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i enjoyed trey graham’s review of ibsen’s seldom-staged play An Enemy of the People (“The Great Gadfly,” 8/4). It is difficult to think of a person in society like Dr. Thomas Stockmann, willing to sacrifice everything to tell the truth. Unlike Stockmann, Ralph Nader has long had a platform in the press and the pleasure of being a popular figure. He has made a career out of being “the whistleblower” ever since the 1960s, when I was in college.
A better comparison may be Patrick Knowlton, a little-known hero featured in the Washington City Paper over 10 years ago. Mr. Knowlton came forward to tell what he witnessed when deputy White House counsel Vincent Foster was found shot to death at Fort Marcy Park. According to the City Paper (May 24, 1996), Knowlton was harassed and intimidated on the streets of Washington by a team of men after being given a grand jury subpoena by Kenneth Starr. He was defamed by numerous individuals, many of whom were journalists. He was attacked as a delusional conspiracy theorist, a homosexual, and an outright liar. All this just for coming forward to report Mr. Foster’s gray car was not at the park. Officially, Foster drove to the park.
No U.S. court would permit Patrick Knowlton’s lawsuit for civil rights violations to go forward, not even the Supreme Court. He went into debt and spent years trying to tell the truth. He has not given up. Knowlton’s only success was convincing the U.S. Court of Appeals to add his comments to the independent counsel’s report on the death of Vincent Foster. Thus, Knowton’s rebuttal became part of the official report. But that victory in October of 1997 has never been reported, so it effectively never really happened. Mr. Knowlton, like Dr. Stockmann, truly stands alone against society and is “An Enemy of the People.”