Deep in this nation’s Bible Belt, voters must decide if the Scriptural admonition about ruining the innocence of a child is relevant in next week’s special election for a U.S. Senate seat.
All eyes will be on the state of Alabama, where the Republican nominee, a former chief justice of the state Supreme Court, has been hit with decades-old allegations of sexual misconduct involving teenagers.
Last month, several women alleged that Moore made unwanted advances or sexually assaulted them when he was in his early 30s and they were in their teens. The youngest was 14.
The allegations have roiled the Senate race that at one time was considered a sure win for the Republican nominee. That’s because throughout his political career, Moore has wrapped himself in the Ten Commandments and Christian values, thus making him the darling of conservative voters in the state.
But, these same voters must now come to terms with the reality of his predatory behavior.
In the Bible, Luke 17:2 (King James Version) provides the necessary context:
“It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.”
On Dec. 12, the millstone the voters of Alabama should hang about Moore’s neck is rejection at the polls.
He has made limited public appearances, and when he has talked about the allegations has reverted to name-calling:
“They’ve done everything. When I say they, who are they? They are liberals. They don’t want conservative values. They’re the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender. They’re socialists who want to change our way of life, putting man above God and that government is our God. They want the Washington establishment who simply wants to keep their jobs.”
It is noteworthy that the woman who accused Moore of sexually assaulting her when she was 14 voted for Republican Donald Trump.
Trump has endorsed Moore, even though he hasn’t gone to Alabama to campaign for him. The president has said he needs the Republican vote in the Senate to get his agenda passed.
As for the allegations against the former judge, Trump has indicated he’s satisfied with his subsequent denials.
But the Democrat in the race, Doug Jones, a former U.S. attorney who prosecuted members of the Ku Klux Klan, is making much of the fact that the GOP nominee has confined his public appearances to friendly venues.
“We’re on the campaign trail meeting all of you and meeting folks here as no one knows where Roy Moore is,” Jones said last week to a crowd of reporters interviewing him.
Alabama voters cannot be blind to the fact that next week’s Senate race is being viewed as a litmus test in the current environment of sexual harassments complaints against prominent individuals,.
Alabama’s three largest newspapers, The Birmingham News, Mobile Press-Register and The Huntsville Times, ran a front-page editorial with the headline “Stand for Decency, Reject Roy Moore.”
The papers, part of the Alabama Media Group, also used the editorial to endorse Democrat Jones.
But the first four paragraphs make the case for why the voters of the state should not only reject Moore but give Jones a landslide victory:
“This election is a turning point for women in Alabama. A chance to make their voices heard in a state that has silenced them for too long.
“The accusations against Roy Moore have been horrifying, but not shocking.
“Everyday new allegations arrive that illustrate a pattern of a man in his 30s strutting through town like a cock of the walk, courting and preying on young women and girls. And though Roy Moore has denied the accusations of these women, his own platform and record are hostile to so many Alabamians.
“Unlike the national party, the Alabama Republican establishment has chosen to stand by him, attacking and belittling the brave women who have come forward.”
We are well aware that the election of Donald Trump, who was accused of sexual misconduct by a dozen or so women, has given comfort to those men who see nothing wrong in their predatory behavior.
But the defeat of Republican Roy Moore will send a clear message that the caveman attitude of blaming the victim will not be tolerated by the public.