That famous phrase of the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan came to mind when I saw this item from the Daily Telegraph:

Laws banning incest between brothers and sisters in Germany could be scrapped after a government ethics committee said the they were an unacceptable intrusion into the right to sexual self-determination.

“Criminal law is not the appropriate means to preserve a social taboo,” the German Ethics Council said in a statement. “The fundamental right of adult siblings to sexual self-determination is to be weighed more heavily than the abstract idea of protection of the family.”

Their intervention follows a notorious case in which a brother and sister living as partners in Saxony had four children together. The couple had been raised separately and only met when the brother, identified only as Patrick S, was an adult, and his sister Susan K was 16.

The Council said it based its recommendation on extensive research, in which it found many incestuous couples are forced to live in secret.

In one case, it found a woman was being blackmailed by her father and ex-husband, who threatened to deprive her of access to her children unless she ended a new relationship with her half-brother.

“Sexual self-determination”–the most important right in all of human existence. It is the one right before which everything–including genetics, the good of children, the stability of families, common sense, and common decency–must bow, no matter where it leads.

I used to laugh at the comparison that some people drew between the decline of the Roman Empire and the modern West. I no longer do.