Mo­ralis­ers who get caught out

Business Day - - OPINION -

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.

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