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State Rep. Larry Brown to the HIV-Positive: You Can All Go Rot!

01/20/2011 03:32 pm 15:32:41 | Updated May 25, 2011

Well, with all the states facing budget crunches and looking for something to cut, someone in this homophobic society was bound to come right and say that people with HIV should just be left to die.

State Rep. Larry Brown said during a discussion of his legislative goals for the year that the government should not spend money to treat adults with HIV or AIDS who "caused it by the way they live."[...]

He went on to say he thinks the government shouldn't spend money to treat HIV among people "living in perverted lifestyles."

"I'm not opposed to helping a child born with HIV or something, but I don't condone spending taxpayers' money to help people living in perverted lifestyles," said Brown, who ran unopposed in the November election to win a fourth term.

Brown wouldn't say Tuesday what he considers perverted, but did say that adults who get HIV through sexual behavior or drugs would be among those who should not be treated at government expense.

Of course. The reason Jack and Juanita can't buy that second car is because of all those perverts out there having sex and draining the system. I'm trying to be a nicer person and give people the benefit of the doubt and assume that they're misinformed and not evil, so here are some of the basics.

First, in a sane society (definitely not ours), 9.4% unemployment would mean that all of our needs and wants have been met by the 90.6% of the workforce that has a job, so there's just nothing for the other 9.4% to do. That's clearly not the case here, as there's at least one job (producing HIV-related medications) that's not being done. But, as far as I know, there are the raw resources and labor available to produce the thing that's needed, just not the money, legal right, or access to materials in the right hands to get that thing produced. So something with no value (money) is getting in the way of something with value (quality health care for people living with HIV/AIDS in North Carolina), which should have people mad that they're being asked to quietly die because someone else can't manage to put sheets of paper into the right hands.

The reason states have less money now than they did a few years ago is because of the unemployment brought on by the recession. The problem could be solved by the federal government, which has a greater ability to deficit spend, absorbing many of those costs and maybe doing something about unemployment in the process. Whether that happens with a Republican House that would love for nothing more than for a valuable, life-saving government program to get cut in the name of the recession, well, we'll see. Also, tax-payers have less money right now because the rich have been getting richer, both on the back of increasing income inequality and profiteering from the supposed recession, not because of state taxes that go to health care.

In short, there could be money for these health care issues if our government was willing for there to be.

Second, it's pretty easy to blame almost all diseases and injuries on the people who have them. A few years ago, after I had the flu for the umpteenth time while teaching sixteen classes in four elementary schools, I wrote that I could definitely be blamed for my illness since I chose that unhealthy lifestyle (working in elementary education). You can blame lung cancer on people who choose to smoke, tennis elbow on people who choose to play tennis, skin cancer on people who choose to spend too much time in the sun, being stabbed on people who forget to lock their doors, etc. It's pretty easy to blame illness or injury on the person suffering from it when you want to, but we usually don't because it's a douchey thing to do.

For some reason, though, we have a few maladies that are blamed on people who suffer from them and HIV is one of them. Part of it is because it makes us feel safer to call some people perverts (which makes me wonder what Larry Brown does in his private life that's making him anxious to call someone else a pervert), part of it is because of old prejudices that die hard.

No one lives in a perfect bubble and no one can be expected to stop leaving their home because there's a chance of getting hit by a truck just by going out the door. And, yes, people will continue to have sex. Sex drive is the force that populated this planet with seven billion human beings; we're not going to stop it just by wagging a finger at people and telling them to ignore their need for physical intimacy. And not everyone is going to use condoms either, no matter how good public education on safer sex is (and it's not great, let's admit that much), so we should just accept that there will always be people with preventable maladies now and try to decrease the suffering that we can instead of blaming people as a way to get out of taking responsibility for one another.

Maybe Larry Brown isn't a douchebag, but is simply misinformed. Either way, he shouldn't be in government if he really thinks that his job isn't to try to find ways to provide for people's basic needs but instead to make up criteria upon which he decides who lives and who dies, who gets the basics and who doesn't.