Most of us know that incest is wrong, either through cultural conditioning or what appear to be innate evolutionary cues, yet some humans can’t seem to resist the urge to have sex with their relatives. In fact, since the DNA of every living human is 99.9 percent the same, it may be much more common than we think. Still, that doesn’t mean incest can be acceptable in any case. As we will see, breeding with a close relative can result in some dire consequences.
Some people believe that incest isn’t all that bad, especially when it’s between two consenting adults who aren’t having children. They insist that when you take reproduction out of the equation through birth control, sterilization, or homosexuality, no one is harmed by incest. Of course, the law has something to say about that.
In 2010, 46-year-old Columbia University professor David Esptein was charged with one count of third-degree incest after being accused of having consensual sex with his 24-year-old daughter. The daughter faced no charges because, in the eyes of the law, children are considered a “protected class,” even when they’re above the age of consent. The theory is that the power dynamic between a parent and a child makes consent impossible to negotiate. Even when incest occurs between siblings, the elder of the two is usually held to a higher degree of accountability.
Epstein’s lawyer has raised the argument that incest between consenting adults is no more reprehensible than homosexuality. Lawmakers around the world have disagreed with him, saying that incest is unacceptable because it destroys the family unit whereas, two unrelated gay people in a relationship form a new one. According to political author William Saletan, homosexuality is an orientation, but incest is not. Banning homosexual sex would mean that gay people wouldn’t be able to create relationships, while those attracted to a close relative can conceivably find alternate sexual partners.
Of course, the most famous incestuous relationship in recent times took place between actor Mackenzie Phillips and her famous father and founder of The Mamas & the Papas, John Phillips. We see some of the fall out in the video above.