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Ottawa Police disclosed that gay man transmitted “infectious disease”

This commentary is the opinion of the author and may not necessarily reflect that of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin.

Timothy Kincaid

August 24th, 2010

Gay groups in Ottawa are furious with the police for releasing information about a gay man’s sexual health, so furious in fact that they are refusing funds from a police fundraiser. (Citizen)

Several groups in Ottawa’s gay community will refuse funds to be raised by police at a pancake breakfast Monday, in protest over how officers publicly identified an HIV-positive man.

In an unusual move that infuriated the gay community, police publicly released a photo of Steven Paul Boone, 29, charged in May with aggravated sexual assault. Police say he failed to disclose his HIV status to another Ottawa man who contracted the disease after the two had unprotected sex several times.

The story began in May when Boone was arrested. (CBC)

Steven Paul Boone, 29, remained in custody Friday after being charged with nine counts of aggravated sexual assault, said an Ottawa police news release.

The charges were laid after another man alleged in April that he contracted an infectious disease after sexual contact with Boone in late January and early February. Police said they could not disclose the nature of the disease, including whether it was HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Although the police did not specifically state that the infectious disease was HIV, advocates felt that releasing the man’s photo was inappropriate.

By releasing the photo, [Brent Bauer, of the Ottawa Gay Men’s Wellness Initiative] said, police invaded Boone’s privacy, and spread fear among gays, who might now hesitate to get tested for AIDS.

Okay, to see if I have Bauer’s logic correct, he thinks that because a man who failed to disclose his HIV-positive to sexual partners was exposed by the police, therefore people will not want to get tested.

Oddly enough, that theory was put to the practical test. And failed spectacularly. What Bauer is not acknowledging is that between the photo being released and the pancake breakfast something else happened: five additional victims came forward. (Citizen)

A 29-year-old man accused of failing to disclose his HIV-positive to sexual partners has had his charges upgraded to include attempted murder.

The four counts of attempted murder were laid against Steven Paul Boone in relation to four of his alleged victims. Boone has also been charged with four counts of administering a noxious substance — HIV — to the four men.

Here we have a guy with at least six victims, four of which seroconverted. And Boone did not disclose his status to any of them even though, as it turns out, he had known of his HIV status for at least a year. And it is at least a reasonable assumption that three of them would not have known to get tested if the police had not released this guy’s picture.

Studies regularly confirm that – because most people are not despicable vermin like Boone – the biggest contributor to the continued spread of HIV is ignorance of one’s status. Not only are most HIV+ people responsible, but medications can reduce viral loads to the point where it might not be possible to pass on the virus.

But if these men had not seen Boone’s picture, they may not have gotten tested before endangering others.

I can appreciate that the community in Ottawa is offended in that they believe the police are not considering their complaint about the privacy rights of those who are HIV positive. And I appreciate the value of clear guidelines that protect the privacy of the innocent. But I find the defense of Boone to be difficult to fathom.

I have long been an advocate for those impacted by HIV/AIDS. I was privy to the early debates over confidential v. anonymous testing and I am still not convinced that names-based reporting is the most effective policy (or at least not as it is currently administered).

But I believe we should be doing everything in our power to stop the continued spread of HIV within our community. That should drive our policies and our sympathies and if that means that we put the interests of the uninfected – even the irresponsible uninfected – ahead of those who are deliberately endangering others, I have no problem with that.

I don’t wish to threaten the privacy of the vast majority of responsible HIV positive people who would never dream of doing anything that would pass on this virus. But people like Boone are a danger and a threat to the members of our community and we are fools if we put their interests before our own.

Comments

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grantdale
August 24th, 2010 | LINK

I certainly won’t be defending him either Timothy but, all else aside, it sounds as if up to six people were also a mind-boggling “danger and a threat” to themselves. A point worth stating.

I grew up with the message that you should assume everyone and anyone was +ve until known otherwise, and to act accordingly. And that being +ve was no trivial matter. Call me old-fashioned, but I still think ‘unprotected’ means exactly what it says it means.

David Malcolm
August 24th, 2010 | LINK

I agree, I’m sorry but even if someone tells me that they don’t have a life threatening illness, I’m not gonna fool around with them without a condom. I make the people that I’m 90% sure are negative wear a condom, anyone who I’m not 90% sure, I don’t sleep with!

Everett
August 24th, 2010 | LINK

Um, this guy is accused of aggravated sexual assault…here in the USA, the media routinely show pictures of those accused of crimes on the nightly news. Is it different in Ottawa? I guess since those gay Canadians have gay marriage, they have decided to use their voices to bash police, by not fundraising for them, in the name of this criminal….

Jim Burroway
August 24th, 2010 | LINK

I’m not interested in defending people who don’t disclose their HIV status, but I think grantdale crystallized everything I had said earlier:

it sounds as if up to six people were also a mind-boggling “danger and a threat” to themselves. A point worth stating.

I said it before, I’ll say it again. The best thing to stand between you and HIV is a very thin layer of latex. Use the damn thing, and you’ll be fine. Anyone who believes whatever fool thing someone you meet at the bar says just because they want to get into your pants is putting themselves into danger. I’m tired of people copping out to their own failures to protect themselves, especially when it is so mind-boggling easy to do so.

John in the Bay Area
August 24th, 2010 | LINK

In some countries, newspapers are not allowed to report on people in custody, unless or until they are convicted of a crime. The idea is that the person is presumed innocent and his/her reputation should not be destroyed, if they aren’t even convicted of a crime.

The flip side of the coin is that reporting on people who have been taken into custody makes the community aware that this person was arrested. The police and courts must account for this person. Are they charging him/her with a crime? Will the person get bail? If no bail, why? Is the person alive? Can relatives and lawyers visit? etc.

If you live in a country where the media does identifty arrested individuals, then you would expect them to identify the crime the person is charged with. In this case, the sexual assault charge seems to rest on the transmission of HIV, rather than forcible rape, groping or some other more typical sexual assault charge. I am not sure how you charge someone with sexual assault for infecting someone with HIV through deception or fraud without identifying that the person being charged has HIV.

Ultimately, the gay groups that are angry have to decide whether they want to live in a society where arrests are kept secret or not. They also have to decide whether they want to lobby for a law making it impossible to charge someone with infecting others with HIV, regardless of how deliberate the person transmitting the infection was or if the person acted with depraved indifference towards others.

If there is no crime, there is nothing to report. And if arrests are secret, there is nothing to report. But do these groups really want to go that far? I doubt it, and even if they did, I doubt they would get much wider support. Even in Canada, I am sure people don’t trust the government enough to authorize secret arrests. Hell, these gay groups don’t seem to have much trust in the police as it is.

Jim Burroway
August 24th, 2010 | LINK

But I believe we should be doing everything in our power to stop the continued spread of HIV within our community.

Each and every one of those men had the power to sop the continued spread of HIV into their own bodies.

And by the way, charging Boone with attempted murder — especially in a country with universal access to health care — has absolutely no basis in medical fact whatsoever. I can understand the argument for assault — I don’t agree with it, but I can understand the logic of it. Attempted murder however plays into old attitudes which are no longer justified, and really haven’t been now for the better part of a decade.

Aaron Logan
August 24th, 2010 | LINK

http://www.aidslaw.ca/EN/index.htm
http://www.aidslaw.ca/EN/issues/criminal_law.htm
Here are some links to more nuanced discussion of the issue.

Titus
August 24th, 2010 | LINK

In Canada, the law allows police to report details of adults who have been charged with crimes.

Tone
August 24th, 2010 | LINK

The message I get from this is that we still have much education do to. Were these victims more aware of the continued necessity to always have safer sex, they might not be pos. today.

Guys like me in our 40’s came out amidst the first wave of the epidemic, we saw our buddies die from this. We get it. Sadly it appears a lot of gay men half my age, who don’t have the historical context that I have, do not get it.

And Steven Paul Boone is a hell of a piece of work no matter what crime he’s charged with.

DN
August 24th, 2010 | LINK

Without weighing in on what’s right or wrong here, I want to gently point out that it’s Ottawa, not Ottowa. :)

Eric in Oakland
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

This man is a poor excuse for a human being if he did what he is accused of doing. However, I don’t understand the assault charge. I thought that, legally, an assault was a threat of violence (where the victim has to be aware of the danger while the threat is being made). I can see the argument that he showed reckless endangerment or the like but this does not sound like an assault.

I also find it deeply disturbing that some people think no one has any responsibility for their own protection. When people feel as if criminal law allows them to assume every hook-up is disease free, aren’t they much less likely to concern themselves with the risks of unprotected sex?

andrew
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Hold up — there’s a lot of assumption going on here with insufficient information, and the end result is that (as we see here) the individual is already tried and convicted in the press. At a minimum, the use of “despicable vermin” based on brief non-specific news articles and a poorly sourced vigilante website (really? that’s your source?) is patently irresponsible, and it should be revised.

Couldn’t you at least have used the words “alleged” prior to a conviction here?

Questions we should be asking:
–> did he “fail to disclose” or “deceive with intent to infect”? there’s a big difference…
–> does the victim have an obligation to at least ask the status of his partners? at what point does personal responsibilty become a factor here? i mean, seriously — one of the episodes discussed was a bareback 4-way.
–> does the victim have a responsibility in employing safe sex techniques? were reasonable attempts made to protect themselves? where is the boundary for personal responsibility?

to wit, and to be graphic: if someone volunteers to bottom in a barebacking group situation without asking anyone’s status, is it entirely unreasonable to assume that he is already poz, is aware of the risk they’re exposing themselves to, or doesn’t care?

–> before releasing name & photos, are the authorities accurately able to determine that the accused is the source of the infection, or is he just the only guy they could find? if, for example, sex was taking place in a cruising environment (or, as here, the internet)… or other places prone to high-risk sex, anonymity, and/or multiple partners, can it be determined that the accused is the sole vector for the infectious disease?
–> was the accused mis-informed or provided with inaccurate counseling by professionals? (e.g. the assertion that some professionals make that having an undetectable viral load is nearly equivalent to being non-infectious, or other myths like being a passive/bottom, or failure to ejaculate eliminate risk). That is, did he have a reasonable belief that he did not pose a significant danger to his partners and thus did not need to disclose?

It’s certainly possible that this guy is a scumbag out to make everyone else hurt as bad as he does, a real menace.

It’s also possible you’re cheering on a lynch mob.

Only problem is — you’re busy critizing everyone else — the accused, the group calling for more sensible procedures — and yet you haven’t bothered to stop and ask questions yourself.

If you combine hypothetical disinterest on the part of a victim regarding status, reckless disregard for personal safety on the part of a victim, and reasonable belief of non-harmfulness on the part of the accused… (let alone misattribution or singling out one bad player out of many), suddenly it’s really a conversation about much harder topics:

>sex education
>post-HAART gay culture
>the impact ready access of HAART medications has in risk calculations, and the part this plays in shared health care costs
>basic personal responsibility
>ethics of testing
>anti-poz sentiments and discrimination within the gay community
>handling of poz individuals and cases by law enforcement and prison systems
>stigma as a barrier to testing

Tim defends the exposure of this guy, with his name and photo, in the press PRIOR to a conviction (effectively ruining his life, permanently) on the basis that “it led to more victims coming forward”… seriously? that’s the new standard? why exactly did these boys, who were engaging in patently unsafe sex with strangers they met on the internet, wait until they saw the dude’s face in the papers to get tested, and how can we justify that as our new education / test promotion technique?

Or, as I’ve seen many times before in the testing & education community, is it okay to punish people who have engaged in risky sex in order to “get the message across”?

I’m pretty disgusted here. Based on the very scant information from the Citizen articles, you FAIL to ask important questions. You do, however cite http://stdcarriers.com/ — a very sketchy unsourced vigilante site — as one of 3 sources in your article. (I really love the size-2 font disclaiming any responsibility for factual errors on their part — compounded with an absolute absence of sourcing of their data. Nothing like anonymous attribution and freedom from responsibility!)

Based on that, to use very strong language like “despicable vermin” is really beyond the pale. I can understand strong feelings — especially in some of the possibilities here which could be very grim and ugly (and despicable)… but rather than doing your homework, and asking tough and thoughtful questions, you jump to conclusions and create a hysterical hatchet piece. Shame on you.

Now, why not go back and re-write this as a responsible piece (yeah, it will take more than 30 seconds to compose… that’s the price of having your own soapbox, dude).

Mortanius
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

If you’re planning on pretending there are no bullets in a gun you pick up off the street, point it at your head and pull the trigger and it goes off is the gun maker responsible for murder?

Each and every time you have unsafe sex with a stranger or the 10% you’re “sure” of, is doing the same as pointing a gun to your head.

If you don’t want to spread HIV, don’t assume that the person(s) you’re sleeping with are negative just because they don’t say anything. If everybody assumed everybody they were sleeping with were Poz, then we’d see transmission go down significantly, but “oh he’s hot, he doesn’t look like he’s got the HIV, so it should be fine, he’s healthy, strong, muscular”

The worst thing in this community is not knowing your status and the fear of getting tested. Not getting tested so you don’t have to face reality is as good as going around and killing your fellow sexual partners.

Emily K
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

I get that HIV is no longer a death sentence according to medical science. But tell that to people who can’t afford the enormous cost of the medication required to keep death at bay.

Dan in Toronto
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Sigh.

You could have done some useful further research for this story than sticking to the talking points of the mainstream media. There’s more to the story than what appears in the Citizen and CBC.

See xtra.ca:
http://www.xtra.ca/public/Ottawa/Ottawa_gay_charities_turn_down_police_fundraiser_cash_citing_HIV_crim_debacle-9078.aspx
http://www.xtra.ca/public/Ottawa/Police_board_rejects_policy_review_on_HIV_nondisclosure_cases-8963.aspx

Summary: The Ottawa Police went beyond their usual procedures by broadcasting the identity of the accused and labeling him a “sexual predator” in a press release to the public. Typically, tracking down one’s sexual partners in these situations is done (and done very effectively) by Public Health. Ottawa Police disregarded this policy, and publicized this man’s identity. The move was unnecessary – the man had already been charged and effectively neutralized. He was being questioned by police and Public Health about his other sexual contacts. Publicizing his identity and labeling him a “sexual predator” only created fear and hysteria, and further reinforced the idea in the public’s mind that all HIV+ people are scary, dangerous sexual predators.

That’s only half of the story. Since their smear was gleefully publicized by the mainstream press, the Police response to the community (at large, and through their main contact point with the community, the Police Liaison Committee) has been disgusting. The author of the press release expressed regret for the poor choice of words, but the police have stonewalled any attempt by community groups to improve their policy.

Thus this latest kerfuffle around Ottawa Pride events – these community groups rightfully do not want to be seen supporting a police force which holds the community in such contempt. The police have been callous and irresponsible in using their most blunt tool which only served to foment fear and hysteria in the general public.

Désirée
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

sure the people who had unprotected sex were monumentally stupid but claiming they are responsible is going too far. Even if I leave my car doors unlocked and the keys in the ignition, it is still theft if someone else drives off in my car. That is to say, you are not abridged of a crime just because your victim was an idiot. Sure they could have and should have protected themselves, but the blame resides 100% with the slimeball who knowing gave them the disease.

Dan in Toronto
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

“I can appreciate that the community in Ottowa is offended in that they believe the police are not considering their complaint about the privacy rights of those who are HIV positive. And I appreciate the value of clear guidelines that protect the privacy of the innocent. But I find the defense of Boone to be difficult to fathom.”

So, when someone is falsely charged as being a “sexual predator” for non-disclosure and has had their lives completely fucked by a police smear, then what will you say? If you look at the history of such cases in Canada, it is not a matter of if, but when.

This really isn’t about this specific case, but rather how Police handle these cases in general. The accused has not been convicted. That it seems super obvious that he’s guilty (and make no mistake, he probably is) is irrelevant. The police had several options available to them that would not further the stigmatization of HIV+ people in general. They ignored those options and chose a strategy to stir up fear and hysteria. If you’re willing to actually trust the police to not make mistakes that would forever ruin people’s lives, then I would seriously reconsider your position as activist.

For further analysis of the Canadian situation regarding the criminalization of HIV, see: http://www.xtra.ca/public/National/ACTION_CAMPAIGN_Condemn_the_criminalization_of_HIV-4/activisthome.aspx

Paul in Canada
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Thanks Dan in Toronto for your links and additional information. I wish the author had done some basic research into the story before submitting his uninformed opinion.

The actions here in Ottawa are about improving the police department’s public health policy, not about this specific case. There are proven (scientific) public health practices that are far more effective in addressing this type of situation then publically blaming/labelling the ‘accused’ (not proven) individual in the media as they did.

The Police Chief, Vern White, is vehemently against safe-sex/safe-injection public health policies and continually fights the city public health department and the GLBTQ community to improve their policies, practices and relationship with the community here.

The ‘rejection’ of the mere $400 donation of the breakfast was a statement – improve your willingness to work with us!

All this during a week of pride celebrations when once again, the media relishes the negative stories instead of the beauty that exists in our community.

Dan in Toronto
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

For Andrew:

“–> did he “fail to disclose” or “deceive with intent to infect”? there’s a big difference…”

Intentional deception would probably result in additional charges, but at their heart they are mostly equivalent.

The exception here is if the HIV+ person doesn’t know their serostatus (ie. never gets tested). In that case, they can honestly say they don’t know they are positive, and therefore they have nothing to disclose. This is why activists here are concerned that at risk populations may refuse to get tested.

I believe that this scenario applies to a couple of instances of infection in this overall case – it’s unclear exactly when the accused became aware of his HIV+ status (and therefore legally obligated to disclose).

“–> does the victim have an obligation to at least ask the status of his partners? at what point does personal responsibilty become a factor here? i mean, seriously — one of the episodes discussed was a bareback 4-way.”

Under Canadian law, the “victim” has no legal responsibility to attempt to discern their partner’s serostatus.

“–> does the victim have a responsibility in employing safe sex techniques? were reasonable attempts made to protect themselves? where is the boundary for personal responsibility?”

Nope. The law in Canada currently places all responsibility on the HIV+ person involved.

Oh, one other “fun” point: the crime is failure to disclose. It doesn’t matter if transmission actually occurs. In most of the cases in Canada involving gay men, HIV transmission did not occur: the HIV+ person was guilty and the HIV- person’s identity is protected.

Priya Lynn
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Eric said “I also find it deeply disturbing that some people think no one has any responsibility for their own protection. When people feel as if criminal law allows them to assume every hook-up is disease free”.”.

I find it deeply disturbing that some people think someone who is HIV+ has no responsibility if he infects a partner he didn’t inform of his status. No one said criminal law allows anyone to assume a hook-up is disease free.

Andrew said “Tim defends the exposure of this guy, with his name and photo, in the press PRIOR to a conviction (effectively ruining his life, permanently) on the basis that “it led to more victims coming forward”… seriously? that’s the new standard? why exactly did these boys, who were engaging in patently unsafe sex with strangers they met on the internet, wait until they saw the dude’s face in the papers to get tested,”.

Why they waited is irrelevant. That they did wait and that the release of the photo and story encouraged them to get tested is what is important.

Dan said “Publicizing his identity and labeling him a “sexual predator” only created fear and hysteria, and further reinforced the idea in the public’s mind that all HIV+ people are scary, dangerous sexual predators.”.”.

Nonsense. No one thinks that because one HIV+ person didn’t volunteer his status that no HIV+ person will and all will have unprotected sex. That’s like saying that if a story is released saying that a black person committed a crime it’ll make people think all black people are criminals – absolutely ridiculous.

Dan said “So, when someone is falsely charged as being a “sexual predator” for non-disclosure and has had their lives completely fucked by a police smear, then what will you say?”.

I’ll say first, if they’re falsely charged they can make that clear to people and its complete BS that their lives will be “completely f*cked”. Secondly I’ll say that no system is perfect and problems are inevitable. The greater risk is that such a predator will continue to infect innocent people and that those who’ve had contact with him will be unaware of the HIV+ contact.

Under Canadian law, the “victim” has no legal responsibility to attempt to discern their partner’s serostatus.

“–> does the victim have a responsibility in employing safe sex techniques? were reasonable attempts made to protect themselves? where is the boundary for personal responsibility?”

Nope. The law in Canada currently places all responsibility on the HIV+ person involved.

Oh, one other “fun” point: the crime is failure to disclose. It doesn’t matter if transmission actually occurs. In most of the cases in Canada involving gay men, HIV transmission did not occur: the HIV+ person was guilty and the HIV- person’s identity is protected.

Exactly as it should be.

Desiree said “sure the people who had unprotected sex were monumentally stupid but claiming they are responsible is going too far. Even if I leave my car doors unlocked and the keys in the ignition, it is still theft if someone else drives off in my car. That is to say, you are not abridged of a crime just because your victim was an idiot. Sure they could have and should have protected themselves, but the blame resides 100% with the slimeball who knowing gave them the disease.”

I agree completely. I’m sick of people ignoring the crime and blaming the victim.

Priya Lynn
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

I also note how Dan placed victim in quotes – basically stating that he thinks the victim wasn’t done wrong in any way. That’s what I find so offensive about attitudes like his.

Timothy Kincaid
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

DN,

So that’s why spellcheck didn’t recognize “Ottowa”. I thought it was just being UScentric.

L. Junius Brutus
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Eric in Oakland: “I also find it deeply disturbing that some people think no one has any responsibility for their own protection.”

No one has said that, and you know it – yet you continue to knowingly misrepresent the position of people you disagree with.

“When people feel as if criminal law allows them to assume every hook-up is disease free, aren’t they much less likely to concern themselves with the risks of unprotected sex?”

No, I don’t think so. It even makes them more aware of the fact that people may lie, and that they should be less trusting.

And let’s look at the converse: aren’t people who are HIV+ much more likely to go around and have unprotected sex with healthy people if they know that they can’t be held accountable for it? After all, it’s not as if there is a shortage of evil people in the world, and there are more than enough people who don’t care about whom they infect.

Ben Mathis
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

I agree with Andrew 100%

L. Junius Brutus
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Dan in Toronto: “This is why activists here are concerned that at risk populations may refuse to get tested.”

Because they know they can’t go and have unprotected sex and infect other people? Is having unprotected sex worth more to these people than life itself?

“Oh, one other “fun” point: the crime is failure to disclose. It doesn’t matter if transmission actually occurs. In most of the cases in Canada involving gay men, HIV transmission did not occur: the HIV+ person was guilty and the HIV- person’s identity is protected.”

Well, DUH. Have you ever heard of crimes like “attempted murder” or “attempted robbery”? Or are you going to put up a sob story about how someone who tries to murder someone, and fails, should not be prosecuted and that it’s a HIDEOUS injustice?

Priya: “I find it deeply disturbing that some people think someone who is HIV+ has no responsibility if he infects a partner he didn’t inform of his status. No one said criminal law allows anyone to assume a hook-up is disease free.”

You know that, I know that, but these people’s position thrives on misinformation and obfuscation. An honest discussion would expose just how ridiculous their position is. “Yeah, even though recklessly harming another person is unlawful, we want an exception, and we want HIV+ people to go around and without any obstacle have unprotected sex with as many healthy people as they want, and they even have the right to lie about it.”

L. Junius Brutus
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Andrew: “Based on that, to use very strong language like “despicable vermin” is really beyond the pale.”

IOW: Infect healthy people with chronic diseases all you want, but don’t you dare call people who deliberately or recklessly infect others anything but wonderful people.

Timothy Kincaid
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

There seems to be on the part of some an assumption that the three guys who tested positive after the police report are negligible, that they only have themselves to blame. Who cares if they tested or not, or when, they are irresponsible and we don’t care about the timing of their discovery, their treatment protocol, or their health.

And there is absolutely zero discussion about whether there would have been others who they would infect. Again, these are just irresponsible jerks whom we can dismiss without a second’s consideration.

They all pale in importance to the guy who was HIV+, he’s the only important one here.

Some have gone so far as to suggest that an HIV+ person has the right to assume that his partners are either positive or not caring while an HIV- person has no right to any assumptions at all.

Why is that?

I wonder if we are engaging in group-think where we automatically identify with the “oppressed community” and therefore see anyone with HIV as being more on “our side” than anyone without. I don’t know, but that might explain those who soundly condemn the behavior of those who seroconverted while showing little objection to the behavior of Boone.

I hope that is just a misperception on my part. Because that is an inherently inconsistent way of thinking.

It says, in effect, that the uninfected person who engages in unsafe sex is condemnable and worthy of blame. But only until he seroconverts, at which point he enters a group which we defend. It’s redemption by means of seroconversion.

Ironically, I think that there are some here ready to blame the victims for their own irresponsibility, never even considering that Boone, in whom they find little fault, would have just a year before been the subject of their contempt.

I wonder how long it will be before the irresponsibility of the newly infected four guys will be immune to criticism? Perhaps only when they infect someone else.

L. Junius Brutus
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

^^ Post of the year.

I’m betting hundred dollars that there’ll be no answer to the questions posed (rather, a clever avoidance). Yet more obfuscation and diversionary tactics.

Dan in Toronto
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Dan in Toronto: “This is why activists here are concerned that at risk populations may refuse to get tested.”

L. Junius Brutus: “Because they know they can’t go and have unprotected sex and infect other people? Is having unprotected sex worth more to these people than life itself?”

Um, no. “Activists” as in people who work for community organizations like the Gay Men’s Wellness Initiative in Ottawa, the AIDS Committee of Ottawa, AIDS Committee of Toronto, etc, all who deeply care for the well being of the whole community. NO ONE is advocating that HIV+ people can/should “go and have unprotected sex and infect other people.” Nice try.

Here, let’s flip the question around: why are these HIV- people so convinced they can have all the unprotected sex they want? Is having unprotected sex worth more to these people than life itself?

People here have assumed that I’m blaming the victim in all of this, but seem to ignore the FACT that in most cases the HIV- person has CHOSEN to have unprotected sex. That they are recklessly endangering their own life is perfectly fine? (That’s rhetorical – it’s obviously not fine.. but it’s the choice they make)

L. Junius Brutus: “Well, DUH. Have you ever heard of crimes like “attempted murder” or “attempted robbery”? Or are you going to put up a sob story about how someone who tries to murder someone, and fails, should not be prosecuted and that it’s a HIDEOUS injustice?”

What of it, Mr-Appeal-to-Emotion? These people are being charged with assault and attempted murder. It’s one thing for someone was deceptive in denying their HIV+ status, as apparent in this case – and he’ll go to jail for it. In other circumstances, if transmission did not occur, what exactly is the harm? Why don’t both people involved recognize the close call for what it is and move on?

Priya: “I find it deeply disturbing that some people think someone who is HIV+ has no responsibility if he infects a partner he didn’t inform of his status. No one said criminal law allows anyone to assume a hook-up is disease free.”

L. Junius Brutus:”You know that, I know that, but these people’s position thrives on misinformation and obfuscation. An honest discussion would expose just how ridiculous their position is. “Yeah, even though recklessly harming another person is unlawful, we want an exception, and we want HIV+ people to go around and without any obstacle have unprotected sex with as many healthy people as they want, and they even have the right to lie about it.”

Strawman, and poorly built. I have yet to see anyone on here make such a ridiculous claim. Wanna try again? I don’t think anyone here is advocating that an HIV+ person bears no responsibility for their choices. What needs to be addressed (again, in general) is the idea that the HIV- person bears NO responsibility for their actions.

(Talk about diversionary tactics. You’re some kind of zen master Junius!)

Timothy Kincaid
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

One additional thought for those here to consider:

I am not familiar with the sites that Boone used to meet men. But, as best I understand, most hook-up sites do include a question about HIV status. (As a side note, Mason Wyler’s HIV status was exposed because he was posting on Manhunt that he was negative.)

Dan in Toronto
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Priya Lynn: “I’ll say first, if they’re falsely charged they can make that clear to people and its complete BS that their lives will be “completely f*cked”.”

Sweetie, please Google:
rape allegations destroy reputation

.. and get back to us. There are plenty of examples where false charges of a sex related crime don’t just go away. Given the climate we currently inhabit (and especially in the US of A), where being outed still can ruin one’s life, let alone an allegation of being outed as gay and HIV+, or gay, HIV+ and a “sexual predator” to boot.

So, getting back to the original point, Ottawa Police choice to publicize this man’s info to the mainstream media, rather than continue investigating with Public Health to track down the man’s sexual contacts. That’s shameful.

In this case, the guy’s probably guilty and will be punished accordingly. It doesn’t mean the tactics police used against him are any more acceptable.

Priya Lynn
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Dan said “These people are being charged with assault and attempted murder. It’s one thing for someone was deceptive in denying their HIV+ status, as apparent in this case – and he’ll go to jail for it. In other circumstances, if transmission did not occur, what exactly is the harm?”

Dand said “People here have assumed that I’m blaming the victim in all of this, but seem to ignore the FACT that in most cases the HIV- person has CHOSEN to have unprotected sex…
I don’t think anyone here is advocating that an HIV+ person bears no responsibility for their choices.”.

You placed victim in quotes, a way of saying he was not actually a victim, saying in effect the victim wasn’t wrongdone by in any way. You’ve had no complaints about the perpetrator, you’ve bitched entirely about the victim. You most certainly are blaming the victim.

Dan said “What needs to be addressed (again, in general) is the idea that the HIV- person bears NO responsibility for their actions.”.

No one said that and that idea has been addressed ad nauseam by people like you to the utter exclusion of the idea that the perpetrator has any guilt whatsoever. Instead you’ve complained bitterly about the laws that hold him responsible. For someone who claims he’s not advocating that HIV+ people bear no responsibility for their actions you’re advocating that pretty strongly.

Priya Lynn
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Oops, I forgot to address this comment of Dan’s:

“These people are being charged with assault and attempted murder. It’s one thing for someone was deceptive in denying their HIV+ status, as apparent in this case – and he’ll go to jail for it. In other circumstances, if transmission did not occur, what exactly is the harm?”.

If someone fires a gun at your head and it parts your hair, what’s the harm? Why should they be charged with attempted murder? Some things need to be illegal to discourage people from doing them, genius.

L. Junius Brutus
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Dan in Toronto: “Um, no. “Activists” as in people who work for community organizations like the Gay Men’s Wellness Initiative in Ottawa, the AIDS Committee of Ottawa, AIDS Committee of Toronto, etc, all who deeply care for the well being of the whole community. NO ONE is advocating that HIV+ people can/should “go and have unprotected sex and infect other people.” Nice try.”

Oh, really? Says the person who thinks that HIV+-people should not be charged for concealing their status and having unprotected sex with healthy people. So yeah, you are advocating that HIV+ people have the right to “go and have unprotected sex and infect other people”. As if the disgusting thing that they did is any less disturbing, merely because – due to chance – transmission failed to occur.

“Here, let’s flip the question around: why are these HIV- people so convinced they can have all the unprotected sex they want? Is having unprotected sex worth more to these people than life itself?”

I don’t know of a single healthy person, barring mentally ill people, who voluntarily had unprotected sex with a HIV- person. This either involves the omission of the HIV+ person not informing the healthy person, or even worse, outright lying about his status. While everyone should always have protected sex, what you describe is not remotely comparable to a HIV+, who KNOWS about his status, and has unprotected sex with healthy people anyway.

“People here have assumed that I’m blaming the victim in all of this”

No, we have seen that you blame the victim. What is not acceptable for rape victims, is acceptable for people who have a chronic disease foisted on them by liars or deceptors.

“In other circumstances, if transmission did not occur, what exactly is the harm? Why don’t both people involved recognize the close call for what it is and move on?”

Like Priya said, this is sheer nonsense. It’s like saying that someone who throws a grenade into your home should go free if the grenade fails to go off, because “what exactly is the harm? Why don’t both people involved recognize the close call for what it is and move on?” I guess attemped murder is OK too, because “what is the harm?” Or a failed terrorist attack. Are you a lawyer? You have such great skills of logic and analysis.

“I don’t think anyone here is advocating that an HIV+ person bears no responsibility for their choices. What needs to be addressed (again, in general) is the idea that the HIV- person bears NO responsibility for their actions.”

Nope, you are arguing that healthy people are to blame if they are infected deliberately or recklessly, while HIV+ people should not be held accountable if they go out and have unprotected sex with healthy people, possibly infecting them in the process.

L. Junius Brutus
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Priya: “If someone fires a gun at your head and it parts your hair, what’s the harm? Why should they be charged with attempted murder? Some things need to be illegal to discourage people from doing them, genius.”

If I understand these people correctly, there should be an exception to all general rules for HIV. Recklessly or deliberately inflicting harm on someone is usually a crime, but it should not be when the harm is HIV. While “attempted murder” is bad and should be criminalized, “attempted HIV-transmission” is not, for reasons unknown to mortal minds.

Dan in Toronto
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Priya Lynn: I put victim in quotes once, in a very specific context. You’ve taken that and made up some spectacularly retarded sh!t with it. Bravo.

L. Junius Brutus: “Says the person who thinks that HIV+-people should not be charged for concealing their status and having unprotected sex with healthy people. So yeah, you are advocating that HIV+ people have the right to “go and have unprotected sex and infect other people”. As if the disgusting thing that they did is any less disturbing, merely because – due to chance – transmission failed to occur.”

Wow. Nice lies. Fortunately, the only place where I’ve suggested what you’re saying is in your squishy noggin.

I’ll note that neither of you have addressed my points or questions, instead choosing to ramp up the hyperbole and vilifying anyone who disagrees with your world view (i.e. it’s always the HIV+’s person’s responsibility in negotiating safer sex and their fault is something goes wrong, and any HIV- person is blameless and free of responsibility for whatever choices they make when they CHOOSE to have unprotected sex). You have done a great job at one thing: you’ve nicely encapsulated the hysteria, stigma, and hate that HIV+ people face daily.

F*ck you both. Twist someone else’s words, I’m done trying to have a civil conversation.

Again, if anyone is interested in actually analysis of the issues as they pertain to Canadian law, refer to: http://www.xtra.ca/public/National/ACTION_CAMPAIGN_Condemn_the_criminalization_of_HIV-4/activisthome.aspx

Désirée
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

From a legal, criminal standpoint, no the victims bear no responsibility. They are victims of a crime. They may be idiots and “responsible” in a real world sense in that they could have prevented it, but I can hand someone a loaded gun and if they shoot me with it, I am not criminally responsible my own murder.

Timothy Kincaid
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Dan,

I went to your link but saw no analysis at all, simply a link to oppose the criminalization of HIV transmission and a commentary that equated HIV transmission to “queer sex”.

That is a most bizarre equation. I sincerely hope that the overwhelming vast majority of “queer sex” does not involved HIV transmission.

And I don’t think that the intentional or willfully negligent infection of others with HIV should be decriminalized. As a gay man, I find that counter-intuitive.

Priya Lynn
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Dan said “Priya Lynn: I put victim in quotes once, in a very specific context. You’ve taken that and made up some spectacularly retarded sh!t with it.”.

No, I called you on exactly what you meant. Quotes around a word mean that something is not actually what it is labelled. You quoted victim because you don’t believe the person infected/potentially infected is a victim, you don’t believe that person was wrong done by and if you did you wouldn’t have put victim in quotes to state “not really”.

Eric in Oakland
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Eric in Oakland: “I also find it deeply disturbing that some people think no one has any responsibility for their own protection.”

L. Junius Brutus: “No one has said that, and you know it – yet you continue to knowingly misrepresent the position of people you disagree with.”

Did I say that YOU had said that or even that someone HERE had said that?

“When people feel as if criminal law allows them to assume every hook-up is disease free, aren’t they much less likely to concern themselves with the risks of unprotected sex?”

“No, I don’t think so. It even makes them more aware of the fact that people may lie, and that they should be less trusting.”

I doubt that is true, but if you have some evidence to support the conclusion, I would be more than happy to consider it. I have never claimed to always be right.

Hazemyth
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Timothy Kincaid:

“There seems to be on the part of some an assumption that the three guys who tested positive after the police report are negligible, that they only have themselves to blame… [that] we can dismiss without a second’s consideration.”

I’m not sure that anyone has said anything resembling your paraphrase above. Especially the ‘jerks’ part.

Like the last entry on the issue of disclosure, the discussion here is getting really polarized. Perhaps it’s happening like this:

The law (and perhaps your post) seem to be placing the responsibility entirely (or nearly so) on the (hypothetical) HIV+ person’s shoulders. A lot of people are taking exception to this and suggesting that the responsibility is more shared than that. They may not have felt the need to reinforce the HIV+ person’s responsibility, in their comments, but that does not mean they are necessarily dismissing it. Absent such reinforcement, their comments are being read, by others, as denying such responsibility. I don’t think this has been, by and large, the case.

Hazemyth
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Timothy Kincaid:

“Some have gone so far as to suggest that an HIV+ person has the right to assume that his partners are either positive or not caring while an HIV- person has no right to any assumptions at all.”

Assumptions are dangerous, in this situation. Whether or not anyone has a ‘right’ to an assumption, I think we can agree that assuming anything is the wrong thing to do.

“They all pale in importance to the guy who was HIV+, he’s the only important one here.”

STD transmission stops when we all take responsibility: getting tested, disclosing our status, and asking the status of our partners. Each of us is important in that equation. Assuming that the responsibility is someone else’s is just dangerous. Placing the emphasis on one party’s responsibility encourages those dangerous assumptions.

Eric in Oakland
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

@ Priya Lynn: “Eric said ‘I also find it deeply disturbing that some people think no one has any responsibility for their own protection. When people feel as if criminal law allows them to assume every hook-up is disease free’.”.

“I find it deeply disturbing that some people think someone who is HIV+ has no responsibility if he infects a partner he didn’t inform of his status. No one said criminal law allows anyone to assume a hook-up is disease free.”

I agree with you. Both extreme positions are disturbing. The responsible position is somewhere in the middle.

Timothy Kincaid
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Hazemyth,

I don’t see both parties as equally sharing in the blame.

Perhaps it is because I do not think that it is a morally abhorrent act to foolishly put yourself at risk. Stupid perhaps and irresponsible, but not morally at fault.

However, I believe that infecting another person with HIV by intention – or by willfull negligence – is an act of evil.

Hazemyth
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Timothy Kincaid,

“I don’t see both parties as equally sharing in the blame.”

I didn’t mean to suggest any equivalence, moral or otherwise. My concerns are more pragmatic, anyway. Either party can take responsibility for their role in preventing transmission. Either of them can make a choice to prevent it.

“Perhaps it is because I do not think that it is a morally abhorrent act to foolishly put yourself at risk.”

I understand your distinction. However, as you previously pointed out, the victims may have gone on to infect others, especially those that had not gotten tested since having unprotected sex with a stranger. You’re never just putting yourself at risk. Risky behavior is pretty immoral all around (if not always abhorrently so).

Timothy Kincaid
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Hazemyth,

Good point. It may well be morally offensive to expose oneself to HIV and then engage in sex that could expose others. Especially without testing. Yeah, I can agree with that.

Jason D
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

“The law (and perhaps your post) seem to be placing the responsibility entirely (or nearly so) on the (hypothetical) HIV+ person’s shoulders.”

Isn’t that generally how the law works, though?

If I invite you into my home, but don’t frisk you first, and then you shoot/stab me — the law doesn’t say I’m equally responsible for my wounds because of the invite, or the lack of frisking, does it?

If I leave my door unlocked, anything removed from my house is still theft.

The law generally doesn’t apply responsibility when someone does something rather stupid that makes them vulnerable to attack/crime/harm.

The philsophy seems to be that regardless of what person A does, it doesn’t give person B the right to harm them or their property.

I think we generally agree that people shouldn’t harm each other.

I think we also generally agree that giving someone a potentially fatal illness is harm.

I see that some people think that intentional HIV infection should be excepted from criminal law, but no one seems to be giving a defense that isn’t simply blaming the victim.

There’s almost this disembodied defense of the HIV+ person. As if they are merely a needle, subject to the whims of whoever is holding it. If the person holding the needle happens to plunge it into their arm and inject themselves with the virus, how is that the poor, helpless needle’s fault?

John in the Bay Area
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Several people have argued that the police should not have released this guy’s name and picture, and that Public Health should have tracked down his sexual partners. How would it be possible for Public Health officials to track down people he may have infected?

The man is arrested and being charged with the crime of infecting someone with HIV without telling them that he was HIV positive. Public Health officials would need to get a list of his sexual partners from him. Each name that he gives adds additional charges against him. He isn’t going to give out the names unless there is something in it for him.

Further, police and prosecutors probably did not want to give him a pass on charges for infecting who knows how many other people. They managed to get more people to come forward by releasing his name and picture without having to make some deal for a lighter sentence if he provided the list himself.

The police played hardball and this guy is going to face more charges than he otherwise might have. Police do this with con artists and other types of sexual offenders all the time in hopes that more people come forward so that they can build a stronger case.

I personally don’t have any criticisms for the way the police did their job.

Andrew
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Tim, part of the tone and direction of my comments were couched in response to what I felt was a very slanted take on the thin sources you referenced (and please, don’t ever reference a site like that vigilante site again — it’s potentially libellous), and to the attitude the police were taking.

For an article about responsibility… the sourcing and editorializing was pretty irresponsible.

Again, given the participation of the “victims” in bareback anonymous GROUP sex with other known poz tops, it sounds like we have a MUCH larger issue here — something the whole community needs to come to grips with.

In this case, I’d charge ALL of them.

Sentence: 200 hours of counselling for sex addiction and 2000 hours of community service to be performed by HIV education and prevention outreach.

Jason D, please don’t portray this situation as the passivity of an unlocked door (Dan Savage calls this HTH or “how did that happen????”). T

There’s a legal concept called “reasonable expectation”.

I don’t know anyone who thinks it’s “reasonable” to engage in serial anonymous bareback sex without discussion of serostatus with the expectation that they will not contract HIV.

A good defense attorney would argue that it’s reasonable to assume that someone you know to have engaged in those practices is already poz.

To use your analogy, you left your door unlocked, put baskets by the door, and a sign that said “free stuff”. And then filed a theft report.

Andrew
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

John Bay Area:

The logic works like this:

One can engage in rampant unprotected anonymous sex with strangers without criminal charges… as long as they don’t ever, ever get tested for HIV.

The whole point of the protest group is that police activity discourges testing.

Testing is the only way people can be aware that they are poz — and studies show that the vast majority of transmissions are by people who DO NOT KNOW their HIV status. That means that anythign that prevents testing gives the virus an advantage.

The charges weren’t for transmission — which they cannot demonstrate (read the articles please) — the charges were for failure to disclose.

John in the Bay Area
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Andrew,

I agree with the charges and agree with the police handling of this case.

Priya Lynn
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Andrew said “To use your analogy, you left your door unlocked, put baskets by the door, and a sign that said “free stuff”. And then filed a theft report.”.

That’s a damn poor analogy. If you put up a sign saying “free stuff” then you’ve agreed to give it away and the person taking it isn’t guilty of any crime. For your analogy to be aplicable the victim in this case would have had to have a sign around his neckt that said “please infect me with HIV”.

In both Jason D’s analogy and in this case the victim did not ask the perpetrator to commit an action that without consent would be a crime.

Jim Burroway
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

I don’t see both parties as equally sharing in the blame.

Perhaps it is because I do not think that it is a morally abhorrent act to foolishly put yourself at risk. Stupid perhaps and irresponsible, but not morally at fault.

If the so-called “victim” was infected by someone who didn’t know he was positive, who is at fault?

Are you suggesting then that the so-called “victim” is less responsible for his own health than the so-called criminal? Because that seems to be the logical conclusion of what you just said.

If blame is to be ascertained in the first place, then for the life of me I cannot see how the “victim” is not at the very least equally to blame. And in 2010, with at least 25 years of safe-sex messages behind us, I’m really having trouble believing that this is controversial.

We lock our doors to protect our homes, we use secret passwords to protect our bank accounts, and even my grandmother put plastic slip covers on the cushions to protect her davenport. But insisting that if someone wants to protect their health they have a responsibility to pull out the latex, well… that gets complicated.

Timothy Kincaid
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Again, given the participation of the “victims” in bareback anonymous GROUP sex with other known poz tops,

That is factually false. There was one other poz top in the group, Noel Simon Bowland, and he too is being charged.

Priya Lynn
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Andrew said “One can engage in rampant unprotected anonymous sex with strangers without criminal charges… as long as they don’t ever, ever get tested for HIV. The whole point of the protest group is that police activity discourges testing.”.

Whether one is unwilling to get tested, is HIV+ and has rampant unprotected anonymous sex, or whether one has been tested and has rampant unprotected anonymous sex the end result is the same. Its the same type of person in either scenario. Anyone who isn’t evil and going to pass on HIV either way isn’t going to hesitate to get tested and if positive inform their sex partners in advance. So, no, this doesn’t discourage anyone from getting tested that wouldn’t recklessly transmit the disease anyway.

L. Junius Brutus
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Dan in Toronto: “Wow. Nice lies. Fortunately, the only place where I’ve suggested what you’re saying is in your squishy noggin.”

Yeah, right. It’s in your posts, and everyone can see it – except you.

“I’ll note that neither of you have addressed my points or questions, ”

Points? What points? Questions? What questions?

“You have done a great job at one thing: you’ve nicely encapsulated the hysteria, stigma, and hate that HIV+ people face daily.”

Right. Not wanting HIV+ people to go out and have unprotected sex with healthy people is “hysteria, stigma and hate”. If you equate these things with hate, then you do your cause of combating said negativity a great disservice, because only the radical fringe will support the “right” of HIV+ to go out and recklessly or deliberately infect healthy people.

“F*ck you both. ”

Uh, no, I’d rather not.

“I’m done trying to have a civil conversation.”

Not very successfully, I might add.

Eric on Oakland: “Did I say that YOU had said that or even that someone HERE had said that?”

Not explicitly, but why else would you complain about it here? Usually, people express their complaints about something that has been expressed in the same forum where the alleged offense took place. Do I go to China, stand on the Great Wall, and shout about something I didn’t like that you said? For your information, I don’t.

“I doubt that is true”

Wow, that settles it, if you “doubt” that it’s true. What I said was mere conjecture, just like what you said. But apparently, you think your own conjecture is more likely to occur, which is not based on any facts or evidence, but on your gut feeling. The GUT, where our second brain is located.

“I agree with you. Both extreme positions are disturbing. The responsible position is somewhere in the middle.”

Then you agree with charging people who recklessly or deliberately infect or try to infect others? Nice, we agreed all the time. I don’t know why we had this whole discussion in the first place.

Andrew: “For an article about responsibility… the sourcing and editorializing was pretty irresponsible. ”

Now you’re just throwing out random words. How in the word is this ‘irresponsible’?

“In this case, I’d charge ALL of them.”

Charge the victims for getting a chronic disease foisted on them? Did you get that idea from one of Kafka’s novels? Or did you get it from the medieval practice of trying suicides?

L. Junius Brutus
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Jim Burroway “If the so-called “victim” was infected by someone who didn’t know he was positive, who is at fault?”

Is this a serious question? The person is at fault when he deliberately or recklessly infects (or attempts to infect) another person, and this is obviously not the case when he doesn’t know that he is HIV+ (unless a reasonable person would have known).

“Are you suggesting then that the so-called “victim” is less responsible for his own health than the so-called criminal? ”

Bullcrap. We are suggesting that people who have a chronic disease should not go out and recklessly or deliberately infect others. The fact that someone is not wearing seatbelts, does not give someone else the right to deliberately or recklessly crash into his car and hurt him. Similarly, the fact that the victim does not use protection, does not give someone else the right to deliberately or recklessly infect or try to infect that person with a chronic disease.

Andrew
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Tim, thanks for the research and the correction.

Priya Lynn
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Jim said “Are you suggesting then that the so-called “victim” is less responsible for his own health than the so-called criminal? Because that seems to be the logical conclusion of what you just said.”.

No, but by the same token someone who fires a gun at you isn’t responsible for your health and you are but his action is still criminal.

Jim said “If blame is to be ascertained in the first place, then for the life of me I cannot see how the “victim” is not at the very least equally to blame.”.

The victim had a reasonable expectation that the perpetrator would inform him of his status if he knew he was positive. You’ll likely argue that we should assume everyone is a liar, but most people aren’t about serious issues and one has little blame for expecting honesty out of another.

Timothy Kincaid
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

The 17 year old victim said,

“I got a text from a guy telling me that (Boone) was HIV positive and I should get checked,” John said. “That is when I found out. Boone never told me or the other person we were with. It’s really sickening. It’s kind of hard to deal with. It’s something I never thought a person would do. I couldn’t imagine not telling someone something of that seriousness.”

He thought that because he himself was not a despicable vile rodent that surely others were not as well.

I assign him the same blame that I assign victims of con men, women who date men who lie about being single, people who ask the neighbor to take in the mail while they are on vacation only to come back and find the house empty, people who give their keys to fake valets, women who are beaten by their boyfriends, girls who are date-raped, and all the other people who are victims of putting too much trust in the decency of others.

Saying that “they should know better so it’s just as much their fault” only excuses the truly evil people who walk among us. Well when it comes to liars, users, and those who set out to harm others, I side with the victims and not the vermin.

And I do not make an exception to that rule for HIV positive people.

And I’m not ashamed of it.

L. Junius Brutus
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Human psychology is complex. People should use condoms, but they often don’t. People think that nothing can happen to them. People believe someone they like when that person tells him that they don’t have a contagious chronic disease. People simply aren’t “rational” – whether you like it or not, it’s the truth about human nature. And that does not justify abusing people’s irrationality, and it also does not mean that a person whose irrationality was abused by a disgusting creep somehow deserved it, or has himself to blame.

Naivete is not a crime, and its punishment is not a chronic disease.

Jay
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Thank goodness for this post. The Ottawa gay newspaper has been covering this story as an outrage, and I just get so frustrated when I think about protecting the interests of this man who allegedly did not disclose his HIV status above the interests of those who were infected by his actions (even if having unprotected sex is just about the stupidest thing).

Jim Burroway
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

…but by the same token someone who fires a gun at you isn’t responsible for your health and you are but his action is still criminal.

The firing the gun analogy is a bad one and needs to be put to bed. When someone is holding a gun and pointing it at you, you are completely defenseless.

When you are participating in consensual sex, you are not defenseless. Protecting yourself is the easiest thing to do. But it can be dangerous. We’ve had more than 25 years of messages to that affect.

Unless someone can demonstrate that sexual coercion took place, there was no one holding a gun. We talk about unsafe sex for a reason. It’s unsafe. And it can be made safe (or much, much safer) very easily.

L. Junius Brutus
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Jim, does this mean that you favor people buying guns and getting concealed carry licenses? After all, you can prevent yourself from being defenseless by doing that. It’s the easiest way to protect yourself. We’ve had more than 250 years of messages to that effect: get a gun.

Why should I sympathize with crime “victims” who don’t get a concealed carry license? They have only themselves to blame, when a criminal robs or assaults them, and not the criminal. In fact, I think that the criminal should not be punished, because it makes it appear that one is not responsible for one’s own safety. What kind of message does prosecuting criminals send to people, that they can walk around on the streets without protection, and that the state will take care of everything? That they can just assume that they will be safe?

“Unless someone can demonstrate that sexual coercion took place, there was no one holding a gun. We talk about unsafe sex for a reason. It’s unsafe. And it can be made safe (or much, much safer) very easily.”

If it’s so easy, why don’t you favor laws that punish people who don’t take that very easy step, when they can infect a healthy person with a chronic disease? It’s not as if it’s a horrible burden on the shoulders of HIV+-people. And even if it were, it would be justified, because we don’t want them spreading their chronic disease.

So tell me, is the fact that someone is not wearing a seatbelt a reason to deliberately or recklessly smash into his car, and to blame him if he gets hurt? After all, he knew that he was taking a risk by engaging in the dangerous behavior called ‘driving’. Moreover, there was a very easy way he could have protected himself. Or is the person who did that still prosecuted, regardless of what we think of the wisdom of not wearing seatbelts? And is it the case that this prosecution does not send any message to people that other people are responsible for their safety?

I have yet to hear even one good argument from the opposing side. And I’ve yet to hear what would actually improve if the law were amended to allow for deliberate or reckless transmission of chronic diseases.

Jim Burroway
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Naivete is not a crime, and its punishment is not a chronic disease.

Sadly, naivete nevertheless opens one to all sorts of serious “punishments,” if that’s how you want to put it — whether it’s pregnancy or cancer from smoking, or signing up for the Army believing you’re going to get a desk job because the recruiter told you so. Unfortunately, people who do grown-up things suffer grown-up consequences. It’s unfair, but I see no way of getting around it.

Here is what I see. A while back, we had a post about someone who was about to go home with someone else who is HIV positive, and a third party decided to take it upon himself to inform the first party that his hot date was poz. That, of course, was based on the assumption that the guy who was poz would not disclose his HIV status. It was based on the common stigma that people with AIDS, because they got a nasty STD, are immoral and incapable of doing the right thing.

And now we have someone who has confirmed that there are truly immoral people in the world. And what I see here are many of the same arguments being used to condemn Boone that were also used to defend revealing someone’s medical status on the assumption that everyone with HIV/AIDS or almost everyone or most people or many people with HIV/AIDS are also predatory and untrustworthy. What I see is not so much a slippery-slope argument, but an relatively equal two-way street of blame/distrust-the-poz-guy argument, no matter the circumstances.

Sure, some people are immoral and, unwilling to do the right thing. This much is true, and that is true regardless of whether someone is HIV+ or not. But I’m observing a widespread presupposition in the LGBT community at large is that HIV+ people are not capable of being responsible.

I don’t think that anyone here can legitimately deny that this stigma exists.

So that is where I see the very strong potential for stigmatizing taking place broadly in these arguments.

But leaving that aside, there’s still another problem that remains unaddressed. In continuing to insist that the poz guy holds all of the accountability, everyone misses the much more common problem of having sex with someone you think is negative because the other guy also thinks he is negative, and yet is positive. Putting the onus on the negative guy to protect his seronegative status means that nobody has to rely on the utterly preposterous situation of believing that the hot guy in the bar that wants to get into your pants is trustworthy. Nor does anyone have to rely on the assurance that just because the guy you’re about to go home thinks he is negative, that everything is fine.

Hey, he said he was negative, so we don’t need a condom. Right?

The gun analogy has been tossed around much too easily, but its a false analogy. Unless this were a rape or coercion situation, there was no gun and nobody was defenseless. It doesn’t take superhuman strength to put on a condom. Getting it out of the package is probably the greatest challenge.

If you want to avoid heart attacks (a problem that runs rampant in my family), you cut the salt and get some exercise. If you want to avoid lung cancer, you give up smoking. If you want to avoid sclerosis of the liver, you cut way back on your drinking. And if you would rather eat salt, sit on the couch, smoke, and throw back a bottle of Jack every evening, then those are the risks you run.

If you want to avoid HIV, you put on a condom. If you would rather not put on a condom, then there are risks no matter what. If more people acted on that simple, we could cut the infection rate significantly. But instead, we’re putting out the message that it’s someone else’s responsibility to protect your health at all times and in every sexual casual encounter that you chose to undertake with someone who is not a long-term partner. That is ignoring the simple ABC’s of prevention. That is absurd.

Stigmatizing HIV-positive people, which is quite widespread inside and especially outside the gay community, is bad for all of us. And ducking responsibility for our own health is disastrous health policy to the point of absurdity. But that is the message we are putting out there.

Chris McCoy
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Is it reasonable to use this crime as an example to teach young people the dangers of unprotected sex?

Jim Burroway
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Is it reasonable to use this crime as an example to teach young people the dangers of unprotected sex?

It is reasonable to use this incident as an example to teach young people that they have to always be responsible for their own health, but it depends on how it’s done. It’s not reasonable if we’re only relying on boogey-man style messages. Most people who are HIV-positive look nothing like the boogey-man. And many people who are HIV-positive don’t even know they are positive. So this example can leave a lot of false impressions that still leave young people vulnerable to believing they have nothing to worry about.

By the way, Chris and I will be traveling to San Francisco tomorrow to begin a week and a half of house-sitting and being tourists. I definitely won’t be participating in this conversation tomorrow. If you’re in LA, I’ll wave out the window as we land to change planes in the morning. If you’re in SF, give me a holler.

Meanwhile, carry on without me. (As I’m sure everyone will.)

Ben M
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

I have a question for Tim…

You said “I wonder how long it will be before the irresponsibility of the newly infected four guys will be immune to criticism? Perhaps only when they infect someone else.”

So, if these newly infected people never got tested and started spreading HIV (through the negligence of not getting tested), would you move them from victim to accused?

It seems like these laws criminalize HIV testing more than anything else, since not knowing your status seems to be an acceptable defense.

Also, since I think the gun analogy is not a fair one, I’ll bring in a new one. Can we reasonably charge someone who deliberately comes to work with the flu with attempted murder? The flu kills far more people per year than AIDS does.

Ben M
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

A few others, do we treat HPV the same as HIV, how about acute hepatitis B or C or HTLV-I? All of these can be deadly.

If my Doctor is HIV+, does he have to disclose? What if he cuts himself in surgery and infects someone?

I don’t ask these questions to be flippant, but because similar situations must be treated similarly for a law to be just.

Désirée
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

Jim et. al.
Your whole argument here seems to be that that we should not be adding to the stigma of HIV+ people and so criminalizing some people’s reckless behavior shouldn’t be done because it adds to the stigma. I’m sorry, but “stigma” is simply not enough of a consideration to overcome recklessly infecting other people with a potentially fatal disease.

This isn’t “stop smoking if you wish to avoid cancer” Cancer has no morals and no conscious, it just exists. This is “lock your door if you don’t want to be robbed” There are two people involved here, not one person and a consequence. One person not wearing a condom is like not locking your door. It’s monumentally stupid (and your insurance company might have something to say when you make a claim) but in no way makes you criminally responsible if someone steals stuff from your house, even if you invited that person over.

Personally, I don’t care about “stigma.” I care about people recklessly infecting others, and criminalizing such behavior tells society in no uncertain terms that potentially giving HIV to others is not acceptable and if you do so, you will be removed from society.

Désirée
August 25th, 2010 | LINK

In reading over my last post, I realized that in his defense of HIV+ people, Jim actually equated them with cancer, heart attacks and cirrhosis. Rather telling, is it not?

Ben M
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

Désirée…

Do you believe that HIV is only disease that should have a crime attached to it? There any many infections that are deadly but don’t get the news time that HIV does, should they also be treated as a crime?

Ben M
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

I had a thought driving to work this morning.

Since, as Tim says, “we should be doing everything in our power to stop the continued spread of HIV within our community,” shouldn’t the media be publishing the names and photos of the infected victims? The victims are known to have unprotected sex, and may have had sex since being infected. If publishing their name and photos could lead to their partners getting tested.

Priya Lynn
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

Jim said “The firing the gun analogy is a bad one and needs to be put to bed. When someone is holding a gun and pointing it at you, you are completely defenseless.”.

Here, then let me refine that. You put an apple on your head and tell your friend he can knock it off. He pulls a gun and fires at the apple. You’re still responsible for your health and he isn’t but he’s responsible for recklessly endangering your health.

Jim said “And what I see here are many of the same arguments being used to condemn Boone that were also used to defend revealing someone’s medical status on the assumption that everyone with HIV/AIDS or almost everyone or most people or many people with HIV/AIDS are also predatory and untrustworthy.”.

You’re the one that said we should assume everyone is positive and won’t be honest about it. You can’t now condemn people for doing just that. Remember your saying “Putting the onus on the negative guy to protect his seronegative status means that nobody has to rely on the utterly preposterous situation of believing that the hot guy in the bar that wants to get into your pants is trustworthy.”?

Jim said “What I see is not so much a slippery-slope argument, but an relatively equal two-way street of blame/distrust-the-poz-guy argument, no matter the circumstances.”.

Boone LIED about his status. He should have been distrusted.

Jim said “But instead, we’re putting out the message that it’s someone else’s responsibility to protect your health at all times”.

Nonsense. We’re putting out the message that you can’t recklessly endanger someone’s life when you know better.

Désirée
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

If someone were running around willfully or negligently infecting others with smallpox, you better believe that’s a crime. Once again, “stigma” does not trump legal liability.

Priya Lynn
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

Ben said “So, if these newly infected people never got tested and started spreading HIV (through the negligence of not getting tested), would you move them from victim to accused?”

Ben said “It seems like these laws criminalize HIV testing more than anything else, since not knowing your status seems to be an acceptable defense.”.

Nonsense. Anyone who engages in risky sex and refuses to get tested is going to lie about their status and continue to have risky sex even if they do get tested. No one who doesn’t plan on lying about their status and having risky sex is going to refuse to get tested because of cases like these.

Can we reasonably charge someone who deliberately comes to work with the flu with attempted murder? The flu kills far more people per year than AIDS does.”.

Possibly, its open for debate however I’ll need some proof that the flu kills “far more” people than AIDS first before I believe it – I find that highly unlikely Having said that the flu is for the vast majority of people a temporary and trivial illness, often confused with the common cold and it is not a reasonable expectation for a person with it that they might be killing someone. As it is with statutory rape a line must be drawn somewhere and that inevitably entails a less than perfect solution. A 17 year old one day before her 18th birthday is not appreciably less informed than she will be a day later and not appreciably less able to consent to sex but a line has to be drawn somewhere just as we have to do it with infecting others with diseases. I think saying its not a crime to knowingly exposing someone to the flu is a reasonable place to draw the line.

Ben asked “A few others, do we treat HPV the same as HIV, how about acute hepatitis B or C or HTLV-I? All of these can be deadly.”.

I’m pretty sure HPV is not a deadly disease, I’ve never heard of HTLV-I but as to the others the answer is yes.

Ben asked “If my Doctor is HIV+, does he have to disclose?”.

Yes.

Ben asked “Do you believe that HIV is only disease that should have a crime attached to it? There any many infections that are deadly but don’t get the news time that HIV does, should they also be treated as a crime?”.

Yes.

Ben asked “Since, as Tim says, “we should be doing everything in our power to stop the continued spread of HIV within our community,” shouldn’t the media be publishing the names and photos of the infected victims? The victims are known to have unprotected sex, and may have had sex since being infected.”.

Boone lied about his HIV status and had unprotected sex. He established a pattern of dishonesty so it was reasonable to believe he wouldn’t be honest about his sexual contacts and publish his picture especially since he might get additional charges for them. The victims have no such history of dishonesty and its reasonable to believe they’d be honest about their sexual contacts so there is no need to publish their pictures.

Priya Lynn
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

I missed answering this question of Ben’s:

“Ben said “So, if these newly infected people never got tested and started spreading HIV (through the negligence of not getting tested), would you move them from victim to accused?””.

Possibly, however we wouldn’t know that they were spreading HIV. Once again, a line has to be drawn somewhere. It depends on whether or not they should have reasonably known they were positive. Once again, anyone who would do that is also going to lie about their status and continue to have risky sex even if they do get tested and find out they are positive, so this is not discouraging anyone from getting tested who wouldn’t spread the disease in either case.

L. Junius Brutus
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

Jim Burroway: “Sadly, naivete nevertheless opens one to all sorts of serious “punishments,” if that’s how you want to put it — whether it’s pregnancy or cancer from smoking, or signing up for the Army believing you’re going to get a desk job because the recruiter told you so. Unfortunately, people who do grown-up things suffer grown-up consequences. It’s unfair, but I see no way of getting around it.”

And like Timothy said, sometimes people exploit naivete, but that does not mean that they go unpunished. So why the double standard for people who have HIV?

“A while back, we had a post about someone who was about to go home with someone else who is HIV positive, and a third party decided to take it upon himself to inform the first party that his hot date was poz. That, of course, was based on the assumption that the guy who was poz would not disclose his HIV status.”

Wow. Earlier, you said that we should not assume that a HIV+-person will inform us about their status, or even that he would not lie about it. Now you are criticizing someone for having that assumption? With due respect, but this makes little sense to me.

“But I’m observing a widespread presupposition in the LGBT community at large is that HIV+ people are not capable of being responsible.”

No, that’s not true. We know that HIV+ people ARE capable of being responsible. That’s why I think that people who are irresponsible should be punished. I sometimes get the idea that some of the people on your side think that HIV+ people can’t be responsible. After all, your side is the one that wants to repeal prohibitions on such irresponsible (and damaging) behavior. We do recognize, however, that there are always evil people who don’t give a damn about other people’s health, and there are healthy and HIV+ people who are like that. HIV+ people are in a position to do more damage, however. This must be punished.

“Hey, he said he was negative, so we don’t need a condom. Right?”

And don’t cases like this spread awareness that people lie? I can’t see a young, naive person (18-years or older, lest last time’s misunderstanding reoccur) reading about this 17-year-old’s experience with lying scumbags and ever taking anyone’s word for it. Moreover, as I pointed out earlier, the converse is also worrisome. If your advice is followed, HIV+ people (who so desire) will have a cart blanche to have unprotected sex with and infect anyone they want. There is no shortage of evil scumbags in this world who would do that. Who here believes that infecting other people is too high a price to pay for unprotected sex, for some? Not that this is not already occurring, but in that situation, the victims will have NO RECOURSE. They’ll meet the scumbag in the bar, and they’ll tell him: “Why the HELL didn’t you tell me that you were HIV+?” The infector will smirk at them and say: “Oh, because you’d never have agreed to unprotected sex if you knew I’d give you a chronic disease in the process. But what ya gonna do about it now, huh?” And laugh at him, while he freely goes to recklessly infect yet more people. Lest this be misinterpreted, I’m not arguing that all, most, or many HIV+-people are like this, but this sort of person needs to be punished, and punished severely.

“Stigmatizing HIV-positive people, which is quite widespread inside and especially outside the gay community, is bad for all of us.”

You really think that arguing that people who recklessly infect others should go free “lessens” the stigma of HIV+ people? And even if it did, would that justify letting crimes against all those people who were lied to go unpunished?

Désirée
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

A lot of mixed messages from the blame the victim crowd. On the one hand, they want to tell us that everyone should assume that their partner is positive and lying about it, and thus, use protection, BUT they don’t want to “stigmatize” HIV+ people by presenting an image of HIV+ people as being reckless and having indiscriminate sex. So which is it? You want us to assume the worse but not say so.

HIV+ people have also been compared to cancer and heart attacks, as if HIV+ folk were simply an amoral force of nature who harm people not out of maliciousness or evil intent, but simply because that is what they do, and it is our job to protect ourselves from them because they will just go on doing what they do and have no power to stop.

Strangely, the people defending the HIV+ folk are actually making them out to be worse than any of the rest of us are.

Aaron Logan
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

I agree that Boone and his ilk should be imprisoned. Just don’t be naive and think this will stop the spread of HIV. Unless of course you are thinking of life in solitary. (Vengence is yours, after all.)

Unfortunately HIV is invisible (which is why any gun analogy fails miserably) and even regulary testing will miss some infections. How is one to tell the difference between an honest but ignorant of his HIV+ status person and a dishonest HIV+ person? And contrary to what’s been stated here, honest people of good faith may make different assumptions about implicit disclosure. (I wish I could find the ad campaign which vividly shows this.)
Criminal sanctions aren’t going to be much help here.

Chris McCoy
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

I think best come-away with this crime is that we should redouble our efforts to educate people that HIV is still out there, it’s still an issue, people are still getting infected, and people who have unsafe sex are still very much at risk.

Whether it’s from people like Boone and Everett who knowingly have unsafe sex while HIV+, or from people who have unsafe sex and don’t know their sero-status, people are still engaging in unsafe sex that puts themselves and others at risk.

I hope we can all agree that we need better education about the risks of unsafe sex. And I can’t think of a better opportunity than using these recent examples, even including Mr Wyler, and an other recently sero-converted porn personality in the UK.

Priya Lynn
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

Aaron said “How is one to tell the difference between an honest but ignorant of his HIV+ status person and a dishonest HIV+ person?”.

That’s what courts are for. If there isn’t good evidence for dishonesty the dishonest person will likely be declared innocent.

Timothy Kincaid
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

Jim,

If I understand your argument correctly, we should never ever criticize HIV+ people, no matter how evil, because it might stigmatize all HIV+ people.

That is a distinction that suggests that one’s membership in a group determines the way we treat them. If they are in an oppressed or stigmatized group, they cannot be criticized or else it is evidence of animus, stigma, ill will, or bigotry towards that group.

I’ve seen this sort of divide develop when we talk about immigration, Muslims, and now HIV+ people. Criticizing persons in these groups seems to be off the table.

If one objects to unfettered immigration, then one is called a racist. If one even questions the motivation behind a controversial building project, then one is a bigot. If one criticizes someone who deliberately spreads disease, one is stigmatizing. Not because of the quality of one’s own position, but because of the group identity of the person being criticized.

I, for one, choose not to be fettered by the group identity of those I observe and comment on.

Timothy Kincaid
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

Ben M

I answered your question already in response to Hazemyth

Timothy Kincaid
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

Chris McCoy
August 26th, 2010

well said

Aaron Logan
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

I said “How is one to tell the difference between an honest but ignorant of his HIV+ status person and a dishonest HIV+ person?”.

Priya Lynn said “That’s what courts are for. If there isn’t good evidence for dishonesty the dishonest person will likely be declared innocent.”

Sorry I was unclear. In either case I mentioned the person will say erroneously that they are HIV negative. In either case a potential partner ios at risk of infection and should protect themselves. Criminal sanctions won’t stop the ignorant man, he is ignorant. Criminal sanctions won’t stop the dishonest man, he is evil. My point is that the courts are good for punishment, not prevention.

Geekydee
August 26th, 2010 | LINK

Gee, I think I like CA, make sure the kids can’t read and they can’t be tried for any crimes! Hmm, maybe not. Ignorance is not an excuse; not of the law, nor of your health.
Chris has it right, education is the key here, not the protestations of innocence of the HIV+ knowingly spreading the disease. The fact is that it is a crime; see http://criminalhivtransmission.blogspot.com/search/label/Canada
Fight to make a difference, but not to defend the crimninal.

Ben Mathis
August 27th, 2010 | LINK

A lot of really dishonest strawmen, especially from Timothy Kincaid. No one at any time said people who are HIV+ are free from any consequences and should never be criticized. That’s a strawman you constructed in order to knock down, and it’s the sign of an immature debater.

The point is that the police didn’t follow their own procedures of allowing health services to follow up on his past partners, and you’re ok with mob justice because it aligns with your personal boogeymans. So typically vengeful american (and I should say typically Christian as well) of you. Once you’ve hit your ok-to-persecute threshold, everything is fair game, even breaking the rules, because hey, he’s a scumbag, right?

werdna
August 27th, 2010 | LINK

I hesitate to even enter this discussion because of the needless acrimony, but I think that anyone who is actually interested in understanding the problems with applying criminal law to HIV should read South African Justice Edwin Cameron’s article Criminalization of HIV transmission: poor public health policy.

Overall I see some common elements in the debate about criminalization and the debate about banning gay men from donating blood. At first glance the ban may seem logical and straightforward, but when you get into the details and understand the arguments it’s hard not to conclude that the crude, absolute ban (as currently implemented in the US, for example) is bad policy.

That doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be any behavioral risk evaluation for blood donors, just that the current policy could be improved. Similarly we might agree that there are some instances of HIV transmission where criminal prosecution is warranted, but we should also be able to discuss the specific problems with the ways laws are written and implemented without having our decency as ethical beings questioned.

Geekydee
August 27th, 2010 | LINK

@Ben Strawman? hmm, no, not “Criticised” but criminalised. Nice redirection there :) the main problem is the lack of personal responsiibilities. You want personal freedom? Fine, but it will take a higher degree of personal responsibility, from all parties. maybe bothe parties should agree on protection, otherwise, it is like the americanss in the Ozarks – “hold mah beer and watch this!” – Stupidity on the part of the person who had the beer and the one now holding it. They are both complicit in the act of stupidity and all it would take would be one to say no. problem solved.
As to the legal side of the OPS actions. I would say that since they had evidence of the crime being committed, they could use that evidence to justify further attempts to secure moreevidence in a timely manner. What is the time differential in evidence collection between evidence collection by the OPS and the OPH? I don’t know either, but I am sure they had a reason (the OPS) to do what they did, right or wrong. I wonder though: is the reason for the disagreement here due to what they did, or the possible reasons behind it? As someone else mentioned, they may have done it because the accused did not cooperate and they felt it was time critical that his potential infectees be warned to halt the domino effect; then again, perhaps it was mitivated by a fear of potential HIV cases costing the the Ottawa citizens more for treatment. The point is – we don’t know. We can specutate all we want, but it won’t get us anywhere.
Now, on to mob justice. hmm, where to start? where is the mob? On both sides!
As to the ad hominem attacks, well gee, you got me there! I am glad I never lost any friends to HIV/AIDS. not. 3 people, 1 close friend and 2 acqaintenances. Oh, I just realized! there is a God! I must have missed the memo last time I went to church 15 years ago. I am glad there is a loving christan God that loves everyone! unless you are a different religion, or a different race, or just different… And the word you are probably looking for is prosecute, not persecute. Such wonderful delusional fantasies of persection and projection! I will be sure to send you the care bear set along with a my little pony set so you can live in your land of moonbeams and lollypops.
So, he’s a scumbag? so what? he is no different than any other sexual predator that gets their rocks off by hurting others for their own enjoyment. maybe I am projecting a little here due to a past rape, but I like to think I can be objective after theat happened. And the only difference between a serial killer’s victims and his is that his will die slowly, knowing their mortality, unless new medical procedures and drugs come along. If he had infected you, would you be so caring and compassionate? Just something to think about…
The problem here is that we need education, not arguments. A criminal is a criminal and a victim is a victim. and victims are not victims when they become criminals, they lose that status when the commit the crimes; it was their choice to do so. get over it.

For further entertainment, see:
http://www.aidslaw.ca/publications/interfaces/downloadFile.php?ref=28

Priya Lynn
August 27th, 2010 | LINK

Aaron said “Criminal sanctions won’t stop the ignorant man, he is ignorant. Criminal sanctions won’t stop the dishonest man, he is evil.”.

Correct on the first, wrong on the second. Even evil people want to act in their own self-interest – they’re less likely to knowingly transmitt HIV if they know they may go to jail for it.

Werdna said “I think that anyone who is actually interested in understanding the problems with applying criminal law to HIV should read South African Justice Edwin Cameron’s article Criminalization of HIV transmission: poor public health policy.”.

That’s a strawman. No one is advocating that every transmission of HIV be criminalized, only those where the perpetrator knew he was HIV positive about it and lied to/failed to inform his sex partner.

John in the Bay Area
August 27th, 2010 | LINK

Ben Mathis,

You say that the police violated their own procedures by not having health services to follow up on his past partners. How do health services do the follow up in this case?

Health services would follow up on a list a people that Boone would provide. Boone is not going to provide any list of sexual partners while being charged with exposing sexual partners to HIV without disclosing his HIV+ status. All he would be doing is exposing himself to further charges.

Again, short of giving Boone amnesty against further charges, or dropping current charges in exchange for the names of others he may have exposed to HIV without disclosing his status to them, how would officials (police or health) get him to provide more names?

werdna
August 27th, 2010 | LINK

@Priya Lynn-
I think you’re misinterpreting what I wrote. Please read Justice Cameron’s article. You may not agree with his arguments but at least you’ll be able to consider well-reasoned and practical criticisms of the way criminal law is being applied to HIV transmission. It’s simply not as black and white as many here are trying to make it out to be.

Priya Lynn
August 27th, 2010 | LINK

Werdna, as I thought the article criticizes all criminalization of HIV transfer such as a law that makes it a crime to do anything that may result in the transfer of the disease. That would criminalize an infected person having sex with someone he’s informed of his status so your article is still a straw man – no one’s advocating that all HIV transmission be criminalized.

He further makes assertions which aren’t backed up with any evidence and makes nonsensical statements like “But why should anyone want to
find out their HIV status, when that
knowledge can only expose them to
risk of prosecution?”. Puhleeeeeze. This case isn’t going to make anyone worried about being prosecuted for knowing their HIV status unless they plan on having unprotected sex without informing their sex partners of their status and if that’s the case they’d be trasmitting the disease whether they know their status or not.

You haven’t made your case and strawman arguments about laws that don’t involve an HIV+ person failing to inform their sex partner have no bearing on this case and this type of criminalization which is solely what we are talking about.

Aaron Logan
August 27th, 2010 | LINK

@Priya Lynn: the law didn’t stop the guy in this case from lying and having unsafe sex, so I’m not sure I can grant you that the law will make it less likely for evil guys to knowingly transmit HIV. Throwing him in jail won’t by itself stop him from transmitting HIV either.

And HIV negative guys still need to be aware that an HIV + guy can be honestly mistaken and say he is negative and an evil guy will lie and say he is negative. HIV is invisible, there is no gun pointed anywhere, protecting yourself means exactly that and cannot depend on your partner saying he is negative.

I’d rather talk about prevention than crime and punishment, so I’ll leave it there.

Priya Lynn
August 27th, 2010 | LINK

Aaron, relatively few evil people aren’t going to be concerned with their own self-interest in avoiding jail although obviously there are some.

Prevention and crime and punishment is not an either/or situation. We can walk and chew gum at the same time.

Timothy Kincaid
August 27th, 2010 | LINK

Werdna,

I welcome a reasoned and thoughtful counterargument. An objection based on practical policy always has a place in the debate.

When I have a moment I will read the piece you reference. However, based on the part I have read, I respectfully submit that the language suggests to me that Justice Cameron may have started with his conclusions and worked backwards. That doesn’t mean that he is wrong, but that I’ll have to hold a degree of skepticism in reading the piece.

But perhaps I’ll be swayed.

L. Junius Brutus
August 27th, 2010 | LINK

Ben Mathis: “No one at any time said people who are HIV+ are free from any consequences and should never be criticized. ”

I’m pretty sure that people have argued that people who recklessly or deliberately spread HIV should not be prosecuted.

“The point is that the police didn’t follow their own procedures of allowing health services to follow up on his past partners, and you’re ok with mob justice because it aligns with your personal boogeymans.”

Mob justice? Tell me, what did the “mob” do? This man is being prosecuted, not by a mob, but by the lawful authorities. It is not objectionable at all that people who commit despicable crimes should be exposed, especially when this can help victims come forward. Or in your parlance, “victims”.

“So typically vengeful american (and I should say typically Christian as well) of you.”

Uh… what?

“Once you’ve hit your ok-to-persecute threshold,”

You can’t be serious. You’re arguing that this man is being “persecuted”? Then again, here are some of your earlier statements regarding punishment of criminals:

I just want to say I wouldn’t wish the Texas prison system on anyone, not even Hitler.

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

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

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.

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.

Are pedophiles being “persecuted” also, Ben? Funny how you make it very clear that you don’t like either American or Christians, but God save people from your righteous fury if they attack criminals.

werdna: “Similarly we might agree that there are some instances of HIV transmission where criminal prosecution is warranted”

Might agree? And that’s the strong statement for today. Maybe some time, ever.

“, but we should also be able to discuss the specific problems with the ways laws are written and implemented without having our decency as ethical beings questioned.”

I suggest that you come with persuasive arguments. Generally, people are surprised to hear others advocate for the legal infliction of deliberate or reckless harm on other people. This might turn into the sentiment you describe, if you fail to come with good arguments.

Aaron Logan
August 27th, 2010 | LINK

@Priya Lynn: Charming. So where is the evidence that criminal law prevents transmission? You criticize others for making assertions without evidence. Surely you you hold yourself to the same standard.

L. Junius Brutus
August 27th, 2010 | LINK

@Aaron Logan: Where’s the evidence that the law against murder prevents murder? Not that it really matters to me. Even if it made no difference whatsoever, willful or reckless HIV-spreaders should be punished, because justice requires it.

Aaron Logan
August 27th, 2010 | LINK

@ L. Junius Brutus

Exactly, it doesn’t. I haven’t argued that the wilful or reckless HIV-spreaders shouldn’t be punished. Not at all. I’m not convinced anyone has.

But Priya Lynn and others have argued that criminalization will prevent transmissions. They are the ones who need to make an evidence-based case.

L. Junius Brutus
August 27th, 2010 | LINK

And they did. The fact that you are unwilling to accept that laws criminalizing behaviors lessen those behaviors, does not mean that they have failed to make a case.

Aaron Logan
August 27th, 2010 | LINK

@ L. Juinius Brutus. Only if you consider assertion and bad analogy (not to mention condescension) an evidence-based case. I find Mr Kincaid presents much more convicing evidence in his article that criminal sanctions indeed do not protect the uninfected.

L. Junius Brutus
August 27th, 2010 | LINK

Your point is like saying that decriminalizing murder will not increase murder rates. The question is: how much? Timothy did not present any evidence to support what you are saying. He did say that most people who spread HIV+ are ignorant of their status, and from that I draw the conclusion that prosecution of offenders who know of their status will have a limited effect. Of course, the case that he did not make, but that you did imagine is convincing to you because you agree with it.

Aaron Logan
August 27th, 2010 | LINK

I don’t know what the point is anymore. I’m sad that there are more infections due to this Boone character and that his victims may have infected more guys. I’m interested in ways to help others avoid being infected by other “Boones” who are not detered by the law and the response I get is condescension.

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