at 21 Jun 2006: 13:16
I still think the whole consent argument is more or less bs for this reason: the only way you know for sure when someone does NOT consent is through easily observable signals, i.e., verbal statements, resistance, violent acts, etc. You do NOT necessarily know their capacity of thought, their capabilites of intelligence, and you cannot ever know this for sure without studying the entity in question for a long time. Animals, in particular, you do not really know what they understand or do not understand. All we know is what is externally visible, i.e., that they cannot use language. Language is NOT the only form of communication. You cannot take a entities capacity for intelligence/reason whatever unless you are SURE you know that.
All parts of our society that rely on this idea of "consent" do not expect the initiating party to conduct a full-blown scientific study on whether the targeted party is able to consent or not.
There is not one judge in the US who would say that a woman who says nothing to a man trying to have sex with her yet hits the man or attempts to run away has given consent or failed to not give consent.
The initiating party is expected to pay attention to easily observable signals of the targeted party and read a "I consent" or "I do not consent" from that. I think it's dangerous to take away an entities' right expressing no-consent non-verbally because such entity lacks capacity of language.