Amid the many reactions to Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore's history of allegedly molesting and harassing teenage girls — which he's vigorously denied doing — one response stands apart as a near-perfect demonstration of the hypocrisy of Republican morality politics. The response comes from an Alabama voter purportedly "torn between voting for a pedophile and voting for a person who believes in abortion."
Over the weekend, actress Marina Sirtis tweeted a photo of the quote, which was attributed to an Alabama Republican named Ellen Tipton. Sirtis shared the quote along with the caption:
Really? This goes to prove my point that they care more about a fetus than an actual child.
The quote comes via a Los Angeles Times story on the "conundrum" faced by Moore voters. Tipton, speaking to the LA Times, said she believes the women who have accused Moore of making unwanted sexual advances toward them when they were teenagers (the candidate has denied all allegations of sexual misconduct). But even though Tipton calls Moore "an embarrassment to Alabama," she isn't quite embarrassed enough to vote for his opponent, Democrat Doug Jones.
In responses to Sirtis' tweet, others pointed out the apparent hypocrisy of such a statement. They argued that "pedophiles are a cause of abortions" and that those who can't discern the difference between a pro-choice advocate and a pedophile "are in a tight IQ race with eggplants."
The notion that it would be a struggle to vote for someone who you believe has molested a child over someone who believes that women should have the right to an abortion, if they so choose, certainly seems hypocritical (at best). But it's just one of many similar responses to the accusations leveled against Moore.
As The Wall Street Journal noted on Sunday, evangelical Christians are largely keeping Moore's campaign afloat. That seems odd, considering the gravity — and lack of moral ambiguity — of being accused of preying on teenage girls. Moore himself has said his campaign is in the midst of a "spiritual battle with those who want to silence our message."
Moore has been condemned by a number of prominent Christian leaders, but others have leapt to his defense. Alabama State Auditor Jim Ziegler cited the Bible in his defense of Moore, noting that "Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter." While the continued support for Moore, even from some people who don't dispute the allegations, has been troubling, the hypocrisy of defending the candidate because he "isn't as bad as someone who is pro-choice" is especially striking.
Moore's supporters often seem to confuse legality with morality. Abortion is, of course, legal, even if many of Moore's evangelical supporters seem to think it is more immoral than sexual assault. Moore himself has certainly struggled with the distinction. He's cited morality for political convenience in the past, despite allegedly failing to practice what he preaches in his personal life.
He infamously refused to remove a large replica of the Ten Commandments from the Alabama Supreme Court, resulting in his removal from the high court in 2003. Moore didn't tell the eight associate justices when he first installed the monument, but he did allow a Christian television ministry to film it. While having it installed, Moore said:
To restore morality we must first recognize the source from which all morality springs.
The notion that a statue of the Ten Commandments would help "restore morality" is especially interesting coming from someone who was reportedly banned from his local mall for hassling teen girls. But Moore's brand of morality politics apparently doesn't seem to concern itself too much with morals.
In truth, Moore's past controversies helped make him a beloved figure among Christian conservatives. Erecting a Ten Commandments monument in the dark of night might be extreme but, for his most ardent supporters, it was a sign that he put morality first. But it's much more difficult to defend Moore in the wake of the more recent accusations, and it seems that Moore knows it — it's the reason he is trying to re-frame the narrative altogether, imploring his supporters to side with him, over "the forces of evil."
Opting for an accused sexual assailant because the other option is pro-choice (and arguing that's the more moral choice) certainly doesn't seem to be doing much to ward off the forces of evil. In fact, those torn between a "pedophile and someone who believes in abortion" seem to be motivated less by morality, and more by animosity.
Editor’s Note: This op-ed does not reflect the views of BDG Media and is part of a larger, feminist discourse on today’s political climate.