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Supervisors on AIDS Prevention

September 13, 1988

The Board of Supervisors opted not to slow down the AIDS epidemic by distributing condoms and needle sterilization kits to drug addicts. It is ironic, and indicative, that many of the same people so quick to discount civil-libertarian considerations in the name of "community safety," would argue from "morality" when the opportunity arises to take practical steps in the interests of public health. It is clear, when one cuts through the fluff and reduces their values to essentials, that the only things these people hold dear are repression, mean-spiritedness and hatred of their humanity.

In an ideal world, people don't do drugs, but in the real world, people do. One irritating facet of the anti-drug movement is that it enables people who don't partake to think of themselves as virtuous. As one who doesn't shoot up, who has even stopped smoking pot, I can nevertheless see that comparative innocence does not turn on the issue of who does and who doesn't. Morality that fails to redress concrete concerns in a matter flexible and adaptive is mere posturing. Heaven protect us ordinary rascals from the sanctified!

It defies ethical responsibility and decency itself to facilitate the annihilation of IV drug users, and further endanger their friends and family. The supervisors' decision provides a glaring example of the consequences in a morality that "strains at gnats and swallows camels." Indeed, better no morality at all than the piety that allows human beings to die because they are sinners.

PAUL RYAN

Pasadena

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