Sad Story

Watch me try to be objective and unbiased...

An RV park owner banned an HIV-positive 2-year-old boy from the facility's pool and communal shower area last week in Silver Hill, Alabama, effectively forcing the boy and his guardians to vacate the premises.

"We weren't sure if somebody could get the virus if the child upchucked on them or from blood or what," said Ken Zadnichek, owner of the Wales West RV Park. "We didn't know what the risk was."

Wow. Is it 1987 already?

The story gets sadder and sadder-- you can read about it here. Basically, this kid is the foster son of an older couple, and the foster father is dying of cancer. The family decided to take this vacation together-- you know, appreciate the time you have left and all that. And this ignorant jackass-- concerned that a 2-year-old is going to get his GRIDS blood on him and give him the gay cancer-- decided to put an end to their plans.

"I'm not responsible for their feelings," Zadnichek said. "I'm responsible for the well-being of everybody in the park. If their feelings got hurt, I'm sorry. That's the way it's got to be."

Interesting logic. If I perceive a threat, even where none exists, then I'm within my rights to discriminate against innocent people? It'll be interesting to see if this defense holds up in court should the family decide to sue. I'm pretty sure you can't say things like "Christians blow up buildings" or "French Canadians are notorious for pick-pocketing" and thus ban them from your place of business-- in fact, I'm pretty sure this was decided long ago. But let's see how this plays out.

Perhaps the saddest part of the story, from my point of view, is that readers of America Online's news report seem pretty split on whether discrimination in this case is justified. At this point, 53% say they side with the boy's parents, while 47% say their sympathies are with the park owner (who, if you haven't figured it out yet, is an ignorant cretin). Seriously-- people are split right down the middle as to whether it's okay to say to a 2-year-old, "No, you may not swim, because you have a disease that makes me uncomfortable because it calls to mind certain sexual practices which-- though you've never indulged in them yourself-- make me really uncomfortable."

(I know, I know-- some people say that our country's anxiety about AIDS is a separate issue from our institutionalized homophobia. Those people are wrong, though-- see Abraham Verghese's excellent memoir My Own Country for a more complete meditation on the subject).

So if you get a chance, click on the link above and vote in their online poll. Stay away from the comments section, though-- I swear, sometimes it's like they put stupid in the water in some places.

I should hasten to add, for people who may stumble upon this site from a Google search of the terms "cretin, AIDS, Christian" that, as all intelligent people know, you cannot get AIDS from a swimming pool or a shower. Again, this is the kind of thing most of us realized twenty years ago, from Very Special Episodes of Mr. Belvedere and The Hogan Family, but I guess some people didn't watch network TV.

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