The Corner

Re: Huck AIDS Statement

In response to my posts (here and here) about Huckabee’s 1992 AIDS policy positions, I received the following e-mail:

Since the mid-80s, proposals to quarantine AIDS victims were hardly outside the mainstream. In 1991 Illinois and Florida had high-profile court disputes where HIV-infected prostitutes were seriously considered for quarantine. In 1992, Michigan and Oregon courts ordered the quarantine of HIV-infected individuals; a manhunt was underway in Oklahoma to quarantine a mental hospital patient who fled after learning about his HIV-positive status. Panic gripped the town of Nokomis, Ill. in 1991 after dentist Gary Darr died of AIDS; some residents called for a quarantine. A 1991 poll in Australia revealed 49% of citizens favored quarantine, at a time when fewer than 3000 had contracted AIDS and fewer than 1500 had died. And, like it or not, Lyndon LaRouche made it a plank of his platform in 1992.

While it may not have been as popular an issue as the mid-80s, when it appeared on a California referendum, it was certainly plausible for a ‘92 candidate to advocate for at least limited instances of quarantine, given the high-profile instances occurring that election cycle.

ME: As I noted on Saturday, it was well known by 1992 that AIDS could not be transmitted by casual contact. Even transmission in a medial context were exceedingly rare. That some people stoked irrational fears of AIDS victims by exaggerating the import of exceptional cases hardly excuses the embrace of extreme policy positions by ostensibly responsible politicians. And if Lyndon LaRouche was the only other political figure of consequence to embrace the call for a quarantine in 1992, that hardly works in Huck’s favor either.

Jonathan H. Adler — Jonathan H. Adler teaches courses in environmental, administrative, and constitutional law at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

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