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Begging to differ on outing issue

A reader who writes me occasionally on e-mail to express views on my columns sent these words this week: “The first thing I saw on this sorry Monday was Mr. Fang's ugly commentary [on page 4 of The China Post], and ... I wonder if Father Dan can gently take issue with ... [these] remarks, but in a polite, gentlemanly way that won't get you fired from the op-ed page. But his words cannot go unanswered ...

“Sigh.”

I am grateful to this reader for the push, but I need to clear the air a bit before leaping into this heated, if no longer boiling controversy.

First, my colleague William Fang wrote with good intentions about Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen in “Tsai should answer questions clearly” (CP 4-18-11, p. 4). I do not want him or anyone to take my reaction as a personal attack. The term “personal attack” is however an apt description of this muddy, unwarranted, indefensible, media-driven debate on the personal life of a prominent political leader.

Secondly, neither my e-mail-writing reader nor I could have predicted that Mr. Fang's words would be followed within 48 hours by a second editorial in this newspaper on the Tsai controversy (“We shouldn't be too critical of Shih Ming-teh's comments” [CP 4-20-11, p. 4]). (The first, “The role of sexuality in politics,” appeared on page 4 on April 17.) With so much worthy of commentary, what accounts for these fine-tuned, carefully aimed outbreaks of hyperventilation over what people are generally inclined to see as private matters between oneself and one's conscience?

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