In January, Rush Limbaugh warned that there was "an effort under way to normalize pedophilia," and was ridiculed by liberals (including CNN's Soledad O'Brien) for saying so. But now liberals have joined a crusade that, if successful, would effectively legalize sex with 14-year-olds in Florida.
The case involves Kaitlyn Ashley Hunt, an 18-year-old in Sebastian, Florida, who was arrested in February after admitting that she had a lesbian affair with a 14-year high-school freshman. (Click here to read the affidavit in Hunt's arrest.) It is a felony in Florida to have sex with 14-year-olds. Hunt was expelled from Sebastian High School -- where she and the younger girl had sex in a restroom stall -- and charged with two counts of "felony lewd and lascivious battery on a child." The charges could put Hunt in prison for up to 15 years. Prosecutors have offered Hunt a plea bargain that would spare her jail time, but her supporters have organized an online crusade to have her let off scot-free -- in effect, nullifying Florida's law, which sets the age of consent at 16.
Using the slogan "Stop the Hate, Free Kate" (the Twitter hashtag is #FreeKate) this social-media campaign has attracted the support of liberals including Chris Hayes of MSNBC, Daily Kos, Think Progress and the gay-rights group Equality Florida. Undoubtedly, part of the appeal of the case is that Hunt is a petite attractive green-eyed blonde. One critic wondered on Twitter how long activists have "been waiting for a properly photogenic poster child of the correct gender to come along?"
Portraying Hunt as the victim of prejudice, her supporters claim she was only prosecuted because she is homosexual and because the parents of the unnamed 14-year-old are "bigoted religious zealots," as Hunt's mother said in a poorly written Facebook post. The apparent public-relations strategy was described by Matthew Philbin of Newsbusters: "If you can play the gay card, you immediately trigger knee-jerk support from the liberal media and homosexual activists anxious to topple any and all rules regarding sex."
None of Hunt's supporters seem to care about the possible consequences of issuing what Philbin calls a "Get Out of Jail Free" card to their teenage lesbian hero-victim. Some have deliberately falsified the narrative of Hunt's crime, claiming that the sexual relationship began when she was 17, when in fact Hunt turned 18 last August and the incidents at issue occurred between November and January. According to the arrest affidavit, the 14-year-old ran away from home on Jan. 4 and spent the night at Hunt's home where, in the words of a Sheriff's Department detective, the two teens "put their fingers inside of each other’s vaginas, put their mouths on each other’s vaginas, and both of them used a vibrator on each other to insert it in each other’s vaginas."
This is "behavior that is both fairly innocuous and extremely common," the American Civil Liberties Union declared Tuesday in a statement condemning the prosecution of Hunt. The ACLU statement parrots the arguments of all the other "Free Kate" crusaders who emphasize that the sex between Hunt and the 14-year-old was consensual, and who are apparently indifferent (or even openly hostile) to the right of parents to safeguard their minor children against sexual exploitation. The liberal Daily Kos blog goes so far as to proclaim that officials are "prosecuting an 18-year-old for being in love."
This confusing clamor from Hunt's liberal supporters has nearly drowned out the common-sense caution expressed by Florida authorities. “If this was an 18-year-old male and that was a 14-year-old girl, it would have been prosecuted the same way,” Indian River County Sheriff Deryl Loar told reporters at a Monday news conference. The state's attorney for the district, Bruce Colton, explained: "The idea is to protect people in that vulnerable group from people who are older, 18 and above. ... The statute specifically says that consent is not a defense. ... You’re talking the difference between a senior in high school and a freshman in high school. That’s what the law is designed to protect."
Prosecutors in the case are apparently determined to resist the politically correct demands of the ACLU, MSNBC and other liberals who don't care about the precedent that might be set by nullifying Florida's age of consent laws. What is remarkable -- and alarming to many parents -- is that liberals appear to be unashamed to argue for legalizing sex with 14-year-olds. Such arguments are a logical result of the Supreme Court's 2003 Lawrence v. Texas ruling that cited an "emerging awareness" doctrine as the basis for overturning state sodomy laws. Who knows in which direction this awareness might further emerge?
As I remarked after learning of the Hunt case yesterday, "You deviant weirdos thought Jailbait Lesbian School Girls was just a popular DVD title, but now it’s a civil right."