After posting my podcast Episode 12 – The Power of Names, I saw the following news article that ties in with the podcast (link at the bottom of this article). In my podcast, I talk about how the names we call people can build people up or tear them down and particularly about my pet peeve of the use of the word “creepy.”
The article shames a guy on Jeopardy for a “creepy” response to a Jeopardy challenge and before the first paragraph is even done implies the guy might be a pedophile. The answer is, “In common law, the age of this, signalling adulthood is presumed to be 14 in boys & 12 in girls.” The man’s response, “What is the age of consent?” The correct answer was “puberty.”
His response gained him the label of “creepy” and possibly even a “pedophile.” It doesn’t help that the guy appears in his 30s or 40s, is bald, and assumed an intellectual or he wouldn’t be on the show. Is his response really that outlandish, especially since the challenge statement starts out with in “In common law”? How often do we think of common law dictating the age of puberty and how often do we think of common law in terms of marriage and relationships? I think most people would think of the latter.
On second glance, I did notice the ages seemed a bit young for age of consent, but who knows in some backwoods parts of the U.S. A Jeopardy contestant doesn’t have time for second glances.
I decided to look up age of consent laws to see what ages constitute this. In many states and even the District of Columbia, the age of consent is 16. In Canada, it’s also 16. In some countries in Central America and the Netherlands, the ages is as low as 15. In some parts of Mexico, the minimum age of consent is 12, 13, or 14.
In the past, in many countries (including the U.S.), the age of consent was puberty (and sometimes even younger) or was for the families to decide, and it wasn’t uncommon for marriages to take place among two people in their teens or even between a generally older man and a younger female. In some cases, these marriages were arranged. And get this, the age of consent was often set by “common law.”
I’m not at all trying to suggest that a 30 plus year old man should be consorting with teenagers. What I am trying to suggest is that his response doesn’t earn the man the label of “creep” or “pedophile.” As far as I can tell he was just trying to answer the question quickly and got it wrong.
Age of Consent — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_of_consent
Age of Consent in the U.S. — http://www.ageofconsent.us/
Ages of Consent in North America — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ages_of_consent_in_North_America