HARRINGTON: Alabama Senate race controversy is shameful defense of pedophilia

Who would you rather have as your senator: a known sexual predator, or a Democrat? If this question were asked five years ago, people wouldn’t take it seriously. Of course sexual predators shouldn’t hold public office. Unfortunately, in the political landscape of 2017, this is a very real question Alabama voters are asking themselves.

Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore is the target of several accusations of inappropriate relationships with minors during his adult life. Staggeringly, this hasn’t been an open and shut case. Prominent Republicans such as Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan have disavowed Moore and distanced themselves from the nominee. However, Alabama congressmen have come to his defense, splitting the party. Several social conservatives have also backed the candidate, claiming these past relationships were healthy.  They argue that Moore has been subject to persecution equivalent to Jesus Christ. Considering the fact that Jesus Christ was not a pedophile, these comparisons fall short of legitimate defenses.

In a year marked by sexual assault scandals on both sides of the political spectrum, we have to look at our society and ask ourselves how things got this bad. Party lines and allegiances have split our society to ridiculous extremes. This kind of political tribalism has led to an unqualified man winning the presidency and the rise of domestic hate groups. Blind political allegiance makes the public look like lemmings. It evokes the sitcom idiom, “If your friends all jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?” However, the consequences here are much more dire.

Disowning the black sheep of a political party does far more for public image than ignoring their existence. Republican voters don’t stand to lose anything other than a senate seat if Moore loses in December. Unfortunately, there is a significant chance that Alabama voters may value perceived political victories more than the integrity of their representatives.  If Moore wins this election, think of the optics this creates for conservatives. The Republican party would be complicit in the election of an accused pedophile. This is a portrait of a country losing its way because of deep-seated biases against dissenting viewpoints.

Moore’s supporters are not only defending an accused pedophile, but attempting to silence his nine accusers. The doubting of women naming the man who preyed on them opens ethical floodgates that will be difficult to close. This acceptance of predatory behavior could inhibit a landmark year for sexual violence awareness. The fact that prominent conservative figures including President Trump and FOX News’ Sean Hannity have not condemned, and even defended, Moore should disgust every conservative in America.

Doug Jones, Moore’s opponent in the election, has not been accused of any sex crimes. He was one of the prosecutors of the 1963 Birmingham church bombing trials. Some conservative voices, swayed by political echo chambers, believe he is worse for Alabama than a sexual predator. Debates about policy are irrelevant in light of this scandal, and yet, the issue persists.

When a politician is accused of repeated pedophilia and there is debate over their party’s continued support, it gets harder to believe this nation can fix itself. The Republican voters of Alabama have a great and terrible burden on their shoulders. Conservatives cannot keep their heads in the sand on this issue any longer. Roy Moore has no place in the United States Senate. Roy Moore’s only place should be in the confines of a jail cell.