would want us to pity Congressman Roscoe Bartlett because
he was attacked by Frederick's Democratic machine (Hey!
Where did that come from?), Herzonner and his opponent,
Don D'Armon regarding his comments about the cleanup at
They say the poor congressman was misquoted or that how
what he said wasn't presented to be what he meant and all
other some such rubbage.
Some years ago, a group from Western Maryland traveled to
Washington to meet with the congressman to request that
he vote for the proposed expansion for HIV-AIDS funding
programs such as the Ryan White Fund.
Scientists were on the cusp of making some great breakthroughs
at the time.
Fear abounded among the compassionate toward those living
with AIDS, as it was not long after the Republican tide
had turned and folks like Newt Gingrich promised to cut
the budget on the backs of the less fortunate and even the
Yet the group found it to be their civic duty to try their
best with this man.
This man whom none of them believed was at all sympathetic
to their cause.
It was surprising, then, to this tiny band of Western Marylanders
that the congressman would even grant them an audience.
Nothing prepared them for what they were about to face.
The meeting didn't last that long, there was no need.
The congressman and his aide listened patronizingly, oops,
patiently for a few minutes to the tiny group's plea.
The spokesman for the group, upon needing to breath, found
himself interrupted by the aide, who informed the group
that they had just about taken up enough of the congressman's
As another from the group attempted to pick up where the
spokesman left off, the voice of a man clearly speaking
to take control of the floor could be heard telling the
group something to the effect that "funds for programs like
that should come from the private sector."
He went on to say that in "these troubled times" we as a
nation "needed more bombs, we needed more tanks."
He continued that we "didn't need to throw government money
at programs aimed to do research or treat people with diseases
they deserved to die from."
The congressman had gotten the group's attention.
A brave heart among the tiny group asked the congressman
to explain his statements and, though his congressional
aide hoped to get him to leave, his passion pushed the congressman
to stay and continue.
Dr. Bartlett explained that people with AIDS deserved to
be sick and deserved to die because they were "perverts"
and "deviants" who made a lifestyle choice that led to their
being sick and dying.
He said that, in his mind, the good taxpayers should not
have to pay to support their deviant lifestyle.
When asked to clarify his statement about people with AIDS
making a lifestyle choice that "rightfully causes them to
die" Dr. Bartlett pushed on.
He said gays and the druggies put themselves at risk by
the choices they make (through sex and use of needles).
Therefore, since they make the decision that could make
them sick it is no fault but their own that they get sick
and subsequently die.
He did amend his statement by clarifying that those who
received HIV/AIDS via blood transfusions were innocent victims
and were the only ones who didn 't deserve to die.
We were to "pity" them and their families.
He added that the funding in place was enough to help them,
as they were the only ones who deserved to be helped.
The spokesman for the tiny group, attempting to establish
the depths of this man's lack of compassion and understanding,
asked him to clarify the status of a spouse who becomes
infected through contact with an infected spouse.
He said the spouse deserved it because he or she made the
decision to stay with someone who had made the lifestyle
choice to become ill.
He said it didn't matter if the spouse knew if their partner
was sick or not.
To the congressman, it was guilt by association.
When asked what about a baby in its mother's womb who gets
infected, he responded that while sad, the baby deserved
it too because its parent made the decision to place all
of them at risk.
He concluded the meeting by reiterating that there were
no circumstances under which a person didn't deserve to
die from AIDS unless that person contracted it via blood
Congressman Bartlett doesn't say things he doesn't mean.
He just says mean things.
He made that perfectly clear to that tiny group of Western
Marylanders that day.
As he is our congressman, it is necessary to hold Dr. Bartlett
accountable for the statements he makes, the actions he
takes, and the votes he makes.
In the meantime, take comfort in knowing that one-day Dr.
Bartlett will truly be held accountable for the things he
has said, the actions he has taken, and the votes he has