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AIDS as a Factor in Discourse

California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Latest update: December 25, 1998
E-mail Faculty on the Site

Stories and Information

Living in the Bonus Round
Impure Science: The Story of AIDS Research
Peter Gomes' The Good Book
NEW AIDS, Conspiracy Theory, and Race

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Steve Schalchlin's Diary

The Online Diary of Steve Schlachlin. This is an award-winning site on Geocities. (And for summer fun you should consider opening a free web site at Geocities. So investigate while you're there.) Steve's diary is an incredible example of narrative, as we use it on this site to tell our stories, to turn those stories into text, and to understand how those stories determine our validity claims and how well they are heard. Steve is a songwriter. Go out on the Web and enjoy! And e-mail Steve. He's offered to come to CSUDH to perform for us! Jeanne

Don't miss Living in the Bonus Round and visit The Last Session, the Site depicting his off-Broadway show.

Added on June 20, 1998.

AIDS, Conspiracy Theory, and Race

On Tuesday, December 22, 1998, the New York Times reported on "Challenging the Conventional Stance on AIDS," by David France, p. D6.

This article reports on "The Harlem AIDS Forum sponsored by the Rev. Al Sharpton and his National Action Network. . . . Of the dozen or so speakers, only one subscribed to the theory that H.I.V. was what was making people sick, and he argued that [this] . . . was part of a genocidal project.

Mario Cooper, founder of Leading for Life, which is a project of the Harvard AIDS Institute, spoke of the forum as a "productive 'catharsis" in which the community is making an effort to come to terms with this disease. Neither Mr. Cooper, nor Dennios DeLeon, "director of the Latino Task Force on AIDS, attended the forum. But both recognized the importance of bringing the community to public discourse on the issue.

Curtis Cost, who organized the Harlem AIDS Forum, spoke of just allowing people to express the fears and thoughts that are not reflected in the dominant media. "Our goal was to allow people to hear the disparate perspectives, and do their own follow-up research." Here is public discourse beginning to be sanctioned even by those who disagree with the validity claims. The open forum, with the commitment to allow the good faith hearing of truth claims that have previously been denied a serious forum, may well be a stage in the public discourse that must precede equal access to all claims.

Steven Epstein made similar claims for the right of those suffering from AIDS to be heard seriously in challenging the health industry. The validity claim which challenges the ethics of our social structure in dealing with racial issues was given considerable credence by the infamous Tuskegee experiments, as David France notes. So now we must consider that good faith hearing of health claims is going to need to deal with the loss of trust engendered by past dealings with all those not privileged by membership in the power-wielding majority. To assume that such demand for hearing will allow only "rational" claims, or only those acceptable to the privileged claims of the majority, is to fail to comprehend that "rational" carries within it the very seed of silencing that is being challenged, and is consequently, far from rational.

An Active Minister and Questions of Sexual Choice

Consider Peter Gomes' book, written as a minister to the undergraduates at Harvard University. He chose to come out at the time he published this book. If questions of sexuality are a major factor in constructing your voice and finding a forum in which to be heard, here's a start:

Visit for more information on Peter Gomes'The Good Book.

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