Friday, January 27, 2012

Republican Blames Monkey Sex for AIDS

A Republican in Tennessee's legislature, State Senator Stacey Campfield, wants to make it a crime for any school official to mention the existence of gay people. The law would literally mandate that only heterosexuality be discussed, all comments otherwise would be a crime. He recently gave an interview which shows you how warped he is mentally.

On the bullying of gay kids, he says the problem is that "sexually confused children" are "pushed into a lifestyle" that is not "appropriate" or the "norm." They don't know how to get out of it and so they kill themselves. See, its the people who support them that are to blame, not the people who harass them or bully them. Gay kids killing themselves, after years of bullying, are doing so because other people made them gay, not because of bullying? Amazing logic.

Campfield, who is often incoherent, has very strange ideas indeed. For instance: "Homosexuals represent about 2 to 3 percent of the population yet you look at television and plays and theaters, it's 50 percent of the theaters, probably more than that, 50 percent of the theaters based on something about homosexuality."

Interesting, but is it true? I looked at a list of the Broadway plays that have had more than 800 performances. This is the heart of "liberal" New York City, so surely this 50% or more trend should show up there.

I don't know every play listed but I do know the majority of the them. There are 162 theatrical productions that fit this category. Out of those I only see two with gay themes: Torch Song Trilogy and Le Cage Aux Folles. Out of the rest I can see nine that have a character or two that is gay: Chorus Line (1), Rent (unsure of the number); Mamma Mia (1); Cabaret (1 plus 1 bisexual); Deathtrap (2); Billy Elliot (1 in the film but not sure about the play); Color Purple (1 in the film, unsure of the play); Kiss of the Spider Woman (1 in the film, unsure of the play); and Spring Awakening (2).

This is so far off 50% as to be laughable. If you add up all the characters in the shows and see how many of them are gay, the reality is that gay characters are under-represented, the complete opposite of what Campfield is claiming. Television pickings are just as sparse, if you consider all the shows and all the characters. Feel free to do your own count, I don't think it will dramatically differ from mine and you might remember a character or two that I didn't. But I doubt any analysis will show numbers approaching 50% let alone exceeding it.

When Campfield gets to discussing AIDS he is even more bizarre. First, let's look at some facts. Only a tiny percentage of all AIDS cases are in North America and Europe. I believe about 10% of the total number of cases are in Western nations. AIDS seems to have originated in Africa and the vast majority of the cases are among heterosexuals. AIDS appears to have been first introduced into the gay community in the West. As a sexually transmitted disease gay men are most likely to infect gay men. So, while a majority of the cases in the West are in the gay community, the majority of all cases in the world are among heterosexuals and the ratio of difference remains very significant. The disease is primarily heterosexually spread and originated in the heterosexual community.

Campfield, has it the complete opposite, and worse. He said, "Most people realize AIDS came from the homosexual community—it was one guy screwing a monkey, if I recall correctly, and then having sex with men. It was an airline pilot, if I recall." He went on to say that "AIDS through heterosexual sex" is "very rarely" possible.

I suspect Campfield is actually this stupid. I don't think anyone could play that dumb otherwise.

Fact, heterosexual sex can transmit AIDS, and most cases are actually transmitted that way. Second, there is no evidence that sex with monkeys was ever involved with AIDS. It is believed that the first cases go back to the 1930s and that the actual origin had to do with someone killing a monkey for food. Infected blood from the monkey entered the individuals body through cuts or scratches that were open. Campfield takes smidgens of facts and twists them beyond recognition to fit his bigoted agenda.

As for the pilot that is quite different from what Campfield says as well. There was no pilot. What he is referring to is a flight attendant who was believed by Randy Shilts to be a source of HIV infection in the United States. He didn't have sex with monkeys and then with men. But, even this flight attendant was not patient zero. It is believed in scientific circles that HIV was transmitted to Haiti from Africa and then to the United States. There are documented cases of people with HIV prior to the case with the flight attendant, so the likelihood that he spread it is small.

In that one sentence there are five factual claims. Here is how they pan out:

"Most people realize...." Actually, I doubt most think this. And we need to be clear on "most people" in what location. I doubt most people in the world think of AIDS this way. Certainly most educated people do not think this. In Campfield's circles I have no doubt this is widely believed along with a world-wide flood, virgin births and other absurdities.

"...came from the homosexual community." As already noted, it didn't.

" guy screwing a monkey..." No sex with a monkey has been discovered to be connected to AIDS. It was from killing a monkey for food.

"...then having sex with men..." Nothing indicates the hunter who killed the monkey had sex with men and it is unlikely he did. The disease spread heterosexually from that point until some years later when homosexuals were infected.

"It was an airline pilot." No. it was a hunter. And he's thinking of the flight attendant who was once thought to spread HIV in the US, not the first case in the world. So even the back-up claim of confusing a pilot with a flight attendant won't save him.

Out of his five factual claims regarding HIV and AIDS he is wrong on every single one of them.

What we see here is that fear-mongers are not good sources for factual information. Hysterics tend to exaggerate and lie or completely misunderstand facts. Campfield is a hysteric pushing his own religious agenda. To do that he has to claim the absurd.

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