Alex Blaze


Filed By Alex Blaze | November 12, 2009 5:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Living
Tags: 9/11, assault, HIV/AIDS, infection, law, Michigan, prosecution, spread, terrorism

Does it count as terrorism if people are only terrified because they're ignorant?

Here's a case of a man being tried as a terrorist for the crime of having HIV. He got in a fight with a neighbor, bit him, and, when prosecutors found out he was positive, they added terrorism charges:

That admission lead Smith, a Democrat, to say he would seek additional charges. On Nov. 2, Smith's office amended its complaint to add a charge of possession or use of a harmful device. That law is a 25-year felony and was part of a 2004 package of terrorism laws created by the legislature in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The law makes it a crime to have a harmful device, which is defined as either biological, chemical, electronic or radioactive. Smith's office is arguing that Allen being infected with HIV was "a device designed or intended to release a harmful biological substance," and that his bite was thus an attempt to spread HIV.[...]

On Nov. 2, District Court Judge Linda Davis concurred with Smith's office and bound Allen over to Macomb Circuit Court to face the three charges.

According to The Macomb Daily, the judge said:

"[Allen] knew he was HIV-positive, and he bit the guy," Davis said from the bench. "That on its own shows intent."

Allen was already being charged with two crimes that carry up to eleven years together: aggravated assault and assault with the intent to maim. But, um, terrorism?

A long time ago, before I was even paying attention, "I'm afraid" replaced "You're doing something to make me afraid" as the standard by which we judge who gets to be a proper victim and who doesn't.

No one has ever been infected with HIV through a bite, but people still think that you can get HIV in plenty of ways that you can't - through tears, sweat, sharing a public pool, sex toys, and, apparently, through bite wounds. We haven't come that far in this respect since the 80's and 90's, especially considering the poor job many schools are doing when it comes to teaching about STD's, as well as how our politicians and media do what they can to keep us in a constant state of fear.

At some point that fear becomes our own responsibility. Sure, people may feel terrorized by the mere presence of HIV-positive people, or by HIV-positive people turning out to be as fucked up as everyone else, doing stupid and crazy things like biting their neighbors in fights, but that doesn't mean that that state of terror is the fault of the person with HIV. Sometimes it's just people's own ignorance and they should own that.

The fact that the law under which Allen's being prosecuted, though, was passed just after 9/11 is pretty telling. It was a time when people weren't thinking clearly and when legislators felt like they had to cave into whatever idiotic idea the extreme-right had when it came to national security to show their pro-America bona fides.

Obviously the definition of "a device designed or intended to release a harmful biological substance" wasn't well written enough if anyone could possibly think that a human being could be considered a "device," and that "designed or intended to release a harmful biological substance" could be the mere fact that a human being has a disease. If someone has the flu and coughs on the handle bar on a bus, does that count as biological warfare now?

While we're at it, why don't we just prosecute everyone who's positive and has sex without a condom as a terrorist, whether they know they're infected or not (because we know the terrorists would just start barebacking without ever getting tested and beat the system that way)? It'd make more sense, since at least HIV can be spread through unprotected sex, unlike a bite wound. I don't see what's stopping those prosecutions if the prosecutors win there case. Seriously, we could just start rounding up all barebackers and putting them in prison, where they're not allowed to have sex and therefore never will so that's why they don't need condoms.

God, sometimes the bedwetter contingency just pisses me off.

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Terrorism is trumped up. I think this Allen guy is definitely a stupid douche, but if we let 'em trump up terrorism charges against a stupid irresponsible moron, they'll trump them up for any of us.

He was probably never going to spread HIV if he bit the guy 1000 times. Then again, biting is always unsanitary and disgusting--HIV or not--and this guy is irresponsible.

OMG, I just had an idea:

Since all HIV+ people are weapons and potential terrorists, why don't we all get together and bite somebody worth biting- like Congress, or Fred Phelps?

Just a thought.

...and bite somebody worth biting- like Congress, or Fred Phelps?

Bite Fred Phelps? Ewwww.....

this is as scary a story as any i've read here.

any focus on "yes, the alleged attacker was an irresponsible douchebag, though terrorism charges are ridiculous" doesn't begin to touch on how (can we curse here? i won't, but let me know) effing dangerous a precedent like this portends.

i find even a hint of apologies that being HIV+ is any worse than knowing one has Hep C or a dozen other bloodborne infections - or just about any infection one can get from a bite for that matter - leads us down a very, very slippery slope.

i know that (as an older straight woman for whom masturbation is the way i'm going to find sexual pleasure, and friendships the way i'll be forming emotional bonds) i do not face the exquisitely charged issue of "is he or isn't he?" that a young gay man dating does.
everyone has to take responsibility for him/her/zir/self, and being bitten takes that responsibility away.

but i don't find the hysteria in this prosecution's decision anything other than bone-chilling.
HIV/AIDS is a serious and deadly disease that needs infinitely more attention, money and resources thrown at worldwide than is vaguely happening now; but i see this case as one step towards the conceivability of real segregation (internment camps comes to mind) and stripping of even more basic rights from GLBTQ people than are denied now if people of this mindset -social rightwing haters - gain any more power.

i don't think there was anything in alex's reporting that suggested the alleged attacker's sexual orientation, and we know that hundreds of thousands of heterosexuals in the US have HIV infection.
but you and i know who they will go after if these bigots gain any more power over the media and government policy than they already have.

call me paranoid of you wish; but if this man is convicted of terrorism, i hope the ACLU is just around the corner ready to pounce on an appeal.

just one woman's opinion: but i think there is nothing the haters aren't capable of.
the insane hubris of 'voting' on anothers' civil rights such as in maine could be a walk in the park.
these people are as serious as stage 4 cancer, and we need to be.

Given that the chance of transmitting HIV via a bite is infinitesimal, I think the prosecutors would have a very hard time establishing that the bite was "designed or intended to release a harmful biological substance."

It is shameful that the judge didn't throw out the charge. I wonder if he made any effort to learn about HIV before he made his decision.

If I remember correctly, Indiana law would charge the guy with "intent to kill with a deadly weapon" or something like that since he's HIV+. Seriously.