At the time of this writing, former Alabama Supreme Court Justice and Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore stands accused of sexual misconduct from five different women and when the dust finally settles, everybody including the GOP, Moore, his accusers, other victims of sexual assault, the voters, will have all lost.
Moore’s accusers, Gloria Thacker Deason, at the time 18, Debbie Wesson Gibson, at the time 17, Wendy Miller, at the time 16, Beverly Young Nelson, at the time 16, and Leigh Corfman, at the time 14, claim that he committed acts of sexual misconduct ranging from inappropriate kissing to providing alcohol to minors on dates to unclothing himself and touching his and their genitals over underwear per a story broke by the Washington Post on November 9th. The fallout of which has prompted several prominent members of the GOP, including Senator Ted Cruz, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, to call for Moore to rescind his candidacy. Even Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who vacated the Alabama Senate seat in contention, stated that there is “no reason to doubt” Moore’s accusers during today’s House Judiciary Committee hearing.
Alabama polls indicate that since the Post broke the story, Moore’s lead over his Democrat challenger Doug Jones has all but disappeared with some polls even predicting a victory for Jones. Even if Moore does win the special election on December 12th, Senators on both sides of the aisle have threatened to expel Moore immediately after he is seated, which would make him the 1st Senator expelled in over 155 years.
All of this comes under the cloud of revelations accusing Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein of countless sexual assault acts, which sparked the “#MeToo” campaign to encourage men and women to come forward with their harrowing stories of sexual assault. Potential victims have come forward to accuse powerful men and women of sexual misconduct from Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., Ben Affleck, to President George H.W. Bush.
Shortly after the allegations were made public, Sean Hannity, on his Fox News show Hannity, made the following statement:
“Every single person in this country deserves the presumption of innocence. With the allegations against Judge Moore, none of us know the truth of what happened 38 years ago. The only people that would know are the people involved in this incident.”
Advertisers, amid growing pressure on social media, began pulling out of his show in response to Hannity’s covering of the Moore accusations.
In response to Weinstein’s accusations, Gizmodo’s Diana Moskovitz wrote a piece called “Against Allegedly” that called for journalists to stop, altogether, using the word “allegedly.” In her own words:
To hear the keepers of the craft tell it, alleged is important because it signifies that the writer doesn’t know the exact, final truth. This is often true. They’ll argue that it’s important to show that what is said in cases is an allegation or an accusation and not a fact. They’ll assert that a source could be wrong, and that this hedge may prove important when, days later, reporters have to come back with different information and explain discrepancies. This is, they’ll say, America—the land of reasonable doubt, a very good legal concept we all can agree with. Report what you know, the saying goes. How can journalists be certain of anything if they weren’t witnesses to what happened? It is a sign, they’ll say, of scrupulousness, practically a sign of journalistic virtue. Which is a load of shit. What mattered was attribution—explaining who had said something or what document had provided the information. So instead of writing, “The man allegedly robbed a bank,” write, “The police report said that officer saw him robbing a bank.”
With the GOP’s calls for Moore to step down, with advertisers pulling from Hannity, and with reporters like Moskovitz encouraging writers to give more weight to accusers, a reasonable person can say that we, as members of the court of public opinion, have already found Moore guilty as charged with these accusations. That we consider these accusations are, indeed, facts. We have crossed well beyond “allegedly” and are now comfortable knowing that these allegations are true. Even I am inclined to say that these women are telling the truth.
As far down the rabbit hole that we’ve already sunk ourselves in, let’s simply presume for a moment, however, that after Moore either A) steps down, B) loses, or C) is expelled from the Senate and even after all the vitriol he caught as the accusations were revealed, all of the accusations against Moore are later proven false. What then? If they are false, then Moore would have taken consequences for actions he did not commit. Is that justice?
Why is it that we are so quick to defend the First amendment among other social rights but heed nothing to due process? Granted, this isn’t a criminal or civil proceeding, but our laws govern the greater ends of what our society should be. Due process is, after all, one of the bedrocks of our society. Due process ensures that those who are accused are tried for their accusations, whether that standard is the preponderance of evidence or guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Due process exists, predominately, because the reality is that people lie; accusers lie and the accused lie. Although our society is imperfect in inestimable ways, there is certainly no justice if the accuser can simply accuse and the accused is subject to consequences when no evidence exists, especially from accusations that are decades old. It’s in the absolute interest of our society that we educate children and adults on reporting these types of misconduct immediately so that their allegations can be tried and the perpetrator can be potentially punished for their actions. Educate victims of sexual assault that justice can be served appropriately if reported sooner rather than later.
Moore will never be a Senator and these women will never see him face his actions in the court of law. Moore will go on the rest of his life being called a sexual predator by those who don’t believe him and these women will go on the rest of their lives being called liars by those who don’t believe them.