Monday, December 07, 2009

A Dearth of Hard Facts In The Charities Furore

The aspect which seems to Clameur de Haro to have been completely overlooked in the recent furore about Mr Edward Trevor’s ill-judged utterances on charity collecting is whether or not there is factual substance to his remarks, however inelegantly expressed, about the precise sources of HIV/AIDS infection in the Western world.
Mr Trevor did not, to put it mildly, express himself well in any event: but in conflating the issue of infection source with the issue of who should or should not be collecting for which particular charity in alleged competition with the Joint Charities Christmas Appeal, he was incredibly foolish, and thereby opened himself up to the emotion-based and fact-free criticism which duly ensued.
It sheds however an interesting light that, during the time which has elapsed since all the criticism about the tenor of Mr Trevor’s comments, and in all the personal odium heaped upon him, there has been no discernable rebuttal, based on established statistics, of his factual claims.
Deconstructing those from his opinions, what he claimed, if the reports in the Jersey Evening [sic] Post and its transcript of his BBC Radio Jersey interview were to be believed, was that the primary causal sources of HIV/AIDS in Western countries are, with the exception of blood transfusions, behaviours over which the individual is able to exercise control or choice.
This is, or ought to be, a simple issue of fact, easily verified from readily available statistical sources, and publishable. Yet on this purely factual issue, there has been silence – including from ACET itself, which might reasonably have been expected in the circumstances to have issued an unequivocal factual rebuttal, and which would have been far more persuasive.
If accurate statistics showed that the primary cause of acquiring HIV/AIDS in the Western world is involuntary or accidental, and is unrelated to self-directed behaviours, then the criticisms of Mr Trevor would have been factually vindicated. If however, Mr Trevor’s claims turned out to be factually accurate, that may well be uncomfortable reading or listening for some, but should not on its own be sufficient reason for the virulent abuse hurled at him.
That abuse seems to have been motivated primarily, not just because of his opinions differing from those of his detractors, but due to those opinions being outside the spectrum of permitted thought as defined by the bien-pensant cultural left, a point which was picked up by several of the more astute on-line commenters to the JEP.
This is the true danger of political correctness (or Frankfurt School cultural marxism to give it its more descriptive and accurate name), the top-down imposition of curtailment and restriction of freedom of thought and speech by which whole areas of opinion are sought to be rendered incapable or forbidden of expression.
For the JEP to aver that Mr Trevor’s remarks were “unacceptable” is profoundly disturbing, for a responsible media outlet should not be, or be perceived to be, curtailing legitimate freedom of speech in this (or indeed in any) way. Equally, the statement attributed to Mrs Rosemary Ruddy of ACET, that Mr Trevor’s views were “untenable”, is plainly nonsense, since all any view held is by definition tenable, however repugnant it may be and however much it may offend the recipient.
HIV/AIDS, however acquired, is an unfortunate fact of life, and ACET is a valuable charity, dispensing advice and support in an admirably non-judgmental way: Jersey is undoubtedly the better for existence. But Clameur de Haro wonders if the lady doth perhaps protest too much? He trusts that the executive director of a HIV/AIDS charity in particular, in describing as “untenable” views such as those unwisely articulated by Mr Trevor, would not seek to use the dubious techniques of political correctness to divert attention from statistical facts which many might prefer not to acknowledge and which might risk – however unjustifiably – mitigating against the valuable service which ACET provides.
Mrs Ruddy, together with Mr Trevor’s numerous other detractors, might have been better advised to counter his ill-advised and poorly expressed remarks with statistical data proving them to be, quite simply, untrue, rather than with opprobrium heavy on opinion but light on hard fact from impeccable, and verifiable, sources. Presumably ACET possesses this information - it might still at this stage put the matter to rest by publishing the hard statistical data on the actual sources of infection in Western countries, and the extent to which there is, or is not, a correlation with multi-partner sexual activity, so that the public could with hindsight better judge the extent of Mr Trevor’s transgression.
Add to del.icio.usDigg It!Stumble This

No comments: