[Doubled from Dangerous Intersection]
HIV/AIDS is possibly the worst health crisis to hit this planet. It’s also arguably the worst thing to happen to the African continent since white people were regularly kidnapping its inhabitants and trading them like farm machinery.
But the one hopeful thing about the whole situation is this: while there’s no cure yet, AIDS is easily preventable. Ridiculously easily preventable. Avoiding the sharing of needles & using contraception are the two most effective ways to avoid the long, tortuous, wasting death we’ve all come to associate with this horrendous epidemic. And if you’re not an intravenous drug user (or you studiously avoid sticking sharp, blood-stained things in your body), there’s 50% of your prevention pretty much sorted already.
So … how the hell are you supposed to react when the gold-robed, paedophile-protecting dictator-for-life of the Catholic Church continues to threaten people with eternal torment for using contraception during sex (based on a very, very, um, interpretive interpretation the Bible) and instead tells people “just say no” to sex? In this story (BBC) Pope Oberstumbannfuhrer Herr Kaiser Ratzinger (I refuse to use his picked-out stagename, he’s not Axl Rose for crying out loud) once again proves to the world that not only is his outlook anachronistic, unrealistic & laughable, it’s also flat-out fatal. To millions upon millions of people.
In the referenced article Ratzinger, in the very same breath, calls AIDS a “cruel epidemic” and then follows that with this clanger: “The traditional teaching of the church has proven to be the only failsafe way to prevent the spread of HIV/Aids.” Except when it hasn’t, doesn’t, isn’t and won’t. Obviously.
Allow me to rephrase & clarify that statement for you, Popey: “The inestimable, genocidal cruelty of AIDS is most efficiently perpetuated by people in positions of power (like Popes, for example) asking poverty-stricken superstitious people, living in abject fear for their very souls, to do what amounts to the impossible.”
In the past, before I knew much about AIDS’ awful presence in Africa (for instance, the article states that today, around 60% of the entire world’s AIDS 40 million patients are African and up to 1000 die each day), whenever I’d hear some robed halfwit with celestial voices in his head make a pig-ignorant statement like that of Ratzinger’s I’d just roll my eyes, sigh and think “Gosh, those wacky Catholics. At it again, asking the impossible and being ignored by the world, even Catholics. Laugh out loud!” But after a while I realised that while most people in the developed world treat Ratzinger’s words with all the respect they deserve, large swathes of Africa (and other developing regions) are still tightly gripped by superstition of all kinds and take the word of people like Herr Ratzinger and his little wizards as gospel. Accordingly, they avoid the simplest precautions against unwanted pregnancies and definitely unwanted STDs because they’ve been taught that wasting sperm incurs God’s wrath.
Then there was this gritty little cultured pearl of wisdom:
It is of great concern that the fabric of African life, its very source of hope and stability, is threatened by divorce, abortion, prostitution, human trafficking and a contraception mentality [emphasis mine]
Righto. Right up there as the biggest threats to Africa’s future, along with human trafficking (a modern form of slavery if there ever was one) and prostitution (often related to said trafficking) are those gravest of grave sins: the right to choose if you conceive a child during sex (regardless of whether the sex was legal or consensual), the right to not carry an embryo into actual foetus-hood and that most awful of activities, the right to end a relationship.
Does this geriatric idiot in the imperial robes who lives in a palace not see the links – right there in his very own statement? There’s human trafficking – desperate, poor people either taken advantage of or simply forced into such activities as prostitution – quite often not presenting a choice to the new sex-slave about who they have sex with, when they have sex with them and whether the “customer” protects himself or not. Divorce – well, in many cultures across the globe, obviously including Africa, people (and by “people” I mean “women”) don’t get a choice who they marry or when their new spouse decides to consummate that marriage (search the web for “obstetric fistula” – a painful & embarrassing condition which occurs way too often in underage African girls). Abortion, that old Catholic standby – well, disregarding the fact that a fertilised ovum or a tiny clump of undifferentiated cells isn’t a human being – what if you’re nine years old and aren’t physically capable of carrying a child to term? Well, if you’d read the news lately that doesn’t matter to the Papacy. Their official response? Excommunicate the doctors and the kid’s family – but not the mangy son of a bitch stepfather who repeatedly raped the girl from when she was six years old – then impregnated her with twins which would almost certainly have killed the girl. But hey, everyone knows it’s par for the course for the Vatican to protect child-rapists.
Rape & sex-slavery & STDs aside, even in the average committed, loving, monogamous relationship – even one completely without risk – there should be a choice. There should be a right to choose not to have a child. One word comes to mind when people think of Africa: poverty. If you can’t afford to feed & clothe & educate a child, there is absolutely no reason that you should be forced to have one. To force people, under the threat of eternal damnation, to simultaneously conceive children they cannot support and risk contracting the deadliest disease ever experienced by humanity is possibly the most reprehensibly immoral act that can be undertaken by a person in a position of power and responsibility. Ratzinger knows the effect his words will have among the faithful, he knows what the stakes are and, unless he’s been living under a rock (maybe not but I’m willing to bet he sleeps in a coffin), he surely must know what the results have been from decades of official Vatican “don’t protect yourself, just say no to sex” wisdom. Of course he knows all that, for crying out loud. But why care too much about adding millions more to the existing millions of sick & dying Africans? There are more where that came from, right Ratzi? Of course there are going to be if you tell people they’ll burn in Hell for wasting their sperm. And hey – dying slowly & horribly of AIDS and watching all your kids starve, followed by eternal bliss in heaven has just got to be better than a long, healthy life followed by forever with a red-hot pitchfork inserted somewhere less than convenient. Right?
But, honestly, I don’t know how to react anymore. These days when I hear Ratzinger, as he frequently does, displaying a stark ignorance of the realities of the world (unmatched except perhaps by Sarah Palin or your average coma patient) or condemning people to what he surely must know is an early death, I’m not sure if I should scream unintelligibly at my screen, post floweringly verbose excoriations, sigh in defeat & just sit and feel powerless and frustrated or … just have a healthy, profane vent & say “Ratzinger. Hey. Shut the fuck up. You’re killing people with this retarded dogma of yours – actually killing people – just as much as if you strangled them with your own bony, pampered hands. Your words are weapons of genocide – a war crime in peace-time, a crime against humanity – and if anyone’s going to Hell, you elderly virgin whose first & last experience of a naked woman was being pushed, tiny, wet & screaming, out of one, it’s going to be you, because you had the opportunity to save millions of lives and you bailed on it, your mind enslaved by your precious god-damned magic book. And once you’re there, roasting, I hope the millions of victims of your arrogant delusions & murderous idiocy visit you in Hell to kick your balls right up through your face.”
Here endeth the rant.
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