Lock me up, torture me and ship me off to some lawless land so you can shove embers under my fingernails and then stone me until I’m dead. I deserve that and worse. Maybe my corpse should be dragged across a stony field for good measure, the remains left for scavengers and vermin.
I confess that I have a lot of questions about HIV and AIDS. I admit that I have developed a well-earned distrust of the sloppy and possibly criminal “scientific research” behind the discovery of a virus. (also see here)
There is more than one name for people like me. The nicer ones include skeptic, dissident, questioner, rethinker. Those in the mainstream of AIDS who are threatened by questions, derisively call us “denialists”.
As in denying that the Nazi holocaust happened, denying that the world is round, denying a man walked on the moon. Labeling us like this is just one of the time-proven means used to discourage anyone from questioning the mainstream dogma. Their message is clear: you too will be ostracized if you dare to question the powers that be.
I did not come to this place called AIDS dissidence easily. For twenty years I accepted the government’s pronouncements and I trusted the scientific community’s commitment to unbiased research. Without questioning, I tested for “the virus” every year. After one of those tests came back “positive”, I took my meds without fail until I was so ill that I had no choice but to follow my own path for more answers. I’ve spent much of the last ten years digging, reading, asking and digging some more, trying to understand something that even science now admits is not understood: how does HIV cause AIDS? What heals a broken immune system?
I won’t debate, discuss, argue or try to explain here why anyone should even consider there might be different perspectives concerning AIDS. That’s what google, the Internet and the blogroll on the right are for, if you’re really that interested. I have bookshelves full of books and there are entire libraries of Dissident information online. There is no profit to be had by promoting this knowledge, so it is not delivered to you in soundbites on television, or even from most news sources, but it is available to those who seek it.
What I am calling out today is another distasteful and potentially dangerous tactic being resorted to in the ongoing attempt to demote AIDS dissidents’ views to irrelevance: association by name calling. Peter Staley, whom I’ve known of since the earliest years of the AIDS crisis, has stooped to that tactic by calling anyone who challenges the mainstream AIDS establishment “Taliban”.
What rot. What nerve. What hypocrisy.
First, some disclosure. I do not represent nor do I receive any remuneration from any pharmaceutical or medical interests. Can former AIDS activist-turned-Drug activist Peter Staley say the same thing?
Peter blogs at poz.com, which is owned by AIDSmeds.com, which is owned by, well you figure that one out. His target audience is obviously people living with a diagnosis of HIV/AIDS, and the primary topics are treatment “options”, though the only real options presented are which pharmaceutical manufacturer will be enriched.
A few weeks ago Peter’s post quoted an LA Times editorial that admonishes AIDS denialists for convincing South African president Thabo Mbeki to block distribution of western pharmaceutical drugs to treat “AIDS”. The editorial references a study that alleged “330,000 people died as a consequence of the government’s denial and 35,000 babies were born with the disease.”
There are alternate views about so much in that editorial, not the least of which is that “AIDS” in Africa is not the same thing as “AIDS” in the US and Western Europe, for starters. No tests are required there for an AIDS diagnosis, and tropical diseases such as malaria, TB, diptheria and even severe malnutrition can be misdiagnosed as AIDS. People who lack even access to clean water to take their pills with have far more pressing concerns than boosting the bottom lines of BigPharma. As for the referenced “Harvard study”, well that is thoroughly debunked here.
Disagreement about emotional issues is a human trait that I’ve come to accept, whether it be about religion, abortion, vaccines, evolution, global warming, economic stimulus or something else. On this issue there is a basic disagreement over whether the cause of AIDS has been indisputably proven to be a virus, and more importantly if a lifetime of non-stop chemotherapy is the best way to improve a failing immune system.
Peter thinks it has been and it is and that if I or anyone else disagrees with him we’re responsible for the deaths of millions of people. That is an accusation I will not bear without responding. How dare you Peter!
From my perspective, I think that Peter has sold out and now works for an industry that manufactures products that kills thousands of people every year in the name of health. Hey, we’re all entitled to our points of view.
It gets worse. Like many of his ilk, Peter has a very visible pulpit from which he is agitating his base of followers, people who have been diagnosed with a death sentence who are convinced their very lives depend on the drugs Peter peddles. A pulpit funded from a deep reservoir of money from government and industry sources with a vested interest in defending their products and messages.
Peter’s followers prove how just well the strategy of name calling works. What follows are some comments about AIDS questioners from Peter’s recent post:
“…I am at a point where I truly believe these denialist need to be held accountable for the myriad of deaths that they are DIRECTLY responsible for! It is for that reason that I am putting all my efforts into bringing them to accountability via the law… I whole-heartedly believe that now, with the death of Ms. Maggiore, along with the deaths of over 300,000 S. Africans, is the time to bring this matter to the American Court System.”
I’m not too worried about upholding my rights to free thought and free speech in the courts, but still, this kind of thinking is disturbing at best.
It gets even worse.
“I disagree with [previous commenter]. This is not a case for the courts. It is a case for the military, the CIA. If we bring them to court, we have to provide habeas corpus and maybe even let some of them loose on bail so they can stalk the stalk our streets and infect good healthy American gays with their vile ideology of hate and destruction.
kill them where you find them I say, just as they want to kill us. But first we need to waterboard them to make them reveal their nefarious plots against public health, as well as the identities of their comrades.
Not one can be allowed to escape. Let’s start Project Informer. Inform on everybody who doesn’t believe that HIV equals Death, or who refuses to take the life-saving test, or refuses to take the life-saving drugs. Inform on them so they can get abducted and questioned in Syria or Egypt where they are not as soft as the denialist-enabling [previous commenter].”
Notice that the commenter above claims that dissidents have an ideology of hate and destruction, while threatening to torture us, then kill us if we choose not to take the drugs? Who sounds like the Taliban in this conversation?
Worst of all, looking over his shoulder, Peter Staley watches over his blog from above.
It gives a whole meaning to the old ACT UP chant: Silence=Death.