Cynthia: ‘I suppose it’s more emotionally gratifying to play the victim. My feeling is that you are compensating for your lack of AIDS activism during Reagan’s time by playing catch-up now. Why weren’t you writing about AIDS then?? Point the finger at yourself before you point it at Reagan.’

Joel Margolis: ‘What exactly did you want Reagan to say? ‘Hedonists of the world (that’s you drug addicts and homosexuals) stop being hedonists. Change your values. Change your morality. Change your actions. You liberals at CDC and the public health community have to immediately begin contact tracing of all AIDS patients so that we can stop this horrible disease now, rather than after hundreds of thousands have died of it.’ I’m sure that would have been effective. Every drug addict and homosexual would have changed his values and behavior. Immediately, if not sooner. It’s time homosexuals stopped blaming Reagan and the rest of America for their actions. Yes it was a tragedy that some hemophiliacs died because blood wasn’t properly screened in the early years of the AIDS outbreak. But that wasn’t the fault of Reagan. Perhaps if you and your homosexual friends had spoken out and said that no homosexual who is sexually active should give blood that might have helped. By the way, have you ever condemned the hedonists in the homosexual community for their behavior in causing AIDS?’

☞ Rather than respond in full (where would one start?), let me limit it to this: I hope that, to be consistent, Joel is equally tough on the nation’s 400,000 lung cancer victims each year, and thinks we should stop wasting money trying to prevent or cure that completely avoidable disease. Quitting smoking and quitting sex are both reasonable things to require of people. End of story.

Erik Olson: ‘I have two points regarding your June 15 column. First, the supposed excerpt from Reagan’s 1986 State of the Union address is the real example of ‘revisionist history.’ That myth was started in a December 2003 column by Deroy Murdock of the National Review, who recently acknowledged that he was mistaken, and that the passage actually wasn’t in the State of the Union after all. Reagan’s first major speech about AIDS was on April 1, 1987 [nearly 6 full years after the New York Times first broke the story], when he advocated a modest federal role in AIDS education.

‘And second, Larry Speakes’ clowning about AIDS in that 1982 press conference you quoted is not the only or most egregious example. Andrew Sullivan (June 10) and others have also pointed to this press conference from December 11, 1984 where the hilarity continued:’

MR. SPEAKES: Lester’s beginning to circle now. He’s moving in front.(Laughter.) Go ahead.

Q: Since the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta (laughter) reports…

MR. SPEAKES:This is going to be an AIDS question.

Q: that an estimated

MR. SPEAKES:You were close.

Q: Well, look, could I ask the question, Larry?

MR. SPEAKES:You were close.

Q: An estimated 300,000 people have been exposed to AIDS, which can be transmitted through saliva. Will the President, as Commander-in-Chief, take steps to protect Armed Forces food and medical services from AIDS patients or those who run the risk of spreading AIDS in the same manner that they forbid typhoid fever people from being involved in the health or food services?

MR. SPEAKES:I don’t know.

Q: Could you – Is the President concerned about this subject, Larry

MR. SPEAKES: I haven’t heard him express…

Q: …that seems to have evoked so much jocular

MR. SPEAKES: …concern.

Q: reaction here? I – you know –

Q: It isn’t only the jocks, Lester.

Q: Has he sworn off water faucets

Q: No, but, I mean, is he going to do anything, Larry?

MR. SPEAKES: Lester, I have not heard him express anything on it. Sorry.

Q: You mean he has no expressed no opinion about this epidemic?

MR. SPEAKES: No, but I must confess I haven’t asked him about it. (Laughter.)

Q: Would you ask him Larry?

MR. SPEAKES: Have you been checked? (Laughter.)

☞ As you may know, the Senate passed a measure Tuesday, 65-33, that would include sexual orientation in the existing federal Hate Crimes statutes. A third of the Republican Senators even voted for it (albeit not the Republican leadership), and that is nothing if not progress.

Even if you are one who opposes hate crimes statutes, the question is – since we do have them – why do two-thirds of Senate Republicans believe gays and lesbians should be excluded from their protection? My guess is that Cynthia, Joel, and Larry Speakes have ready answers. Which just means that those of us who disagree need to continue to engage them in respectful dialogue. If we do, I have no doubt the progress will continue.

Friday: Good Golly, Ms. Molly!


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