The Associated Press headline proudly proclaims "San Franciscans honor those touched by AIDS" and goes on to regale us all about how AIDS activists "honored" the lives of San Franciscans who have died of AIDS since 1981. (See story by clicking here)
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Clasping purple irises, calling out names and clapping to a gospel beat, San Francisco paid tribute Thursday to the thousands of residents who died from AIDS in the last 25 years and honored the thousands more still living with the HIV virus
The report glowed on about how politicians and religious leaders "honored" and "celebrated" AIDS victims at the gathering in the performing arts center this week. The gay men's chorus performed and 40 members of the audience came to the stage and sang "We shall overcome".
The problem is, how does one "honor" someone who merely got a disease? Further, why "honor" someone who got that disease by indulging in behavior that caused it, behavior that is preventable? What did they do that deserves to be honored?
It appears that San Franciscans do not understand what the word "honor" means. And misusing it this way diminishes the term when applied to people who truly deserve honoring.
One might honor the doctors that have worked for a cure for AIDS. One might honor the community clinic workers that have tried to care for AIDS patients. One might even honor the politicians who endeavored to find money in their budgets for AIDS research ... though even the last example would be a marginal usage of the term.
But, honor those who got the disease? Absurd.
Worse than this self-indulgent and childish "honoring" was the not so subtle linking of beating the AIDS virus with the civil rights movement when the song "We shall overcome" was struck up.
Blacks being hung by white supremicists from trees and poles throughout the south, being kept from becoming full citizens of this country generation after generation, and a few thousand promiscuous gay men getting a disease from their promiscuity have NO relation to each other whatsoever. Further, it diminishes the importance and seriousness of the civil rights issues of the past with the conflating of the two.
This is just one more example of a distortion of language employed to mask bad behavior and then to try and legitimize that same behavior.
-By Warner Todd Huston