If it was legal to have sex with animals, I would choose not to, but as a truth seeker I have to ask: Why aren't people allowed to have sex with animals?

Typically people think it's illegal because it's a horrible thing to do or because it harms animals that obviously can't give consent.

If you think that bestiality should be illegal because it's disgusting or whatever other adjective you prefer to use, then why would you support free speech or freedom of religion? I could say things that would disgust you or practice a faith that might disgust you, yet most of you would probably not try to forcibly prevent me from speaking or worshipping however I wish. We tolerate speech that disgusts us because we know that we are morally fallible and that it doesn't hurt anyone.

No person, absent of a messiah figure, is capable of knowing with absolute certainty what is right and what is wrong. If they were, then would freedom be obsolete. While people would have the ability to make decisions, it would be in their best interest to make the right decisions and avoid punishment.

A perfect and morally infallible person could dictate every aspect of our lives to us, and we might obey, and everything might be great because all of us might always be doing the right thing and never doing the wrong thing.

Because we recognize that we are all flawed and all capable of error, we allow people to do and say whatever they want so long as it does not harm others. What makes bestiality any different?

The single limitation on freedom - the "so long as it does not harm others" part - leads into the second possible justification for bestiality being illegal: It harms animals, but they can't consent to it. This statement is valid, but inconsistent with United States law and most of our lifestyles.

Can animals consent to being owned? Can animals consent to being slaughtered? Do those actions not harm them?

If animals deserve protection from the harm of humans, then we would have to make it illegal to consume any animal product or own a pet or go hunting. Animals can't give consent to these activities, and yet all of them are harmful.

If you treat a pet well, they probably are better off with you than without you, but ownership is slavery and the benevolence of a slave master is not justification for slavery.

If animals don't deserve protection from the harm of humans and can be owned as property (which they currently can), then the act of bestiality is a victimless crime, and we're back to the starting point of "it should be illegal because I disapprove of it."

It's uncomfortable to be faced with this hypocrisy in the law, but legalizing bestiality shouldn't be scary. History has shown us that alcohol prohibition didn't stop people drinking, that censorship doesn't stop people from speaking out, and that banning prostitution and pornography doesn't prevent people from finding pornographic material or prostitutes in a black market.

Banning things does not prevent them from happening; it only punishes people for their choices.

Making bestiality legal probably won't cause people to suddenly start having sex with animals, because those who feel the urge and need to do that probably already do. So who benefits from keeping it illegal? No one, really. And the amount of benefit animals receive from bestiality being illegal is almost negligible in comparison.

Animal husbandry, pet ownership, slaughterhouse factories, animal pageants and pet shows, dog fighting, bestiality - it's all or none. I charge that anyone who would ban one or more of these actions without banning all of them is being inconsistent and hypocritical.

We can all pick and choose which of these we think are OK and which we think aren't, and we can try to convince others to think the same as we do, but we can't apply those feelings to the law without implying that we are infallible. I hope no one is arrogant enough to think that they are.

Hypocrisy in the law cannot be tolerated, regardless of how relevant that law is to our lives.

Lucas Wachob is a sophomore public policy & administration major. Contact Lucas at wachoblm@dukes.jmu.edu.