Of all the thorny, polarizing, and controversial subjects that a state legislator must handle, Sen. Nan Rich probably didn't think she'd have to explain the logic behind a bill that makes bestiality illegal. And to be fair, she doesn't have to explain it to anyone -- everybody else, it seems, gets it -- except me.
Last week, I consulted with some leading experts in the field of zoophilia -- sexual attraction to animals. Drs. Hani Miletski and Andrea Beetz had both found that "zoos" have genuine affection for their animal lovers. They suggest that the "correlation" that Rich has been touting between bestiality and sex crimes against humans is not causation and thus, that it should not be the basis for outlawing bestiality.
I asked Rich's office to provide the studies that back her claims, and her staff did so. But the studies appear to contain exactly the flaw that Miletski and Beetz had predicted -- the research subjects were already sex offenders. Milestki says that people with antisocial personality disorder, which affects many sex offenders, may have a kind of sex with animals that is different than the kind that true zoos have. The former rapes animals. The latter dotes on the animals, seeking a bond that's similar to the one between spouses. Miletski objects to a law that treats the two with one policy.
But Rich doesn't waver. "They're wrong," she says, when told of the objections of Beetz and Miletski.
"There is a very strong correlation. Bestiality is an indicator of
sexually deviant crimes." I mentioned the researchers' objection to
studies limited to sex offenders. "They can say all they want," said
Rich. "All I can say is that the studies I have read are from credible
sources." Here is one study that's in electronic form.
Rich said that the correlation with sex crimes isn't the only reason she's brought the legislation. "An animal has feelings," she says. "It's a living thing. I've worked with the Humane Society of the United States, and they feel the same way."
Miletski points out that there's also a strong correlation between child victims of sex abuse becoming child abusers as adults. But not all child victims turn out that way, just as not all people who have sex with animals abuse children.
The bill is being heard in the Florida House today, and it's moving quickly toward passage before the end of the legislative session. I asked Rich whether she anticipated any opponents, and she responded, incredulously, "How would anybody voice objection? Who thinks it's OK to have sex with animals?"