While common sense people can observe the additional corroborating evidence that keeps piling up against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore — including his own admissions — there are other folks who are determined to forgive child molestation as long as the predator isn’t a Democrat, or are desperately twisting themselves into knots trying to find some way to declare the entire scandal “Fake News!” that they can ignore.
In the latter category we have several media stories today that attempt to cast doubt on one of Moore’s accusers, Deborah Wesson Gibson, because she worked for Democrats like Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden.
I mean, that’s what this Daily Caller headline and tweet say:
— The Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) November 11, 2017
She worked for Hillary?! Clearly, she must be some sort of nefarious Democrat plant, right? An eeeeeevil George Soros-funded operative who’s been plotting for years to bring down a stalwart conservative like Roy Moore?
So what exactly did she do for all these Democrats? Grassroots organizer? Phone banking? Fundraising?
From the Daily Caller story:
Deborah Gibson worked as a sign language interpreter for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, as well as previously working for Joe Biden through her company, “Signs of Excellence.”
Sign language interpreter? Huh. That’s a bit different.
American Sign Language (ASL) is a complex language with nuances similar to what you might find in spoken languages you know. It is far more than the hand signs for the alphabet you might have learned when you were in Scouts, and fluency requires a deep study of not only the gestures but how their combinations and accompanying facial expressions can affect their meaning. There are even regional dialect differences among different areas of the United States and Canada.
Being able to learn ASL well enough to not only communicate fluently, but to provide live interpretation services takes dedicated study. Very few people will even attempt such an endeavor, much less pursue the official licensing and certification needed to hold themselves out to the public as a sign language interpreter.
For obvious reasons, such services are easier to find in larger metropolitan areas. In Alabama, a little internet research showed how very difficult it is to find a licensed interpreter.
The Alabama Court system has only two people on their 2016-2017 Court Interpreter List who have been approved as “Qualified Interpreters” with a “Specialist Certificate: Legal” to provide sign language services to people in the legal system, and an additional twelve people they classify as “Otherwise Qualified Interpreters.” That’s fourteen people for an entire state of nearly five million people.
The Alabama Licensure Board of Interpreters and Transliterators, the agency that certifies interpreters for the deaf, lists a total of 252 people at all levels (including those who are still at the provisional training level) for the entire state. When you limit the search to only officially fully licensed interpreters, the number drops to only 129. Again, that’s for the entire state.
The bottom line is that sign language interpretation is a service based on expertise, and is such a rare speciality — all the more so in Alabama — that providing such services to political candidates is not necessarily political.
Furthermore, because true fluency in sign language is so rare, it is an ethical standard among the interpreter community to not turn down requests for services simply because the interpreter disagrees with the client or their message. The interpreter’s duty is to serve the deaf community and provide them access to understand events that they would not be able to without the interpretation assistance.
As @TheMaverick21, a deaf Twitter friend of mine and the founder of a deaf advocacy group called Mav Project, explained:
I have a friend who is an ASL interpreter. She is very far right but has interpreted for DNC events. I asked her about it. She said it would be unethical for her to turn down events due to differences. She said that their function was to serve the Deaf accurately. She is also a devout Baptist. She said she has worked Methodist and Catholic events where she has disagreed with interpretation as well.
Fox News’ story and tweet at least included the vital detail that Gibson’s work was as “an interpreter,” but still neglected to include any discussion of how sign language interpreting works or how very rare this expertise is.
Gibson told the Washington Post that she dated Moore when she was 17 and he was a 34-year-old assistant district attorney in Etowah County who came and spoke at her high school civics class, and then asked her out on a date. Gibson says that they dated for two or three months, never progressing beyond kissing.
While she admits that at the time she was thrilled to be dating the “hometown boy made good,” she now views their relationship as inappropriate.
“Looking back, I’m glad nothing bad happened,” said Gibson. “As a mother of daughters, I realize that our age difference at that time made our dating inappropriate.”
Gibson, like the other women in the WaPo story — including Leigh Corfman, who was only 14 at the time and below the legal age of consent — was able to corroborate her story with other on-the-record witnesses. The WaPo reporters involved in breaking the story have given interviews explaining how they verified aspects of the women’s stories (court records showing Corfman was in court on the day she claimed, school records, news clippings, verifying a certain road was unpaved in the 1970s, etc.)
Again, Roy Moore has admitted in his own words that he dated teenage girls when he was a single man in his thirties. His defenses have mainly been to object that his conduct was not illegal, say that some of the accusations are lies, and whine about the liberal media.
And he has media allies on our side of the aisle assisting him, willing to cast aspersions on Gibson’s character and imply nonsensical political bias out of sign language interpretation services. The intent is especially clear when you consider how many people never read past the headline, and will only see “Moore Accuser Worked For Hillary!” and be led to make the assumption she is compromised.
Gibson’s story is not especially salacious (especially compared to Corfman’s accusations that Moore undressed her, groped her over her undergarments, and put her hand on his Little Roy) but it still tells of an adult man with a government position of power and influence seeking a relationship with a teenage girl.
Parents, if a 30-something government official came and spoke at your daughter’s high school class and then asked her out, would you be fine with it?
Here’s the truth of it: we all know that question is one that the vast majority of parents would answer with not just a no, but probably a lot of yelling and profanity — possibly a loaded shotgun — and the only way Moore’s defenders can counter the instinctive revulsion to Moore’s alleged conduct is by smearing the reputations of his accusers.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker.