Saturday, January 6, 2007

Poor judgment by the H-T

There was a letter to the editor earlier this week regarding the article on "Condom art" in the Herald-Times last month. "Latexhibition" featured a dress decorated with condoms and a "condom bouquet". The front page of that day's paper included a teaser with a photo of the event.

I agree with the sentiments expressed in the letter. That kind of photograph has absolutely no business on the front page of a newspaper that thousands of children are going to see. Even if those children's the parents do not subscribe to or purchase the Herald-Times, it is in newspaper boxes and in retail stores. I imagine that most parents would not be pleased if they have to explain what a condom is because of a silly article in the newspaper.

And silly it is. AIDS is serious business, and deserves much more serious treatment than a dress decorated with condoms. It appears that the "artistic" merit of Latexhibition was meant to shock and offend more than to inform and educate. Running around in circles making obscene gestures at everyone you see is far from the best way to raise awareness about AIDS and how to reduce the risk of contracting the disease.

Of course, AIDS could be wiped out in a generation as it is a behaviorally spread disease. If the behaviors that spread the virus were to stop, AIDS would disappear in a generation. If you do not shoot up drugs, do not have sex until you are married, and are then faithful to your spouse, you will not contract the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. Given this reality, any discussion of how to fight AIDS must include ways to reduce or eliminate behavior that increases the risk of contracting the virus.

This should not be, however, an ideological issue. If I were a Leftist, I would be offended by Latexhibition because the display becomes the issue rather than the message behind it. The folks who came up with "condom art" marginalize and discredit both themselves and their message with such immature tactics.

Yes, the organizers of Latexhibition have the First Amendment right to hold the event, and the Herald-Times has the First Amendment right publish an article with pictures from the event in the newspaper. Just because you can do something, however, does not mean that you should do it. Civility, respect and common sense go a long way.