Wash. Times' Pruden mocks "hysterics," including those who warned of AIDS epidemicJune 17, 2008 5:24 PM EDT ››› TOM ALLISON
In a June 17 Washington Times column in which he downplayed global climate change by comparing it to other perceived "terrors" that "subsided, done in by reality," Times editor emeritus Wesley Pruden wrote of the AIDS virus: "We were all supposed to be dead now, done in by AIDS, the gift of the gays." Pruden continued: "After that it was SARS, bequeathed to the world by China. Then it was avian flu, which, to be fair to the alarmists, did in fact result in the deaths of millions. The millions were all chickens, true, but chickens have feelings, too. You could ask the folks at PETA."
Contrary to Pruden's suggestion, AIDS has in fact killed millions. In its December 2007 "AIDS epidemic update," the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS estimated that there were 2.1 million AIDS-related deaths worldwide in 2007. According to a chart included in the report, at least 1 million people are estimated to have died from AIDS-related illnesses every year since 1997 and at least 2 million every year since 2003.
Since the late 1980s, Pruden has repeatedly downplayed HIV/AIDS, asserting, even as recently as 2005, that "after all these years AIDS remains a disease almost altogether of homosexuals and drug addicts and the unfortunate women who hang out with them." In a March 16, 1990 (accessed via Nexis), Times column, Pruden wrote: "In fact, 'the AIDS epidemic,' like AIDS for heterosexuals, is a myth. But it's a convenient one. The epidemic, to use the term everyone else does, actually peaked in 1988, and the incidence of new cases has been declining since. By the year 2000, these epidemiologists conclude, the yearly number of new AIDS cases will be 'very low.' " In the same column, Pruden wrote: "In the beginning, AIDS was promoted as an equal-opportunity killer. The facts, readily evident in the statistics available to anyone who troubled to look, rendered such propaganda nonsense. The average heterosexual man, even one indulging in casual partners, is likelier to contract breast cancer."
Pruden has made similar statements in numerous other columns going back to the late 1980s and early 1990s. For instance, in a July 28, 1989, column, Pruden wrote:
Hence the blarney, like that spread around by the Human Rights Campaign Fund, that "the growing number of cases is expected to make AIDS one of the leading causes of premature death in the United States by 1992."
Well, yes. Of course, you could if you wanted to hear yourself sound similarly silly argue -- logically -- that death is the leading cause of death.
AIDS, which is a dreadful disease, has never been a threat to the general population. This does not make it any less dreadful, nor does it make it any less urgent to find an effective treatment, a cure and a vaccine. But when the media and the activists repeat the big lie that it's a threat to everyone the only vaccine anyone will get is a vaccine against the big lie.
And from a May 16, 1990, column:
The brassy arrogance of the homosexual lobby is enough to test the patience of the most devout of the Judeo-Christians, whoever they may be. That lobby tried for years to sell AIDS as an equal-opportunity killer, insisting it was a disease that would one day soon consume the entire heterosexual community.
This was bunk, as anyone who bothered to read the monthly statistics of mortality, as compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, could tell. The lurid headlines and sound bites warning the common folk that AIDS was on the way to get them, too, have been relegated to the dustbin of phony calamities past. Whatever bad things that might befall a heterosexual satyr, AIDS is not one of them. Teddy Kennedy hasn't lost any weight.
In a June 24, 1991, column, he asserted:
You can understand why "AIDS activists" want to eliminate the widely held public perception, which is correct, that AIDS is mostly a disease of drug addicts and homosexual men who practice anal intercourse. Nobody likes a stigma, though once everyone has AIDS -- the message the media sends relentlessly is that it's just a matter of time -- the same public will very likely start looking for scapegoats. And that won't be nice at all.
But the point -- which is studiously avoided -- is that AIDS is spread by and among people who, like snake handlers and wing-walkers, have a taste for taking high risks to get their pleasures, and willingly put innocents, like hemophiliacs and surgical patients, at risk.
More recently, in an April 29, 2003, column, Pruden again wrote that "heterosexual AIDS" is a "myth":
The SARS panic, if not the "epidemic," is remarkably similar to the panic over AIDS more than a decade ago. From the beginning AIDS was a disease clearly identified with homosexual men's love rituals intravenous drug users became a target group later but we were told that "everyone" was in peril. Tykes, teenagers and 80-year-old grannies were warned that they could be next to die, and we were treated to the spectacle of 6-year-olds being lectured in how to protect themselves against the risks of anal sex, no doubt rendering frightening the doo-doo jokes so popular in the first grade.
When "heterosexual AIDS" was exposed by events as the myth that some of us early on said it was, the fever for catastrophe subsided. The disease itself became controllable, and thus less fearsome. So it was time for another scary story around the campfire.
And in a February 22, 2005, column, Pruden asserted:
Medical considerations are overwhelmed, as they always are in discussions of AIDS, by hysteria and politics. The lavender lobby worries that the controversy will set up homosexual men as the guilty parties in endowing the community with the disease. That's because after all these years AIDS remains a disease almost altogether of homosexuals and drug addicts and the unfortunate women who hang out with them.
Nevertheless, the campaign continues to make AIDS an equal-opportunity disease. A few researchers now suggest that everyone, even the elderly white-haired Lutheran grannies of rural Minnesota famously harassed by airport security officers as suspected Islamist terrorists, be tested for HIV infection. This would be a criminal waste of resources that could be usefully applied to finding better treatment for the disease. Perhaps we could combine AIDS testing with airport security.
From Pruden's June 17 Washington Times column, "Not dead yet, and cooling":
We were all supposed to be dead now, done in by AIDS, the gift of the gays. After that it was SARS, bequeathed to the world by China. Then it was avian flu, which, to be fair to the alarmists, did in fact result in the deaths of millions.
The millions were all chickens, true, but chickens have feelings, too. You could ask the folks at PETA.
One by one these terrors subsided, done in by reality, which is never as much fun as telling ghost stories around the campfire. (Let's not forget the killer bees.) The hysterics in newsrooms and faculty lounges stumbled on, and finally found something truly hot, hot as in hip, and this one came with a messiah to lead us to heaven on earth. Now those hallelujahs and hosannas are beginning to subside as well. Reality is stripping even Al Gore of his priestly robes (in earth tones).
We're not supposed to call global warming "global warming" any more. That's so very 20th century. Now it's "climate change," just in time for the political high season, and convenient when the climate leaves the natural warming cycle and enters the cooling cycle, as it has done for millions of years. Climate change is the change that Obama, Hillary, John and the rest of us can all believe in, because changing is what the climate does best. Best of all, the hysteria so beloved by Chicken Little and his disciples is preserved, like the pickle we were never in.