Anyone who has been following the story of AIDS, knows that the disease has been greeted with a kind of "I told you so"--an undertone of smug satisfaction. It is seen as yet another example of nature working in miraculous and morally admirable ways, deputized by God to get only the bad guys--in this case sexuals who are bi or homo but not, knock on wood, hetero.
These are adherents of the school of thought that cheered Time magazine last summer when, suffering from a mammoth identity crisis, the magazine got itself confused with Phyllis Schlafly and had a vision about herpes: God likes it.
". . . Perhaps not so unhappily it herpes may be a prime mover in helping to bring to a close an era of mindless promiscuity," Time intoned mindlessly. "The monogamous now have one more reason to remain so. For all the distress that it has brought, the troublesome little bug may inadvertently be ushering in a period in which sex is linked more firmly to commitment and trust." Hallelujah!
Herpes, though, is a minor annoyance compared to AIDS. The latter has been greeted as almost a biological godsend for its dual ability to terrorize homosexuals into virtual monogamy while "proving" that, while promiscuity will bring you a zit on the mouth, homosexuality will strike you dead. You can almost hear self righteous hands clap with satisfaction. God is on their side.
To some, AIDS represents an Old Testament vengeance. Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome somehow destroys the body's immunization system and renders its victims helpless before a whole range of diseases, including some of the more horrible forms of cancer. Of the nearly 1,500 persons who have contracted AIDS in this country, 558 have died and not one has been cured.
When AIDS first surfaced in the homosexual communities of San Francisco and New York, it was treated by some in both media and government as some sort of joke--as if homosexuals were not people and their deaths not tragedies. It took the massed outrage of the organized homosexual community before the federal government deigned to look into AIDS, to treat it as it would any communicable disease; one, for instance, that affected heterosexuals. If AIDS was a joke, it was a cruel one for homosexuals and maybe one played on us all. There is no proof that it cannot spread beyond homosexuals.
The government has lately waked up to the danger posed by AIDS and protests that it did what it could as soon as it could. But the truth of the matter is that AIDS, which is a downright killer, got a whole lot less attention from both the press and the government than, say, swine flu, a Kohoutek of a disease that probably was not a threat but which nevertheless prompted President Ford to launch a massive immunization program.
AIDS, though, is very much with us and continues to be treated as both a moral and political problem. If you like your heavies neat, this is not the issue for you. Homophobes on the political right have been matched on this one by the ideologues of the homosexual community. Some of them persist in seeing AIDS as political, not medical, threat. For instance, they oppose disclosure of homosexuality by blood donors as a violation of privacy. It may be that, but until the cause--not to mention the cure--of AIDS is known, it is information a recipient ought to have.
But AIDS is really neither a moral nor a political problem. It is a medical one. Those in pain and those dying are not only homosexuals or bisexuals, but people. And there is no more justice in their plight than there is in a teen-ager's unwanted pregnancy or a smoker's cancer death--or, for that matter, the battlefield death of someone who chose to be a soldier.
Neither the threat nor the existence of AIDS exonerates what amounts to nothing less than fag baiting or justifies a moral condemnation of the entire homosexual community. It is tragedy enough that it is killing people. It would be a greater tragedy if, under the guise of a medical emergency, it killed tolerance as well.