A court in Minneapolis recently convicted Daniel James Rick of first-degree assault because, although he was aware that he was HIV positive, Rick had sex with another man and this resulted in the transmission of the disease to the victim. Allegedly, Rick did convey to the other man that he was HIV positive, before they engaged in sex, but the man agreed to sex anyway.
Phillip Miner, a reporter for The Huffington Post, believes that “the implications of this verdict are unsettling, distressing and enraging.” He goes on, “It's unsettling because there are 34 states where the transmission of HIV is considered either assault, assault with a deadly weapon or attempted murder.” Later in the same report Miner states: “HIV is no longer seen as a death sentence; instead, treatment advances have made HIV a chronic, manageable disease.”
In my opinion, there are three important points to note about this matter but they all boil down to one common factor, Relativism. Nobody wants to acknowledge any wrong doing anymore. There is no clear error anymore! It is always subject to the circumstances and goodness knows what else. We really need to get back to the realisation that not everything is relative. There is without doubt Truth and there is Error.
Let’s consider this matter briefly:
- If you know you are HIV positive and that having sex may lead to another person becoming infected if you have sex with them, it is wrong to have sex with that person. The fact that the person agrees to have sex does not change the fact that it is wrong. It’s like arguing that, if I point a loaded gun at someone and I know that by pulling the trigger I will commit murder, it ceases to be murder if the other person consents to me pulling the trigger.
- Miner’s argument is equally ridiculous, especially because he apparently holds a masters degree. What intelligent person would actually argue that because medical advances have made it possible to manage HIV, that we should now be more tolerant of those who spread the disease to others. Let’s consider the loaded gun again. Since medical advances have made it far more likely that you will survive a gunshot wound to the leg, does it make it acceptable for me to shoot the person in the leg, instead of the head, because I know that at worst it will cause the person pain, possibly the loss of his leg, but not certain death. No it doesn’t!
- My final point is about the victim. If he knew that the person was HIV positive, why go ahead and have unprotected sex. When we make choices in life we have to deal with the consequences of our choices. We give up our right to be treated as an innocent victim when we ourselves make bad choices despite being well aware of the consequences.
If you ask me, both these men should be sent to jail to pay the price for their stupidity. As for Miner, who wrote the column in The Huffington Post, I would suggest he seriously sit down and reconsider his position on this subject.
We need to regain the sense of being responsible for all we think, say, do and also fail to do. Catholics especially should pay closer attention when praying the Confiteor and acknowledge how much of what we go through in this life is “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.”