The Knuckles Saga Continues

By: Jonathan J. Williams

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
March 16, 2007


Isn’t it sad that our collective conscientious are being judged by a few people who choose to deviate from the central problems of the Knuckles saga only to attack the character of people on either side of the argument. Yes, it is true that we all have to search within ourselves to see where we stand on this issue. Some waited to see what the majority opinion is to frame their argument, while others chimed in with less than stellar understanding of what the whole matter is all about. I may or may not fall on either side of the reaction that is taking place but I am going to try my best to put my points forward.

So, here we go. In the last few days, a learned person has written an article and has been screamed at in cyber space because she tried to make a distinction between politics and morality. In the process, the substance of her article was completely missed. Others have said that she is naive. There are some who have also condemned another writer and called his action despicable. Yet, while we criticized one another we have failed to confront the central issue at hand. And, I supposed, some have attempted to answer the central question. However, because these answers have mostly boiled to accusations that have nothing to do with the issue at hand, those answers have also been missed.

I think we should in the attempt to be civil to one another answer these questions. Did Mr. Knuckles break any law as promulgated by the Liberian constitution? Were laws broken by publisher of the news paper? Was the allege photographer impeding on any law of Liberia?

Last time I checked, I read no part of the constitution that refers specifically to man engaging in an affair in the confines of his private space as breaking the law. Well, since that affair came out into the public realm, it became the prerogative of the public to react to it. This somehow turns the issue into a discussion of what is right and wrong of an individual whether he/she is a public servant, a poor man or a rich man. So, if no crime was committed in the act of having sex with two women, then what is wrong here? I think we have decided to criticize the situation because of the position of the man involved. “We” all believe that a public servant should be of high “moral “character. That is, a person must be in accord with standards of right and wrong. In a society such as ours, who defines what’s right and wrong? “We” shape the frame of what to, when to, how to, and whom to judge on high moral grounds. The minute a homogeneous society decides to judge the character of a person based on these parameters, the line becomes blurry. This is the crust of the argument put forth by one author.

I am not a Liberian Penal Law scholar, nor will I profess or pretend to be to be one. But the Penal Codes are clear on the issue, except that we are all attempting to interpret them to our own fittings. Section 14.79 makes a sexual crime against a person a misdemeanor. Section 18.3 makes it wrong to facilitate or promote prostitution. Section 18.5 makes patronizing prostitution wrong. And, Section 18.4(B) talks about prostitution being a punishable offense. Through all the noise we have heard about Knuckles and his act, no one has come out to say the man broke any of these codes. What is happening here is a fishing expedition to find an offense to tag on the man. The women in the photo have not said they were paid to engage in the act, nor do we know their ages to judge them to be minors. In fact, we don’t even know whether sodomy really is in play here or whether they work at any of the entities he controls.

To the newspaper that published the photo. Yes, there was a rush to close the premises of the newspaper. That was wrong and it should not have happened that way. I am sure somebody realized their mistake. That is why the paper was allowed to reopen even though their license was revoked. I think we need to do everything we can to ensure free speech. But we all have to agree to one thing. To put it bluntly, the paper broke a law and must be punished for it. The Penal Code is clear on this one. Consider Section 18.1. If you disseminate materials and or pornography without ensuring that minors are not exposed to it, you are breaking the law. The newspaper made no effort to limit the exposure of the newspaper to minors. I think the issue is not whether they were wrong to print. What’s at stake here is did they do everything to ensure that minors are not exposed to the photo. From every indication, this was not done. We in the Diaspora know the story of Howard Stern, as well as the super bowl half-time show of years gone.

How was the pose or act in the photo obtained? Some have said Mr. Knuckles own sexual bravado made him to take the picture which he also used to show his buddies the kind of man he is. “Yes, I am the Man”. Little did he know that the picture would some day fall in the wrong hands at the wrong time. Let's assumed he played no part in how the picture was taken. That is, if he’s an innocent person engaging in a private act and his picture was taken clandestinely, then somebody broke the law. Article 16 of the Liberian Constitution is also clear on this one. “No person shall be subjected to interference with his privacy of person, family, home or correspondence except by order of a court of competent jurisdiction”. We know the court did not order an inquiry into the private live of Knuckles and his family. So, who did? This is the question we need to be asking ourselves. Why do you think an overwhelming number of Americans were against The Patriot Act? Today it’s happening to Mr. Knuckles; tomorrow it could be any one of us. I don’t know about you but I’m trying diligently to keep my bones in my closet.

I think we all need to have a level head - be objective about this whole saga. Liberians are known to be sober people. Let us not take an immoral act committed by one man to exploit that immoral act to a point where we turn the whole affair into a political wrong being committed by a president. If we do so then we ourselves will be seen as being manipulative and devious in the way are handling this situation.

© 2007 by The Perspective

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