Moralisers who get caught out
Okay, let’s get this straight. Roy Moore, the selfrighteous, Bible-thumping Alabama Republican running for the US Senate, has been accused of having a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl when he was 32. Three other women said he pursued them when they were between 16 and 18 and he was in his 30s.
Who is Moore? A man who kept the Ten Commandments on his courthouse wall despite a judge’s order to remove them and who has been a life-long public pontificator on behalf of traditional sexual morality. A rabblerousing evangelical Christian who has condemned homosexuality, who says “the transgenders don’t have rights” and who has called the US “a moral slum”.
Is there no commandment about hypocrisy? If not, there should be. Moore denies the allegations, which were first reported by the Washington Post. And no one should be judged before all the evidence is in. Yet we cannot be blamed if we feel we’ve seen this movie before. There has been no short supply, historically, of mendacious conservatives who sermonise about the way others live their lives but fail to abide by the standards they so glibly set.
As the Moore story developed, we were reminded on Facebook of a quote from the late Christopher Hitchens, for whom the puncturing of smug pieties was a lifelong commitment: “Whenever I hear some bigmouth in Washington or the Christian heartland banging on about the evils of sodomy or whatever, I mentally enter his name in my notebook and contentedly set my watch. Sooner, rather than later, he will be discovered down on his weary and well-worn old knees in some dreary motel or latrine, with an expired Visa card, having tried to pay well over the odds to be peed upon.”
While it is true that few of us live up to standards every day of behaviour we endorse in the abstract, most of us don’t set the rules for others or make broad pronouncements about whose chosen lifestyles are acceptable or legal. Los Angeles, November 10.