professional Christian Roy Moore, who is credibly alleged to have spent his thirties pursuing high school girls with the “I get older, they stay the same age” gusto of Matthew McConaughey’s character in “Dazed and Confused,”
.. a quick typology of the predators that flourish among the godly and moralistic and traditional.
.. rotten patriarch. This is the man who depends on the trappings of spiritual or familial authority to exploit the young and weak, shame them into silence, and pre-emptively discredit them.
.. the way conservative impulses protect this kind of figure — both in the suggestion that a man of his religious reputation should be trusted over his accusers, and in the risible invocation of Biblical examples to defend an older man’s lust for a 14-year-old girl.
.. the burrower, the networker, the institutionalist — the predator who embeds himself within a hierarchical system that protects him because it wants to protect itself.
Many Catholic priest-abusers fit this pattern.
.. the larger ecclesiastical entity saw its own self-protection as more important than their punishment.
.. serial repenter — the creep who relies on the promise of forgiveness to keep his place and his powers and his opportunities to prey again... Harvey Weinstein ran Miramax the same way an abusive religious leader rules his cult. Bill Clinton was both a liberal pig backing feminist causes to buy immunity and a serial repenter in the style of his Baptist youth. A liberal academic eminence grooming disciples to be victims has a lot in common with a man of God who does the same... Some cultural conservatives, in evangelical Christianity especially, combine a belief in male headship in churches and families with a “boys will be boys and girls shouldn’t tempt them” attitude toward sex. It’s a combination that’s self-contradictory and deeply toxic, handing men not just power but a permission slip to abuse it — which, predictably, they do... the impulse to hide or dismiss scandal because it hurts the short-term cause, which is common to all institutions but particularly strong for conservative ones, is a path to self-destruction in the long run.
.. the Catholic Church’s sex abuse experience is a case study. And we may be watching something similar happen with evangelicals, who decided with Donald Trump and may decide with Roy Moore that in the war against secular liberalism, they simply can’t afford to police the morals of their leaders.
It’s a theory that makes sense if you think only of today’s elections, but in the long term it’s cultural suicide — because it tells your neighbors and your children that your religious convictions are always secondary to your partisanship.
The atheist Christopher Hitchens used to argue that religion was useful for getting good and conscientious people to do wicked things. Politics can be used in the same way. Those two candidates could only have advanced so far because American politics is so tightly wired to our fears and hatreds. Why would anyone decent support either of them — unless on some level you feared and hated the other side?
.. Asked if he could unequivocally state that he never dated a teenager when he was in his thirties, Moore replied: “It would be out of my customary behavior.”
.. I’d like to advance the political case against letting fear and hatred lead us to consistently lower our standards and lend our support to the ambitions of less and less worthy people.
.. First, there is is the argument from credibility. Every social conservative who supports Moore is increasing the cynicism of American society and justifying widespread skepticism about the sincerity of Christian belief among conservatives. People are reminded frequently that Christian conservatives once demanded that Bill Clinton resign in shame for carrying on an affair with a White House intern. Now some of those supposedly godly men, or their sons, defend Moore’s predation of teenaged girls on the grounds that even a child predator is better than a Democrat. This instrumentalism will eventually make it impossible for social conservatives to defend any of their preferred policies.
.. The country won’t give consent to pro-life laws if they have good reason to suspect their advocates are insincere. And the public will shrug at the abrogation of religious liberties if it thinks these amount to privileges for hypocrites.
.. You cannot be a good citizen of your country if your immediate political interests outrank every other good in the commonweal. And You cannot be a good citizen of your country if your immediate political interests outrank every other good in the commonweal. And citizenship requires some self-abnegnation, even some risk. Advancing a man of Roy Moore’s character to the Senate worsens public life in obvious ways.
- He’s unethical.
- He flouts the law.
- And he is peculiarly holier than thou.
Telling yourself that “this is war, and in war you have to make less than ideal choices” is a great way to excuse the destruction of your charity and the lifting of restraint, with collateral damage to your integrity.
.. Choosing the lesser of two evils is a fantastic way to prepare yourself to do worse and worse evils. And following it to the end is a bitter fate indeed. The worst tragedies of recent history were driven by masses of people giving in to existential fear and hatred. There are many alive today in Central and Eastern Europe who made themselves into Fascists or Communists in order to resist or avenge the Communists and the Fascists. But the names we remember and revere are often those who carefully and bravely stood apart.
Moore, then thirty-two, targeted one girl, Leigh Corfman, when she was fourteen years old and sitting outside a courtroom where her parents, who were in the process of divorcing, were having a custody hearing. Her mother was sitting with her when Moore, who was then an assistant district attorney, with an office down the hall, first approached; he offered to watch Leigh while her mother went before the judge, presenting himself, an officer of the court, as a respectable momentary guardian. “He said, ‘Oh, you don’t want her to go in there and hear all that. I’ll stay out here with her,’
.. because even a molesting Republican was better than a Democrat
.. because they weren’t really sure that it was bad for a man in his thirties to be sexually propositioning teen-agers.
.. the President also believes that if these allegations are true, Judge Moore will do the right thing and step aside.”
.. Hannity, who often acts as the id of the Trumpist wing of the Party, said, “How do you possibly tell, know, the truth?”