Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore is facing multiple credible allegations of sexual misconduct, including that he sexually assaulted a 14- and 16-year-old girl when he was in his 30s.
Moore, who was suspended twice as the state’s chief justice for ignoring federal rulings, denies the accusations. However, he has failed to disprove them conclusively. In fact, he hasn’t even attempted a convincing refutation of the nearly 10 women who’ve accused him of assault or harassment, or the more than 30 people who have corroborated their stories.
Instead, Moore has responded by alleging a conspiracy by the press, a conspiracy by the Democratic Party, and a conspiracy by the Republican Party. He has also suggested that one of his accusers may have forged his signature in her high school yearbook.
But if you think these defenses are weak, they’re nothing compared to some of the rot trotted out by the Senate candidate’s most hardcore defenders.
Here are the nine most ridiculous defenses that Alabama state officials, local clergymen, and right-wing media have used to dismiss or downplay Roy Moore’s alleged sexual misconduct:
9. Teens and girls are desirable for their breeding and fertility benefits
The Federalist, a right-leaning opinion website, has published a fair amount or Moore apologia recently. The following argument has the unflattering distinction of being one of the site’s creepier defenses of the GOP candidate.
“[I]n his early thirties, Moore had a penchant for dating teenagers. Apparently, this was not an uncommon occurrence during this time. In fact, this practice has a long history and is not without some merit if one wants to raise a large family,” writes contributor Tully Borland.
He added, “To have a large family, the wife must start having kids when she is young. The husband needs to be well-established and able to support the family, in which case he will typically need to marry when older. … Times have changed.”
The column goes on to argue that even if the worst of the Moore allegations are true, including that he sexually assaulted two minors, voting for the Republican would still be preferable to voting for the pro-abortion Democrat.
It’s infanticide or pedophilia, Alabama. Take your pick!
8. Deus Vult!
Federalist contributor D.C. McAllister wrote this month that it's basically God's will that you vote for Moore. Amazingly enough, she argues this from a position that mostly accepts reports that he sexually assaulted minors.
“God uses all kinds of ‘immoral’ men and women to bring about his purposes. He is actually rather pragmatic regarding the secular world,” she writes in an op-ed titled, “Why It’s Justified To Vote For A Morally Questionable Politician.”
She added, “Just go back to the Old Testament and see how he used secular leaders. God employed foreign kings to bring about his purposes of rebuilding the holy site of Jerusalem. For example, King Cyrus of Persia helped the Jews with royal decrees and financing to construct the temple, and later foreign armies defended them. The stories of Esther, Daniel, and Joseph are all full of God’s power being exercised through political leaders, revealing the difference between the secular and the sacred. Esther even allowed a man who was falsely accused of rape to meet his death because that was best for the Jewish people. The man had never touched her, but she allowed him to be falsely accused of sexual abuse because it was politically expedient—and it saved her people from death.”
Vote King Herrod: A vote for Herrod is a vote for the children. Seriously, though, her point is badly mistaken. There are indeed bad actors in the Old Testament, and many ultimately do God’s will, but that does mean we are called on to support immoral men.
Lastly, there’s this bit of ugliness from Mcallister: “Have we declined because of these fallen, deeply flawed leaders [like Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton]? Did we suffer as a nation for putting a Catholic in the presidency with John F. Kennedy? Some purist Christians would say ‘Yes!’ Are they right? Did we suffer as a nation because, theologically (and morally) speaking, JFK was ‘unfit’ for the presidency? I’d say no.”
Come for the Moore apologia, stay for the anti-Catholic bigotry.
7. Bram Stoker's Roy Moore
It’s not bad or weird that Moore pursued teens and minors when he was in his 30s. Younger women, you see, are high-quality candidates for intimate encounters on account of their natural purity, according to pastor Flip Benham, who appeared with Moore last week at a press conference.
Are we in Alabama or Transylvania?
"The lady that he’s married to now, Ms. Kayla, is a younger woman. He did that because there is something about a purity of a young woman, there is something that is good, that's true, that's straight and he looked for that," Benham said in a radio interview with hosts Matt Murphy and Andrea Lindenberg.
Rather than dismiss or disprove the allegations brought against Moore, the pastor seemingly embraced them, excusing them as perfectly natural for a returning veteran.
"All of the ladies, or many of the ladies that he possibly could have married were not available then,” Benham, referring to Moore’s return from serving in Vietnam, “they were already married, maybe, somewhere. So he looked in a different direction.”
6. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph
So what if Moore trawled malls and high schools for teen tail? Jesus Christ’s mother was young when she got married.
This is an actual defense that Alabama State Auditor Jim Ziegler used earlier this month.
“There is nothing to see here,” Alabama State Auditor Jim Ziegler told the Washington Examiner. “The allegations are that a man in his early 30s dated teenage girls. Even the Washington Post report says that he never had sexual intercourse with any of the girls and never attempted sexual intercourse.”
That’s not even true. The initial Post story reported specifically that Moore tried to initiate a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl after he brought her back to his house and they were both stripped to their underwear.
“[Moore’s] clean as a hound’s tooth,” Ziegler told the Washington Examiner.
“Take the Bible. Zachariah and Elizabeth for instance. Zachariah was extremely old to marry Elizabeth and they became the parents of John the Baptist,” he added, invoking the Son of God. “Also take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.”
“There’s just nothing immoral or illegal here,” he concluded. “Maybe just a little bit unusual.”
Get used to the “even if he did it, what’s the big deal?” defense. There’s a lot more where that came from.
5. No phone!
Breitbart News has gone to the mats for Moore in a big way.
Running cover for the Alabama Senate candidate has included the right-wing tabloid publishing what it must have thought was a slam-dunk debunker that proved ... nothing.
The woman who claimed Moore sexually assaulted her when she was 14-years-old told the Post that she had a telephone in her bedroom at around the time of the alleged incident. Moore used to call her directly, she said.
But wait! That woman never had a telephone in her bedroom when she was 14, according to her own mother, Breitbart reported in an “EXCLUSIVE."
The report cited the mother directly. The same report also included the mother telling Breitbart that, “the phone in the house could get through to her easily.”
Okay. Well, okay. That’s not a refutation, and that disproves nothing. Next.
4. If God Didn’t Want Us Dating Children, He Wouldn’t Have Made Them So Pretty
This is real life.
Pastor Earl Wise of Millbrook, Ala., said in defense of Moore that, “I don’t know how much these women are getting paid, but I can only believe they’re getting a healthy sum.”
Wise then pivoted to the “even if he did it” defense, reiterating he’d vote for the GOP candidate even if it were true he sexually assaulted children.
“There ought to be a statute of limitations on this stuff,” he told the Boston Globe. “How these gals came up with this, I don’t know. They must have had some sweet dreams somewhere down the line. Plus, there are some 14-year-olds, who, the way they look, could pass for 20.”
3. Is There Something You Need to Tell the Police, Franklin Graham?
Pastor Franklin Graham has responded to the Moore scandals by accusing the so-called Washington elites of a double-standard.
“The hypocrisy of Washington has no bounds,” Graham said last week on social media. “So many denouncing Roy Moore when they are guilty of doing much worse than what he has been accused of supposedly doing.”
Moore stands accused of sexually assaulting children. To what is Graham referring? Does he have knowledge of worse crimes in the nation’s capital? If so, how is he privy to that knowledge? Has he informed the authorities? Why hasn’t he spoken about this before? Does he plan to out these alleged worse-than-molesters monsters?
Or is Graham merely trotting out a lazy, whatabout-based defense of his preferred candidate? You probably know the answer.
2. Arranged Marriage Is Cool
Moore’s attorney, Trent Garmon, who had his license suspended for 91 days in 2014 after he was caught impersonating a pastor and relative so as to solicit a family that had just buried its 13-year-old son, has emerged from this mess as one of the nuttiest characters in the Alabama race.
His own attempt at defending Moore’s alleged predations was about as successful and convincing as the ones mentioned in the above.
Garmon appeared on MSNBC this month to explain away the scandals, and ended up making the argument in favor of arranged marriage.
MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle pressed Garmon specifically on reports that Moore sought out women who were young enough as to require permission from their parents to go on dates.
“That’s a good question,” the attorney responded. He then turned to MSNBC co-host Ali Velshi and added, “Culturally speaking, I would say there’s differences. I looked up Ali’s and, wow, that's awesome that you have got such a diverse background.”
“What does Ali’s background have to do with dating a 14-year-old?” Ruhle asked.
Garmon explained: “In other countries, there's arrangement through parents for what we would refer to as consensual marriage.”
As we noted at the time, Velshi was born in Nairobi, Kenya, but he was raised in Toronto. He attended university in Ontario. Canadian culture isn’t big on arranged marriages. Also, even if Velshi had spent more time in communities that embrace arranged marriages, that's a terrible defense for Moore's alleged behavior. That'd be like defending the Michigan doctor who was charged earlier this year with performing genital mutilation on two young female patients by arguing certain overseas cultures embrace that sort of thing.
1. The Victims Are to Blame, and We Should Prosecute Them
This defense is particularly loathsome.
Alabama State Rep. Ed Henry, a Republican, offered a variation of the “even if he did it” defense recently that involved both blaming and threatening the alleged victims.
“The idea that accusations like this would stop his campaign is ludicrous. If this was a habit, like you’ve read with Bill Cosby and millions of dollars paid to settle cases and years of witnesses, that would be one thing,” Henry said. “You cannot tell me there hasn’t been an opportunity through the years to make these accusations with as many times as [Moore has] run [for office] and been in the news.”
He added on an even darker note, “If they believe this man is predatory, they are guilty of allowing him to exist for 40 years. I think someone should prosecute and go after them. You can’t be a victim 40 years later, in my opinion.”
So – what was that about Bill Cosby?