CSotD: Blood and Sand

A confession: Ella Baron’s artwork appeals to me on such a level that I’m inclined to feature her cartoons even when I’m not sure of her topic. In this case, she provided both a label and a quote from MacBeth that made things easy to search for: Britain is in the throes of a scandal over use of blood contaminated with hepatitis and HIV.

Christian Adams offers a simple illustration of the issue and the two cartoons make a good combined statement, since Baron shows the public horror while Adams demonstrates how the revelations have indicted Britain’s National Health Service, which will be paying out $12.7 billion in compensation for having infected 30,000 patients with tainted blood in the ’70s and ’80s.

I had a front row seat to the issue of AIDS and blood in the early ’80s, and I’m somewhat sympathetic to both parties, given the amount of confusion with which things progressed at first.

At the time, I was writing about real estate for a magazine that went to the 3,000 Realtors in Colorado Springs, about 300 of whom gathered each Wednesday morning for a breakfast, a crowd that included title people, mortgage lenders and a few journalists like myself.

That core group ran a blood drive every three months, which is how often you’re allowed to donate whole blood, while I headed a group of eight or ten people known as the “A-Team” for apheresis, since we donated platelets, which you could do again after 72 hours, though now it’s up to every seven days.

One of our members gave as often as permitted, after being tissue-matched with a leukemia patient. Her poor arms made her look like an addict, but she bought the guy nearly an additional year of life.

Early on, we were assured that AIDS wasn’t an issue, since all blood was being tested, which led to the idea that donating blood was a way to be sure you weren’t carrying the disease, since you’d be notified if your blood failed testing.

It was an absolutely disastrous idea, because the tests only indicated advanced infections. More recent exposure, while making the blood contaminated, would get past the labs.

So encouraging people who had some reason to suspect they might have an AIDS problem to donate blood was more than just bad information; it was an invitation to help spread the disease.

The pendulum then swung the other way, as it had to, and gay men were excluded as donors, as were people who had traveled to certain parts of the world. We lost a prime A-Team member because he was a Vietnam veteran, even though his time in Southeast Asia was well before HIV was ever detected in humans. Worse, he was O-negative, a universal donor.

My impression is that, after a very rocky start, the Americans did a decent job in getting ahead of things, but the Canadian Red Cross had a major scandal in the early ’90s over continued distribution of contaminated blood after the hepatitis and HIV threats were defined, which makes it jaw-dropping that Britain has taken so long to come to terms with the issue.

Meanwhile, in Iran

Paolo Lombardi (Cartoon Movement) is no doubt right that the besieged modernist women of Iran are not grieving the death of their nation’s president in a helicopter crash, though they might be wise to keep any celebrations on the down-low, for reasons seen in this

Juxtaposition of the Day

Patrick Blower

Morten Morland

Lisa Benson — Counterpoint

It’s unlikely that Raisi’s death will make a perceptible difference in the country’s policies. As Blower suggests, Iran will continue to sponsor groups like Hamas and Hezbollah and to assist Putin in his war.

And, as if to answer Lombardi’s cartoon, Morland insists that the oppression of modernizing women will continue unabated.

Benson is correct, if perhaps a little eager to demonize the government of Iran, which is much more dependent on Khamenei and the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution than on the elected government that had served under Raisi and will, pending new elections, serve under Mokhber.

It’s been that way for years, though for a period the parliament had stronger influence, including some courageous and independent-thinking women members. But those days ended more than a decade ago and, while the parliament is not quite a puppet, the mullahs have the power to veto anything with which they disagree, which is much the same thing.

John Deering (Creators) makes the most interesting suggestion, given that Iran has scheduled elections to update the elected government.

In past elections, the Iranian electorate has been divided between Westernizing people in the major cities and traditionalist rural conservatives.

While the integrity of their elections can be questioned, it’s not unreasonable that those rural voters could outnumber modernist city dwellers, hence the near-riots in Tehran following the 2022 elections.

It makes sense, that is, that if you live in Tehran you might feel that most people oppose the Supreme Council, because most people you would encounter feel that way. You might even be correct, but mostly by coincidence, not as a result of full consideration.

In any event, the death of Raisi and the coming elections may help those struggling for press freedom and the rights of cartoonists to focus additional attention — in Iran and around the world — on the imprisonment and mistreatment of cartoonist Atena Farghadani, one of the most visible victims of human rights violations in that country.

Two points: Pressure on Tehran could result in Farghadani’s release, but, while obviously good for her, it would likely be more of a public relations gesture than a genuine turnaround.

At last report, she was under punishment for having attempted to intervene on behalf of a fellow prisoner, and we shouldn’t expect to see them both freed.

Baby steps.

The other point is that it’s neither helpful nor tasteful to blaspheme by assuming to know the intentions of the Almighty, as Gary Varvel (Creators) does here.

You don’t have to like the Supreme Council in order to make an attempt to improve things in Iran. We’ve already canceled a nuclear deal that was working. Perhaps now combining good manners with pressure would be worth trying.

It’s a long road that has no turning.


5 thoughts on “CSotD: Blood and Sand

  1. IIRC (if I remember correctly) during heart surgery in 1983 Isaac Asimov was infected with HIV contaminated blood that killed him. He and later his widow kept it a secret, which is a horrible medical system coverup that may have cost lives. It seems some bureaucracies never learn or really care.

    I’m waiting for the FSM (Flying Spaghetti Monster) to crush Gary Varvel for blasphemy.

    As I read, I can’t find a single government that isn’t full of corrupt contradictions. (repeat that sentence above about learning and caring here) Details at 11.

    1. There was a huge coverup of “delicacy” in an era when people were reluctant to mention cancer in obits. With AIDS/HIV it was even worse. Rock Hudson did a great thing by (A) coming out and (B) acknowledging that he was HIV positive.

      But we still, out of delicacy, avoided saying that anal sex is not just a homosexual practice, and we went on with foolish stories of infected dental work.

      As for the gummint, never attribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence.

  2. Jeez, I would wonder what Varvel’s MAGAt interp would be.

    In Iran “the beatings will continue until morale improves.:

  3. Varvel has obviously not read what God told Job about knowing His mind. Just like MAGA mooks, televangelists and terrorists. It’s in all three versions of the Book in plain black and white.

  4. See, kids, Iran has an unelected group of jurists with life appointments that can override the decisions of the elected government and interfere with elections… completely unlike the U.S.A.

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