Night Owl Mk. II

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Boldfaced statements are parts of the original essay (or a subsequent reply) to which the respondent has directed his comments.

Italicized/emphasized comments
prefaced by (R) are those of the respondent and are presented unedited.

My replies appear under the respondent's comments in blue text and are prefaced by my initials (MB).

From a purely objective point-of-view, is there any difference between dying from incurable cancer and dying from AIDS?
(R) Stigma and discrimination are hardly an emotional issue. ``... discrimination is impairing this nation's ability to limit the spread of the epidemic''
(MB) If stigma and discrimination are not based in emotion, what *are* they based upon? Both are emotional responses to being faced with something or somebody very different from an individual's personal comfort zone.
    As to the quoted comment, that is simply the nonsense of political correctness. The spread of AIDS is rooted in voluntary personal habits. Until those who are most at risk modify their lifestyle decisions, they will remain at extreme risk for AIDS and the affliction will continue to spread. That politically correct garbage makes good press copy, but little realistic sense.

(R) I am being very practical here: if you have to choose, given the same amount of time and the same amount of pain, do you prefer to die of cancer or to die of AIDS? I choose cancer, it is much simpler, I have easier access to drugs, and I get more emotional support. of course all the people dying are alike in a way, but there are very different ways of dying.
(MB) Everybody has their own choices about how they would wish to die. To be truly objective about it, one would have to consider the reason why they might die from any given cause. There are many people who risk death (or, indeed, have already died) while voluntarily participating in some form of extreme sport, such as rock climbing, sky diving, etc. They consider the risk to be part of the thrill of the sport. If they choose to participate, they must accept that risk.
    AIDS, too, is a risk to be faced by those who voluntarily make certain lifestyle choices. They might not like it. It might not be pleasant or easy to deal with. But, it must be accepted if they roll the dice and lose. Now, it would seem to me that the most intelligent thing for them to do would be to concentrate their efforts towards ensuring that their comrades don't catch AIDS in the first place rather than complaining that the government isn't doing enough to save them after the fact or blaming "discrimination" for their predicament.

Knowing this, however, why do some consider dying from AIDS to be something akin to a "national tragedy" when many of those same people would barely think twice about a smoker who dies from lung cancer or an alcoholic who dies from cirrhosis of the liver?
(R) how do you know that? It sounds like you think that people who cares for people with AIDS do not care for people dying for cancer
(MB) I'm not saying that they don't care. I *am* saying that their efforts are primarily and disproportionately directed towards their own cause. And make no mistake about it, it *is* a "cause". It's about a lot more than the fact that people are dying. The fact is that homosexual men die *much* earlier as a group -- regardless of the cause -- than do heterosexual men. AIDS, as a cause of death, happens to be the one affliction primarily identified with homosexual men. Obviously, it's a very negative identification. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that the well-funded, very vocal and organized gay lobby should apply their best spin efforts towards modifying the public perception of AIDS.

(R) All people who are dying need a lot of love and affection in order to die peacefully and to come to the stage of acceptance of their own death. What I was trying to say is that for people with AIDS (and, as you said some other disease) love, affection and compassion are particularly hard to get. If you do not believe me, there is only one way to find out: go and talk to people with AIDS, they are the only ones who can tell you about that.
(MB) Once again, this is an emotional issue that also applies to other afflictions besides AIDS and shouldn't require the government to make it a priority issue.

Consider what might happen if a cure for AIDS is ever found. Would people start treating AIDS like gonorrhea -- "Oops! Hey, doc, give me a shot of [insert wonder drug here]."?
(R) Yes, there are very serious concerns on what will happen if a cure for AIDS is ever found: this could lead to a major spread of the disease, that is why education is important.
(MB) Exactly! And that education has to start with and be taken to heart by those who are most at risk. Unfortunately, that group seems to care little about prevention and more about the government saving them from themselves. There would be no risk of a major spread of AIDS if prevention was their foremost concern.

(R) However I still think that this has nothing to do with taking care of the people who are infected now: when one person is sick you do not ask how this person got sick. I do not go to people with lung cancer and tell them "oh, I told you not to smoke, now I am not paying for your medications".
(MB) No, but you do point to them as examples of what can happen should others practice the same lifestyle habits. You don't march on Washington and demand government miracles to cure the cancer while doing little or nothing to change your group's habits.

(R) During wars we kill our enemies, however in most civilized countries if an enemy soldier is hurt, you do not kill him, but you cure him and then make a prisoner of him. again, the only way out is education and prevention.
(MB) In war, you go into battle knowing that you risk death, injury, and capture. In almost all cases -- especially in countries whose armies are not an all-volunteer force -- this is not a voluntary situation. The situation is not analogous to that of AIDS sufferers.

By "affected", he means, of course, people who will either get AIDS or those who will know somebody who has it. In that regard, his statement is hardly profound.
(R) The reason for that statement I think was that he felt that many people like to think that AIDS is not their problem, and maybe it is not a problem. The number of medical, ethical, legal, social problems that AIDS is posing is enormous, and denying their existence is not going to help anyone, it just makes the life if some people even more miserable.
(MB) Once again, AIDS is not alone here. Sufferers of many diseases have the same problems. AIDS is "different" only because of the uniquely strong and radical efforts of its advocacy groups.

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