Okay, is everyone gone now? Then let’s continue…
THE FOURTH HOUSE, although not what I would regard as a “political book,” happens to take on what some may call a somewhat social/political issue: consanguinity, a variation on “who should be allowed to marry whom.”
1. Relationship by blood or by a common ancestor.
2. A close affinity or connection.
The book allows for a full range of opinions on the subject, although the overriding opinion of the author, whom I happen to know quite well, is that we should all live and let live.
THE FOURTH HOUSE contains a plethora of data on the subject, some of which I am happy to share with you here.
First off, back in olden days, people didn’t travel much. Airfares were much more expensive during the Bronze Age, and Hummers were simply people who had forgotten the words to a song. Thus, dating was a bit different than today. It was common that the only person of similar age one might meet and become sexually attracted to during one's lifetime was a close relative. Stop retching; these are people who hadn’t even discovered power tools yet.
If you’re Christian, check out the Holy Bible. You will find within it not a single word prohibiting such things as cousins marrying cousins. Heck, you’ll even find that Mary and Joseph (yes that Mary and Joseph) were first cousins.
Now if you’re Muslim, you might already know that the prophet Muhammed married his cousin. Unfortunately, we can’t show you a cartoon of that.
The move away from cousin marriage began with mobility of peoples and the assimilation of cultures. Parents began encouraging their children to not just troll the family picnic for hook-ups. Some even began discouraging it, as parents are wont to do, by making up horror stories to dissuade impressionable young folks. This is, perhaps, the birthplace of the “marry your cousin and you’ll have retarded kids” myth.
The truth is, the potential risk of birth defects in a child born of first cousins is slightly higher than the risk associated with a non-cousin couple. The increased risk for first cousins is only 2% on top of the base risk of about 3%, or about the same as any woman over 40 years of age. To put it another way, first-cousin marriages entail roughly the same increased risk of abnormality that a woman undertakes when she gives birth at 40 (roughly 5%) rather than at 30 (roughly 3%). Banning first cousin marriages makes about as much sense, critics argue, as trying to ban childbearing by older women.
A second cousin mating has an additional risk of birth defects of only approximately 1 in 100, which is the same risk as a woman aged 35 years giving birth.
Remember the TV show, The West Wing? President Martin Sheen was said to be a descendent of an original signer of the Declaration of Independence, Josiah Bartlett. There really was a signer named Josiah Bartlett…and he married his first cousin.
H.G. Wells. Maybe those parental horror stories inspired him to write The Island of Doctor Moreau.
I’ve only heard one good reason why people should think twice about marrying their cousins. You can always get a divorce, but it’s hard to divorce your family. I know, divorces are difficult anyway, especially if there are kids involved. But divorce your cousin and all those family picnics get that much more uncomfortable.
If you want the real cousinsinlove.com – the definitive website for data on this topic, please check out http://www.cousincouples.com/
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A WEBSITE CALLED “COUSINSINLOVE.COM”
It is a figment of the wild imagination of Kerry Zukus,
author of THE FOURTH HOUSE, a new novel.
SPOILER ALERT! What follows is not really a spoiler in the purest sense, but if you haven’t read the book yet, you may wish to stop here.