Personal vs. political forgiveness


By Daniel J. Bauer

Back in 1711, satirist Alexander Pope wrote only half-humorously in his Essay on Criticism that ��Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread.��

So, here I am, a fool perhaps as I comment on an old topic, but in a current and local setting. I wonder if there might be something to say about sexual harassment, forgiveness, and second chances in the story of Miaoli County’s former political candidate, Chen Wei-ting. That story is a bit of a travelogue. His trip began (for many of us, at least) with the appearance of innocence last spring in his leadership role in the Sunflower Movement. It took a new turn on the rails when he recently announced his candidacy for political office in Miaoli County. So far, so fine (again, for many, not all observers). Chen soon found himself attracting the usual type of criticism from opponents that any candidate can expect. Critics questioned his youth and dearth of experience, his semi-independence from a powerful political party, his role with the Sunflowers last year, and the like. There is nothing like a sex scandal to shake up a political campaign that is journeying along fairly smoothly. Chen’s revelations earlier last week that as a college student he had been guilty of sexual harassment not once, but twice, first on a bus headed to Taipei, and then at a local nightclub, were a pile of boulders to jump over, farther down the line. Was ��travelogue�� a wise word a moment ago? Candidates in touch with reality would have known the trip had just suffered a dreadful smash up. The moment to hurry on to the next station, disembark with dispatch, and then disappear over the horizon (as far as electoral politics were concerned) had already come and gone. Chalk it up to naivet? or a fatal lack of EQ, but Mr. Chen didn’t see it that way. The journey, he said, wasn’t over yet. A few bumps in the road, you know, or, if you prefer, a bit of a detour. We’ll soon be on our way again, that type of logic.