"What's the big deal" about a grown man "courting" a 14-year-old girl?
A Texas university philosophy professor asks that question in a recent blog post defending Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore.
But the professor's Nov. 11 post has sparked outrage since being referenced in an article on the Federalist website.
In his post, Keith Burgess-Jackson, an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Texas at Arlington, argues that marriage between adult men and teenage girls has been a Southern tradition.
"My maternal grandmother was 15 years old when she married and 16 years old when she conceived her first child," he writes. "Her husband was 41 and 42.
“This was normal back then.”
"My maternal grandmother was 15 years old when she married and 16 years old when she conceived her first child. Her husband was 41 and 42. This was normal back then."
But critics, including David French, a senior writer for National Review, contend that such relationships are not normal now.
“Good lord. Let’s be clear about this," French writes. "40 years ago was the ancient year of 1977. I was growing up in the rural South (yes, Kentucky counts as the South; it’s in the SEC), and a 32 year-old 'courting' a 14 year-old would have been a very big deal.
"I never saw something like that, not once.”
In the Federalist essay, author Tully Borland -- himself an associate professor of philosophy at Ouachita Baptist University -- argues that Alabamans “are within their rights” to vote for Moore, even if the series of sexual harassment allegations raised against him are “mostly true.”
Borland cites Burgess-Jackson's blog about his family history in making his case.
Moore has been under fire since a bombshell report by the Washington Post accused the GOP nominee in Alabama's Dec. 12 U.S. Senate race of sexual misconduct, including a case allegedly involving a girl who was 14 when Moore was in his 30s.
Moore has denied the accusations against him. Voters in Alabama will go to the polls Dec. 12 to decide between Moore and Democrat Doug Jones.
As for Burgess-Jackson, how does his employer, UT-Arlington, react to the professor's recent blog post?
In a statement to Dallas magazine, the university said it was “aware of statements made by Associate Professor of Philosophy Keith Burgess-Jackson on his personal blog. These are not the opinions held by the university. We acknowledge a citizen’s right to freedom of speech and expression.”