Smart Ideas: Consent Law Are Outdated, Both Scientifically and Legally

Chinese consumer-drone maker DJI's Phantom 4 flies during a demonstration at Japan Drone expo at Makuhari Messe event hall in Chiba, near Tokyo, on March 25, 2016.
AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama
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Nov. 21, 2017, 8 p.m.

China transforming from copycat to innovator

Clay Chandler, writing for Fortune

Until recently, Western business leaders dismissed China “as a haven for copycats and pirates, or grudgingly acknowledged [it] as an efficient manufacturing platform whose factories depended on the uneasy union of cheap Chinese labor and foreign technology.” No longer. Now, Chinese business “is being led by innovation-obsessed execs like Ren Zhengfei, founder of Huawei Technologies, which last year filed more patent applications than any other company in the world. And Allen Zhang, who led the team that developed Tencent’s WeChat, the smartphone app that allows its 900 million users to chat, shop, pay, play, and do just about anything else. And Robin Li, CEO of Baidu, the Beijing-based search company, who has vowed to have autonomous vehicles ready for sale in China by next year.” The country, “after a century of subordination to foreign nations, three decades of isolation under Mao Zedong, and three decades of ‘opening and reform’measures initiated by Deng Xiaoping, is returning to its historical position as one of the world’s great centers of innovation and technological development.”

Age-of-consent laws need a second look

Jennifer A. Drobac, writing for Vox

“The science is clear that in situations involving passion and pressure, teens are more likely to choose short-term rewards and discount long-term consequences. But they may lack important factual and contextual information, too. They may not know that if they consent to sex with their boss at an after-school job, they cannot sue under state and federal sex discrimination laws for harassment.” In fact, many sexual predators use this consent to their legal advantage, “to avoid liability for damages.” Taking a cue from contract law, state-level consent laws “should credit adolescent consent not as legal consent but as legal assent. Legal assent requires no additional parental consent or permission. Yet unlike legal consent, it carries no associated threshold level of legal capacity. That means the granting of assent cannot be used against the teen to insist that she knew what she was doing and should be held legally responsible.” That assent can also be withdrawn in the future, under a judge’s discretion.

Democrats have no way forward on climate change

Robinson Meyer, writing for The Atlantic

From its leaders down to its rank and file, Democrats are undoubtedly “the party of climate change. … On the other hand, the Democratic Party does not have a plan to address climate change. This is true at almost every level of the policy-making process: It does not have a consensus bill on the issue waiting in the wings; it does not have a shared vision for what that bill could look like; and it does not have a guiding slogan—like ‘Medicare for all’—to express how it wants to stop global warming.”

A coal-burning power plant steams behind wind generators in Gelsenkirchen, Germany while the 23rd UN Conference of the Parties climate talks end in Bonn, Germany, Friday, Nov. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner) COP

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