The allegations against Roy Moore are disgusting — and if you find yourself reluctant to say so because of your politics, then you’re pretty gross, too.
The Leigh Corfman story, reported by the Washington Post, is about so much more than just some older guy having a relationship with some younger girl. That, of course, would be bad enough — many girls haven’t even had their f***ing periods at age 14 — but this is also about a man who abuses his power to prey on the powerless. It’s about a respected district attorney finding a girl in a vulnerable position (waiting with her mother outside of a child-support hearing) and relishing in the opportunity to take advantage of it. It’s a sick story that is all too common, and one that will continue to be common if we refuse to speak out against it.
Speaking of laughable, some of the defenses of these accusations have been nothing short of atrocious. I mean, we’ve got Alabama state auditor Jim Ziegler actually saying that it’s all good because Mary was a teen and Joseph was an older guy, and without them hooking up then we wouldn’t have Jesus. Yes — he’s not only using theology to defend pedophilia, but incorrectly using theology to defend pedophilia, seeing as the virgin birth is basically the whole reason for his religion in the first place.
But it doesn’t stop there. We also have Joel Pollak of Breitbart swooping in to say that, like, only one of Moore’s accusers was 14 and that we shouldn’t even be talking about the girls who were 16 and 18. First of all, if your defense of a pedophile is actually “But he only molested one kid!” then I’d say it’s pretty clear you need to take a long, hard look at yourself in the mirror and wonder why the sight of yourself doesn’t make you start throwing up. Second, one of these older teen accusers told the Washington Post that she was only 14 when Moore initially approached her, while she was working as a Santa’s helper at the mall. Not only is that vile, but it’s also very relevant.
Now, notice that I didn’t call it “shocking.” It’s not. Many of these people, after all, are the same ones who wrote off Donald Trump’s Access Hollywood tape — a literal admission of routine sexual assault — as “locker-room talk,” despite 17 accusers coming forward to report the kind of behavior Trump discussed in the tape. No, the worst part about this isn’t that it’s shocking, it’s that it’s not shocking at all. It’s par for the course.
The deflections are too predictable. There’s the “Why are these women just coming out now? Seems suspicious!” comeback and, of course, the “They’re just doing it for the fame! These women just want attention!” angle. Now, these comments actually are very important — just not for the reasons that the people making them think that they are. They’re important not as defenses, but because they’re perfect examples of an exact reason why these women may have been too afraid to come forward sooner: because they were afraid that they’d be ridiculed and doubted, and that no one would believe them.
So many victims stay silent because they’re worried about no one believing them.
Oh, and by the way, I’d like someone to please give me some examples of women who have launched themselves to fame and fortune by falsely accusing men of sexual assault — because we all know that that’s not what happens. What does happen is their reputations are scrutinized harshly, and the allies of the powerful men they’ve accused comb through their pasts looking for evidence that they’re liars. People are afraid to employ them; men are afraid to speak to them; their lives are forever changed. Make no mistake: Speaking out publicly about your abuse is not a way to stardom; it’s a painful, harrowing experience and a sacrifice that so few are able to actually make given how brutal the consequences can be.
What’s more, ridiculing sexual-assault accusers causes pain for far more people than just the accusers themselves. In fact, it hurts everyone who has ever been a victim of sexual assault. It’s true: So many victims stay silent because they’re worried about no one believing them, or about losing their jobs or their friends, and they hardly need any reminders about why they feel they must stay in the shadows. Before you make an off-handed “Whatever, if it were true, she would have come forward sooner!” comment to someone you know, just keep in mind that you may be talking to someone who has been through it — someone who may not have come forward precisely because of comments just like yours.
If you think that’s unlikely; you’re wrong. If you think there’s no way you know anyone personally who has been through something like this; you’re wrong again, and it’s time for people on all political sides to recognize reality: These men are everywhere, so are their victims, and those victims aren’t talking points for your partisan-hack gotcha tweets. They’re people.
— Katherine Timpf is a reporter for National Review Online.