16.
It seems to me that liberals are determined to take us back to an even earlier age where crime was rife, morality was low and the over-riding principle was "if it feels good, do it". I believe the phrase is Hogarthian.