Monday, June 8, 2015

What if Dennis Hastert...

...and Josh Duggar were genetically predisposed to molesting children? (And, yes, that's Lena Dunham in the picture above. Can you believe I couldn't find a picture with just Hastert and Duggar together?)

Okay, you guessed it: this post is about Nature vs. Nurture (part infinity). But indulge me for a minute. What if these two didn't really have a choice in the matter? After all, I've never molested a child (and I'll bet you haven't either) and it's not because I wanted to and chose otherwise; it's because it never occurred to me in the first place. And I'll bet, further, that Hastert and Duggar are both ashamed -- and puzzled -- by their behavior. What on earth made me do that?, they've probably wondered at some point.

The Internet is full of stories about why these two did what they did. (Many of them blame Duggar's unorthodox Christian upbringing. As someone who's skeptical of religion, you might think I'm in that camp, but I'm not.) But I do wonder: what if it wasn't anything in their childhoods? What if, instead, it was Hastert's and Duggar's DNA that was to blame? What if they inherited some weird child-molesting gene? What then?

That's a scary thought, because then the next thought would be: If these two can't be held responsible for their actions, then how are we to deal with their transgressions (or crimes)? We can't exactly punish them for something they couldn't help, right?

And, yes, that would be a problem for society. What are we to do with those among us who commit antisocial acts? But it doesn't answer my original question, What if it was their DNA that was to blame? What if Hastert and Duggar had no choice in the matter? And as a "more nature than nurture" guy, that's my suspicion. What then?

And my answer: I don't know.

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