No one wants to see the grave of a loved one disturbed. It’s dishonorable, distasteful, and usually illegal.
That is exactly what happened this weekend though.
There is a page on my blog called “the graveyard”, a list of dead friends that I published as a response to those who claimed that every time an AIDS dissident died it was because they chose to not take the so-called “AIDS cocktail” of drugs.
The graveyard includes this photo montage I created of eight close friends who died while faithfully taking their ARVs.
As you can see, I’ve superimposed a skull-and-crossbone image over their faces to make a statement about the lethal effects of the drugs they took.
Provocative? I hope so. Shocking? Maybe to some. Disrespectful? Never. This is a graphic illustration intended to make a point. I admit I was nervous when I first posted it and have even taken it offline for brief periods. I have living friends who also knew these friends. What would they think? So far, not a single one of them has protested to me about the imagery, even though I’m sure some of them disagree with me.
A couple of days ago J Todd DeShong, a blogger apparently supported by Baylor Health Care System of Dallas, decided to repost this image out of its original context to attack me. DeShong’s blogspot blog has a notorious reputation for posting some of the most vile and malicious commentary about publicly identified AIDS dissidents to be found on the web.
If it was disrespectful for me to create a photo montage of friends I had partied with and known intimately, what does one call the action of a person who did not even know them to repost this image as part of a slimy personal attack?
The first word that comes to mind is copyright infringement, something DeShong apparently has no regard for. Even the lamest blogger knows that when one lifts an image from another site, it must be attributed with a link back to the original source so readers can view it in its original context. Deshong has denied me that basic right, even though I’ve politely requested it.
That is the least of my concerns though.
J Todd DeShong: you can call me any name you’d like; you can continue to lie about my disability status and sources of income; you can continue to misrepresent my involvement in the creation of the Questioning AIDS website; you can claim I tried to cost you your job, even though it was you who violated your company’s policy.
But, by defiling the graves of people who have nothing to do with our disagreement, you have shown just how despicable and shameless you really are.
Anyone reading your blog, and the comments of your supporters will see you for the sad, miserable creature you are. I don’t hate you, but I do pity you.
Many of my dissident friends will probably wish I had not made this post, and perhaps it is a mistake to do so, but my friends’ memories won’t permit me to remain silent.
DeShong really is a bit player in the AIDS dissident debate. His blog barely shows up in any rankings, and my post will only help give him more attention, something he obviously craves.
On the other hand, DeShong is popular with some of the leaders of the anti-AIDS dissident movement, including “snout”, “poodlestomper”, and he is now best friends with Seth Kalichman and other AIDS cheerleaders who are single-mindedly devoted to discrediting and smearing anyone questioning AIDS dogma. They love his style and support him with frequent comments.
Those who are following the AIDS dissidence issue from the sidelines would do well to read DeShong’s blog and even more importantly, the comments from his fellow “anti-denialists”.
While a debate should stand on its own merits, it never hurts to discern the personas behind the arguments as well.