Letters to the Editor

From the issue of November 23, 2000

It is understandable, though, that in the competitive enterprise of ferreting out crime, police officers do not appreciate such nuances. But that's not their job, technically. We are a legal culture based on myriad systems of checks and balances. Hence the prosecutor, particularly the chief prosecutor, is charged with the responsibility for far more than putting away criminals. That's the easy part. No less an authority than our nation's highest court has so spoken.

In the Supreme Court's highest ideals, Kathy Rundle, not Al Milian, is the "servant of the law," the one who ensures these uniquely democratic philosophies: to fairly prosecute guilty people and ensure that the innocent are exonerated.

Her opponent took a far different tack -- a self-proclaimed bully who fashions himself and his ideals above the law and who has already demonstrated a proclivity to abuse the limited power and privilege with which he was vested. When it comes to law enforcement, Mr. Milian was no defender of the constitution. And when it comes to being "tough on crime," people like him are intent on two things and two things alone: making you afraid of it and telling you who's to blame for it. He offered no real solutions, no utterly lawful or practical ones, anyway. Of the two, Kathy Rundle is the true prosecutor and deserves the opportunity to continue to serve us.

Nevertheless, irrespective of right or wrong -- of the police union's desire to exact retribution for whatever cause, or Ms. Rundle's reciprocal reluctance to "make deals" -- the county's crime fighters must come together if not for their sake, then for ours. That many in our community defied logic to vote against Rundle as a protest in the still-tender wake of Elian is even more reason.

There may be no such thing as perfect justice. And truth is surely elusive at times, particularly when cops, lawyers, and politics lend a helping hand. But let there be no mistake: There was only one amber path down which to travel and seek community peace while preserving fundamental freedoms. The electorate correctly chose not to follow the bully. Their faith and good sense should be returned in kind.

H. Scott Fingerhut

Reverend Darby at the Pulpit
Prejudiced eyes will never see clearly: I've just read Juan Carlos Rodriguez's article about Rev. Tommie Watkins, the prospective African Methodist Episcopal minister who was not ordained because of his sexual orientation ("All God's Children Except Some," October 26). While I do appreciate the apparent intent of his article, I would make a notation and a suggestion.

I'd note that prospective clergy in the AME Church are admitted "on trial" at the annual conference. That means that they are "trying" the church and the church is "trying" them. That does not involve evaluating the genuine nature of their call to ministry but means helping them to prayerfully decide whether they are called to ministry in the AME Church and are willing to embrace the doctrines and positive law of the church.

I work with incoming clergy in my conference and have had the great joy of seeing them grow. I've seen some of them grow in other denominations because they realized for various theological and personal reasons that the AME Church was not for them. In those cases I've helped them to find new denominational homes and have rejoiced to see them placed where the Lord would hopefully have them to be.

In addition I'd make a suggestion as the director of public information for my Episcopal district and as the father of a budding journalist: Get your facts right. Mr. Rodriguez's article clearly reflects that he packed up his preconceived notions, went looking for trouble, and found it. He obviously spent no time whatsoever in finding out how the AME Church is structured and operates. Had he done so, his descriptions and terminology with regard to what he observed would have been more balanced and would not have shown his evident intent to condemn the church without finding out how it works. I know that to be the case because his description of the annual conference shows he simply sat and observed and did not seek to learn or practice journalistic balance and impartiality.

Mr. Rodriguez's capricious and arbitrary article is typical of those who view the black church through the tired and myopic eyes of their own prejudice. His cursory and demeaning portrayal of the AME Church, which simply served to justify the "newsworthiness" of his story, was insulting to me as a member of the church. I was also insulted that he portrayed Bishop John Hurst Adams as some kind of religious Neanderthal. I had the pleasure of serving under Bishop Adams for eight years and know him to be one of the more insightful, sensitive, and progressive bishops of our denomination. I do, however, understand why Mr. Rodriguez chose to use Bishop Adams's remarks to him as a prop for his argument. Bishop Adams can be refreshingly plain-spoken, and he does have a refreshingly low tolerance for arrogant and self-serving fools and bigots.

I hope Mr. Rodriguez will take these comments to heart and let them help him as he grows as a journalist. Perhaps he can then objectively and impartially deal with both sides of controversial issues and avoid leaning on his obvious misconceptions about people of color to make a point about homophobia.

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