This image showed up in my Twitter feed today:

Where do I even begin?

First, they conflate “marriage before 18” with “rape” and a “human rights violation”. Even by the usual standards of progressive blindness, this is insane. I personally know several people who were married before the age of 18, entirely within consent and the law, and they would be very surprised to find out that their marriages were in fact a human rights violation.

Second, we might note that this is a campaign against child marriage, but the statistics cited involve many people who are not children by the legal definitions of the US or elsewhere. How many of those married before 18 were legal adults at their age of marriage? We have no idea, because the graphic doesn’t bother to think about this.

But worst is the transparent, completely un-self-conscious cultural absolutism. The modern West defines adulthood as beginning at age 18, and expects that women do not marry before that age. None of these assumptions hold elsewhere, but any failure on the part of other nations to hold to contemporary Western standards of propriety is automatically a “human rights violation”. This sort of moral crusading and contempt for alternate value systems should not be surprising at this point, but I suppose I still have some capacity to be astonished.

I was almost tempted to respond to this on Twitter, in my real name, even, but fortunately sanity took hold before I commited such an error.