Apples and Oranges

Bill Neinast

Fruit frequently ends arguments.  The arguer on the losing is wont to withdraw with, “You’re comparing apples and oranges.”

Apples, oranges, and pears can be compared.  They have some things in common.  Each is an edible fruit that grows on trees.

There are, however, more differences than commonalities.  They differ in size, shape, color, texture, use. etc.

Those differences make a fruit bowl an excellent metaphor for the sexual misconduct roiling the nation’s capitol


Former  Representative John Conyers, Senator Al Franken, and Senator-elect (maybe) Roy Moore are like the apples oranges, and pears just mentioned.  

They have something in common.  Each is a politician facing allegations of sexual misconduct. The differences, however, are much deeper than party affiliation.

The allegations against Conyers concern his actions while in office.  He has chosen not to challenge the claims and resigned from Congress.  

This is the apple in the bunch.  It represents misconduct in office and, if serious enough as it appears to be in this case, justifies removal from office.

Franken is the orange in the bunch.  The current allegations against him concern conduct before he was elected to office.  Although serious in nature, the incidents cannot be alleged to be misconduct in office.  Accordingly, if Franken decides to remain in office, uncharged misconduct before he was elected to the Senate should not be an appropriate subject for a Senate investigation.

So what about the pear, the other piece of fruit in the basket?  That is Roy Moore, the candidate for Alabama Senator who was still on the campaign road as these sentences were written.

Moore has held, and been removed from, elected office twice previously.    While in office as a judge, he refused to obey legal directives he did not like.  Specifically, while Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama, he refused to remove depictions of the Ten Commandments from the lobby of the Alabama Judicial Building.

He was removed from office for his disobedience but was later reelected to the same office.  Last year, however, he was suspended for directing probate judges to continue to enforce the state's ban on same-sex marriage despite the fact that this had been deemed unconstitutional.

His appeal of the suspension was unsuccessful and he resigned earlier this year.

There is no indication of complaints about sexual misconduct in any of his previous campaigns for public office.  Now, however, in a contest with implications for the political balance in the U.S. Senate, charges of inappropriate sexual conduct 30 plus years ago arise.

Every Alabamian who went to the polls on December 12 knew, or should have known, of the previous misconduct of Roy Moore.  If a majority of those voters said they want Moore to represent their state in the U.S. Senate, how can the Senators from the other 49 states deny him a seat?

This situation may be the perfect definition of a conundrum. There are allegations of sexual misconduct against three politicians, but each is different.  One concerns misconduct in office, one concerns conduct not known before election, and one well known by the voters before the election.

So here’s the perspective.

What is the answer to this conundrum?  Should each allegation require removal from office, either voluntarily or involuntarily?

Any misconduct in office, regardless of the nature, is an appropriate subject for inquiry and possible removal from office.

Applying the same procedure to misconduct before election, however, raises serious questions.   What types of misconduct—misdemeanor, felony, or just inappropriate—should be considered?  Who has the burden of proof?  Who will be the judges?  Does a vote to censure or remove have to be unanimous? 

Obviously, if Congress begins delving into the conduct of its members before they were elected, there may not be enough time to consider any other business.

If the misconduct was not generally known before an official’s election, the public embarrassment should be enough to prompt the office holder to resign, as appears to be the case with Franken.

If the misconduct was widely known by the public, as in the case of Moore, and a majority of the voters elect him to office, he or she should be allowed to serve under the same conditions of his colleagues.

Let’s not turn Congress into a witch hunt.


HOME page>                  NEW STUFF page> 
          WRITING CONTENT page>       GUEST ARTISTS page>Home_1.htmlNew_Stuff.htmlEssays.htmlGuest_Artists.htmlshapeimage_1_link_0shapeimage_1_link_1shapeimage_1_link_2shapeimage_1_link_3