A Politician’s Sex Life

I think the allegations against Roy Moore are true. I don’t think they reflect well on him. I don’t think they’re an abomination either. If I were in Alabama, I would still vote for Roy Moore.

I want politicians who will do the best for the country. How they conduct themselves in private is a secondary concern for me. On the other hand, a man will be loyal to the woman he’s having regular sex with, and so that will shed light on his priorities. Bill Clinton, caught out for cheating, gave Hillary Clinton free reign to develop a healthcare plan in his first term as a way of placating her.

I’m sure Roy Moore has a screw loose. I’m sure Trump does too. Those anti-social instincts could bring them down and bring us down. They also could allow Trump and company to do great things.

All of the women in the Washington Post article claim they were repulsed by what happened. That may well be true. I know that when I remember things from my past, how I feel about them largely depends upon the company I keep. To people who think that what I did was cool, I tend to feel it was cool. To people who think that what happened was horrible, I tend to think it was horrible.

As far as the age of consent is concerned, looking at the issue through a moral lens rather than an American legal lens, I remember that Judaism places the age of consent at age 13 for boys and 12.5 for girls.

Roy Moore’s actions are not remotely pedophilia. I don’t want laws changed to lower the age of consent to 12 or 13, but I see a dramatic moral difference between sex with the pre-pubescent and post-pubescent. Sexual behavior with the pre-pubescent is pedophilia and far more reprehensible than sex with the post-pubescent.

Joe* says:

It was common in European and American history for girls to marry at age 12-15…

Loretta Lynn the famous coal miner’s daughter country singer was a mother at 15, a grandmother at 30 and a great grandmother at 45. For all I know she is a great great grandmother at 60.

I don’t know how old any of the husbands (I am assuming they are not unwed mothers) were.

The most likely explanation for Judge Moore hanging out at malls and high school football games is that he did so out of insecurity and sexual inexperience. Most men won’t admit it and most women (Amy Alkon being a notable exception) won’t concede it, but woman (and girls) hold much of the power in the relationship when a man asks a woman out (or when a boy asks a girl out), when a boy initiates sexual foreplay (kissing, petting frottage etc). My suspicion is that Moore was afraid of rejection, afraid of appearing sexually incompetent (and what he did with the fourteen year old sort of confirms my suspicion on this point) and so it eased his concerns when he asked a younger and sexually inexperience girl out. He was less likely to be rejected. But Moore can’t say this, its politically incorrect to even suggest that even a fourteen year old girl hold sexual power over a 30 something district attorney, and so he denies it.

If Moore survives this and is actually elected it is because the voters of Alabama either (1) accept from Moore that it didn’t happen, (2) accept that it happened but it is no big deal or (3) accept that it happened but subscribe to my interpretation of what was motivating Moore to go after a teenager below the age of consent.

I remember a case before the Beit Din of America which Rabbi Michael Broyde lectured about (one Shabbos afternoon in 2008). Two best friends were 55yo. One stayed with the other for a Shabbat. During that Shabbat, the 55yo visitor had consensual sex with his friend’s 14yo daughter. The girl had no problem with what happened. She wanted everyone to ignore it. The father was furious when he found out and consulted his local Orthodox rabbi who advised him to gather his friends and to beat up his buddy, paying particular attention to the organ that sinned. That happened and the guy was left with serious injuries and sued the rabbi. The rabbi was visited by the police and the rabbi said he would be happy to go to court on the matter and no jury would convict him. I think the Beit Din ruled that the beaters should pay the injured party’s medical expenses.

The philosopher Will Durant was 28 when he met his future wife Ariel, who was 14 and his pupil. When she turned 15, they married.

John Derbyshire wrote May 15, 2006:

Some of the most vituperative emails I have ever got came in after I made an offhand remark, in one of my monthly NRO diaries, to the effect that very few of us are physically appealing after our salad days, which in the case of women I pegged at ages 15-20. While the storm was raging, biologist Razib Khan over at Gene Expression (forget philosophers, theologians, and even novelists: the only people with interesting things to say about human nature nowadays are the scientists) decided to look up some actual numbers. Reasoning that a rapist is inspired to his passion mainly by the physical attractiveness of his victim, Razib went for rape statistics.

He found a 1992 report (Rape in America: A Report to the Nation) from the National Victim Center showing the age distribution of female rape victims. Sixty percent of the women who reported having been raped were aged 17 or less, divided about equally between women aged 11 to 17 (32 percent) and those under eleven (29 percent). Only six percent were older than
29. When a woman gets past her mid twenties, in fact, her probability of being raped drops off like a continental
shelf. If you histogram the figures, you get a peak around ages 12-14 … which is precisely the age Lolita was at the time of her affair with Humbert Humbert. As Razib noted, my own "15-20" estimate was slightly off. An upper limit of 24 would be more reasonable. The lower limit really doesn’t bear thinking about. (I have a 13-year-old daughter.)

Behind such sad numbers, and in the works of literary geniuses like Vladimir Nabokov, does the reality of human nature lie. It is all too much for our prim, sissified, feminized, swooning, emoting, mealy-mouthed, litigation-whipped, "diversity"-terrorized, race-and-"gender"-panicked society. We shudder and turn away, or write an angry email. The America of 1958, with all its shortcomings, was saltier, wiser, closer to the flesh and the bone and the wet earth, less fearful of itself. (It was also, according to at least one scholarly study, happier.)

One of the first media sensations ever to impinge upon my consciousness was the visit to Britain by rock star Jerry Lee Lewis in May 1958, four months before
Lolita’s American debut. This was supposed to be a concert tour, but 22-year-old Jerry had brought his wife Myra along, and the British press got wind of the fact that Myra was only 13. This wasn’t an unusual thing in the South of that time; Jerry himself had first been wed at 15 (when he already had a drinking problem). Myra was
his third wife, and also his second cousin once removed. Back then country people grew up fast and close to their kin. Neither Jerry nor Myra could understand what the fuss was about. He: "I plumb married the girl, didn’t I?" She: "Back home you can marry at 10, if you can find a husband." (This was not true, even in the South, though Myra likely believed it. She also, according to the British press, believed in Santa Claus.) It didn’t help that Jerry’s new record was titled High School Confidential.

How long ago it seems! Nowadays our kids are financially dependent on us into their mid-twenties, and can’t
afford to leave home till they are 35. Marriage at 13? Good grief! And so, while Lolita met with a fair share of disapproval in 1958, and was denounced from many pulpits, I believe its reception would have been much more hostile if it appeared now. It would also have been differently politicized. Back then the complaints
came mostly from social conservatives, who I imagine would disapprove of Lolita just as strongly today. The Left, however, almost unanimously championed the book. Would they still do so? A woman! Who was also a child! Exploited by a man! And both of them from stifled, self-denying bourgeois backgrounds! Oh, that evil Patriarchy! It’s amazing how far this stuff has spread: There is a strong whiff of it in Azar Nafisi’s memoir Reading Lolita in Tehran (whose author went to college in the U.S.A.)

Here you see one of the paradoxes of our strange times. Our women dress like sluts; our kids are taught about buggery in elementary school; "wardrobe malfunctions" expose to prime-time TV viewers body parts customarily covered in public since "the lamented end of the Ancient World B.C." (Humbert); our colleges have coed bathrooms; songs about pimps rise to the top of the pop music charts; yet so far as anything to do with the actual reality of actual human nature is concerned, we are as prim and shockable as a bunch of Quaker schoolmarms. After forty years of lying to ourselves, we are now terrified of the truth. Which is an unhappy thing, because the truth is bearing down on us fast.

What would Vladimir Nabokov say if he could view our present scene? I think he would weep. Political Correctness was only embryonic in the mid-1950s, and Nabokov poked some gentle fun at it in Lolita:

 …according to the rules of those American ads where schoolchildren are pictured in a
subtle ratio of races, with one — only one, but as cute as they make them — chocolate-colored round-eyed little lad, almost in the very middle of the front row.

He would have been horrified to see how these silly but harmless and well-intentioned courtesies have swollen into a monstrous dreary tyranny, shutting off whole territories of speech and thought, acting as a sheet anchor to hold back our commercial and intellectual progress, corrupting our constitutional jurisprudence, turning unscrupulous mountebank attorneys into billionaires, and making art like Nabokov’s incomprehensible to millions who, had they been born a few decades earlier, would have gotten from it such unexpected, unimagined delight as I got among the birdsong and bowlines in the Sea Cadets’ hut at Northampton School for Boys 44 years ago.

That we are stupider, coarser, duller, lazier, narrower of mind, more fearful of strangeness, more abject, and more craven than the Americans of 1958 is bad enough. What really shows that our civilization is, and richly deserves to be, on its way out, is that we are less able to savor and love a surpassingly beautiful work of art like Lolita.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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