HIV on God's TV

by languageformulatingbrain

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The defining disease of the 1980s, HIV, seems almost surreal in its appearance. Surely many watching the news would first hear about a disease that at first seemed to be affecting mostly homosexuals and intravenous drug users. For those who injected cocaine, it might seem as if the disease were coming for them in that paranoid kind of way that extreme cocaine use brings on, and perhaps the cocaine-shooter would not be wrong. But for the average user, it was dismissed, just like Reagan minimized it. It was a disease for them, compassion burned away by the stimulants that coursed through their neurons.

An almost psychopathic lack of compassion can be brought on by the use of stimulants. Other people may suffer, but for some reason you just don't care. It's you that is on top of the world, as if one were standing high on a pyramid made of dead bodies, trying to blind the All-Seeing-Eye of providence. And in the 1980s, many of the dead bodies that made up this pyramid--many of them near the base, others not so much--were made up of the victims of AIDS.

Right-wing Christians would sometimes opine that the disease was "God's punishment" for the sins of homosexuality and drug use, but on a perverse level, what the person meant was that if it were up to them to determine whether people should have AIDS, they would inflict it upon homosexuals and drug-users. The President couldn't care less about this crisis that affected gay people. It was a disease for "them", and of course, it appeared on the television screens of successful capitalists high on cocaine.

The Bible is a lurid affair, which seems almost like a lengthy series of curses against anyone who disagrees with the writers, and one of the things that the God of the Bible does is afflict the enemies of the writers with horrendous diseases. With right-wing corporate stooges in power, their faith instantly forgiving them for whatever transgressions they commit, it would seem only natural that people whom they believed to be enemies of the Christian religion would begin to die of AIDS.

So, much that could have been done to stem the epidemic was ignored. It almost seemed like the epidemic arose with a smile and a wink among those who were in power. It may be ridiculous to believe some crack-head (or William S. Burroughs's) theory that the government would start HIV in a laboratory, and indeed the disease would eventually be traced back to a simian disease which came to be on a continent mostly not made up of White People, but to someone smoking crack rocks in the ghettos of America and spouting whatever theory that came to their mind, it would seem perfectly real that the government would do such a thing--logic having been damaged by the barrage of cocaine on the smoker's brain.

Was there some viral manifestation of a mass psychosis that lie underneath the thinnest veneer of logic that covers who-knows-what as it appears on the TV screen? It seems despicable and destructive to speculate about folksy metaphysics of conspiratorial persecution, but it just seems like there's a piece of the puzzle to reality missing. The fact that AIDS kills people, that it was spread through contact between bodily fluids, and that it evolved from a virus that affected species in Africa and somehow made a jump to humans--this is indisputable, but to the mind on a long cocaine binge, it almost seems as if there is some mass murderer behind it all, a demon or a god perhaps, or that some of the curses from Biblical texts were being twisted around in peoples' minds to expect such a thing to punish whoever are viewed as the dregs of society or a threat to a conservative status quo, as it did its destructive "magic" on the enemies of the God-fearing.

One thing is certain, however--once the disease was realized to be affecting people who had heterosexual sex and that it wasn't a "gay disease" or a disease spread among junkies exclusively, then people viewed it with what could laughably be called more dread, since it was the penis or the vagina of their sex partner that could transmit the disease to them. Suddenly, "God" was mad at them, even though they were men who loved women or women who loved men, and so it was sensible to actually care about the disease and its consequences on people.

Conveniently for right-wingers, the disease was spread by not teaching people about proper sex education, and so countries that were probably viewed by such people as being full of illiterate "savages" could have their populations decimated by the disease, and by inaction rather than action, the problem of overpopulation could be conveniently swept under the rug for a time, perhaps long enough to live a comfortable, God-fearing lifestyle and pass the toll on the planet to a future generation, safe in the comfort that it probably wouldn't affect them.

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