Linda Tripp: Did She Betray a Friendship?
by Stephanie Herman
"What sort of a close friend tapes private conversations to further their own agenda? It is totally and utterly inexcusable behaviour, perjury or no perjury. Loyalty and friendship mean more to your average person than the issue of lying in court."
So went a rather unenlightened response to the Support Linda Tripp! website last week. We've heard these rumblings before from Clinton supporters who would rather attack Linda Tripp's ability to be a "friend" than Bill Clinton's ability to obey the law.
But if it's true that "Loyalty and friendship mean more to your average person than the issue of lying in court," then the average person is certainly beneath contempt. Lying in court is a crime, isn't it?
Surely we would expect the average citizens of our country to consider the reporting and exposing of a crime as taking precedence over any friendship with those involved in the crime. We don't expect the wife or mother, son or daughter of a perpetrator to give truth priority, which is why our legal system allows a confidentiality privilege to certain relatives of accused wrongdoers. But being that Lewinsky and Tripp are not directly related, it would seem that Tripp's priority of truth over friendship is warranted.
Still, that well-reasoned argument fails to convince Clinton supporters. Perhaps they need to be reminded of David Cash Jr. -- just another "average person" who chose to nobly ignore the crimes of a friend. In May of 1997, Jeremy Strohmeyer raped and murdered nine-year-old Sherrice Iverson in a Nevada casino. Cash witnessed the molestation and walked away. Strohmeyer later told Cash that he had strangled the girl. But Cash chose to honor his friendship with Jeremy Strohmeyer. He kept quiet, failing to alert authorities while the child was being molested, and again failing to alert authorities when he learned of the murder. He certainly was loyal to his friend.
Is this the type of loyalty Clinton supporters would require of Linda Tripp?
By the way, there is now a call for a new Good Samaritan law in Nevada, making it a crime to fail to report child molestation. If the term "Good Samaritan Law" rings a bell in your mind, perhaps you saw the final episode of Seinfeld. Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer were all arrested for failing to report a crime and for failing to aid the victim of a crime. Sure, Jerry et al. are likable people and all -- they're funny, they're popular, yadda yadda. But they're also in jail, last we knew, for ignoring a crime. We laugh when Jerry & Kramer do it, but do we also expect Linda Tripp to ignore criminal activity?
Leo Madden, in a more enlightened response to the Support Linda Tripp! website, offered a different take on friendship, loyalty and criminal behavior:Linda joins the company of Saint Thomas More, the patron saint of lawyers, who, when asked to commit perjury out of friendship, replies to the suggestion with these words (I paraphrase from Robert Bolt's play, A Man For All Seasons), "Out of Friendship? And when the Just Judge condems me to the inferno for doing something that I knew was wrong, will you join me, out of friendship?"