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Hold Bartlett Accountable For His Statements - Then and Now
David 'Kip' Koontz

April 29, 2002

Some 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 Ft. Detrick.

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 ill.

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 time.

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 transfusion.

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 made.


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