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In theory, WBAI here in NYC is a progressive radio station which works on the mission of the Pacifica network. Yet, the current narrow majority of the Local Station Board (LSB) is a bunch of bigoted teabaggers who are gradually implementing a far right political agenda on the station. They call themselves "independent" to try to confuse voters in LSB elections, but they are a rigid political slate, as fanatical as the GOP at its worse.

The new management that has been brought in by this teabagger majority on the LSB has sunk to an incredible low. They have brought back infamous HIV denialist Gary Null. (If you have the stomach to read the linked rants, you will find a disturbing amount of homophobic bigotry in them...to put it mildly.)

In the real world, as opposed to the lalaland of Gary Null's New Age cult, HIV's causality of AIDS was a settled scientific question long before HIV drugs started dramatically prolonging peoples' lives. If it wasn't for HIV drugs, gay men would still be dying at the same horrifying rates that those of us who live on (seronegative or seropositive) witnessed for far too long.

But, HIV denialism isn't just inaccurate, it is truly vicious. It attempts to erase the lives and deaths of queer men, people of color, and women who have died as a result of HIV. There simply is no excuse for it.

As you might expect ACT UP NY and other HIV/AIDS activists are fighting back against this. A recent online petition by the Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project explains their position quite well.

To whom it concerns:

We are writing as individuals and organizations who are deeply distressed by WBAI's recent restoration of supplement-entrepreneur Gary Null to the airwaves of WBAI Radio five days a week.

We are gravely concerned about this prospect and the consequences for people at risk of and living with HIV. Mr. Null and his frequent radio guests support the notions, among others, that HIV does not play a role in causing AIDS; that the disease is not transmitted sexually or via dirty needles; that HIV tests are meaningless; and that antiretroviral drugs are not only poisonous but can actually cause AIDS. Legitimate concerns and grievances about the pharmaceutical industry are eclipsed and diminished by this life-threatening stance.

The spread of false claims about HIV and AIDS is deadly, and particularly harms the poor communities of color most devastated by HIV/AIDS. Disinformation about HIV has caused the unnecessary suffering and death of an estimated 300,000 men, women and children in South Africa alone (see http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/nov/26/aids-south-africa ).

Both the existence of HIV and its role in the causation of AIDS has been amply demonstrated (see, e.g., www.aidstruth.org). Among the destructive effect of spreading these falsehoods is to reduce condom use, increase infection risk and dissuade people from the use of life-saving antiretroviral therapy (among other modalities).

We respect the station's longstanding free-speech tradition, and support open debate on critical public health issues. We also deeply appreciate the fiscal difficulties facing WBAI and the Pacifica network. However, the notion that WBAI's survival is dependent on relying on Mr. Null while spreading a message of death is antithetical to the mission of the station and of the Pacifica Network to which it belongs.

We call on WBAI management to immediately reverse its decision to add Mr. Null's program to its schedule.

ACT UP NY warned people about what might happen last year. I guess it goes to show you that you can't take any institution for granted, even one that is supposed to be progressive like WBAI.

I've taken my link to WBAI off my link list. I cannot, in good conscience, link to a station whose management and board majority are behaving in such an irresponsible and bigoted fashion. It's been replaced by Democracy Now! I'm leaving the WBAIX which involves broadcasting on an occasional basis from former WBAI producers who were purged from the station by the bigoted teabagger majority on the LSB. Getting Gary Null off the air was a long, long overdue decision by former Program Director Bernard White. There is no excuse for bringing Null back.

[Anybody who detects the similarities between the HIV denialist pseudoscience and Global Warming denialist pseudoscience gets extra points for being observant and aware.]

 

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