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United States: Essays 1952-1992 - "Sex and the Law" (1965) Summary & Analysis

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Vidal tackles the age-old question of whether the law should be used to enforce "morality" in sexual behavior by citing John Stuart Mill's On Liberty: "The only purpose for which power can rightfully be exercised over another member of a civilized community against his will is to prevent harm to others." So, in the realm of sexual behavior, when is harm done, and when should law proscribe those behaviors? Vidal answers that the constitutional separation of church and state in America has, in practice if not in statute, consigned morality to the religious.

Yet Vidal notes that laws have been passed in America to outlaw alcohol (the Volstead Act), prohibit and punish the publication of "pornographic" literature, and to make certain practices—even between consenting, married adults&mdash...

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This section contains 338 words
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Buy the United States: Essays 1952-1992 Study Guide
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