I try not to read the N&O editorial pages too often because they're filled so much stupidity they make my head hurt. Case in point: Rick Martinez' inane column on co-habitation.
Debora Lynn Hobbs wants the State of North Carolina out of her personal life. She thinks her living arrangement is none of the government's business. It shouldn't be too long before she gets to argue her case, once Hobbs v. Pender County gets a court date. Hobbs and the North Carolina chapter of the ACLU have sued the county for the express purpose of getting the state's 200-year-old anti-cohabitation law declared unconstitutional.
See where this is going?
Her case is essentially this: the government shouldn't dictate with whom she lives. The government in this case is not only her employer, but also you and me, since the General Assembly passed the anti-cohabitation law on our behalf in 1805. So is Hobbs' living arrangement any of my business?
Absolutely. Cohabitation has a lousy track record that results in social problems which, as a taxpayer, cost me money. Simply put, cohabitation is bad public policy. Morality has little to do with this case.
Social scientists -- not preachers, mind you -- David Popenoe and Barbara Dafoe Whitehead are directors of The National Marriage Project at Rutgers University. Their review of the social science led them to these stark conclusions:
• Cohabitation increases the risk of domestic violence for women, and the risk of physical and sexual abuse for children.
• Unmarried couples have lower levels of happiness and well-being than married couples.
• Living together before marriage increases the risk of break-up after marriage.
An anti-intellectual wingnut quoting social scientists! That must have really gotten Rick's panties in a knot -- having to rely on the ivory tower to make his ridiculous case. And if you follow his logic:
1. Poverty should be outlawed because it too leads to all of these exact same negative impacts.
2. Stupidity should be outlawed for the same reason.
3. Everyone should be forced to be married because studies show having a spouse increased lifespan and happiness.
4. Everyone should be forced to belief in god because strong faith can sometimes lessen depression.
But what's really most amusing about hypocRicky Martinez is this little comment about the rule of law:
The Census Bureau estimates that approximately 350,000 North Carolinians are cohabiting. I'm not advocating that these folks be thrown in jail. But the law should be kept in place to remind us that, as a society and as individuals, marriage is the far better, more stable and cheaper way to go.
I get it. Laws should stay on the books not because they're laws that we really want to enforce, but because they send us a reminder? How wonderful is that? And how is a law-abiding citizen supposed to know just which laws are real laws and which we can safely ignore because they're just "reminders?" What a fucking idiot.
PS And in the interest of ending (thank you Robert) on a positive note, let me simply say that I believe government with integrity is government in which laws are enforced. And if we don't have the will to enforce laws, they shouldn't be on the books. This particular law should be struck down. The government has no legitimate role in legislating the composition of households or in imposing contractual obligations on people who choose to live together.