By both sides, I’m talking about the two sides yelling at each other in conservatives circles. Democrats and the media are going to do their thing regardless.
First, what are we talking about? Yes, we’ve all heard the story, but it’s important we separate what matters and what doesn’t if we are going to discuss whether Roy Moore should step down.
Take this tweet for example…
30 sources. 4 women. On the record. None of whom knew one another. None of whom reached out to The Post to tell their story. https://t.co/t15cVPc1lK
— Chris Cillizza (@CillizzaCNN) November 9, 2017
This is an extremely misleading take by CNN and the purpose is obviously to build a narrative that there’s enough smoke from multiple allegations alone to disqualify Moore.
The truth is, there are not “four women” if we are talking about actual allegations, nor are there “30 sources” related to four women accusing Moore of anything.
Four women are mentioned in the story, but three of them were of legal age and maintain to this day that they legally consented. Two of them didn’t date Moore until they were 18. The “Moore dated teenagers” headline the media are running with looks bad, but context matters if we are talking about wrongdoing. In relation to him dating those three women in their teens, the time period also matters for the context of social acceptability.
The point is, while the media are running to paint this as a pattern of Roy Moore illegally interacting with underage girls, it’s not. Not yet anyway.
There’s one actual allegation in the article that is relevant. The legal age of consent in 1979 in Alabama was 16. Roy Moore allegedly had a relationship with a 14 year old girl. The allegation is that he kissed her and they engaged in some touching over cloths.
To be sure, those actions are enough for it to be wrong, legally are morally (although the statute of limitations has long past). 14 years old is 14 years old, whether there was full blown sexual contact or not and even though she Moore did not force her to do anything, she was not legally old enough to consent
Corfman (the accuser) allegedly told two of her friends she was dating an older man at the time (she did not tell them about any sexual encounter). She is also said to of told her mother a decade later about the encounter.
Where does that leave us compared to Mr. Cillizza’s take? It leaves us with one actual allegation and three sources, of which all three sources are going off the word of the accuser. The media’s framing of this as four women and 30 sources is typical, but dishonest when analyzed
Why is this important? Because we need to be able to know what we are discussing before discussing it. If one side is operating from the idea that Moore has multiple allegations of wrongdoing against him and the other side is arguing from the idea that it’s a single allegation, everyone will end up talking past each other.
With that said, should it be dismissed because it’s one allegation? No, it should not be. I’m seeing too many conservatives outright deny the allegation could be true and automatically assume it’s a witch hunt. While I understand the cynicism, we just don’t know that yet. The proper response should be step back and see where this goes.
Ok, so what’s the other overreach happening here?
Let’s take these statements…
Innocent until proven guilty is for criminal convictions, not elections. I believe Leigh Corfman. Her account is too serious to ignore. Moore is unfit for office and should step aside.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) November 10, 2017
The allegations against Roy Moore are deeply disturbing and disqualifying. He should immediately step aside and allow the people of Alabama to elect a candidate they can be proud of.
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) November 9, 2017
This is dangerous talk and it’s highly irresponsible.
I can’t speak for everyone, but I do not want to live in a society where a 38 year old, yet unproven accusation can destroy someone’s life. McCain suggests that mere allegation alone is enough to disqualify Moore. Was John McCain disqualified when he was accused of serious criminal wrongdoing in the Keating 5 scandal? It seems Mr. McCain’s has different standards for when criminal allegations automatically disqualify someone.
McCain’s typical grand-standing hypocrisy aside, I’m also seeing this idea from conservatives I like and follow. This can’t become a precedent. It’s too ripe for abuse and false accusations. While I understand there’s clearly a political motive to remove Moore among some Republicans, they should not let that push them into a position that ignores the need for substantiation.
Even if our natural desire is to believe an accuser, we must allow the facts to come forward before allowing an accusation to disqualify someone. Anything less leads to the kind of mindless, mob mentality that’s overtaken much of our politics. Guilt and disqualification should not be decided on retweets and misleading narratives.
This has been a bedrock conservative principle in response to kangaroo courts on college campuses. It should remain one now.
I’m not demanding some unreasonable level of proof. I recognize much of what may come out will be circumstantial, but we do need more than we’ve gotten so far.
Corfman will need to make a more clarifying statement, as the current story line is based off of two lines given to the Washington Post that don’t go into much detail. We need to find out how credible the accuser is. I understand that gives some more liberal minded people fits to suggest, but we live in a nation of laws, not assumptions. We also need more information from Roy Moore besides his weird “spiritual battle” tweet storm. Then we can hopefully begin to piece together a picture of how this should be viewed and whether it’s enough for Moore to step down.
While conservatives are no doubt divided here, both sides should take a wait and see approach. It’s irresponsible to jump the gun in either direction at this point.