Four of the Worst Responses to the Sexual Assault Avalanche

Two white men accused of sexual assault in suits

Day after day, new allegations of sexual assault chip away at America's elite: from politicians on the Right (Roy Moore) and the Left (Al Franken, John Conyers) to journalists like CBS's Charlie Rose and the New York Times' Glenn Thrush, and to Hollywood figures like Harvey Weinstein and even Sylvester Stallone. When Harrison Ford's name started "trending" on Twitter, people thought he too had been accused.

Most Americans have reacted in disgust and horror, distancing themselves from the accused and accepting the words of accusers until proven false. A few pundits and leaders have stood out, however, for absolutely horrendous responses. Here are four gems, notable for just how bad they are.

1. "Joseph and Mary."

In defending Republican Senate candiate Roy Moore — who has been accused of carrying out sexual advances against teenage girls when he was in his thirties — Alabama State Auditor Jim Ziegler compared Moore's relationship to the Holy Family of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus.

"Take the Bible. Zechariah and Elizabeth for instance," Ziegler said. "Zechariah was extremely old to marry Elizabeth and they became the parents of John the Baptist. Also take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus."

Using these examples, Ziegler argued that "there's just nothing immoral or illegal here. Maybe just a little bit unusual."

A sexual advance from a man in his thirties on a 14-year-old girl is considered sexual assault under Alabama law (and was considered so back when Moore allegedly did this). While Joseph was quite a bit older than Mary, according to tradition, such relationships were not uncommon at that time period. They are both uncommon and often illegal today.

It would have been acceptable for Ziegler to emphasize Moore's denial of the allegations, but dismissing them as no big deal because "Joseph did the same thing" is ridiculous. This kind of defense led Baptist leader Russell Moore to level a charge of idolatry against Christians like Ziegler who defend Roy Moore in such ways.