For those not watching political news, the candidate to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the U.S. Senate has recently been accused of having had an intimate relationship with a 14-year-old 40 years ago when he was in his 30's as well as several relationships with other teenagers around the same time period. He denied the claims about the 14-year-old, the only one under the legal age of consent, and none of these relationships were unwilling or coerced based on the testimonies of the women themselves, but understandably this has aroused some controversy. His article on Wikipedia has now become the site of some of the usual activist editing by liberal editors, some of which borders on the libelous.
Probably the most troubling edits have been attempts to misrepresent the nature of the allegations in the lede. Aside from the 14 year-old, all the respective relationships were with teens at or above the age of consent in the state of Alabama, where they resided at the time and where Moore is running. Despite this, several editors have sought to excise this fact from the article's lead such as Artw and Steeletrap. The latter went further than that by removing the fact one of them was 18 and focusing on those that were 16 and 17 and categorized them as "minors" despite them both being legally able to consent under Alabama state law. The article cited for this is a republishing of the original Washington Post article that raised the allegations and explicitly mentions these would be considered consensual under state law.
Other edits Steeletrap made are even worse. At the end of this same paragraph, which is the second paragraph of the lede, Steeletrap added a statement that "Approximately thirty witnesses have publicly stated that Moore had pursued these three teens or other minors." The "other minors" line not only continues with the misrepresentation of the legal status, but also implies incidents that have not been reported. A source is cited, but that source is a Chicago blog by someone called "HHH Is My Hero" and it doesn't even make the claim about "other minors" being involved nor does it use the word "minors" in the post. The claim is thus a straight-up BLP violation and probably qualifies as libel. Wait, there's more, as Steeletrap also inserted into the lede that Moore is a "conspiracy theorist" and cites no source for it. None of the sources in the paragraph label Moore a conspiracy theorist and only a few mention conspiracy theories in relation to him, specifically his belief in the birther conspiracy theory about Obama.
Those familiar with Steeletrap will know this was not unusual behavior. Steeletrap was banned from articles about Austrian Economics for exactly this kind of behavior. Incidentally, I ran afoul of Steeletrap after reporting later misconduct that included violations of that ban and more inappropriate editing of BLPs. At first I had taken it to AN, but Steeletrap deflected by insisting AE was the proper place for it, then implied doing so would be "forum-shopping", and finally "retired" after I went ahead and filed the AE request. None of that worked and Steeletrap was blocked for three weeks. In a similar fashion to the edits to the Roy Moore dispute, Steeletrap is also banned six months from the article on former Breitbart Tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos for obsessively pushing material related to the controversy where he stated 13-year-olds are capable of consent, though supporting the existing age of consent laws, and gave the technically correct definition of pedophilia.
Seems these days no run-down on the manipulation of political articles is complete without an appearance by Volunteer Marek. The paragraph about Moore's current scandal in the lede of his BLP has been fought over not just in its contents, but its placement. One editor attempted to move it to the bottom of the lede, but Marek was having none of that and insisted its proper place was as the second paragraph before any detailed discussion of Moore's history in politics and government.
The lede is not the only prominent target for POV-pushing, though and Steeletrap isn't the only one engaging in defamatory editing. An editor also changed the heading for the section about the controversy to describe the teenagers as all being "underage" and the editor doing so say it was done to highlight that all were under the age of 19, which is weird because the only place in the world that has an age of consent at 19 is Indonesia and, again, in Alabama only one would have been under the age of consent. Once this was modified to correctly indicate only one was underage, Artw swooped in with "alternate phrasing" that used "child molestation" instead. It also stated his relationships were "inappropriate" as fact even though all but one of the alleged relationships were completely legal and, by all accounts, consensual. The use of "child molestation" in the heading or really any part of the article does not appear to be remotely warranted based on the sources or the description of events.
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