Here’s a question: if someone deliberately infects you with a “universally fatal illness”, albeit an illness that is treatable and where treatment might allow you to “survive many years” – is that properly a misdemeanor or a felony?
I don’t know about tuberculosis or Ebola, but if the disease is AIDS, in Washington state it is now a misdemeanor. Previously it was a felony but HB1551, signed by Gov. Inslee on 3/21/20, downgraded it to a misdemeanor. Why was the law changed in Washington? Two reasons were cited:
1. Broadly reduce the stigma associated with AIDS.
2. A sense that the old law was counter-productive in that a. it actually increased the rate of HIV transmission, and b. it discouraged people from getting tested and into treatment.
Still, reducing the severity of the crime seems to ignore the impact of the crime on the victim. Intentionally risking someone’s life is worthy of a felony charge.
“I’m of the mind that if you purposefully inflict another with a disease that alters their lifestyle the rest of their life, puts them on a regimen of medications to maintain any kind of normalcy, it should be a felony. It’s absolutely crazy to me that we should go light on this.”
—Is California Governor Jerry Brown Allowing HIV-Positive People to Donate Blood?
What do we call the people that commit these assaults? They’re not rapists or murderers. I’ll call them “AIDS assailants”. There have been a couple of notorious incidents of serial ‘AIDS assailants’, documented below by bbc.com, washingtonpost.com, and nydailynews.com.
–Daryll Rowe: “Maybe you have the fever. I came inside you and I have HIV LOL. Oops!” Rowe texted to one partner, while he reportedly said to another in a phone call, “I ripped the condom. You’re so stupid. You didn’t even know.”
–Thomas Miguel Guerra: “has been accused of intentionally exposing dozens of other men to the deadly disease.”
–David Dean Smith: “admitted he had unprotected sex with “thousands” of partners with the intention of killing them by infecting them with the virus.”
Apparently, part of the motivation for the downgrade from felony to misdemeanor was a desire to benefit AIDS sufferers and the LGBTQ community, which are priorities in the progressive playbook. There are also movements to reduce prison populations, and for sentencing reform (IOW – reducing sentences across the board). For progressives, both fit neatly with making sex crimes a lower priority for law enforcement:
“one of the fastest growing groups of American prisoners [is] those convicted of sex crimes. “A sex offense can be flashing, or raping and murdering a child,” Gottschalk said. “We’re having a quiet war on sex offenders now, and very few people are saying we have to stop that war.”
—How to Cut the Prison Population by 50 Percent
If someone deliberately infects you or me with Ebola, they should be fitted with concrete overshoes and tossed off a pier.
If someone deliberately infects you or me with TB, they should be tossed into a pit of vipers.
If someone infects you or me with AIDS, it’s a misdemeanor?
What are courts going to do when confronted by serial ‘AIDS assailants’, as documented earlier in this post? In my reading of the bill there is no provision for second or third offenses.
The Bottom Line
I’m completely in favor of improving treatment for AIDS victims, but downgrading AIDS assault to misdemeanor status devalues victims and benefits assailants. That’s wrong.