Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Believing what we want to believe

In case you don't pay close attention to the news, perhaps you don't yet know about Roy Moore.

Moore is a controversial 70-year old Alabama politician who is running for a seat in the United States Senate.

A former state judge, Moore has been the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of Alabama twice. He has also been removed from that position twice, each time for standing up for conservative causes.

In the first incident, Moore was ordered by a federal court to have a monument to the Ten Commandments removed from the front of the Alabama Judicial Building. He refused, and the Alabama Court of the Judiciary removed him from his office.

In 2016, Moore was suspended by the same body after he ordered probate judges to enforce Alabama's ban on same-sex marriages after those unions had been found to be constitutional. He appealed this time, was unsuccessful, and he resigned earlier this year.

When longtime Republican U.S. Senator from the state, Jeff Sessions, was appointed as the new Attorney General of the United States in the new administration of President Donald Trump, Moore announced that he would seek that office.

In September, Moore won a runoff election to become the Republican Party nominee for that Alabama Senate seat. He will oppose Democrat Doug Jones in a general election on December 12, 2017.

Moore is a strong, outspoken Christian who has made numerous public pronouncements against homosexuality, abortion, and radical Islam. He is characterized by many as "far right" in his political and social beliefs.

Those publicly spoken beliefs over decades, as well as his judicial rulings, have made him a major target of liberal critics in political circles and the news media.

All of this would be enough to make Moore's candidacy in next month's Senate election a major story. But at that point it would, for the most part, simply be partisan politics at play. Now there is even more controversy surrounding the candidate.



Moore has been accused by multiple women of sexual assault decades ago while he was a young prosecutor. These assaults came in the form of what have been described as sexual encounters with teenage girls.

Witnesses have come forward to support some of the women. Those witnesses are able to at least corroborate what they have described as sexual harassment.

For his part, Moore vehemently denies any sexual assault. But he has alluded to relationships with teenage girls who were over the legal age of consent while he was in his early 30's.

A number of folks on both sides of the political aisle, both political office holders and media members, have called on Moore to provide some reliable information to back his refutations. That, or to withdraw from the race.

Moore continues to retain strong support among the Alabama electorate. Results of a reputable poll released today show him with a 49%-43% lead over Jones despite the allegations. Some politicians have said that if Moore does win, they will immediately call for his removal from office.

Moore is just one of many male public figures to face years or even decades-old sexual assault and/or harassment allegations in recent months.

Similar allegations have been made against such celebrity figures as entertainment mogul Harvey Weinstein and directors Oliver Stone and Brett Ratner. Actors Kevin Spacey, Steven Seagal, Jeremy Piven, Louis C.K., and Ed Westwick are among a number of other Hollywood figures facing accusations. For his part, Piven has vehemently denied the accusations.

Eerie questions have even been raised regarding the conduct of former Vice-President Joe Biden.




In the majority of these allegations, there is a "he-said, she-said" or in some cases a "he-said, he-said" aspect. No real proof. No witnesses who actually observed the conduct. In some cases there are supporting witnesses who claim to have known about relationships, or who had been told of incidents by the alleged victims.

All of this brings up the question: who do you believe?

These are very serious allegations when made against anyone. They can ruin careers, and even change the course of American politics, as in the Moore situation. If the allegations are, in fact, lies aimed at some political or monetary goal, or made from out of some attempt at vengeance, that is a travesty.

However, in the cases where there are legitimate victims, then perpetrators should get whatever punishment the legal system, or public opinion and financial consequences, has coming to them.

In the American system of jurisprudence we are a nation that believes you are innocent until proven guilty. However, where scandalous allegations are concerned, that is not always how the court of public opinion works.

Frankly, without some firm evidence to accompany charges of old misconduct, many folks are simply going to believe what they want to believe. That goes for supporters of either the accused or the alleged/actual victims.

If there is one major positive that comes from all of this, perhaps it will be that those predators who do exist will now be stopped in their tracks more easily. Hopefully, true victims will feel empowered to stand up, presenting timely evidence and witnesses to derail these criminals.

As for that Alabama election, should Moore stay in the race, it will be fascinating to watch how it plays out. That goes for the political result, but also for how the public ultimately views him over the long haul.

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