It’s interesting to note how the news media tends to direct the public’s attention. What is considered to be “news” at any given time seems to be predecided by the particular stories and events they agree to focus on.
Obviously reporting on the misadventures and idiotic tweets of our current president keeps the media busy most of the time right now, but every once in a while they turn their attention away from the sad reality show in Washington, D.C., to some other unfolding human tragedy.
Last month for example the (failing?) New York Times provided us with another reason for us to be disappointed with our own species when they published a disturbing expose on entertainment godfather Harvey Weinstein. The story revealed decades of sexual harassment and in some cases outright assaults he committed with numerous women who have worked with him. Soon thereafter the floodgates opened wide, and many more women and men stepped forward to reveal stories of rampant sexual misconduct perpetrated by Hollywood movers and shakers like Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K, and many others.
The scandal eventually spread, predictably perhaps, into the political area as several women who served in Congress reported untoward behavior they endured from male colleagues while they served in office. Then the biggest bombshell landed right in the middle of the already contentious and controversial U.S. Senate race in Alabama.
Never miss a local story.
Last week the Washington Post published an account by a woman who claimed that Roy Moore, the controversial “Ten Commandments Judge” who is the Republican candidate in a special election to replace Jeff Sessions, initiated sexual contact with her when she was only 14.
The story also detailed allegations from three other women who claimed that Moore pursued sexual relationships with them when they were between the ages of 16 and 18. This week a fifth woman went public to allege that Moore tried to force himself on her in a parked car in a deserted parking lot when she was 16.
An unrepentant Moore has lashed out at his accusers and is characterizing their allegations as an attempt by his political enemies on the left to derail his campaign at the eleventh hour. But he was evasive when asked by a sympathetic Sean Hannity if he remembered dating any teenagers when he was a single man in his 30s (“not generally, no”) and a woman who worked directly with Moore during the period in question confirmed that he had a reputation for seeking dates at local high schools.
The Republican Party has been gradually inching away from Moore and are looking for a way to remove him from the race, but his core supporters in the evangelical community are remaining as loyal to him as they have been to the president they strongly supported in the election last year (the guy who cheated on his first two wives and bragged about being able to sexually assault women with impunity).
There is, after all, nothing in the Bible about an age of consent. Jim Ziegler (currently state auditor of Alabama and potential gubernatorial candidate in the next election) went to Moore’s defense by arguing that “Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter,” an assertion that has no Biblical basis whatsoever.
But it is certainly true that in Biblical times, and even in fairly recent times, it’s been common practice for women to get married off as soon as they reached puberty. Maybe it was more widely accepted as normal 40 years ago when Mr. Moore was an eligible 30-something bachelor, but it’s not a very good look in 2017.
Assuming he stays in the race and doesn’t get thrown off the ballot by the party, it will be up to the citizens of Alabama to decide if the stories about Moore are credible and, if so, if they still want him representing them in the U.S. Senate.
I’ve given up trying to predict what people are going to do at the ballot box, but I certainly wouldn’t count Moore out until the ballots are counted. After all he hasn’t violated that old political proverb about how a man should behave if he wants to win an election — never get caught in bed with a dead woman or a live man.
Bill Ferguson is a resident of Warner Robins. Readers can write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.