Hang Him High

Wow! A senate candidate with a history of  sex with a slew of underage girls, can’t help but think this guy is toast.  The fact that he held some far out positions we heartily disliked only made the picture in our minds worse.  Drum this guy out of the race! The praise of the Washington Post’s reporting in exposing this “pedophile” to use a term prevalent on all the cable shows, only works to seal the deal. That this goes back 35-40 years ago doesn’t matter, these gals are telling the truth.  But a press conference held by the candidate Roy Moore’s team planted some small seeds of doubt.  We fully expected to see each of Moore’s supporters  and other supporters such as Breitbart contentions smacked down by the Post and others.  We’re still waiting.

The slew of underage girls turns out to be just one.  The others range from 16 to 28.  True for the most part Moore was considerably older and this is frowned on in certain circles, but it isn’t illegal in Alabama. College faculties might be decimated if we carted off faculty members dating their young students to the hoosegow. Remember college freshman range from 16-20 with 18 as the median.  May-December may not be our cup of tea but hardly shocking.  A teacher or professor having a relationship with his or her student on its face implies unequal power and should be discouraged, but its hard to see this in the Moore case. None of these people worked for or were dependent in any way on the then Assistant DA., Moore.

That leaves Leigh Corfman who claims as a 14 year old she had encounters with Moore of a sexual nature. First let’s get one thing off the table. Whatever happened between Moore and Corfman it never would make him a pedophile. The Wikipedia definition of a pedophile is:

Pedophilia or paedophilia is a psychiatric disorder in which an adult or older adolescent experiences a primary or exclusive sexual attraction to prepubescent children.
No where is it alleged Leigh was prepubescent.  Yet the constant use of this this utterly inflammatory term on news shows by journalists who should known better has done much to poison public opinion.  We cringe when President Trump inveighs against the fake news, but in this case the press gives his claims credibility.  People making their living with words should use them correctly and never in such a prejudicial way.
The Washington Post article pointed out Corfman met Moore at a courthouse where her mother had a divorce hearing.  Moore’s team claimed that it was actually a custody hearing with her mother surrendering her to the father. They implied this was for disciplinary reasons. Young Leigh was a handful.  Is this true?  Seems easy to check, but we haven’t heard anything different from the Post.  In any case, the credibility of the accuser is front and center.  If it’s true the father who lived in another town was granted custody on that court date when did Leigh move and how does that match the time line?  We know Leigh Corfman by her own admission has led a less than ideal life with multiple marriages and bankruptcies.  Would you really want to put her on a witness stand? After all isn’t that what is meant by “credible witness?
The Washington Post did check with two of Leigh’s friends and they did confirm she told them of being involved with an older man at that time.  One confirmed that Leigh said it was a Roy Moore.  Yet it was 40 years ago, did she remember the name or did  the present publicity and a call from the Washington Post color that memory? In any case the other said she never knew the name of the older man.  This brings up a whole host of questions. Were there other older men? What was Leigh up to that caused her mother to surrender custody to the father?  After all the decision to transfer custody was reached before she claims to have met Moore.

The Post bring ups Moore in the same time frame met one other girl when she was 14 but waited till she was 16 to ask her out. If this was the case and all the others mentioned where also of legal age it points to a pattern of going after only those of legal age rather than under age.  Why would a careful lawyer make an exception in the same time frame?

The only other woman’s story that matters is a Gloria Allred client claiming when was 16-year-old waitress  Moore offered her a ride home but instead drove back into the restaurant’s dark back parking lot and made advances.  Even here there are substantial differences in the way the restaurant and its surroundings are described. For instance some say the back lot was well-lit and she had the actual closing time wrong?  The big evidence was yearbook entry signed be Moore.  Moore’s team claims it’s a forgery and asked for an examination of the original by an independent panel of handwriting experts.  It seems a slam dunk for Allred to take them up on this and have a neutral panel of experts make a determination.  If it isn’t a forgery,  Moore would be exposed and finished.  Yet,to date the yearbook hasn’t been submitted.  When questioned by CNN’s Don Lemon Allred offered only “we are willing if there is a hearing that is conducted by the Senate to allow an independent expert to examine the signature in the yearbook,”  Well, that may be never.

People might ask why we are raising questions brought forth by Moore’s team, Breitbart and others, when we don’t support Moore politically.  Our motivation might best be expressed by Martin Niemoller’s poem:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Even if it happens to people we don’t especially like or share values, actions and accusations that are possibly unjust must be questioned before the repercussions leap out-of-bounds. Accusations coming weeks before an election for deeds that took place 35-45 years ago when the person accused has been under the scrutiny of public life for the entire period seems unfair on its face.  Going back centuries, Statutes of Limitation have existed to protect all parties against things that happened so long ago that proper verification is impossible.  What if there was someone who could clear or damn Moore but they had died? We shouldn’t toss out principles of fairness so cavalierly.

But we are told people coming forward these types of tales should always be believed.  We keep hearing this assertion but that doesn’t make it true.  We heard the assertion on college campuses a woman must be given a presumption of truth in sex or harassment cases because they wouldn’t lie about such things. But of course we found some do.  There was a time when it was asserted that children must be believed in molestation cases because they wouldn’t lie about such things.  Many people are too young to remember the Day-care sex abuse hysteria in the 1980s  resulting in many lives unfairly ruined.  People imprisoned on the false testimony of children.  Eventually most were freed on appeal but at a terrible cost.  Don’t think terrible miscarriages of  justice took place, read Pulitizer Prize winning journalist Dorothy Rabinowitz’s Wall Street journal Articles on the Fells Acre Day Care Center case and her book “No Crueler Tyrannies: Accusation, False Witness, and Other Terrors of Our Times.”   Or you can just google the McMartin Pre-School Case. Never should people be believed just because of who they are.  Children can lie. Adults lie. False memories can be planted.

Good people convinced they have all the right information can take actions they are convinced are correct and just.  Everyone around us agree so it has to be true.  For law-abiding Americans that should never be enough.  Walter Van Tilburg wrote the novel “the Ox-Bow Incident” that made this point.  If you haven’t read the book we urge you to do so or stream William A. Wellman’s classic movie on YouTube. or other streaming services. It’ll help you remember why we have over centuries developed principles and institutions to achieve justice.  They may not be perfect but they shouldn’t be ignored.  None of the posse members in the story were bad people but that didn’t prevent them from committing a horrible miscarriage. Even Roy Moore needs to be treated fairly.  If we don’t, it will tell more about us than Judge Moore.

 

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