88 responses

  1. Scott P.
    August 22, 2010

    Thank you, jim, those were my points exactly.

    Mostly debate here is well reasoned, but certain people seem to delight in trying to shut down any opinion that doesn’t align precisely with theirs, twisting words and logic beyond what was meant or intended.

  2. Hazemyth
    August 22, 2010

    I think it’s important to keep in a mind a distinction between the ethical and legal issues involved here. Most of the conversation has, I think, focused on the former but there’s been a fair amount of elision with the latter.

    While we certainly craft the law to further our ethical agendas, laws are complex, mercurial creatures. They have a variety of complex implications and set surprising precedents. My central point was simply that, whatever one’s narrow intent may be in criminalizing certain instances of HIV transmission, such a precedent could have a great deal of unintended consequences, criminalizing other behaviors. Some of those I postulated above.

    That said, I am opposed to the criminalization of HIV transmission. I might find an exception in the case of a narrowly crafted law explicitly targeting intentional transmission (as opposed to mere awareness of status or risk) and yet broad enough that it does not single out HIV over other infectious diseases.

  3. L. Junius Brutus
    August 22, 2010

    Scott P.: “You’re the one who called being HIV+ “burdensome”. You defended this position by citing a newspaper that is know for it’s diatribes about AIDS.”

    Please… It’s the freaking New York Times, not a local sensationalistic rag. Moreover, Jim also said that it’s not taking one pill a day: “I certainly want no part of having to take the meds, dealing with side effects, etc.”

    “And you seemed to have taken up my request as if it were a personal challenge for you to slap me down and prove that I’m wrong, wrong, wrong, to even entertain the idea that it isn’t an automatic march to the grave.”

    There is a vast chasm between “automatic march to the grave” and what you said it was, namely: “something it’s best to avoid”. Really? It’s best to avoid AIDS? Surely, you could find better ways to describe what AIDS is?

    Jim Burroway: “I know we live in a culture in which taking responsibility isn’t a popular option, but in the end, you can cry all you want about how other people made you do something you shouldn’t have done, but that’s a copout.”

    I absolutely agree that everyone should always use protection. However, I also think that people who have HIV should take responsibility. In fact, since they know that they have HIV, it only increases their responsibility to avoid infecting other people.

    “Don’t come crying to me if you decide not to wear seat belts, smoke cigarettes, or you have unsafe sex with a guy who promises on a stack of bibles that he’s negative. Or that he loves you. Or that he thinks you’re the hottest guy he’s seen in years. Jesus Christ, people. These people who cry woe is me and blame the other guy need to grow the f*ck up.”

    Really? People who have been lied to have no right to “blame the other guy” who lied to them and misled them into having unprotected sex?

    “But it’s stupid and irresponsible as a community if we also refuse to recognize the responsibility that we all have to watch out for our own health.”

    As far as I know, no one has refused to recognize that responsibility. However, I don’t see what this has to do with holding people who recklessly or deliberately infect others accountable for what they have done. We can recognize both the fact that everyone should always use protection, and the fact that predators need to be held accountable for the damage they inflict on people.

    “That is a deliberate strawman argument you pulled. Stop lying about what I said. I specifically said that XXXX is sixteen and I do not know the level of his maturity. At any rate, at 16 he is probably under the age of consent in Texas. As you well know, I was speaking about adults.”

    I wasn’t talking about XXXX at all. I was responding to what you said about people who get infected because someone lied to them, or refused to inform them about his status. I don’t believe that they have only themselves to blame, especially when they are young (18 is still young, 20 is still young) and naive.

    “Murderers? Really? I can understand the logic if you were talking about assault. I wouldn’t agree necessarily. I can’t say I would be completely against the idea — I would still have some reservations, but at least I could understand the logic. But you seem to be under the illusion that getting AIDS is a death sentence. You need to stop believing the same hysteria put out by anti-gay extremists.”

    I was only pointing out that your argument was invalid. You said that it does not make a difference to the victim whether he was deliberately or accidentally infected, he ends up infected in both cases. But this fact does not mean that we have to respond to both cases identically, and I used murder as an example. I also could have used assault as an example, or anything else.

    Hazemyth: “My central point was simply that, whatever one’s narrow intent may be in criminalizing certain instances of HIV transmission, such a precedent could have a great deal of unintended consequences, criminalizing other behaviors. Some of those I postulated above.

    That said, I am opposed to the criminalization of HIV transmission. I might find an exception in the case of a narrowly crafted law explicitly targeting intentional transmission (as opposed to mere awareness of status or risk) and yet broad enough that it does not single out HIV over other infectious diseases.”

    Might? What can possibly be said in opposition to holding creeps accountable for deliberately infecting others? And your “exception” would let free a 60-year-old man with HIV who recklessly infects a young, naive 18-year-old boy, because he refused to use protection or to inform the boy about his status. Truly incredible.

  4. Hazemyth
    August 22, 2010

    My main opposition would be that intent is difficult to accurately construe, which would allow for the guilty to go free and the innocent to be convicted far too often for my liking.

    As for your second point, yes that example is and should be perfectly legal. The older person’s behavior might well be reckless, unethical and otherwise objectionable, if he is, as you suggest, refusing to disclose his status. Generally, however, I don’t think that it’s a good idea for the law to shelter consenting adults from their own naivete.

    More specifically, if you choose to have sex with someone whose status you cannot confirm, someone whom you do not know well and cannot reasonably trust with any conviction, then you really have made your own rather poor choice. (Given that both adults in the example are above the age-of-consent, I’m not sure what relevance their difference in age is meant to have, legally speaking.)

    I don’t know why that’s incredible, even if you strongly disagree. You’re welcome to make your case for why such things should be illegal, rather than simply dismissing my case against it. It’s requisite of dialogue that you seriously consider other ideas (and not merely in your own unsympathetic terms), even if you dispute them. You can expect me to offer that consideration but don’t expect me to reply any further, if you don’t.

  5. Hazemyth
    August 22, 2010

    I’m very glad this entry has generated so much discussion and I really appreciate Jim Burroway’s contribution. I’d be very curious to see Steven Kincaid’s response, if he has any.

  6. Priya Lynn
    August 22, 2010

    Hazemyth said “That said, I am opposed to the criminalization of HIV transmission.”.

    That’s pretty irresponsible of you. In Canada a number of years back there was a case of a man with HIV who knew itand had unprotected sex with dozens of women infecting I think around a dozen of them and he hid his HIV status from all of them. If you think this sort of person shouldn’t be prosecuted there’s something wrong with your moral compass.

    Hazemyth said “My main opposition would be that intent is difficult to accurately construe, which would allow for the guilty to go free and the innocent to be convicted far too often for my liking.”.

    Horsefeathers. By that logic no one should be prosecuted for rape either because its just as likely the guilty could go free and the innocent be convicted far too often for your liking. There will never be a perfect justice system and if we all felt no crime should be prosecuted if there was a possibility of the innocent being convicted we’d have no justice system whatsoever.

  7. L. Junius Brutus
    August 22, 2010

    “My main opposition would be that intent is difficult to accurately construe, which would allow for the guilty to go free and the innocent to be convicted far too often for my liking.”

    Now that’s a good argument! Any law may allow some of the guilty to go free. So instead, let all the guilty go free by not having any such law.

    By the way, that’s the good thing about the law as it stands. You don’t actually need to have the *intent* to spread the disease. Merely being negligent about it is enough.

    “The older person’s behavior [in having unprotected sex with an 18-year old boy while he is HIV-positive] might well be reckless, unethical and otherwise objectionable”

    Might be reckless, unethical and otherwise objectionable? You aren’t sure?

    “Generally, however, I don’t think that it’s a good idea for the law to shelter consenting adults from their own naivete.”

    They aren’t sheltered from naivete, they are sheltered from others who would recklessly and/or deliberately inflict a chronic disease on them. Nothing wrong with that, apparently. Generally, if you recklessly inflict harm on other people, you are held accountable, but you apparently want an exception for AIDS.

    “Given that both adults in the example are above the age-of-consent, I’m not sure what relevance their difference in age is meant to have, legally speaking”

    Legally speaking? You keep bringing up legal matters (or things that you think are legal matters), so I’m wondering… are you an attorney? Or a law student? I would guess that you are not, because your statements reveal that you do not know much about law (e.g., not knowing which groups of people could *potentially* be prosecuted under even the strictest of HIV-transmission laws), yet you keep bringing up legal matters. I think you need to be aware of basic legal principles, before you imagine what sort of thing can possibly happen under such laws.

    “It’s requisite of dialogue that you seriously consider other ideas (and not merely in your own unsympathetic terms), ”

    A millisecond of consideration is necessary for me to realize that your ideas lack any merit whatsoever: allowing HIV+-people to go around and have sex with people without using protection, and without even telling these people that they are infected? No, thank you very much.

    If you can conjure up serious arguments and reasons, by all means do so, and I’ll consider them. But right now, this is what you are saying.

    “You’re welcome to make your case for why such things should be illegal, rather than simply dismissing my case against it.”

    What case? I don’t see any case, nor do I see any arguments. You just say that such laws are bad. Assertion is not evidence. By the way, I am not making a case for why these things should be illegal, because they are. Not only are these things illegal, but they are supported by the vast majority of people, and they have not led to the kind of things that you are “concerned” about. Your ‘case’ is for overturning these laws, and it is sorely lacking. So I’m curious. What would actually improve if these laws were repealed?

  8. Jim Burroway
    August 22, 2010

    Really? People who have been lied to have no right to “blame the other guy” who lied to them and misled them into having unprotected sex?

    When their exact same action would have had the exact same result if the guy was said he was negative and didn’t know he was positive, then yes. As an adult who knows very well that there are risks to unprotected sex, no matter the genuine or deceptive assurances (and in either example, the false so what does it end up mattering?), then no. They have no right to blame anyone but themselves. They were the ones who chose to engage in risky behavior.

    The point that I’m trying to drive home is that even if the partner says he is negative — even if he genuinely thinks he is negative — unprotected sex outside a serious long-term monogamous relationship is always risky. Adults recognize it and responsible adults take precautions.

    I mean, while we’re at it, maybe we should just leave our homes unlocked and the keys in our cars ignition.

    I was only pointing out that your argument was invalid.

    There is nothing “invalid” about my arguments. (and really, who died and made you God to decide that your opinions any more “valid” than mine or anyone else’s.) “Just because you don’t want to acknowledge that everyone has a duty to act according to the best interests of protecting their own health doesn’t mean it’s not “valid.” I have no idea what arbitrary definition you’re trying to apply to determining “validity.” I haven’t questioned yours, but confronted with your apparently arbitrary standard I’m about to do just that.

  9. Priya Lynn
    August 22, 2010

    Jim said “The point that I’m trying to drive home is that even if the partner says he is negative — even if he genuinely thinks he is negative — unprotected sex outside a serious long-term monogamous relationship is always risky. Adults recognize it and responsible adults take precautions.”.

    No one is disagreeing with that. What we are saying is that its criminal to lie about your HIV status and have unprotected sex with someone.

  10. L. Junius Brutus
    August 22, 2010

    “[People who have been lied to by a HIV+ person have no right to blame the person who lied to them, because] When their exact same action would have had the exact same result if the guy was said he was negative and didn’t know he was positive, then yes.”

    No, then no. You can’t blame the other guy if he *really* didn’t know that he was positive. On ther other hand, if he *did* know that he was positive, and lied about it, it is malicious lying, leading to grave damage to that person.

    Let’s apply this logic to another situation: Person B is holding Person A’s gun to person C’s head, and asks person A whether the gun is loaded. The gun is loaded, but in situation 1, person A thinks that it is *not* loaded, while in situation 2, he knows that it is loaded. In both situations, he will say that the gun is NOT loaded. In both situatios, person A unloads the gun and kills person C. Will you argue that there is no difference between the two situations, because their exact same action would have had the exact same result if the guy had said the gun was loaded and didn’t know it was loaded?

    “As an adult who knows very well that there are risks to unprotected sex,”

    Just about everything in life is risky. Driving a car is risky. That no more justifies recklessly or deliberately smashing one’s car into someone else’s car, damaging his property, health and life, than the fact that sex is risky justifies lying about and/or concealing one’s HIV+-status.

    “There is nothing “invalid” about my arguments. (and really, who died and made you God to decide that your opinions any more “valid” than mine or anyone else’s.) “

    Funny, you recognize that I was talking about your arguments (actually, that particular argument), but then you claim that I was actually calling your opinion invalid. There is a difference. One need not be God to evaluate the merits of arguments. As a matter of fact, I was talking about one very specific argument, which was clearly invalid, namely, this one: “So yeah, there are scumbags who lie, and there are people who really don’t know they’re positive. If you get infected, what difference does it make? You’re still infected.” This argument is invalid, because it conflates accidental with malicious transmission. I tried to point this out by showing that murder is treated differently than accidental killing, despite the fact that it makes no difference to the victim. You subsequently claimed that I was comparing – which I wasn’t, I was merely using murder as an example to point out that the logic of this argument is deeply flawed.

    “Just because you don’t want to acknowledge that everyone has a duty to act according to the best interests of protecting their own health doesn’t mean it’s not “valid.””

    And… I have more than once stated that I think everyone should always use protection, and the argument that I said was invalid had absolutely nothing to do with whether people should use protection or not. One can recognize that people should always use protection, and yet also be in favor of holding people who recklessly or deliberately infect healthy people accountable.

  11. Priya Lynn
    August 22, 2010

    I’ll add that once again, its unrealistic and unreasonable to ask a 16 year old to not be naive. The 16 year old bears no responsibility whatsoever, the blame is 100% on Everett.

  12. Eric in Oakland
    August 22, 2010

    Priya Lynn said: “I’ll add that once again, its unrealistic and unreasonable to ask a 16 year old to not be naive. The 16 year old bears no responsibility whatsoever, the blame is 100% on Everett.”

    I basically agree with that statement. It is one of the main reasons for age of consent laws. Because of that, Everett is already guilty of statutory rape. I would also not oppose a harsher sentencing if he demonstrated extreme disregard for the victim’s safety.

    That being said, it is not illegal for an adult to lie to another adult while trying to pick him up in a bar or on a hook up site. When both parties are legally adult the situation is completely different. Should it be illegal to withold that you are married? To withold that you are transgender? That you have a cold? That you have HPV? That you are using drugs? That you have been TESTED for HIV?

    There is also a HUGE difference between being reckless and TRYING to infect someone. Some people who know that they are HIV positive may nevertheless believe that they are not contagious or that the sexual acts they are performing are without risk. To prosecute someone for intentional harm you have to prove more than just knowledge of status.

  13. L. Junius Brutus
    August 23, 2010

    “That being said, it is not illegal for an adult to lie to another adult while trying to pick him up in a bar or on a hook up site.”

    Yes it is, if you don’t use protection. Stop spreading nonsense.

    “Some people who know that they are HIV positive may nevertheless believe that they are not contagious ”

    Riiiiight, someone else gave that person HIV, but that person does not think that he can give others HIV. The arguments in favor of your position get more ridiculous by the minute.

    “To prosecute someone for intentional harm you have to prove more than just knowledge of status.”

    It need not be intentional. If you go around and recklessly infect other people, then you can be prosecuted – just like you are when someone is damaged or killed due to reckless behavior by you. Same is the case with AIDS, apparently much to your chagrin.

  14. L. Junius Brutus
    August 23, 2010

    “If you go around and recklessly infect other people, then you can be prosecuted – just like you are when someone is damaged or killed due to reckless behavior by you.”

    Lest this be misinterpreted (like so many of my comments on this thread), “you” = “one”.

  15. Ben Mathis
    August 23, 2010

    Without commenting on the case in question as it’s complex, I just want to say I wouldn’t wish the Texas prison system on anyone, not even Hitler. This man, and his crimes, are a byproduct of the society he grew up in, and as a society we have an obligation to take care of our sick, even when it means keeping them away from other members of society, in a safe environment, with rehabilitation if possible. That’s not what the US prison system, and certainly not Texas’ looks like. Once imprisoned he will face crimes far worse than possibly giving a minor HIV. Very likely he will be raped multiple times, as well as violence against his person, by inmates and guards. If you wish that on another human being, you’re a sociopath, and no worse than this man.

  16. Jason D
    August 23, 2010

    “There is also a HUGE difference between being reckless and TRYING to infect someone. Some people who know that they are HIV positive may nevertheless believe that they are not contagious or that the sexual acts they are performing are without risk. To prosecute someone for intentional harm you have to prove more than just knowledge of status.”

    Actually, being reckless is factored into our laws and sentencing.

    I forget exactly where I read it, but basically it is assumed by law that all citizens will behave in ways that will not intentionally or accidentally cause harm to others. Thus “reckless endangerment” is a crime. Doing something dangerous without concern for the safety of others is not all that different than doing something intentionally to hurt others. The only way to argue against this is to convince the judge/jury that you didn’t know what you were doing was dangerous, or that you took reasonable precautions to ensure no one else was around that could get hurt.

    Lawyers, feel free to correct me on any of that.

  17. L. Junius Brutus
    August 23, 2010

    Ben Mathis: “Without commenting on the case in question as it’s complex,”

    This case is not “complex”, as it is about a man committing statutory rape and possibly infecting a 16-year-old boy with HIV. There is absolutely nothing “complex” about it, I can’t imagine a case being more clear-cut than this.

    “This man, and his crimes, are a byproduct of the society he grew up in, ”

    Oh yeah. This man did not choose to rape a 16-year-old boy without even using protection, no, he was forced to do it by “society”. It’s all society’s fault, not his own.

    “Once imprisoned he will face crimes far worse than possibly giving a minor HIV. Very likely he will be raped multiple times, as well as violence against his person, by inmates and guards.”

    Can you enumerate what “crimes” you think are worse than committing statutory rape on a 16-year-old boy and not even using protection, when you are HIV+? And can you explain how they are “far worse” than committing statutory rape and possibly giving a minor HIV?

    “If you wish that on another human being, you’re a sociopath, and no worse than this man.”

    Funny how committing statutory rape and possibly giving a minor is “complex”. But apparently, not displaying enough sympathy for what a miscreant such as this man will go through in prison is not “complex” at all, and you feel that you have the right to make the most terrible of judgments about people who don’t show enough sympathy.

    Really disturbing.

  18. Ben Mathis
    August 23, 2010

    It’s complex in how you would deal with the results. It’s very possible the man caused the boy harm (HIV infection), and it’s criminal to knowingly have sex with an incurable disease without telling your partner. AND in the US, 16 years old is a minor. I’m not debating he didn’t break the law. I am saying it’s complex because I think he should be punished, but sure as hell not with the violent torturous system that is the US prison system. That’s not going to help society to have yet another damaged person on the streets when he’s released. And the US prison system violates numerous human rights in it’s operations. I’m not going to throw the baby out with the bathwater by condemning one act of violence to even more violence through tax sponsored torture.

    I already outlined what he will face, and multiple forcible rapes plus possibility of real violence is certainly worse than possible HIV infection and possible adult predatory action. (possible because 16 is legal in several countries)

    The burn/rape/kill the pedophiles that always turns up is so disturbing and points to violence fetishism. Just looking for an “ok” target to vent your violent rage.

  19. Stan
    August 23, 2010

    Jason,

    You are basically correct. A crime does not need to be intentional, although intentional crimes are almost always more serious and are punished more severely than others.

    There are crimes based on knowing or intentional conduct (1st degree murder), depraved indifference to human life (2d degree murder), recklessness (manslaughter), and even mere negligence (negligent homicide). There are some crimes, mostly low level crimes or violations of regulatory requirements, that have no motive element at all.

    If presented accurately in the story, this case would involve charges ranging from assault/battery to reckless endangerment and possibly to attempted murder. That is in addition to the charges that would relate to the victim’s status as a minor. Conviction on any one of these charges will land Mr. Everett in prison for a long time. His future is not bright.

    Some people find this to be a morally complicated case. It isn’t.

  20. Stan
    August 23, 2010

    One other thing: This crap platform ate my comment in which I compare Burroway’s intellect unfavorably to that of Tim Kincaid. I just want it known that the disparity is glaringly obvious in each day’s posts. Here’s hoping that Kincaid launches a coup to oust Burroway.

    “I mean, while we’re at it, maybe we should just leave our homes unlocked and the keys in our cars ignition.”

    No, Jim, we shouldn’t. But if we do, that doesn’t mean that the burglar or the car thief who takes advantage of our stupidity is morally blameworthy, not to mention criminally and civilly liable. So your analogy disproves your argument. Par for the course.

  21. Priya Lynn
    August 23, 2010

    Ben said “I am saying it’s complex because I think he should be punished, but sure as hell not with the violent torturous system that is the US prison system. That’s not going to help society to have yet another damaged person on the streets when he’s released.”.

    Its certainly not going to help society to allow people to commit crimes with impunity which is the alternative you’re suggesting.

    I agree that rape and violence in prison is a grave injustice but if we take your argument to its logical conclusion then no one should be imprisoned for any crime and that would lead to a lawless society controlled by predators. The solution is not to stop punishing people for their crimes, its to take the necessary steps to prevent rape and violence in prisons. The idea that we’re going to eliminate prisons is completely unrealistic.

  22. Chris McCoy
    August 23, 2010

    Timothy Kincaid said:

    Everett is 26, XXXX is 16.
    [...]
    I’ve seen too many kids who trusted a foul creature like Everett before they were old enough or wise enough to know better.

    Yet if he were 1 year older XXXX would be old enough to know better, legally.

    In every country in Europe (except Ireland), and in Canada, India, China, Russia, all of South America, and 2/3rds of Africa, 5/7ths of Australia, and even 1/3rd of the States in the US, this 16 year old made a legal, informed, decision to have sex with another legal adult.

    While I agree that the Mr Everett is guilty of knowingly attempting to inflict harm on another person, to suggest that the victim’s age contributed to the heinousness of the crime is misrepresentation.

  23. Priya Lynn
    August 23, 2010

    Stan said “No, Jim, we shouldn’t. But if we do, that doesn’t mean that the burglar or the car thief who takes advantage of our stupidity is morally blameworthy, not to mention criminally and civilly liable.”.

    I think you meant to say “is not morally blameworthy. As to Jim’s intellect “comparing unfavourably” to Timothys – Bullcrap.

  24. Priya Lynn
    August 23, 2010

    Chris said “While I agree that the Mr Everett is guilty of knowingly attempting to inflict harm on another person, to suggest that the victim’s age contributed to the heinousness of the crime is misrepresentation.”.

    Wrong. While the law draws a sharp line between responsible/not responsible, saying in effect “Yesterday you were not responsible, today on your birthday you are responsible.” that is not how reality works. We don’t magically become informed on our birthdays, that gradually happens over a period of years. A 12 year old may be completely not responsible and a 21 year old completely responsible, but at 16 or 17 that person is going to be somewhere in between, regardless of the fairtale the law tells.

  25. L. Junius Brutus
    August 23, 2010

    Ben Mathis: “I am saying it’s complex because I think he should be punished, but sure as hell not with the violent torturous system that is the US prison system”

    Oh, you decided that this was the right time to bring up your issue, which is completely irrelevant to this story, and which can be used to attack any prison sentence, given to any criminal (even Hitler, as you yourself said). So tell me, would you oppose putting Hitler in the US prison system, if the alternative was letting him go free?

    “That’s not going to help society to have yet another damaged person on the streets when he’s released. ”

    I agree. He shouldn’t be released – he should be given life in prison.

    “I already outlined what he will face, and multiple forcible rapes plus possibility of real violence is certainly worse than possible HIV infection and possible adult predatory action. (possible because 16 is legal in several countries)”

    Interesting. Are you saying that having sex with a 16-year-old is only possibly abusive, because some countries have an age of consent that is 16? Following your reasoning, would you also say that having sex with an 8 or 9-year-old girl is only possibly abusive, because Yemen and Saudi-Arabia allow it?

    Oh, and did you just say that mere assault is “certainly worse than possible HIV infection”? Call me crazy, but I’d rather be assaulted.

    “The burn/rape/kill the pedophiles that always turns up is so disturbing and points to violence fetishism. Just looking for an “ok” target to vent your violent rage.”

    Yeah. Why on earth would people be against pedophiles?

    Oh, and child molesters do deserve the death penalty, and your amateur psychoanalysis does not impress.

  26. L. Junius Brutus
    August 23, 2010

    Stan: “One other thing: This crap platform ate my comment in which I compare Burroway’s intellect unfavorably to that of Tim Kincaid. I just want it known that the disparity is glaringly obvious in each day’s posts. Here’s hoping that Kincaid launches a coup to oust Burroway.”

    Jim is usually very sensible. And his analyses of scientific . He was the first to provide a refutation of most of the anti-gay lies put out by the religious right. Most simply don’t take the effort to refute those lies, but Jim recognized how damaging they are when they stand unopposed, and decided to set up this website. It does surprise me to see him make the arguments on this thread, but then again, it is obvious that it is a very emotional issue for him. It seems to me that his main issue is the fact that prosecuting such offenders gives people the idea that they can rely on the assurances that people give about their status.

    Chris McCoy: “Yet if he were 1 year older XXXX would be old enough to know better, legally.”

    The law does not state that he is old enough to know better at age 18. The law states that people can only be prosecuted for having sex with him until he is 18. So the age does matter, because we all know how naive 16-year-olds are: even more naive than 18-year-olds (and hell, I’m in my early 20s).

  27. Jason D
    August 23, 2010

    I find it very odd, Jim.

    What I see you saying, in a nutshell:

    “When Person A puts their trust in Person B, Person B has no moral or ethical obligation to be honest or honorable in regards to Person A.
    Whatever happens is entirely the fault of Person A.”

    It’s a rather cynical argument.

  28. Priya Lynn
    August 23, 2010

    Jason, that’s kind of what I’m taking from Jim’s adamant proclamations as well. I wonder if that’s what he really means to say but it does seem to be what he’s actually saying.

  29. Eric in Oakland
    August 23, 2010

    Jason D: There is also a HUGE difference between being reckless and TRYING to infect someone. Some people who know that they are HIV positive may nevertheless believe that they are not contagious or that the sexual acts they are performing are without risk. To prosecute someone for intentional harm you have to prove more than just knowledge of status.

    “Actually, being reckless is factored into our laws and sentencing.”

    Of course it is. I never said otherwise. However, wreckless endagerment is a lesser offense for precisely the reasons I gave.

    Brutus: That being said, it is not illegal for an adult to lie to another adult while trying to pick him up in a bar or on a hook up site.”

    “Yes it is, if you don’t use protection. Stop spreading nonsense.”

    Please cite the law that makes it illegal to lie in a pick up bar or to have sex without a condom.

    “Riiiiight, someone else gave that person HIV, but that person does not think that he can give others HIV. The arguments in favor of your position get more ridiculous by the minute.”

    Ummm… I never said that such people weren’t wrong. However, you must be living in a closet if you don’t know there are those who think that having an undetectable viral load means they are not contagious. And what position do you think I am arguing, exactly? Your “point” has nothing to do with what I was saying.

  30. Chris McCoy
    August 23, 2010

    Jason D said:

    I find it very odd, Jim.

    What I see you saying, in a nutshell:

    “When Person A puts their trust in Person B, Person B has no moral or ethical obligation to be honest or honorable in regards to Person A.
    Whatever happens is entirely the fault of Person A.”

    It’s a rather cynical argument.

    I read it more as “Caveat Emptor”.

    More resources need to be expended in HIV education to highlight to young people dangers such as the one highlighted in this case.

    I think Jim’s point was that, hypothetically, even if Mr Everett did not know is HIV status, XXXX took a risk in having unprotected sex with a stranger.

    Mr Everett knowing his HIV status increases the crime from “criminal negligence” to “reckless endangerment.” Unless the defense can prove Mens rea, that Mr Everett sought to intentionally infect XXXX, the severity of the crime is limited to Recklessness.

  31. Jason D
    August 23, 2010

    Chris that’s a valid point. But I see this sort of bizarre, and quite frankly frightening point where people seem to be suggesting that the victim/recipient/consumer is responsible but the other person is not.

    This discussion pops up about “Personal responsibility” but it would seem that people like Everett are not personally responsible or don’t need to take personal responsibility for their actions. Or that their involvement is minimal (and therefore exempt from personal responsibility) even though they hold the power to do the most damage or good in the situation.

  32. Hazemyth
    August 23, 2010

    Jason D:

    “I see this sort of bizarre, and quite frankly frightening point where people seem to be suggesting that the victim/recipient/consumer is responsible but the other person is not.”

    I see it as bizarre that no one has actually said this — yet you, Brutus, and others seem obstinately devoted to interpreting any statement of differing opinion in these black-and-white terms.

    Brutus quoted me as saying:

    “Safety is not solely the onus of those who know they are positive. They are not solely responsible, let alone criminally so.”

    Then, he immediately replied:

    “You are – to my disgust – arguing that HIV+ have NO responsibility to avoid infecting healthy people.”

    I think there’s a pretty evident difference between saying that someone does not have sole responsibility and saying that someone has no responsibility. I don’t see how that could be more evident than the in the juxtaposition that Brutus provided. Yet he chose to misinterpret what I said, all the same.

    If you expect your responses to be given an credence, you’re going to need to do the same.

  33. Timothy Kincaid
    August 24, 2010

    Point 1:

    Perhaps a bit of clarity and a reminder.

    Yes, for most HIV infected persons, a lifetime of taking a drug, suffering side effects, regular check-ups, significant expense, and being in a group that can to some extent limit your dating/partnering prospects, will probably be the worst results of seroconverting. Life expectancy will not be greatly reduced, if one is careful and consistent.

    And we have a decent expectancy that drugs will continue to improve and finally the medical community is beginning again to whisper the word “cure”. So there is no assumption that HIV = death. That simply is not true anymore.

    But – and for me this is a big but – not everyone responds well to AVRs. Not everyone has the financial, social support, and other resources to fight this virus. People do still die from AIDS-related disease in the United States.

  34. Timothy Kincaid
    August 24, 2010

    Point 2:

    We are all responsible for stopping the spread of HIV and AIDS. But we are not all equally responsible. Whether or not you think it fair, those with HIV have a greater responsibility.

    There simply is no equality in the morality of avoiding getting HIV and avoiding spreading HIV. These simply are not equal responsibilities; endangering myself is morally, legally, and socially different from endangering others.

    There is a great national campaign called “HIV Stops With Me” in which they seek to get HIV positive people to commit to stopping the spread of the virus by them. Those who participate make the decision to live responsibly.

    I hope that conversations of this sort don’t harm this campaign. I am troubled by any discussion that suggests that those who have HIV need not control the containment of the virus because it is the responsibility of others to always play safe.

  35. Timothy Kincaid
    August 24, 2010

    See UPDATE above

  36. Jason D
    August 24, 2010

    “I see it as bizarre that no one has actually said this — yet you, Brutus, and others seem obstinately devoted to interpreting any statement of differing opinion in these black-and-white terms.”

    Really?

    You said:

    “Sleeping with someone involves trust and trust is a risk, in all sorts of ways. When you sleep with someone, you assume that risk. If you fail to establish trust, you’re accepting more risk.”

    Nowhere in this quote do I see anything about the other person’s responsibility. I have a hard time finding it in anything else you write, either.

    Again, personal responsibility is solely in the lap of those who take “risks”.

    I get it, you think people should be careful. Valid. You think people should be personally responsible and accept risk.

    Accepting risk means accepting consequences.

    So should HIV+ folks who go around infecting people be subject to any consequences whatsoever?

    Someone who has an aggressively violent dog would be at fault if they left their gate open and it attacked and killed a baby. Even if the kid walked right up to it. The onus is on the owner, being aware of the danger his dog represents and taking responsibility for that danger. No, it’s not a crime to have a dog, even a dangerous one. It is, however, a crime to not take reasonable precautions to prevent the animal from maiming/killing people. Even stupid people who walk right up to it.
    The analogy isn’t exact, but it’s a decent illustration that responsibility is not always 50/50 between two parties.

    Not taking responsibility for those you infect is no different than saying “it’s not my fault my sperm got that lady pregnant, she shouldn’t have had sex with me.”

    Although that does bring me to an idea Dan Savage proposed. A sort of HIV “child support”. You infect, you get to foot the bills(at least partway) for medication and related expenses.

  37. Chris McCoy
    August 24, 2010

    Jason D said:

    Chris that’s a valid point. But I see this sort of bizarre, and quite frankly frightening point where people seem to be suggesting that the victim/recipient/consumer is responsible but the other person is not.

    This discussion pops up about “Personal responsibility” but it would seem that people like Everett are not personally responsible or don’t need to take personal responsibility for their actions. Or that their involvement is minimal (and therefore exempt from personal responsibility) even though they hold the power to do the most damage or good in the situation.

    I did not mean to imply that Mr Everett was innocent, or should be treated as not guilty, or that blame should be placed on the victim.

    To use the previously stated example of leaving the door to your house unlocked – of course the thief that robs your unlocked house is guilty of robbery. There’s no question there. However, does that mean we should all go around leaving our houses unlocked?

    Let me again state that I am in no way holding the victim guilty in either the real sexual assault case, or the hypothetical robbery I give above.

    As I stated, I think this case should be used to highlight the dangers of unprotected sex. This victim chose risky behavior with a stranger who consciously failed to disclose his HIV status. I think this case, and the increasing prevalence of bareback porn, shows that we need better targeted education to sexually mature teens and young adults.

    Teaching people to take steps to protect themselves from harm is not equal to advocating that people who do not protect themselves enough are somehow blameworthy should harm befall them.

  38. Jutta Zalud
    August 30, 2010

    @Joe

    “I find it odd that some of the comments include arguments such as, at sixteen he should know better.

    This misses the point. The person who owns the gun is responsible if he shoots someone.”

    Maybe you know much more than is reported in the newspapers. From what I take from the above article, XXXX had a date with Everett. He met him first on Grindr, then phoned with him and then went to him in his flat to have sex with him. There is no hint in the report that Everett forced him to have sex with hin or talked him into it.

    While it is illegal in Texas to have consensual sex with 16 year old persons and Everett should have sent him home and while it is certainly irresponsible to have anal sex without a condome, these acts are not similar to the wilful killing of a helpless victim.

    Another aspect is missing from this long and heated discussion: If knowingly HIV-positive persons who have sex are treated as criminals, people will prefer not to know their HIV-status. That makes prevention and treatment extremely difficult.

    In Germany Pop Singer Nadja Benaissa got a conditional sentence of 2 years + an unconditional sentence of 200 hours of social work because she had unprotected sex with several men while she knew that she was positive and one man turned seropositive after having unprotected sex with her. This relatively mild sentence is still critisized by all AIDS-prevention activists because it gives a wrong signal.

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