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12/11/2007

Who likes Mike? Why Pete, of course

by Jeremy Hooper

Picture 7-82Mike Huckabee may be getting criticized from all sides (including Ryan White's mother) for his unbelievable comments regarding gays and AIDS patients. However, he does have a defender in Peter LaBarbera, who has just issued a press release applauding the presidential candidate for refusing to retract or back down from his 1992 remarks. Pete says, in part:

"Mike Huckabee is right to reject the liberal media's talking points on homosexuality. We need more -- not less -- debate on why HIV/AIDS has been singled out as a politically protected disease, and why it gets such a huge percentage of taxpayer funding vis-à-vis other diseases, as documented by the Fair Foundation."
...

"Of course homosexual behavior is a dangerous public health risk, as evidenced by the fact that men who have sex with men (MSM) – or women who have had sex with such men – are banned from giving blood. The CDC reports: 'MSM accounted for 71% of all HIV infections among male adults and adolescents in 2005 … even though only about 5% to 7% of male adults and adolescents in the United States identify themselves as MSM.'"

Wow, way to dance around the issue at hand, Pete. Because the conversation regarding Huckabee is not about him rejecting "liberal talking points." It's a conversation concerning the possibility that he'd still like to isolate AIDS patients, just as he seemed to want to do a mere fifteen years ago! What about those words Pete -- would you like to isolate AIDS patients?!

Look, we all fully understand that AIDS in this country affected the gay community first and hardest. Trust us -- we get that! American gay men took the biggest hit for the rest of nation, and they have dearly paid and are still dearly paying the price. So Pete, when you point out that MSM are still suffering at higher rates that other sects, you aren't passing along new info. Any reasoned person can understand the hows and whys a community into which a sexually transmitted disease was first introduced would be the ones to see the heightened percentages. All you are really doing in pointing out these facts is further demonstrating just how callously your team has treated this plague and the people it's hurt the most.

As for AIDS funding: First off, the data from the Fair Foundation is more than a little suspect. For starters, the only groups that really seem to use their stats are right-wing groups like Accuracy in Media. That alone raises eyebrows! But moving on to look at the hard data: They like to base charts like this one...

Fair Foundation Spending Pie Chart-1

...on money budgeted per death. OF COURSE in the grand scheme of things, AIDS counts for less deaths than things like heart disease and diabetes. We all are going to die of something, and STDs are, for obvious reasons, still more contained than diseases that simply come about in a person, such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. But the thing is, AIDS is a global pandemic unlike any other disease on our landscape. There are millions who, thanks to the innovations from -- wait for it, wait for it -- RESEARCH are living with and not dying from this disease. However, it is a very young disease that could, if not for intense research and understanding, grow to the death-causing levels that are seen in places like Africa. Education and research is what have kept AIDS from staying the unmanageable killer that ripped through the gay community in the early days. And funding is what will keep mortality rates from rising rather than falling.

Pete: The insensitivity and lack of compassion your team (of which Huckabee seems to be a part) has shown towards the AIDS crisis truly reveals the way you view gay people. You have jumped at every opportunity to dehumanize those who have suffered from the disease, and have seemed to almost gloat over the fact that those evil gays were the ones to whom the plague was first introduced. Mike's 1992 comments regarding "isolation" were absolutely indefensible. But rather than even acknowledge that they were cruel at worst and short-sighted at best, you have chosen to make them even more pointedly anti-gay! Rather than encourage safe sex and applaud attempts to thwart what could be a solvable problem, you act as if eliminating homosexuality and slashing budgets are the ways to handle this crisis. And rather than seeing the rally cry that stemmed from this heartbreaking epidemic as a reminder that human beings can rise to face the almost unbelievable adversity that has greeted them, you trivialize the response as "liberal talking points." The truth, however, is that it's the inhumane talking points of those who don't like gay people that are dangerous to anyone of any sexuality who lives in a world where AIDS is still a reality.

LaBarbera Says Huckabee Was Right: AIDS Is Over-Funded Compared to Other Diseases [Christian NewsWire]

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