It’s our attempt to remove ourselves from our own mortality that makes us so enthusiastic in finding a reason that someone gets sick and dies. Adam ate only fried food, so no wonder he had the heart attack. Betty belched smoke all the time, so no wonder she got lung cancer.
But, KGO’s only openly gay talk show host, Karel, has upped the ante in self-protective distancing. He’s moved into blame:
“Let’s be real, any gay man over 21 that contracts HIV in 2006 deserves it.” (see http://www.kgoam810.com/article.asp?id=314623 )
Like most talk show performers, Karel is often over the top. Apparently, in his case there is no decency in his scramble for ratings or there is no soul in that body.
His World AIDS Day commentary suggested that gay men in the United States should embrace calling AIDS a gay disease so that we could own it, fight it, and beat it.
Going that far makes him an interesting thinker. Going further and saying that someone deserves AIDS makes him a silly and hurtful man.
If you still smoke cigarettes, I will shake my head with worry. But, you don’t deserve cancer. If you eat three eggs and bacon daily, refuse to exercise, and weigh 300 pounds, I will shake my head with worry. But, you don’t deserve a heart attack.
Can a gay man stepping over the bounds of civility in his striving to be a celebrity be homophobic? Would GLAAD be interested?
Bah! I’ll just keep turning off KGO when Karel comes on.
I had originally written a much longer comment, and decided to bag it after reading through Karel’s article twice.
I agree with you that his “deserve” statement is radical and uncalled for.
In the context of the article, however, I am ashamed to admit that I did, for just a fraction of a second, think “Well, guys who seroconvert from deliberate unprotected sex don’t deserve it, but they shouldn’t claim to be surprised or claim victim status, either.” Even that thought seems horribly uncharitable at best.
There are so many terrible questions and discussion points this brings up … I’m getting a meta-headache just thinking about thinking about it.
I think if enough people wrote Karel and told him that the “deserve” line is inappropriate, it might make a difference. I don’t know for sure.
I, too, thought the main perspective and ideas were positive and thought-provoking. But, Mrs. Lincoln didn’t like the play, and I have the same problem here.
I read the actual article twice. Other than the “deserve” which should have been replaced with “you shouldn’t be surprised if you get” I thought it pretty much rang true.
I’ve not heard the man utter a word. I imagine if his oral comments came as a subset of the written word it may have come off badly. I don’t know. But reading his words I find that I agree with most of it. I’ll also admit that his words may not be popular, but probably more on the money than we’d want to admit.
“More on the money” sounds too true. Karel probably was being deliberately “provocative”. But, hurtful hyperbole in pursuit of fame is not okay with me.
Actually, if his comments were a transcript from a talk, I would be less annoyed. We all say off-the-cuff remarks which don’t fully express our meaning. But, the statement is from a coherent written position. In my opinion, he’s culpable for his written thoughtlessness.