In Our Own Backyard: Sweet Home Alabama
Kay Bolden | 11/15/2017, 3:36 p.m.
Alabama: the state where, in January 1963, Governor George Wallace famously declared his commitment to “segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever”.
Alabama: where in September 1963, the 16th Street Baptist Church was bombed by the KKK, killing 4 little black girls and galvanizing the Civil Rights Movement. The killers would escape justice for decades.
Alabama: where on Bloody Sunday, 1965, future congressman John Lewis was beaten senseless by white state troopers, as he, Martin Luther King and thousands of patriots marched to Selma, demanding voting rights for blacks.
Alabama: where in 2014, the state began requiring state-issued photo ID to vote. And then in 2015 closed driver’s license facilities in counties where blacks make up more than 75 percent of registered voters.
Where former state supreme court judge Roy Moore-who was removed twice from the bench for ethics violations—won the GOP senate primary to fill the seat vacated by Jeff Sessions. Moore is widely known for his anti-gay rights, anti-immigrant and anti-civil rights stances. He refused to uphold the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, and led efforts to undermine the rape shield law, which limits a defendant’s ability to introduce past sexual behavior as a defense.
Amid recent accusations that he molested teen girls while he was a district attorney, one of Moore’s supreme court opinions becomes particularly troubling: the case of David Pittman, who had pleaded guilty to the rape of a 12-year-old girl. In ruling on the appeal, Moore said that Pittman ought to have been allowed to present evidence to court indicating that this 12-year-old girl had been sexually active. (Because, according to this logic, if the girl has had sex before, it’s not really rape when you do it.) Fortunately, Moore’s opinion was the dissenting opinion, and the appeal was rejected.
Alabama. Where Doug Jones, a respected U.S. Attorney, led the prosecution to victory in 2002 and secured the long-overdue convictions of the white supremacists who killed those four little girls in the 16th Street Church, but is routinely attacked for protecting the environment, supporting civil rights and championing children’s health care.
Alabama. Where a grown man pursuing a 14-year-old-girl is supposed to ask her parent’s permission first. Where a girl complaining to her mother about that grown man touching her is told “to be glad he picked you out of all the others”. Where a grown man initiating sexual contact with girls, and outside of marriage, doesn’t stop pastors and community leaders from praising him as “righteous” and “godly”. Where the authorities will ban a guy from the mall, but not from the ballot, for sexually preying on teens.
Alabama. Where, as of last night, Roy Moore maintains a 6-point lead in the polls over Doug Jones. Because, apparently, these voters would rather give their Senate seat to a homophobic, racist child molester, than to the man who put Klansmen behind bars.
Kay Bolden is an author, Times Weekly blogger, and travel writer. She’d love to hear your thoughts on sustainable living, and how we can all live together on the only planet we’ve got. Follow her on Twitter @KayBolden or drop her a line at Kay@KayBolden.com.