Better the Ten Commandments than manipulated voters playing judge and jury.
Judge Roy Moore has always come across as an anachronism, a frontier character letting chips fall as they may and consequences be damned. It is hard to think of him without harking back to Judge Roy Bean, the quirky Justice of the Peace who ruled with an iron and ironic hand, dispensing a brand of justice from his saloon in Southwest Texas during the waning days of the 19th century. Unlike other jurisdictions which sentenced horse thieves to death, Bean would impose the commonsense sanction of making the man return the horse.
Bean was the father of four children, but he was so infatuated with the image of English actress Lilly Langtry that he left her a lasting monument in naming the town of Langtry, Texas. Eventually, Miss Langtry paid a visit to her namesake municipality, ten months after old Roy had passed on to his reward.
Our Roy has appeared to be cut from the same cloth, at least in his ability to stand up to the critics and the naysayers. He has stood up for what is right countless times, often paying high prices.
But the difference between the Roys is significant, even critical. Roy Bean marched to his own drummer, but the drumbeat was unpredictable and unreliable. Often he got things right, and lifted people up, but ultimately he put his interests as well as his intuition above the law. Roy Moore is unique in that he marches not to a drum but to a trumpet, the sound of the trumpet which, in the words of Exodus, “goes on and strengthens very much.” He demands that we as a society hear the trumpet of Sinai which hails the advent of the Ten Commandments.
Nor has he engaged in this advocacy to the sounds of adoring fanfare. On the contrary, he has been reviled and despised at every turn. When he had the granite blocks with the Ten Commandments mounted outside his courthouse, touchy atheists whose sensibilities were offended ran to a higher court to force them to be taken down. The original tablets with the inscribed Ten Commandments were shattered by Moses when the Israelites worshiped a Golden Calf; the echoes of that moment were reverberating in our ears when Judge Moore’s tablets met a similar fate.
He has twice been removed from the Alabama State Supreme Court, once for refusing to remove the Commandments and once for refusing to follow the United States Supreme Court on gay marriage. In other words, he is being penalized for doing all the things that you and I should have been doing. We have a lot of excuses — too poor, too busy, too many family obligations, unsure of effectiveness, not confident in our abilities — but they all add up to weakness, to cowardice, to fecklessness. The tablets are too heavy for ordinary folk. We demur but Moore soldiers on.
So now we are confronted by accusers who ascribe to him inexcusable sexual behavior from four decades ago, before his marriage. And suddenly everyone is angrily encamping on opposing battle lines to believe the victims or discredit their accounts.
My answer is simple: none of the above. I refuse to include this into the duties of the voter. With thirty days to go before an election, we must suddenly invest our attention in an extra-judicial process to listen carefully to a prosecution and a defense delivered in press conferences, then take on the role of judge and jury.
I refuse to play. I enjoy the Eyes for Lies blog as much as the next guy, but trying to be a human lie detector is not a job for the masses, and certainly not one to be assigned to the voting public. No one has the right to demand that I sit and listen to the audio of a he-said-she-said dispute and to vote on the basis of whose voice had a more genuine quaver.
This is my job: to look at the candidates’ public behavior over the years, particularly at behavior in public office. As a Jew, I know it is my job to fight for the Ten Commandments. Instead I have been making excuses and letting Roy Moore do my job for me. So now I should turn on him like Mitch McConnell and say, “I believe the women”? Then I can wash my hands of him and spend my nights in self-satisfied slumber? I think not.
One thing I love about Judge Roy Bean was that he began his law career with the Texas law book in hand, and he refused to switch it for later versions as the years went by. He was not responsible in his mind to follow the fickle legislature and manage a courtroom with shifting rules. Roy Moore is his descendant in this, but he holds the oldest, most authoritative law book of all. Let the elitists cry foul, I stand with Roy Moore. If Lilly Langtry is not available to campaign, he can call on me.
© Ralph Hammann - Wikimedia Commons