Browsing through the very worthy Guardian website, I came across this article about a British Police proposal to warn women entering relationships with violent men. A similar scheme already exists to warn women in relationships with paedophiles, to ensure they don't unwittingly expose their children to risk. The proposed domestic violence scheme would warn partners of serial domestic abusers, who go from relationship to relationship, inflicting violence on women.
This is another version of the age old question of liberal democracy: how far can society curb the freedoms and privacy of individuals in order to protect others? I think this proposal to warn women is pretty reasonable. The news that a man is a serial abuser will likely break up some relationships - but if a man is temporarily concealing his violent tendencies just long enough to lure a woman into a relationship, it's hard to have much sympathy. I'd have more sympathy for a man trying to turn himself around and give up violence - but if his commitment was genuine, I figure he would tell his partner about his past behaviour himself.
There's one thing that disturbs me about this article, though: the suggestion that the proposal could mean 'the state interfering in adults' love lives'. Violence is not an expression of love. Nor is it a private business between 'consenting' adults. No one in their right mind would suggest that attempts to prevent violence outside the home impinge on the freedoms of people involved. Why, when violence happens within the home, do we apply different rules?