William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

This Week In Doom: Rejecting Sex With HIV+ Is Now Discrimination

Journalism professor demonstrates a lesson.

Journalism professor demonstrates a lesson.

This headline appeared in a paper with enormous circulation: “HIV positive man who was rejected on Grindr after bravely revealing his condition gives witty response that sweeps Facebook.

Grindr is (they say) an app that allows men with same-sex attraction to find partners for transient and potentially harmful sex-like acts. There is immediate astonishment that this newspaper is encouraging these activities that comes before the realization that the man has a debilitating if not deadly disease, one which is passed on in just those activities the man is openly seeking. The summary:

* Tom Knight, 28, from London was using the gay dating app Grindr
* He bravely revealed he was HIV positive to a prospective date
* The potential date replied: ‘I’m not ready for that kind of complication’
* Tom replied: ‘Oh you still wear flared jeans… I’m not sure I’m ready for that kinda complication in my life’

What’s the worst sin the paper, and apparently a large chunk of Facebook, could identify? That the second man seeking immoral acts wears flared jeans? Or that this second man rejected unprotected sex-like activities with an HIV infected partner? The paper said (ellipsis original):

Tom [the man with HIV], who has 526 followers, later revealed that the [second] man in question had responded again saying: ‘Someone in your situation should be a bit more realistic.’

However with enough ammunition for another come back, he wrote: ‘Well the good news is my HIV can be treated. Your fashion sense however…’

Friends were quick to post their messages of support. One wrote: ‘Well done luvey! x’

Another commented: ‘Oh the life! Love your reply!!’

Tom told the MailOnline: ‘I wasn’t having a hissy fit because I got turned down for sex or anything of the sort.

The second man, the flared-jeans wearer, retained a notion that his health was important and was ridiculed for it. Tom said about his trolling, “It is what it is. I am proud of who I am and what I’ve done. I am by no means glamourising HIV or unprotected sex. I am simply living my life and doing my bit for a world I’m part of.”

He’s not glamourising it, he says, but he’s still seeking and engaging in unprotected sex-like activities. That’s “doing his bit” for the world.

This story was picked up on inter alia Buzzfeed. Their title? “This HIV-Positive Guy Gave The Perfect Slapdown To Someone Who Rejected Him On Grindr: ‘Oh you have HIV…I’m not ready for that kind of complication in my life,’ said the man on Grindr. BuzzFeed News spoke to Tom Knight about his awesome response.”

Perfect slapdown. Awesome response.

In the story, Tom said, “I saw a story the other day from the Evening Standard and he [an HIV-positive man] was saying, ‘HIV isn’t a problem, it’s the attitudes around it.'”

Throughout these articles, those with HIV are painted as harmless victims suffering unwarranted, unreasonable discrimination. Not only is their HIV not their fault, but if you refuse to engage in immoral acts with those who have HIV, it is you who is at fault. You are the one with the problem.

Let’s categorize. The number of folks who still hold, via natural law or tradition-based arguments, that same-sex acts are immoral, are no longer a majority, but they’re not terribly far from one either, despite media portraits. The media pounds its stretched skins to make it appear that more agree with them than actually do. That technique does win converts, so to speak.

Of the majority who hold, via desire-based or so-called libertarian arguments, that same-sex acts are moral, I think most still agree that purposely seeking same-sex acts with the risk of transmitting HIV is immoral. Such acts intentionally cause harm in others, which is the only libertarian no-no. Libertarians are weak on what defines “harm”, which is their weakness.

The media never tires of beating its drum, so it tries to show that even these libertarians are wrong, and that the true immorality is in rejecting the desires of the HIV positive. Judging by the wealth and nature of comments to the stories linked above, the media is winning its war.

HIV is just a disease, and what’s wrong with that, you bigot. If two consenting adults want to share it, what’s that to you? How dare you deny somebody sexual access? Have you no love? Where’s Anthony Kennedy when you need him?

I’ve said this before, but we are rapidly approaching the state where the only perversion left will be holding the traditional position. In the near future, you will not be allowed, in polite company, to say same-sex acts are (for instance) disgusting, dangerous, or immoral. To be socially rewarded, you will have to announce that same-sex acts are good, even appealing. The most moral will not be the man who claims predominant same-sex attraction, but the heteronormative man who says he (or his children) would be willing (or excited?) to “experiment.”

Now this is a verifiable predictive, dear reader. The only thing I’ve left out is a date. Good question, that. Ten years?

Bonus Pay attention to the bottom-right corner of a magazine featured in the Buzzfeed article. Who said having same-sex attraction had anything to do with sex?

Update Did I say ten years? “The U.S. government says it will begin using the term ‘sexual rights’ in discussions of human rights and global development.

Update Apropos to timing. “Frito-Lay announced Thursday that for a limited time Doritos will come in rainbow colors to show support for the LGBT community. Sales will go to It Gets Better, a non-profit group started by the infamous anti-Christian bully and bigot Dan Savage.”

Update One of the Buzzfeed comments caught my eye. It was by a man responding to a comment that the second man had a right not to be infected (all sic).

Hello there you are right to a point but do you know how many married men gets on grindr and How many younger guys that don’t care if they get HIV. I know for a fact because I had plenty asking me to give them HIV to them. And Tom didn’t ask for a date or a LTR or to get married.

Recall “bug hunting” or bugchasing, i.e. the intentional search for HIV infection. I had an email conversation with a long-time blog reader. It was painfully difficult for her to admit that this kind of behavior was immoral.

27 Comments

  1. A simple cure – allow others to do to you whatever you reckon is acceptible for others. That should put a stop to the nonsense. If you think it’s ok for Mr HIV to give it to Mr Flares, then allow him to give it to you. Don’t hold back as a voyeur of diversity – if you reckon it’s ok then join in.

  2. If you’re using petulant Facebook tantrums as an indicator to promote self serving agendas of alleged moral decay, you’ve missed the boat. Facebook has shown the true colors of many of our fellow citizens…..”moral” and “immoral” alike.

  3. Briggs,

    Wow! In just a few paragraphs, you showed you have no ability to understand libertarianism or any aspect of liberty.

    To your defence, you may be conflating the Libertarian Party with libertarianism (or Classical Liberalism) as a justification for a system of ethics — kind of like conflating the Democratic Party with democracy or the Republican Party with republicanism.

    Or, and this may be the point, you are impugning liberty so as to justify your version of state-mandated ethics. If that is the case, those with the same system of ethics, but members of the other tribe, were justified in sticking it to us the last seven years, just as your tribe was justified the previous eight years, and so on.

    Extra point: What is the opposite of Classical Liberalism (hint: also starts with a “c”).

    Answer: I suspect you answered, “conservative.” You would have been wrong. The answer is actually, “collectivism,” the basis for the platforms of both major parties, which is why thing move forward, incrementally, and rarely in reverse.

    And it is why thirteen of the fourteen pretenders on your side all call for collective action, wars on everything, etc. And your tribe cheers.

    Finally, it is why your side is told to fear, and then fears as a collective mass, various barbarians at the gates and assundry hobgoblins (seems you missed the famous quote from Schumpeter).

    Notes:

    * Kennedy is the lasting gift from the eternal saint from your tribe. Keep that in mind, always.
    * You know for certain the protagonist in the articles is not a classical libertarian. Just because two groups use similar terms or make similar claims or perform similar rituals does not make them the same (e.g. wiccans and Christians both use wine). You know this, I am also certain. Yet you still purposively conflate. Hmmm.

  4. Is it rude to duck when someone points a gun at you and says “It’s Loaded”?

  5. Briggs

    September 19, 2015 at 10:09 am

    Now, Jim, you must realize this article was not meant to be a dissertation on libertarianism. The shorthand argument I gave to roughly classify people is perfectly useful and as accurate as it needs to be in this context.

    So, given you are “libertarian”, is my guess correct? Do you think Tom is immoral to seek to inflict his disease on others?

    DAV,

    Bigot!

  6. Truly disappointing.

    While I’m not too fond of chips, I did quite enjoy the Rockstars, Leaf (unsweetened) tea, and Gatorade.*

    Alas, such is not to touch my lips again. (At least not until a public recant.)

    Frito-Lay owns near all brands of chips you; including but not limited to:
    Fritos, lays, doritos, ruffles, tostitos, santinos (Mexican brand of tostitos).
    The company also falls under the same umbrella which owns Pepsi – which itself owns Gatorade, the Pure Leaf tea brand, and distributes Rockstars.

    Now that I know these brands have been offered to an idol and false god, I can no longer buy them.

  7. DAV: Obviously, yes. (The way to avoid the problem is to always be the one holding the gun, be it metal or a nasty virus. Since this is a family blog, I’ll skip what holding could mean.)

    The only up side is that the more the HIV is spread at a cost of billions to taxpayers (Obama wants 33 Billion for 2016), the greater the probability of a mutation that science cannot treat. Only nature can fix stupidity and it does so the same way we deal with mosquitoes.

    I’m still wondering why minority rule was wrong in South Africa. It’s obviously championed and worshipped in the USA. Why the difference?

    Speaking of desires and the heart wants what the heart wants category, two teachers in Douglas, Wyoming are out of a job and in big trouble for wanting sex with 18 and 17 year old students in the high school. No one seems to care what they wanted nor that the two of the students were 18. So, the heart can have what the heart wants, but not without consequence. Not yet anyway. Any one care to call the school bigoted and wrong for not allowing this? Of course, they have just had their licenses suspended for now.
    (Does anyone remember the show “Everwood” where pedophilia was openly portrayed and condoned?)

    There has to be a perversion, which is why pedophilia is still held to be wrong (except on Everwood). The traditional view is probably being groomed for taking over. Everyone knows someone has to be wrong or the tolerant have no one to beat up.

    Adding Frito Lay to my list of DO NOT BUY.

  8. Since this is a family blog, I’ll skip what holding could mean.

    Likewise with the alternate meaning of gun as used in the military (“My rifle is for shooting; my gun is for fun”).

  9. I’m reminded of Ambrose Bierce’s definition in “The Devil’s Dictionary:

    “IMMORAL, adj. Inexpedient. Whatever in the long run and with regard to the greater number of instances men find to be generally inexpedient comes to be considered wrong, wicked, immoral. If man’s notions of right and wrong have any other basis than this of expediency; if they originated, or could have originated, in any other way; if actions have in themselves a moral character apart from, and nowise dependent on, their consequences—then all philosophy is a lie and reason a disorder of the mind.”

    And that’s why homosexual behavior is immoral- not because of arbitrary rules by prudes, but because such behavior is inexpedient both for the individual and for the species as a whole.

  10. The revolution eats its own.

    Now it’s no longer enough to actively engage in butt-stuff with totally strangers- if you do that but don’t want to catch HIV you’re backwards bigoted oppressor. I wonder if Mr. Flared Pants realizes that he is a now Girondin in the eyes of the Jacobin Club.

  11. *Total, not “totally”.

  12. (You know what, I’ll just give this a second try, I must be tired or something)

    The revolution eats its own.

    Now it’s no longer enough to actively engage in butt-stuff with total strangers- if you do that but don’t want to catch HIV you’re a backwards bigoted oppressor. I wonder if Mr. Flared Pants realizes that he is now a Girondin in the eyes of the Jacobin Club.

  13. “The revolution eats its own.” A simple truth always lost on the faithful followers.

  14. Years ago I read the homosexual manifesto and they were pushing the idea the homosexuality is normal, natural and healthy. Their agenda hasn’t changed.

  15. Briggs,

    I think your “shorthand argument” was more telling than you want to let on.

    Yes, I subscribe to Classical Liberalism (libertarianism). But I am a Christian first.

    Is he being moral? Of course not. But that does not invalidate libertarianism as a system of ethics.

    If you are looking to libertarianism as a source for morality, you will fall short. Just as those who look to democracy, republicanism, progressivism, conservatism, Marxism, etc., as sources of morality also fall short. Though, sadly, too many overlook the obvious shortfalls and continue to restate their -ism as the definition of morality.

    Witness the nonsensical claim from those who worship democracy as a moral system, “I do not agree with that law, but at least I was giving the opportunity to vote on it (or for someone to represent me during the vote).” With one sentence, they perform a mental dialectic, so to speak, and justify the law based on the vote of the majority.

    Others simple accept legalism — the belief that a legal system is moral — as their guide. So a man is vile because he broke an unjust law — he broke the law, only criminals break laws, and criminals are vile, so he is vile. The corollary is that staying within the boundaries of law implies morality.

    I think the issue at hand is consent, or lack thereof, from the other side of the “intent to inflict.”

    Here’s a question for you to ponder: Is it ethical for a man to seek to inflict harm (and occasionally kill) another in a ring? Assuming your system of ethics is airtight, why are you not scream “stop” after each death — or before, even? Why are you not crying for laws against such unethical acts (assuming you truly believe it is unethical to seek to harm another)?

    Could it be that you occasionally have no issue with consenting adult wanting to harm one another, even to the point of risking death?

    Again, as I suspect, your system of ethics is situational. Though, I do believe your moral system is much more eternal.

  16. Briggs, your post brings to mind an old science-fiction story (so long ago I’ve forgotten the title and author) in which homosexuality WAS the norm, heterosexuality WAS a perversion, conception and fetus bearing was done artificially. The gimmick was this perversion would hold back the Malthusian bugbear of overpopulation. In reality contraception and abortion have done that already without making homosexuality the norm–witness low birthrates in Russia, Europe (excepting Muslim populations) that are not enough to maintain a steady state population.

  17. I recall a related scene in the play “Angels in America”. The protagonist is upset upon learning that his partner has AIDS. So, the protagonist goes out and finds another man to have sex with. And, this was written before medicines were as good as today’s. I considered the protagonist to have committed attempted murder, but that was obviously the wrong reaction.

  18. This is one story that should not have made it to any press cue.

    As usual people here confound morality with responsibility and legality.

    Morality is different from people to people. In the vast majority of developed countries around the world it is considered immoral to not provide healthcare to everyone. This statement does not apply to the USA.

    In the end what is immoral or moral to someone can be very different to someone else.

    Responsibility and legality are something else.

    In the case of Tom he is irresponsible to want to spread HIV.

    But the author of this blog is also irresponsible in conflating the comments of a few friends of Tom has being a fact. This is making a huge deal of a little rain.

  19. Sylvain @ There is no radical moral pluralism among humans. In order to make it appear that there is, proponents of moral relativism do three things: (1) mix manners in with morals, so that opinions about bad taste appear to be opinions about morality, (2) confuse tolerance with approval, (3) misrepresent moral particularism, so that, for instance, approval of lying to strangers appears to be approval of lying. Take out the manners, accept that societies vary in their degrees of tolerance (or laxity), understand moral particularism, and you will find that the large, successful civilizations all have (and have had) pretty much the same moral code. Theists and proponents of natural law explain this in one way, Darwinists explain it in another, but the fact remains.

    I take it that the word “irresponsible” means heedless of consequences, unwilling or unprepared to pay the cost of an action. That one should heed the consequences and pay the cost of one’s actions is a moral judgment, so calling the young man’s actions (actually his intended but not realized actions) irresponsible is a moral judgment.

    In the case at hand, the (immoral) irresponsibility is particularly egregious, since the first man presumably had no intention of paying the second man’s medical bills, and could not under any circumstances restore him to his previous level of health. This is why casual sex of any description is the opposite of marital sex, from a moral point of view. The marriage vow is a vow of sexual responsibility–meaning a vow to take full responsibility for the consequences of sexual activity.

  20. Briggs, it never ceases to amaze me, you correctly point out and discuss something that is literally insane. Then I go down to your blogs comment section and it never fails, there are several people defending the insanity.

    I did not know what bugchasing was so I followed the link, wow. But I guess that should not be surprising, according to modernity we should be able to end our life whenever we want, so why shouldn’t someone want and be able to get an incurable disease? Plus, don’t forget all the sympathy from victim hood and that applies to poor Tom also since some one (many?) won’t have sex with him. Poor Tom. All you insane defenders from this blog should go to his facebook page and click like him or something or become a follower or whatever, it’ll make the poor victim Tom feel better.

  21. Bob K.

    This is probably the story:

    https://lostgayfiction.wordpress.com/2011/12/04/the-crooked-man-by-charles-beaumont/

    It was published in Playboy, I only read it for the articles, in 1955.

  22. “That one should heed the consequences and pay the cost of one’s actions is a moral judgment, so calling the young man’s actions (actually his intended but not realized actions) irresponsible is a moral judgment.”

    Irresponsibility and morality are two different things. Saying someone is irresponsible is not a moral judgment. It’s a factual statement. This is why people say that that gays are immoral. They don’t say they are irresponsible.

    This is how the Merriam-Webster defines it

    “: not responsible: as
    a : not answerable to higher authority
    b : said or done with no sense of responsibility
    c : lacking a sense of responsibility
    d : unable especially mentally or financially to bear responsibility”

    In this case it is not that Tom want to have sex with another man that some defines as being immoral, but the fact that he is HIV positive and that it is an STD.

  23. Sylvan @ I think this is like saying that dishonesty and morality are two different things, or infidelity and morality. When we call a man irresponsible, we condemn the man, and when we condemn a man, we make a moral judgment. It’s just occurred to me that we used to have a word to describe people who acted, non-culpably, without regard for consequences or higher authority. We used to say they were gay. Ironic, no?

  24. @JMSmith

    Someone can be irresponsible without being immoral. Someone can be immoral and not be irresponsible. And someone can be immoral and irresponsible at the same time.

    For many it is not immoral to not pay there alimony, but it is irresponsible to not provide for a child you brought to the world. It is not irresponsible to be gay, while some people find it immoral. It is immoral and irresponsible to cause the death of someone.

    Isn’t that ironic that gay originally meant someone that was happy.

    I find strange that no one here complains that the meaning of this word changed meaning pver the years.

  25. Sylvain @ My grandmother used to resent homosexual’s appropriation of the word gay. She felt no particular hostility toward homosexuals, but was fond of the word and the special sort of happiness it denoted. To be gay in the old sense was to be carefree, almost to the point of giddiness. It was to be momentarily relieved of the great weight of life–of all regrets, fears and responsibilities. I think my grandmother was acutely aware of that weight in the normal course of things, but her anxiety was intermittently broken by holidays of gaiety. She said there was really no word that described these holidays, other than gay.

    In psychological terms, I suppose she was mildly bipolar, and gay was the manic phase of the cycle. Many years ago I lived in a large city and knew many homosexuals. Not one of them was happy in the ordinary sense, but most could crank themselves up to a giddy, manic, gaiety. In some this was authentic, in others affected.

  26. I still use the word ‘gay’ exclusively just as JM’s granny would wish–usually without explaining it. For the other, I prefer “sodomite”.

  27. It’s not moral to endanger other people’s health. But there is no need to speak of that man’s sexual partners as helpless victims – they are responsible for their own health. Don’t want HIV, test your partners and use condoms. It’s not moral to shift all the blame on the HIV-positive guy if someone else gets infected.

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