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20 May 2006

The link between a virus and a hate group

You may have seen the news about the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine.

A federal advisory panel Thursday unanimously recommended that the Food and Drug Administration approve a vaccine that has been shown to prevent cervical cancer, the second most prevalent cancer among women worldwide.

The FDA almost always follows the recommendations of its advisory panels and is expected to do so in this case, probably by June 8.

(I will only slightly refrain from noting that the FDA only doesn’t follow that advice when it comes to anything even thought to do with abortion.) I might note that HPV is also a significant cause of cancer among gay men. That, however, is not mentioned. In fact,

HPV is considered the most common STD in the U.S. among both men and women. One study estimated that approximately 95 percent of HIV-positive gay men have been infected with HPV. That same study estimated that 65 percent of HIV-negative gay men have been infected with HPV.

Simiilarly, there has been outrage and response when Fred Phelps expanded his hate-fueled “protests” to include funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq.

As of April 19, 2006, at least seventeen states are either considering bans on protests near funeral sites immediately before and after the ceremonies, or have already banned them. These states are: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa [88], Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana [89], Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, which passed the law, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Texas. Wisconsin has instituted such a ban. These bans are in response to the God Hates Fags rallies of Phelps near the places where funerals of US soldiers killed in Iraq are taking place. These bans seem almost certain to pass, and although their constitutional validity has been questioned, their validity has not yet been tested in the courts.

We didn’t see outraged legislative response when Phelps spent years protesting funerals of gay men like Matthew Shepard or church conventions struggling with issues around women and LGBT people. People considered him outside respectable discourse, yes, but no one moved to throw the power of the state into countering him.

LGBT people are still not full people in this society. Our health, our dignity, our lives are still functionally not worth as much as those of “women” or “soldiers.” This betrays the two creeds so vital to many Americans–their patriotism and their (Christian) religion. All men are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights — life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — and in Christ Jesus there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave or free, male or female. But there’s always queer, and that’s different.

This isn’t a pathology of the right exclusively. There are plenty of well-meaning progressives who neglect to use their own power of persuasion to expand the frontier of discourse.

But although perhaps less diabolical in intent than the discrimination of suppression, the discrimination of unintentional omission obtains similar results. Some of us become better or more important than others of us, and we betray our sacred principles in so many ways.

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