One Good Thing about the Alabama Special Election

It'll be over soon. Although, maybe that'll mean doing this all over again in two years. Ugh.

Since we're here, though, I'm interested in what everyone thinks about how to handle the kinds of claims Moore has faced. I've read a number of Republican / conservative writers who find the claims credible, but they haven't really explained why. Sheer numbers? Moore's responses? "Believe all women"?

My evaluation goes a bit like this. The claims all came out 40 years after the fact, they all came out after Moore ran for national office, and they came out after news media started digging for dirt. Moore's been in the public eye for some time. He's been a controversial figure for years. Why are the accusations coming now? That's kinda suspicious itself; it smacks of political motivation.

Numbers alone don't prove anything; copycats are common. There are copycat serial killers and copycat suicides, no doubt there may be copycat accusations, especially when there are people out there trying to dig up accusers in a Senate election.

So, for me, the claims might well be plausible, but I wouldn't use the term credible for any of them.

Also, I have a strong sense that people should be considered innocent until proven guilty, though maybe too strong. Maybe my standards of evidence are too high. Michael Graham thinks I'm an idiot.

But how would you evaluate the credibility of the claims against Moore?

To further complicate things, the passing of 40 years during which Moore seems to have displayed pretty good behavior, including being faithfully married, mitigates the effect of the claims even if they are true. People change. Let's say the claims are true: Then Moore WAS a dirtbag 40 years ago. But "once a dirtbag, always a dirtbag" isn't something I believe. I think a few decades of getting it right means something.

Should we ignore the last 40 years?

(Of course, if they are true, Grim made a good point that Moore hasn't confessed and repented but merely denied, so there's that. And, of course, there are other reasons to object to Moore, including his attitude towards the rule of law and the Constitution.)

In any case, I'll be glad when it's over.


Assistant Village Idiot said...

You are right that the key item is whether he actually did these things. What it takes for any of us to be convinced one way or the other varies, but we should be consistent, and the variance should be in a moderate range. We can't always believe no accusation; we can't always believe every accusation. I haven't followed the issue enough to know how credible the accusations are. I have no opinion. If I needed to know for some reason, I would do due diligence of reading the claims of his critics and his supporters and see which seemed more reasonable. I don't require court-level proof.

You balanced the secondary factors of length of good behavior versus lack of repentance well.

As for timing, this is how things are played now. Dirt is kept in reserve for when it can do maximum damage. In this case, bringing this up two years ago would likely have meant Moore would not run or another candidate defeated him in the primary, giving the Republicans the edge for the seat. This way, the damage to the Republicans is maximised, however it turns out. That's entirely fair if the accusations are true. In that instance we should be mad at Moore, not the Democrats. But if they are shaky, then it's dirty politics, creating false controversy when there is little time to recover. See "October Surprise."

raven said...

But how would you evaluate the credibility of the claims against Moore
Who made the claims? His left opposition. Ergo, they are lies.

The left uses lies like tools in a toolbox. Means to an end. They are not playing on the field of reason or fact. They will do anything to get power.

Anonymous said...

From the link:

"A whopping 71 percent of Alabama Republicans claim they believe that all of Roy Moore’s accusers are lying. That is clearly idiotic."

Or, it just could be that there is a consensus among the people who are best acquainted with Moore that this particular political hit job is not based in fact. Why is the writer incapable of noticing the elephant (or is it the jackass?) in the room?

Republican politicians, and Republican voters, have very reliably purged their party of people who commit misconduct. They are not doing that right now, so it is entirely legitimate to suppose there might be something different about this case.

I notice that the writer of the article fails to deal with the obvious weaknesses of the various cases of the different accusers. Without that information, the accusations appear stronger. But if one were to factor in, for instance, the presentation of a faked yearbook entry as "evidence" by an alleged lawyer, along with the daily tweets from Mr. Moore pointing out that the accuser has refused to subject the evidence to forensic analysis, things start to look a little different.

And yet, the only reason Michael Graham can find for a person to disbelieve these charges is some sort of character defect.


Grim said...

I would tend to assume that any claims from forty years ago may not be fully accurate even if the accuser is completely decent and trying to do the right thing. Memory isn't reliable. Especially, the stories we tell ourselves about what was causally important in our lives distorts what really happened in crucial ways. Stories follow patterns, and our minds -- which are natural storytelling devices -- will edit the memories to fit the patterns.

Likewise, of course, crucial details become fuzzy. One accuser says she was 14 when all this happened. Whether or not she was 14 when they met can be checked. But it's crucial to the story whether she was still 14 when the courting happened. The structure of the story doesn't support a capacity to check that detail, even if we believe her as much as is reasonable to believe someone about something that long ago.

What concerns me about Moore is thus not any one of the accusations; it's not any of the numbers. I find the accusations plausible (as you say) for other reasons; partly it's from having grown up around people like Moore in most respects. I don't think he's being read fairly by those who are deeply hostile to his culture. I've lived among this sub-culture and sub-set of Evangelicals who really are trying to structure their lives according to Biblical warrants. Accusations that 'This is patriarchy!' ignores the fact that the Bible speaks fairly highly of the Patriarchs. You can question whether the Bible really is a good way to structure your life or our society, but if you accept that sub-cultures have a right to religious conscience then you should accept that some patriarchy is going to exist among Biblical (or Koranic, or Talmudic) inspired sub-cultures.

Also, whatever else is true about Roy Moore, he's not a pedophile, and the accusation makes whatever is said after it difficult to take seriously. Partly there is a difference between true pedophiles, which aim at children who are pre-sexual maturity. But also some of this is a refusal to grapple with the realities of the time and place. This was a much poorer time in rural America. This was a time when families didn't expect most daughters would necessarily finish high school, let alone finish college and have a professional career. Large scale scholarships to send poor, rural children to college didn't exist before Georgia's HOPE scholarship, brought about by Zell Miller. Good marriages were sought because they were the most certain way of assuring that your daughter would prosper and do well in that environment. The one accuser who says that her mother considered Moore a 'catch' is an important part of this story. In context, he really was: he had a good job, a career that turned out to be quite successful, and -- let us remember -- proved also to be loyal to the woman he married. 35 years, and she's still on his side.

So, while I would not have been inclined to support him for the Senate even if this had never come up, it's not my decision: this belongs to the people of Alabama, who have every right to choose the representation they want. I suppose my answer to the question you ask is that I think we should evaluate these claims and take them seriously, in spite of their age; but also that we should be a lot more careful than people have been to be fair to both sides, to recognize cognitive biases and failures associated with memory, and to be more forgiving of sub-cultures that don't align with the current moment's preferences.

Grim said...

Indeed, his wife is apparently so much on his side that she's out there in the fray today. She told reporters that there was no truth to claims that they were anti-Semites, as proven by the fact that their "attorney is a Jew."

That would have been more convincing as an excuse if Archie Bunker hadn't said it first.

But again, it's not my decision. There are lots of Senators I don't approve of or much respect. People have to make their own decision, and at this point it's a binary choice. Do what you think is right.

E Hines said...

But how would you evaluate the credibility of the claims against Moore?

On the basis of the evidence in the public record of his trial and a finding of guilt or acquittal. Until then, the question of denial or repentance or guilt is irrelevant. It's also irrelevant because until that completed trial, all we know about the situation is what the NLMSM has chosen to publish. And today, the citizens of Alabama will render their own, political verdict, and that's the one that matters here.

More importantly for me, though, is the Critical Item of control of the Senate. Even if Moore is every bit the dirt bag the NLMSM has made him out to be, he would be a problem only for a couple of years. Our Federal court system is a generations-long matter, and only a Republican-controlled Senate will confirm conservative judges to the bench at all levels, from trial through Supreme Court. Not electing Moore will reduce that majority to a single Senator, and that's too thin a margin with unreliable Republicans like Collins and McCain still sitting.

About the accusations themselves: most of them center on a 30-year-old man dating teenaged girls (often with the permission of the parents, a detail the NLMSM tends to elide). I'm not from the South or in particular from Alabama, but I did see an interview on Fox News with a couple of folks who grew up in Alabama while the interviewer grew up in Georgia. Those folks indicated that 40 years ago--regardless of what we think of the practice today--it wasn't unusual, nor was it necessarily unsavory, for 30-year-old men to date teenaged girls.

Eric Hines

Skia said...

Sometimes it surprises me how much our current culture influences our views even when we know it shouldn't. I remember reading something where a younger woman had an attraction to an older man and felt immediate repugnance. This despite being set in a time frame where women younger than that routinely got married. It was a knee-jerk reaction from my cultural upbringing.
I did know a couple where she was 14 when they got married and he was 20 or 21. They had faithfully been married 60 years when he died. They had been raised in a culture where that wasn't uncommon and for that matter in a culture where she was given responsibility and raised to be an adult much earlier than our current culture dictates.

I had a couple of teachers that said something that has always stuck with me. When interpreting older documents perhaps the most important thing is context, context, context. Interpreting a passage or a fragment without the context of the whole and you will get it wrong. Understanding a document without understanding the context of the culture of the writer and the context of the culture of the recipient and you will likely get it wrong.

Sometimes I wish more people would be willing to set aside their very narrow views and look beyond their current culture.

Grim said...

You're right, Skia.

I would like to say that this is an error of ignorance, i.e., that training in historiography could teach people to do this sort of evaluation of different times and places in a more sophisticated way. But I believe that it is not a lack of education, but a product of education: that it is yet another effect of the cultural Marxism, especially the so-called 'critical studies,' that makes people do this. Those have spread well beyond the 'critical studies' themselves, as have Marxist and Marixan approaches to history, anthropology, psychology, and sociology.

But it's a bad way to think. It introduces errors by forcing any set of data to conform to the same pattern, that of a narrative of oppression. Since that's the only way to read anything, that's how everything reads.