When the sex pest allegations against Roy Moore really started sounding credible, I expected him to scurry away like a little rat within a day or two. There were too many women going on the record with serious allegations indicating a pattern of serious sexual misconduct to write the scandal off as a dirty political trick. The things Moore was accused of having done to young women, in his capacity as a sitting county prosecutor, no less, went directly against his ostentatious public religious morality, which, as extreme or crazy as it could be, had looked sincere enough. National Republican leaders who normally would want nothing to do with a Democratic colleague from the Alabama delegation to the United States Senate lined up on short order to declare their scandal at what Moore was accused of having done, asked him to step aside if there was any truth to the allegations, and began working on plans for a write-in campaign. Beyond mere politics, the cultural environment looked newly inhospitable to someone in Moore’s position: a wave of powerful men, most of them famous, had just had their careers quickly and publicly go down in flames over mostly decades-old allegations of sexual harassment or assault.
It turns out that Moore is the one guy caught in this delayed-action Chris Hansen trap who’s arrogant enough to maintain his frame and go down swinging. Maybe this shouldn’t be too surprising after his notorious tenacity on the Alabama Supreme Court, but it surprised me. What he’s doing takes a truly special level of bravado. It takes a truly special combination of chutzpah, confidence, and acting skill. Moore looks a bit rattled from time to time, but most of the time he looks self-righteously angry at the same secular elites he’s been accusing of campaigning to destroy Alabama’s cherished Southern Christian culture for his entire career. Three or four times already I’ve heard some news bulletin about the Moore scandal and expected him to finally tear up and admit that he did some folks wrong, only to see that, no shit, the son of a bitch once again doubled the hell down.
It’s an amazing episode. I get plenty jaded and cynical about American politics as it has come to be practiced, I’m less and less easily shocked by extreme hypocrisy and sleaze, but the Moore thing is something else. The revelations (heh) that he got frisky with uncomfortable young women half his age are the least of it, even though I never expected Roy Moore, of all people, to get caught with his pants down. The really crazy part is the guy’s reaction. The fights that he picked with the federal judiciary over his beloved courthouse religion and then over same-sex marriage weren’t personal crises; he was acting fully in accordance with his own sworn principles. This new Lolita stuff is a personal crisis, but damned if he isn’t steaming full David Farragut straight into the firestorm all the same.
No white flag, he will go down with this ship. Dido has nothing on this fucker. *Leon Bridges, back on the bridge* Good. Stay on your own ship, boss.
At a strictly personal level, Moore’s confident defiance is more dignified than the shambolic stories of one Hollywood rat after another scurrying off to Cannes or Sedona or who the fuck knows where for “intensive” sex “counseling” (one out of three is a start), and in circumstances like these a man’s man like Roy Moore inevitably carries himself better than George “Russia Did It” Takei. No way around it, these are Darwinian limbic exercises, and Moore is just the reptile to hiss and fight his way out of a good hard bind.
But Moore is no more a private man than any of the past month’s other newly exposed sexual predators. As a general public matter, the way Moore has been reacting to the allegations is no less disgusting than the stances taken by any of his colleagues in perv, and for being so defiant and demagogic as a candidate for the United States Senate he is uniquely dangerous to his nation. A person who doesn’t follow pop culture or celebrity gossip might be completely disinterested in the existence of Kevin Spacey or Harvey Weinstein. Any American who follows our national politics will inevitably be confronted with the rude, gross truth that for God’s sake this handsy godbothering piece of shit in tighty whities may actually be elected to the United States Senate, to make law and policy for us all.
Roy Moore has cultivated, flourished in, and brought out the very worst of the hard right wing. He’s reinvigorated a bunch of deeply sick motherfuckers. He’s got all these people who talk a loud game about conservatism and law and order (specifically SVU, am I right) insisting that a sitting county prosecutor going around serially pestering the local high school girls for easy action was in fact nothing more than a Southern gentleman looking to go a-courtin’ to put an end to his thirty-something bachelorhood. He did eventually manage to take a young woman’s hand in marriage as a result of this ongoing effort, but that was practically a coincidence. Seriously dating women who were young enough to be his daughter wasn’t why he got banned from the fucking mall. Five-O wasn’t cultivating Paul Blart as a permanent informant because the DA had a mildly scandalous private romantic life. Moore was banned from the mall for repeatedly harassing strangers. That isn’t an acceptable thing to do under desexualized auspices to a legal adult. There are certain things that one just doesn’t do if one wants to remain welcome at the mall, like incorrigibly harassing other customers against their obvious wishes to be left alone.
It wasn’t just a weirdo being weird after hours, either. Moore implicitly threatened to perjure himself against at least one of his victims in his capacity as a court officer if she dared press charges against him. Who’re they gonna believe: the Deputy District Attorney or a child? The sexual liberty for me but not for thee guy selectively regarded high school girls as old enough to consent to his sexual advances but also too young to be believed in a court of law if they dared refuse their consent, i.e., too young for civil rights.
Why on earth shouldn’t we utter his name in the same breath as Daniel Holtzclaw’s? They used exactly the same playbook to prey upon and intimidate the vulnerable.
Then there was the rest of the Etowah County public safety and legal community, the cops, prosecutors, judges, social workers, clerks, and so forth who twiddled their thumbs for thirty years while a man they either suspected or outright knew to be a raging creep rose to the highest judicial office in their state. It was only after national news outlets based a thousand miles away did the legwork, as outsiders, to confirm allegations against Roy Moore that these good old boys and girls back home finally admitted that, yeah, we kinda knew the fella was a bit off.
Great timing, honkeys. They could have done all sorts of things to put an end to Moore’s perverted behavior around Gadsden or sabotage his career. What they actually did about him, as far as I’ve heard, was jack shit. Did some dirty cop with an aggrieved sense of right and wrong frame him for some penny-ante drug crime just to make him squirm and shrink away in disgrace? Of course not. Did anyone in power give him 48 hours to leave town or be exposed? Nope. Did anyone in a position of authority publicly blow the whistle on him? Hell no. Did anyone privately complain to the Alabama Bar Association about Moore’s moral turpitude and ask it to investigate his fitness for membership? Possibly; an ethical complaint, especially an unsubstantiated one, might not be publicly divulged; but unlikely. A security guard at the mall told a reporter that a Gadsden police officer wouldn’t tell him why he wanted to be called right away if Moore showed up again, just that he’d “take care of him.”
This wasn’t mere discretion. It was a systematic coverup of a powerful man’s misdeeds by a town full of chickenshit officials. They knew that what Moore was doing was wrong and scandalous; that’s why they kept mum. This shit was kept hush-hush for three to four decades–roughly my entire life–until the Washington Post and the New Yorker finally aired Gadsden’s dirty laundry because its most famous native son was on the verge of winning a Senate seat that might determine the balance of federal power.
If we’re to conclude anything about small-town values from this political history, it’s that they come straight out of hell and should be eradicated. The rural South has a reputation for being a hotbed of gossip, and yet when Roy Moore was imposing himself on unwilling young women under color of his authority as a prosecutor, the grapevine mysteriously went silent for two full generations, until the Yankee press showed up during a statewide election of national importance to rake the town muck.
This is fucking disgraceful, a far worse scandal than the DA being a local wannabe teenybopper sex pest. I realize that gossip can be a crude tool of spite, and I’ve personally benefited greatly from gossip items about me going cold because the second or third degrees of separation from the source couldn’t be bothered to give a shit. But Roy Moore wasn’t some common adulterer or drunk. He was abusing his office to facilitate and cover up serial sexual assault against underage girls. He was getting himself banned from the mall, and then sneaking back in when security wasn’t looking, as a thirty-something court officer in the same fucking county. It isn’t gossip to go to the State Attorney General’s office or the State Police and say, look, I don’t like doing this, but I’m really concerned that Mr. Moore is committing rape.
Scum-of-the-earth outlets like Chateau Heartiste celebrate Roy Moore for being a sexual predator because they’re the scum of the earth. It’s unfortunate but predictable that predatory authoritarian evil is a latent element of the human condition that sometimes asserts itself in ugly ways. The internet harbors everything under the sun, not all of it wholesome. What’s more troubling from an American political perspective is that we have entire states, in this case Alabama, acting as regional reservoirs of privileged depravity and wholesale dysfunctional behavior enabling it. The owners and managers of malls network with one another across county lines. One might expect the commercial real estate magnates in Gadsden to pass the word about Moore to their colleagues in Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, Montgomery, Mobile, Huntsville, and so on. They have an obvious interest in not allowing a good old boy to harass teenage girls on their property.
Or so one would think. The Southern Country Club set has a reputation, poorly appreciated in the North, for being scandalized by seedy good old boy antics, but there’s a fair amount of overlap between the two groups. In rural areas especially they can form a single unified overclass. It’s conceivable that Moore wasn’t bad enough for business in a town like Gadsden to be worth challenging. It might have been different if his teen fancying had driven away interstate or international engineering talent from, say, Mobile or Huntsville. Mind you, I’m not arguing that the Country Club snots have any sort of moral compass or spine, just that they won’t countenance bullshit that threatens the bottom line (bathroom bill grandstanding driving convention business away from Charlotte and Raleigh, to take a prominent example), and that, depending on local group dynamics, they may get terminally fed up with good ol’ boy horseshit for what are basically aesthetic reasons and decide to clean house.
This is where Alabama’s economic backwardness comes into play. North Carolina and Georgia went through major economic transformations starting in the mid-twentieth century that involved huge influxes of newcomers, diluting their old-line white electorates. One fascinating explanation I’ve seen for Alabama getting stuck in ye olden Bull Connor times is that Atlanta got the big Southern hub airport, not Birmingham. That is, Delta Airlines was in a position to lift one Southern state out of the dark ages, and it chose Georgia. This is something of an oversimplification, but it makes sense. Not long before its merger into Delta, Northwest ineptly tried to set up a small hub at Memphis (Mississippi’s biggest airport, to be honest), where FedEx was already successfully operating a cargo superhub. American ran a half-assed hub at Raleigh-Durham for a decade or two, briefly along with a much shorter-lived hub at Nashville, before folding the lion’s share of its operations in the Mid-South into the Charlotte hub that it had taken over from US Airways. (AA continues to serve Florida Man surprisingly well out of Miami, but we’re focusing on the Upper 47 here.)
Southern partisans don’t much care to hear that sort of argument from a Damn Yankee. I’d defer to them if I could be convinced that I’ve been arguing out of prejudice or bad faith, but it’s disingenuous authoritarian shitbirds like Roy Moore and his defenders who are poisoning this well, and they’re poisoning it for our entire nation. I’m not here to denigrate the folkways of Appalachian coal miners or Cajun shrimpers. My paternal grandmother was born in rural Alabama, about a third of the way from Gadsden to Atlanta, as it turns out, and raised from the age of eight onwards in rural Northeast Kansas at a time when Topeka was still legally segregated. This was the side of the family that lost its load of watermelon to high water, not hell. I’ve known quite a few Southerners who have had reasonable objections to the way they’ve been smeared with a broad brush by prejudiced Northerners.
For a proud lifelong Yankee, then, I’m awfully protective of the good names of Southerners and the South. I find it disreputable and embarrassing for other Northerners to scapegoat an entire sector of our country based on their most ignorant prejudices in the interest of failing to examine their own racial and class bigotries.
Roy Moore doesn’t represent the decent South. He represents the indecent South. I’m a Yankee, but I can tell the fucking difference. That man lives to subjugate other Southerners: the black, the poor, the non-Christian, the non-evangelical. That’s blatantly obvious by now. He picked up a minor outside a fucking child custody hearing, for crying out loud, and now that he’s been exposed as a predator he’s got dipshits earnestly comparing him to Joseph, Stepfather of God.
How hard is it to imagine that the Alabamans who exploit this predatory privilege do so at the expense of other Alabamans? It was local girls that Roy Moore regarded as competent adults when he felt being his supremely gentlemanly underwear-clad self with them and incompetent children the moment they threatened to blow the whistle on his predatory behavior. The Alabama Constitution currently disenfranchises thirty percent of its black citizenry by barring ex-convicts from voting, but don’t think for a second that the local fuzz never locks up a cracker.
The Roy Moore dirty thirties scandal is showing once again that Alabama is an unreconstructed slave state. It’s run by a rogue’s gallery of slavers, holy roller nutjobs with closets full of sexual skeletons, and other equally dangerous thugs. A free citizenry has no obligation to tolerate anything of the sort in its own country, let alone to speak kindly of it.
Imagine some dipshit insisting that Diddlin’ Dennis is the epitome of Midwestern values, the Flower of the Heartland. That would be fucking ridiculous. Imagine assertions that Our Lord’s Servant Gerald is truly one of the great and sacrosanct Pennsylvanians. I don’t have to imagine such veneration of Our Lord Joseph, since I was around for it. It was vile, of course. I’d already heard plenty of bad things about Penn State in general from the inside, but the JoePa worship was a special evil. This is why I approved of the otherwise bumptious dipshit buddy of the Insurance Schmuck, the one who wrote into the alumni magazine with the blather about Nisbet and Durden being great Dickinsonians, when he heard “Sweet Caroline” playing on the loudspeakers at the Homecoming football game and told us, “They like to play this one at Penn State, in honor of Jerry and Joe.”
Turning to Roy Moore as a defender of local values in the face of his exposure as a serial sexual predator is disreputable and scandalous. That’s all there fucking is to it. Only a cult would vomit up a man of his rotten character as an indispensable paragon of Christian virtue. The Deep South would have been unable to maintain chattel slavery for centuries and Jim Crow for most of another century had it not been run as a totalitarian cult. One of the treasured cult leaders has gotten caught up in a particularly sordid and hypocritical sex scandal, but it’s axiomatic that he dindu nuffin, because crime, you see, that’s for the colored folk and the white trash, and so several decades’ worth of compulsory try-hard cultural conservatism evaporates overnight, replaced by an orgy of postmodernist nihilism.
The US Senate has its own closet full of skeletons, but this clusterfuck out of Alabama is serious enough that, should Roy Moore actually pull it out and win the election, the worthiest thing it could do would be to refuse to seat him. Send his ass back to Alabammy, back to the arms of his dear old mammy, etc. Moore has already fucked up badly enough that Republican kingmakers are scheming to kick their old boy the Third Mr. Jefferson Beauregard Secessions (well now, WHY do I keep thinking of him in that fashion?) back down to his very recent spot in the Senate by drafting him as their endorsed write-in candidate next month. That smirking Keebler-looking piece of shit shouldn’t be anywhere near the federal government, but demoting him back to the August Body would be an improvement over the wretched scandal of allowing him to serve as the Attorney General, and sending Roy Moore back home like a dirtbag Roland Burris would be better than seating him.
This is why we’re singin’ Song, Song of the South, Millington for Sheriff and I shut my mouth. Mercy, that again! I know that Southerners still admire FDR for rural electrification, not urban electrification, so I have no idea what got into me. The TVA never was battery-powered, so I have no idea why I keep seeing Roy Moore throwing the bench at little Jefferson’s elf house, either. Or why I keep thinking that Northside Juice and the Shady Blues are THE defense against the Asian carp getting into the Great Lakes.
Nah, I know exactly why: it’s because fishing, even if it’s really just Monty Robinson getting piss-ass drunk and falling out of the Jeep into the river, is such a relief from politics. In this case, it’s also a great opportunity to remind a downhome creep about options for intervention from the North, whose drunks have historically also included Ulysses S. Grant.