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In some cases, because it promises “better treatment by in-laws” or because it keeps “goods and property within a family,” says the study. Maybe we should worry more about whether people in these communities are free If cultural respect is your principle, how far do you carry it?According to the study, some African, Asian, and Middle Eastern cultures prefer marriages “between an uncle and niece.” Should we respect those cultures by permitting those marriages?In the , and other publications, the authors declare that laws against cousin marriage are baseless. It isn’t that hard to imagine: Boy meets girl, girl’s sister likes boy’s family, girl’s sister gets interested in boy’s brother, both couples end up getting married.According to headlines and TV reports, “science” has proved that cousin marriages are “OK.” No, it hasn’t. The first couple produces me; the second couple produces you.Six states ban marriage between first cousins once removed, i.e., marrying the son or daughter of your first cousin. Banning cousin marriage keeps these couples in the closet, deterring them from seeking genetic screening, which would help them decide whether they could safely have kids. The best way to curtail such diseases would be to ban marriages within ethnic groups.Theoretically, that’s half as risky as marrying your first cousin, in terms of increasing the probability of passing on a genetic disease to your kids. And as the NSGC study notes, the crude assumption that children of cousins will turn out badly leads to unnecessary abortions. , CNN, and their journalistic brothers in arms have spun the increased risk found by the NSGC study as no big deal.But why couldn’t genetic screening take care of that problem?
These people note that 20 percent of marriages around the world are between first cousins, that Albert Einstein and Charles Darwin married their first cousins, and that first-cousin marriage, while prohibited in half the United States, is legal in Canada and throughout Europe.
You can’t just say the practice in question is icky.
You have to state a principle and think through its implications. You can’t appeal to Victorian morality; Queen Victoria married her first cousin.
Often, you have to change your opinions on related issues in order to honor that principle, or you have to throw out the principle and change your mind about the original question. You can’t appeal to the Bible; in the Bible, God commands marriages between first cousins.
Instead, advocates of laws against cousin marriage appeal to science.