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Archive for January, 2014

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In a speech reported in the Times Union this past Friday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo stated unequivocally that anyone who is pro-life, anti-homosexualist, and in favor of an undiluted Second Amendment has no place in the State of New York. From the Times Union:

You have a schism within the Republican Party. … They’re searching to define their soul, that’s what’s going on. Is the Republican party in this state a moderate party or is it an extreme conservative party? That’s what they’re trying to figure out. It’s a mirror of what’s going on in Washington. The gridlock in Washington is less about Democrats and Republicans. It’s more about extreme Republicans versus moderate Republicans.

… You’re seeing that play out in New York. … The Republican Party candidates are running against the SAFE Act — it was voted for by moderate Republicans who run the Senate! Their problem is not me and the Democrats; their problem is themselves. Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives who are right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay? Is that who they are? Because if that’s who they are and they’re the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are.

If they’re moderate Republicans like in the Senate right now, who control the Senate — moderate Republicans have a place in their state. George Pataki was governor of this state as a moderate Republican; but not what you’re hearing from them on the far right.”

Here the Governor has made the case for his own impeachment, if for no other reason than he has demonstrated both an ignorance of the founding political philosophy of this nation and its Constitution, and has engaged in the sort of stigmatizing political rhetoric aimed at stripping whole swaths of citizens of their political rights that every tin horn dictator has used throughout recorded history

There are two immediately troubling issues with Governor Cuomo’s comments.

The first is that he defines people acting in accord with the tenets of his own Church as extremist and unwelcome in the state. That is a declaration of war on religion by the governor. This incendiary rhetoric is meant to turn New Yorkers against one another, breeding into the political bone marrow a strain of hatred and intolerance that will take generations to purge.

The second follows on the first. Such rhetoric, aimed at the consolidation of political power by stigmatizing people of faith as the source of society’s woes, is reminiscent of the tactics and rhetoric in Germany during the 1930’s and 40’s. Lest we forget, a people of faith were ridiculed and demonized, and driven from their homeland all in an attempt to scapegoat them for society’s woes. We know how that story ended, and we are fools to think that we are immune from a similar ending here.

The truth of the matter is that abortion hurts women badly, and there is an abundance of scientific and medical literature that chronicles the harm. But facts don’t matter to bloated political hacks who trample the rights of man underfoot. In truth, the governor and his party have become a grotesque caricature of a party that was once filled with noble men and women for whom words like “tolerance” and “inclusivity” were the means by which the cry of “Never again!” could become reality in the wake of the Holocaust.

We have a governor who looks at the many peaceful, prayerful marches for life and sees lepers, while abortionists who maim and kill women and men clad in pink underwear or only thongs and Indian headdresses marching in the Gay Pride parades are citizens of the first order.

The confusion on the part of the Governor resides in the notion that there is a difference between being elected to serve in a pluralistic society with representative government, and being appointed to rule. Men and women are not cattle to be driven or disposed of by the state as the state sees fit. Our leaders are elected to represent us, and if there are leaders in Albany who hold to views Cuomo finds repellent, then that’s just too bad. Those leaders arrived in Albany because they represent a constituency. In his address, Cuomo stated,

“I believe in my heart and I believe the people of this state believe that — forget the money and the campaign contributions and what people give — I’m going to do what I believe is right for them, I’m going to make the decision that I’m proud of.”

That is the duty of every public servant, and not a luxury for the Governor and his pals. The “extremists,” whom he despises have the same moral obligation of conscience as Cuomo, and our Founders established an Assembly and a Senate where the great issues of the day are to be debated, where deals can be made, and where final legislation is referred to the Governor for approval or veto. It would seem that Cuomo has grown impatient with that system and has moved to inciting hatred and fomenting violence in its nascent stage: stigmatizing the opposition.

This is a very deadly serious turn that has been taken in Albany. If the liberals in the legislature have any integrity at all, they will vote to censure this dangerous demagogue.

If they really espouse tolerance, inclusivity, and patriotism, they’ll take a walk over to the Governor’s mansion and tell Cuomo that it’s time for him to go.

Real New Yorkers can take the heat of debate and opposition.

Cowards incite violence.

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Building on yesterday’s post regarding CDC’s documentation of the continued rise in HIV, Syphilis, and Gonorrhea among men who have sex with men (MSM), in almost every document on the matter CDC offers the following:

Complex issues like homophobia and stigma can also make it difficult for gay and bisexual men to seek appropriate care and treatment.

That’s code for the principled stand taken by people of faith. In other words, it’s our fault that many MSM do not seek appropriate medical treatment. It’s because of our deeply held and abiding religious beliefs that MSM do not seek confidential and professional care. That is a very ominous declaration by a governmental agency; to declare an abiding religious belief as hatred so profound that it stigmatizes and drives a public health calamity. It makes bigotry against orthodox Christianity, Judaism, and Islam a key component of STD epidemiology; one that will need to be eliminated as one of the root causes.

It’s also pretty patronizing toward MSM.

The truth of the matter is that physicians and nurses are bound to nonjudgmentalism in the delivery of services. But in the warped perspective that is gay activism and hedonism, any counseling against promiscuity, which is a major cultural element in many quarters of the gay community, is bound to be interpreted as homophobia. No critique, even if sound lifesaving advice, is tolerable for some.

So it is the fault of those who oppose the lifestyle on either principled moral ground, or on principled medical ground. Changing mores, as we are seeing, does not change the laws of nature, particularly where infectious disease is concerned. Unlike humans, the microbes always remain true to their nature.

Back to the big lie:

Complex issues like homophobia and stigma can also make it difficult for gay and bisexual men to seek appropriate care and treatment.

The photo essay in this post shows images from New York’s Gay Pride Parade, images that debunk the myth of enduring stigma that would prevent seeking confidential treatment. The juxtaposition is remarkable. Note the throngs of well-wishers several rows deep (Contrasted with the sparse attendance at Memorial Day parades). Note, too, the costuming of the participants. These are among the thousands of images available by Googling “Gay Pride Parade”. They are also the cleanest.

Finally, note the police officers marching, and the throngs in the line of march.

Stigma? Where?

Helping the MSM community out of the holocaust it is in requires dealing with the truth openly and honestly, as openly as the pride expressed at parades around the world. Blaming those with differing world views merely panders politically to the very community with whom CDC needs to be most concerned, and creates needless ill will, which then generates the stigma it claims to be driving this epidemic.

That makes CDC, and not the faith community, the source of stigma.

MSM deserve better, and so do we.

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Photo credits (In Order) Images via:

ABC News
Bob Jagendorf
http://www.amny.com
http://www.brooklynvegan.com
thedailybeast.com
http://www.nytimes.com
digihairshirt.blogspot.com

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This week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its annual report, Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance 2012, to whining among journalists that the reason for the documented continued rise in syphilis (primarily affecting homosexuals) has more to do with homophobia than anything else. Consider the following from Bloomberg News:

Gonorrhea and syphilis are on the rise in the U.S., mostly in men who have sex with men (MSM), a trend the government said is linked to inadequate testing among people stymied by homophobia and limited access to health care.

The rate of new gonorrhea cases rose 4 percent in 2012 from the year before, while syphilis jumped 11 percent, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said today in a report. Rates for chlamydia, the most common of the bacterial sexually transmitted diseases, gained less than 1 percent.

While all three diseases are curable with antibiotics, many people don’t get tested as recommended, said Gail Bolan, the director of the CDC’s STD prevention division. That’s especially the case for syphilis, where the rise is entirely attributable to men, particularly those who are gay or bisexual.

“We know that having access to high-quality health care is important to controlling and reducing STDs,” Bolan said in a telephone interview. “Some of our more-vulnerable populations don’t have access. There are a number of men who come in to our clinic for confidential services because they’re too embarrassed to see their primary care doctors.”

If they are eschewing their primary care physicians, then MSM actually do have access to quality healthcare. They choose clinics, instead.

The whine in the article then continues with George W. Rutherford, a professor of epidemiology at the University of California at San Francisco who captures something of the hedonistic disorder driving the numbers:

“With most of these populations, having a sexually transmitted disease from having sex with another man is highly stigmatized,” he said. “They’d rather not get tested for HIV, syphilis, or whatever. They don’t want it to show up on their records.”

Neither do married men want diseases transmitted by their mistresses showing up on records. That said, there is an understandable stigma surrounding gay and bisexual men whose community has become the engine of disease in the United States where HIV, Syphilis, and Gonorrhea are concerned. Far from being ten percent of the population, as they claim, CDC points to the fact that MSM constitute two percent of the population. Lest any doubt the force of this engine, here is the CDC fact sheet on HIV Among Gay, Bisexual, and Other Men Who Have Sex With Men:

Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) represent approximately 2% of the United States population, yet are the population most severely affected by HIV. In 2010, young MSM (aged 13-24 years) accounted for 72% of new HIV infections among all persons aged 13 to 24, and 30% of new infections among all MSM. At the end of 2010, an estimated 489,121 (56%) persons living with an HIV diagnosis in the United States were MSM or MSM-IDU.

Some of the real reasons why STD’s are on the rise among gay and bisexual men were covered just a few weeks ago in the New York Times. The CDC and other epidemiologists are pointing toward the upward trend in unprotected sex:

Federal health officials are reporting a sharp increase in unprotected sex among gay American men, a development that makes it harder to fight the AIDS epidemic.

The same trend has recently been documented among gay men in Canada, Britain, the Netherlands, France and Australia, heightening concerns among public health officials worldwide.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of men who told federal health investigators that they had had unprotected anal sex in the last year rose nearly 20 percent from 2005 to 2011. In the 2011 survey, unprotected sex was more than twice as common among men who said they did not know whether they were infected with H.I.V.

Being tested even once for H.I.V. is associated with men taking fewer risks, whether the test is positive or negative, health experts say. But the most recent survey found that a third of the men interviewed had not been tested in the past year.

Rather than homophobia, the article goes on to give evidence that being tested even once is associated with a reduction in risk-taking behavior, and that the rise in unprotected sex has continued unabated since 1997. Read the rest here. That rise in unprotected sex, with condoms with some value, is accompanied by the real reason why STD’s, including HIV, Syphilis, and Gonorrhea are on the rise:

Nondisclosure of serostatus.

In a 2006 study published in the journal, AIDS Behavior (AIDS Behav. 2006 September; 10(5): 495–507.) Duru, et al. studied the behaviors of a representative sample of HIV-positive homosexuals, heterosexual men, and women. The results are shocking. Sixty percent of homosexual men failed to report their serostatus to all partners, compared to thirty-four percent of heterosexual men, and twenty-seven percent of women. More shocking than those numbers is the breakdown of nondisclosure according to clinical stage of the disease.

Thirty-seven percent of those Asymptomatic with HIV failed to disclose their status to every partner.
Forty-six percent of those Symptomatic with HIV failed to disclose their status to every partner.
And a staggering Fifty-one percent with full-blown AIDS diagnosis failed to disclose their status.

In studies and commentary on the issue of nondisclosure, fear of rejection is often cited as the driving force. While quite legitimate, the act of nondisclosure says something about the hedonistic predisposition of the offenders. They are more concerned about their acceptance in bed, than the life, health, and safety of the people whom they knowingly place at risk. They hold in low esteem the unsuspecting individual, denying them the right to make a decision for themselves. It is part of the objectification of the other inherent in sexual promiscuity.

In recent years, many HIV positive gay men have been quoted as saying that the prospective partner needs to take responsibility for the potential risks associated with sex; an action that then absolves the HIV-positive partner from the need to disclose. As rationalizations go, there is a large kernel of truth at the core of this one, but not enough to assuage moral and epidemiological culpability in this ongoing, slow-motion train wreck. No, the truth of the matter is that fifty-six percent of all HIV cases in this country are concentrated in a group representing two percent of the population. That’s not because of persecution from without, but a suicidal impulse from within.

UPDATE: Of course, it doesn’t help that Planned Parenthood teaches young people that disclosing one’s HIV status is optional. Read it here.

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