When Are You An Adult?

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-By Caleb Jones

Rant ahead.  You have been warned.

Want to watch something really amazing?  Want to see how insidious and irrational societal programming is?

Okay!  Take four minutes, and go watch the Bill O'Reilly video here.  You can stop watching at 4:30 (once they start talking about the abortion doctor).

Go watch it right now and come back.  You won't understand the rest of this post if you don't watch it.

Go watch it.  I'm serious.  Go.



So a creepy 40 year old pedophile-looking guy moves in with his 18 year old former high school student.  Evidence shows that they were fucking when she was 17, which I'm sure they were, which of course is illegal in most states including California where this all occurred.  (I'll give you my opinion on this story at the end of this post, because this post is actually not about their relationship.)  Of course, both Fox News regulars Bill O'Reilly and Megyn Kelly are appalled, disgusted and furious.  The fact she was only 17 is disgusting to them, because clearly 17 year olds don't know what the fuck they're doing.  Right?  They actually say and imply that in the video more than once.

Got that?  Okay.

Then...oh this was amazing to watch... a mere five seconds later they talk about a 17 year old boy who shot three fellow students and how horrible it is he's not being tried as an adult(!).  Because after all, a 17 year olds clearly know exactly what they're doing.  They say that in the video too...all within the time span of about 40 seconds.

So literally one minute, a 17 year old is too young to have sex because a 17 year old is only a child and doesn't understand, and in the next minute a 17 year old should be tried as an adult because clearly a 17 year old is an adult and knows exactly what is going on.


The law is the law and should not be changed based on the gender of the perpetrator or victim, nor should it change based on your emotional whims which vary based on the situation.  A 17 year old is either an adult or a child.  ONE OR THE OTHER.  Legally speaking, you cannot and should not say a 17 year old is a fully aware adult in one situation and a completely ignorant child in another.  If you DO say that, than you must say that about all adults of all ages.

I'm sure you know people in their 30's or 40's who act like rational adults in one area of their lives and complete stupid children in other areas.  Here's the question: Does that mean the law should treat that 37 year old person as a legal child who has no idea what they're doing simply because they sometimes behave really stupidly?  Another question: Should the law treat that 37 year old as a legal adult in one area but as a minor child in another?

Do either one of those sound like a good idea to you?

Do you see my point?

Let me pause for a minute to be clear about my position on the older teacher / younger student story.  The guy looks like a fuckin' perv to me.  I'm all for older men and younger women, of course.  God bless.  However I am against A) men fucking women who are legally underage and B) high school teachers fucking their students.  One of the few areas I agree with social conservatives on this issue is that high school teachers are indeed in a position of authority over their teenage students, and I'm against older teachers OF ANY GENDER having sex with young students OF ANY GENDER.

I also think this guy is an idiot for moving in with an 18 year old girl that fast and expecting it to all work out, especially considering the fact he's already married with kids and the fact the girl's mom wants his balls on a platter.  And will probably get it.  Good god.  Fuckin' drama central over at that guy's house.  He's got issues to say the least.  Shit, say what you want about him, at least Doug Hutchison did it carefully, by the numbers (pun intended), and with without drama.

Back to my original point.  The now 18 year old girl isn't worshiping this dumbass because she's "a child" or "a minor". Acting stupid or needy isn't illegal.  Nor should it be.  

So one 17 year old does something irrational and destructive and everyone screams it's because they're only a child and should be treated as one.  Another 17 year old does something irrational and destructive and everyone screams it's because they're really an adult and should be treated as one.  And no, I'm not equating the crimes of that killer with the stupidity of this girl.  Of course what he did is much more serious.  That doesn't change a thing about what I'm saying here.

This is why the age issue in western society is so painfully fucked up.  We just don't know what to do with our elder teenagers.  Ask the typical person if a 17 or 18 year old is an adult, and they narrow their eyes and say "it depends." I'm sorry folks, that's not how it works.  You're either a legal adult or you're not.  You can either have sex like an adult or not.  You can either be held to account for your crimes like an adult or not.  Also remember that being a legal adult does not mean you are smart, independent, or responsible.  It just means you're a legal adult.  Most legal adults well over the age of 18 lack those qualities!  That doesn't make them legal children! They're still legal adults god dammit!

Oh, this video is so indicative of the wishy-washy way treat older teenagers.

If a person is over whatever age you deem is an adult (and we can debate what the age should be another time), then god dammit, they're an adult, period.  They should be able to drive cars, serve in the military, consume alcohol, have consensual sex with other adults, smoke cigarettes, sign legal contacts, and do these things as much as they like without your bullshit on trying to bend the laws to stop them from doing these things.  If you don't like it, lower the legal age of adulthood and then shut up.

If a person is under whatever age you deem is an adult, then god dammit, they're a child, period.  Not only should they not be allowed to have sexual relations or drink vodka, they also should not be tried "as an adult" for the crimes they commit.


The only other option that would make sense is to radically alter the legal definition for the words "adult", "child", and "minor".  Perhaps having a third category called "legal adolescent" might be a possible answer.  Whatever.  I'd be willing to work with you on creative solutions, but as long as you have the legal adult / legal child concept going, then god dammit, you'd better be consistent with it and stop being an irrational hypocrite.

In both cases, Bill and Megyn were trying to subvert and change the law to match their emotional whims based on the actions of two 17 year olds.  The truly sad part is millions of irrational hypocrites out there agree with them.  God I love false, irrational societal programming.  Not.

Just to be fair, although I disagree with almost every political opinion that comes out of Bill O'Reilly's mouth, I love him as an interviewer.  He's best there is, and I mean that.  There's a reason he kills everyone else in the ratings...it's because he's good.  I watch him just as much as I watch the Young Turks (whom I also respect a great deal while disagreeing with most of what they say).

I also understand that Megyn Kelly is a woman and thus a story about a 40 year old man with an 18 year old girl is going to enrage her in ways a story about an 40 year old woman with an 18 year old boy will not.  Oh yeah, she'll still be against it, but she won't be spitting mad about it like she was in that video.

That video should burn into your brain how stupid, irrational, and downright schizophrenic society is about the issue of age.  Wow.

My head is still spinning from the No Spin Zone.

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  • Jed (in Chicago) 2012-03-04 15:21:01

    I agree with you 100% Blackdragon. Never understood the drinking age being 21 either. So much hypocrisy in the laws.

  • Overload 2012-03-04 16:39:22

    It's funny how this media witch hunt only appears because this guy is shacked up with his student, and he is branded as a "manipulator" and "pedophile", though even the girl herself claims there was no pre-18 year old sex. Had this girl become a stripper at age 18 and showed him a good time in the club champagne room every weekend, would Megyn n' Bill (or the other all-knowing pundits) have been so righteously indignant? Would they even know about it? Doubt it. The way that this whole thing played out has broken some heavy duty media-enforced cultural taboos about male-female relationships. Don't expect the next rom-com to feature a bumbling yet well-meaning, middle-aged teacher sweeping his pretty young pupil off her feet. However, you can probably expect an Amy Fisher/Joey Buddafuco-style TV drama on Lifetime.

  • Jed (in Chicago) 2012-03-04 18:14:49

    That photo of Megyn Kelly makes me want to masturbate.

  • Matt 2012-03-04 19:05:03

    That would make the laws logical, and we just can't have that!

  • Blackdragon 2012-03-04 20:21:29


    Had this girl become a stripper at age 18 and showed him a good time in the club champagne room every weekend, would Megyn n’ Bill (or the other all-knowing pundits) have been so righteously indignant? Would they even know about it? Doubt it.
    GREAT point. I hadn't thought of that.

  • Blackdragon 2012-03-04 20:23:52


    That photo of Megyn Kelly makes me want to masturbate.
    She was definitively hot before she had a baby and did the post-baby cut-my-hair-short-like-a-lesbian-cuz-now-I'm-married-with-baby thing women often do.

  • Steven 2012-03-04 22:14:10

    Yeah hipocrisy at its best. This shit makes me furious, I can relate. Im still 18 and back when I was in highschool (2011) my cheerleading coach (I was a cheerleader) gave me massive shit for sleeping with the girls who were actually 16-18 years old. I got complaints that I was a "creep" of "brainwashing" and even as low as "corrupting" for being with girls that were younger than me by 2 years to a couple months. Irrational BS

  • N 2012-03-04 22:38:30

    Since you're talkin' 'bout the law... [Note - couldn't view the video, it's a US-only stream. But I get the gist.] I broadly agree. This is an issue over which a lot of ink has been spilled. It's a massive topic. I won't go into many details, but you can have a (fairly boring) academic career just writing about this stuff. Essentially it's the dilemma that the law has to treat everyone fairly, but also has to treat everyone equally. As you have indicated, 17 year olds (and people of other ages) come in various shapes of development. Some are far more responsible than others and yet aren't treated as adults and vice versa. The fair thing to do would be to treat them according to their level of development - but that would be unequal treatment. The only solution would really be -creative solution!- for everyone to take a test which measures personal responsibility and rationality and to treat all that pass as adults and to provide them with the duties and responsibilities arising therefrom. Except, and I know a bit about psychometrics, there is no such test, and no-one seems to be able to create one (possible exception - the Kobeyashi Maru). And people probably would still complain. The problem really is that the law needs a cutoff point after which you can enjoy some rights and duties; and that point will be at some level arbitrary. Why 18 and not 19? Why can you own property at 3 years? Why can you enter into contracts at 12? Why can you be drafted at 16? Growing up is a gradual process, and hence these cutoff points are unfair in individual cases as people develop at different speeds, but no-one has any idea of how to do it better. The best we have come up with is stages of duties and responsibilities. > Here’s the question: Does that mean the law should treat that 37 year old person as a legal child who has no idea what they’re doing simply because they sometimes behave really stupidly? Another question: Should the law treat that 37 year old as a legal adult in one area but as a minor child in another? Like many, many things in the law (including the very existence of the law itself, and the idea of free will) the notion that once we are of a certain age, we are rational-thinking and mature in all aspects of our lives is mostly a fiction. And a very necessary one at that. Also, fairness does not require everyone to be looked after, or people to be denied the advantage of being smarter by looking after the interests of the stupid. At the same time, if we protect minors because they are not sufficiently developed to give consent, why aren't we protecting 'adults' who are at the same level of development as the minors? Equality and fairness are forever at each others' throats in legal philosophy. Not to mention other considerations outside of equality/fairness - other people you interact must be able to decide quickly and easily if they can do business with you/draft you/sleep with you, and must be able to decide this with confidence by looking at just one factor - your age. It's called "legal certainty": knowing your rights vis-a-vis others and being able to make decisions hence. It's vital for any society and all business. There is no perfect solution IMO, just solutions which work slightly better than others, matters of taste and the political pendulum swings to and fro every decade or so. Until we have proper nanotechnology and a complete brainscan allowing for a clear determination of a person's development, we'll need age limits that apply universally. And probably even then. And about the emotional society - there's a reason this is on TV. TV thrives on emotions and drama. OTOH, judges (and some legislators) tend to actually be very rational and dispassionate and tend to follow logic very closely. They have to be; if you're a judge and see the same issue walk into your courtroom every day then your emotions depart quickly, which is why the law is such a dry and unexciting study. And yes, there are some terribly bad judges who rule by emotion and screw up the whole system coughAntoninScaliacough.

  • Blackdragon 2012-03-06 11:39:45

    I agree there's no easy solution. Rational solutions are the best but usually the least popular.

  • Soy 2012-03-06 18:19:52

    [Note - couldn't view the video, it's a US-only stream. But I get the gist.] That is odd, I could. Try no-script the firefox plugin..

  • N 2012-03-07 11:29:01

    [Note - couldn't view the video, it's a US-only stream. But I get the gist.] That is odd, I could. Try no-script the firefox plugin.. Huh. Odd. Firefox lets me see it... Whats up with chrome these days? Hm, anyway thanks

  • Bamalaw 2013-07-23 07:25:42

    Speaking of laws being schizophrenic... in Alabama, the legal age of consent (i.e. for sex) is 16, however, its child pornography if a girl takes a picture of herself before she is 18... in addition, 19 (not 18) is the age the law recognizes as being an adult... so 19 for contracts or to buy tobacco (even though you can be drafted at 18... no one knows how to deal with these issues... Alabama just makes it up as we go along...

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