Academic takes on incest taboo

NZ Herald 22 May 2004
As the law and order select committee members sat around gob-smacked at the very thought of legalising incest, the professor who suggested the law change was equally perturbed at their reaction.

The MPs said and did “nothing”, asking no intelligent questions, philosophical historian Professor Peter Munz told the Herald.

At 83, Professor Munz, retired professor emeritus of history at Victoria University, still speaks with a German accent despite having lived in New Zealand since his Jewish family escaped World War II and came here more than 60 years ago.

He says the MPs ought to have at least tried to understand the theoretical argument in his submission on legalising incest between consenting adults when he fronted up this week to the law and order select committee on the Crimes Amendment Bill.

The submission, he says, arose out of a book he has been researching for years on the evolution of cultures.

His submission explains: “The prohibition of incest is completely universal in early Palaeolithic societies and has lingered on ever since. But in modern civil societies it is an outmoded prohibition.”