Open Letter to Mr. Eric S. Kaba
By: Theodore Hodge
I read your rebuttal to my earlier pieces with some degree of shock. I know you and respect your right to agree or disagree with my views. But I think you carelessly chose to express yourself with such trepidation and angst over an already dead issue, but that’s up to you. Maybe if you are willing to lower the decibel of your cantankerous attacks a few notches, we will have an exchange in a more civilized decorum.
In your opening sentence, you seem prepared to prove that you are ready for a fight. You come prepared to “take off gloves and confront with ‘bare hands.’” I know you didn’t mean it literally, but that thought gave you away. This is simply a marketplace of ideas. We must freely express ourselves and allow others to do so without obvious intimidation. In this free marketplace, let our pens be our tools and our consciences be our guides.
If I were to succumb to your warlike metaphor of challenges, we would be having one heck of a fight, but I shall leave you on your own. I wrote a piece expressing a personal opinion on a very public case. Obviously, you and I disagree, but do you have to employ such harsh terms to disagree? Gosh, one would think I was the one in the photos.
Mr. Kaba, in your zeal to make a case against me, you hurriedly cited two cases with which many of us are familiar. First you cited the case of Senator Gary Hart and compared it to Mr. Knuckles. Well, for those of our readers who are not familiar with the details of that case, let me say there is a big difference between the two.
In the case of Senator Gary Hart, the infamous photo that caused him his presidential run was taken in public view. Senator Hart chose to exhibit his indiscretion in public view. Mr. Knuckles was photographed during a private moment. So, you see, Mr. Hart could not use the same defense as I proposed for Mr. Knuckles. Mr. Hart’s privacy was not invaded; Mr. Knuckles’ was! To call the person who took Mr. Hart’s photo and exhibited it a criminal is a bit far-fetched. As a matter of fact, if I recall correctly, the photographer was a journalist doing his job. The two cases are as different as night and day.
The second case you cited is that of former President Bill Clinton and Miss Monica Lewinsky. Mr. Kaba, you will agree that Mr. Clinton was not asked to resign after all was said and done. Mr. Clinton was impeached, but if his private-episode-turned-public had been as morally outrageous and criminal as you suggest, don’t you think he would have been forced to resign? Richard Nixon was forced to resign. Do you know why? He clearly committed a crime while holding the highest office. Bill Clinton was not forced to resign and left office honorably. He continues to live his life as an honorable citizen and still ranks very high in public opinion polls not only among the American public but among people around the world, despite his indiscretion. Need I say more?
Yes, I’ll say more. The case with President Clinton was essentially a partisan fight. Let’s not confuse the real story. Bill Clinton was impeached for perjury, lying under oath, not having a sexual affair. And you have undoubtedly heard of the recent revelation of then Speaker Newt Gingrich and other Republican big shots. Their day of reckoning has come. You see, Mr. Kaba, no one’s perfect. Don’t set any standards that you cannot live up to. You may be perfect, but the rest of us are not; we are mere, fallible mortals.
I hope by now I have demonstrated that the two cases you cited in your emotional tirade to berate me do not vindicate your argument, as any reasonable person can clearly see.
You wrote, “During the past few years I have enjoyed the articles Mr. Hodge has written because, for the most part, they were analytical, balanced, well researched and thought-provoking…” This is such a high compliment and I appreciate it greatly. I hope to continually justify the confidence reposed earlier. I also hope that I can find a way to restore this lost confidence, but I’m only human and remain fallible. I may have erred this time around in the court of public opinion, but that does not make me despicable and the attempt to intimidate me by employing such loud and stern terms is an exercise in futility. I shall repeat here what I have said before in paraphrasing the late Steve Bantu Biko: I write what I like.
I, therefore, admonish you to elevate your standards instead of stooping so low. This debate does not have to take such personal tones as you used in your rebuttal to me. I hope this debate will continue in an atmosphere of civic decorum conducive to our intellectual standards. I thank you.
Yours very truly,
Theodore T. Hodge
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