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Sunday, April 29, 2007

 
ABC's Of Hypocrisy

by digby

I know others have pointed out that Randall Tobias, the "abstinence makes the heart grow fonder" AIDS czar is a screaming hypocrite for his extra-marital "massages," but I'm still gobsmacked by this particular item:

On Thursday, Tobias told ABC News he had several times called the "Pamela Martin and Associates" escort service "to have gals come over to the condo to give me a massage." Tobias, who is married, said there had been "no sex," and that recently he had been using another service "with Central Americans" to provide massages.


Here was Tobias on PBS some time back explaining his approach to globally combatting AIDS:

Well, the heart of our prevention programs is what's known as ABC: abstinence, be faithful, and the correct and consistent use of condoms when appropriate. This is not an American invention; this is something that President [Yoweri] Museveni in Uganda figured out over time when he recognized that there was an enormous problem in Uganda.

And it's also not "ABC: Take your pick." It's abstinence really focused heavily on young people and getting them to understand that the best way to keep from getting infected is to be abstinent and not engage in sexual activity until they are old enough and mature enough and get into a committed relationship, such as a marriage. B is being faithful within that committed relationship. And A and B, those two things together clearly had a huge impact in bringing the infection rates down in Uganda.

C recognizes the fact that there are individuals in high-risk circumstances who either by choice or by coercion are going to find themselves unable to follow A and B, and therefore they need to have access to condoms, and they need to understand the correct and consistent use of condoms. I think more and more of the experts, the people who really understand the prevention requirements with HIV/AIDS, have come to endorse ABC in a very balanced way as the appropriate prevention centerpiece.


Ok. This approach has had some success in Uganda and maybe it could have some success elsewhere. But we know that cultural factors play a very strong role in AIDS prevention, as Tobias acknowledged:

But I would also add that as important as ABC is, the fact is that this is a disease where 50 percent of the people infected in the world are women. When I cite those numbers to people here in the United States, I find most people are astonished. They just have no idea about that. In some countries in Africa, it's well above 50 percent that are women and girls.

In many cases this is driven by cultural factors, where young girls are having sex with older men and [are] coerced to do that, where women aren't regarded as equal citizens with men. So there are lots of things that need to be done addressing those kinds of cultural issues also.



From what we hear, the main prostitution ring may have been made up of skilled and educated women who chose to be call girls for a variety of their own reasons. This is none of my business and if politicans and others have not been out there preaching sexual morality on Fridays and getting happy endings on Saturday then I don't see that it's anybody elses business either.

Exploiting illegal immigrants or poor women is another thing altogether. Indeed, it is, as Tobias himself said, a matter of coercion and if he had anything to do with something like that he should be in much deeper trouble than just patronizing a call girl agency for a little extra-curricular massage. It's possible, of course, that this Central American "service" is also made up of young professional women who are making some extra cash on the side, in which case I make no judgment beyond his rank, laughable hypocrisy on the faithfulness and abstinence issue. But let's just say I'm skeptical. That "cultural issue" he talks about is pretty universal, but you would expect that the man who has been all over the globe and seen the results of such exploitation would have been cured of his taste for third world masseuses.



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