Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Now that you've returned, please go away again...

It has been 10 years since Monica Lewinsky stormed into our public consciousness following the disclosure she had an affair with President Clinton while she was a White House intern. Eventually, however, like any scandal-fueled celebrity buzz, the Saturday Night Live skits lampooning Lewinsky and Linda Tripp, and the mention of her name in every comedian's monologue eventually faded, and she left the public eye.

But now, 10 years later, Lewinsky has resurfaced, to tell her story to Vanity Fair (and perhaps every other media outlet which will listen). Having suffered from depression and suicidal thoughts from all of the public scrutiny and besmirching of her character back in the mid- to late 1990s, she has now decided "to get involved with efforts on behalf of victims of online humiliation and harassment and to start speaking on this topic in public forums."

While that is admirable and not worthy of a rant, what has enraged me is that she compares what she went through and her feelings during that time to those of Tyler Clementi, the gay Rutgers University student whose encounter with another man was broadcast on the internet by his college roommate and then circulated via social media. Clementi later committed suicide by jumping off of the George Washington Bridge.

Monica Lewinsky, you are no Tyler Clementi.

You were an adult who knowingly engaged in an extramarital affair with a married man who happened to be the President of the United States. Did he abuse his power? Certainly. But you were a willing party to this dalliance.

Tyler Clementi was, plain and simple, just another college student coming to terms with his sexuality. He kissed another man during a private moment, when those who would seek to ridicule him decided it would be funny to film this encounter and disseminate it.

You may think you honor Tyler's memory by comparing your struggle and your feelings to his, but instead you denigrate it. Kissing someone is far different than having sexual relations (however you define the term) with the married leader of the United States. Whether or not you thought anyone would find out, you were doing wrong. Tyler Clementi was not.

And while the reason for your return to the public eye is admirable, would you be returning if Hillary Clinton wasn't a frontrunner for the presidency in 2016? I think we know the answer to that question.

You can do some good, but never equate your situation with those of an innocent college student who did nothing wrong.

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