Talking about Taboos



My post reacting to the age of consent issue has seen several people retweeting it and I’ve had mixed responses back. Some from those who agree that there may be a discussion to be had and those who completely disagree with the ideas even being talked about. So are there areas in life that we shouldn’t discuss and are there still social taboos that cannot be explored?

When you consider some of the things I have discussed on this blog since I started at the new year there are numerous areas that many would deem inappropriate for public discussion: rape, child abuse, racism, religion, money, mental illness, cancer, politics, the list goes on. I am firmly of the belief that unless tough issues are discussed we will never get close to understanding them or dealing with them. I do not claim to have all the answers, I’m not that intelligent, but I do strongly believe that people should be heard on these types of subjects even if we fundamentally disagree with what they are saying.

Many in society seem to have a black/white, right/wrong moral code they live their lives by and do not even want to contemplate there are other points of view or even the slightest possibility that they could be wrong. I am never one hundred per cent convinced about anything – that might be my flaw – and I believe that the world is a million shades of different colours and what you do is find where you feel most comfortable until someone shows you an alternative you can feel as comfortable with.  If we take the age of consent argument I had a good debate last night on Twitter between a Policeman who believed that 16 was the right age for sex and a lawyer who saw it as a bigger issue. For example should a 16 year old boy be prosecuted and put on the sex offenders register for having sex with a 15 year old girl? There wasn’t agreement but there was discussion and that’s a positive thing.

There are so many issues that people see as defined, but often they have no interest in considering the wider issues involved – when is a joke about a specific nationality racist? It is fair to say that all claims of rape are automatically true? Is it wrong to say you wouldn’t live next door to someone with a mental illness? Should we be more open with kids about the truth of money? Should we accept the BNP should be heard? Should a crime from fifty years ago be punished today? If we don’t at least discuss these things without people throwing abuse at one another and claiming some kind of invisible moral high ground then we will never move on as a society.

Look at gay rights, women’s rights, females and gays in the army, IVF treatment, abolition of slavery and all equal rights campaigns – all of these have caused disagreement over the years and decades, but if they never discussed then none of them would have happened. I don’t know what the age of consent for sex, drink, marriage, driving or buying cigarettes should be but I am allowed to have an opinion on it without being shouted down for being “wrong” – I wish I had as strong a belief in my own opinion but I see the world differently. My blogs are me wrestling with my own opinions and should never be read as a matter of fact, but for me to have the ability in a society that proclaims and celebrates freedom of speech and takes that message to the world then I’m allowed my opinion. I’m also allowed to change it, question it and stick to it – as are you.

I’m not going to just shout down your opinion so please allow me the same space to consider issues I think are important. If life were as black and white as some seem to believe there would be no need for law makers and politicians, for debate or discussion but as far as I understand it we still have and cherish those things.


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