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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Ronnie's Badge of Honour

In this offering I intend to make it clear why I support the comments of my fellow Spin Cycle blogger Ronnie in his entry They Need Us More Than We Need Them. Ronnie's questioning of the role of the pharmaceutical industry in the lives of HIV positive people has sparked a fierce and almost completely one sided debate in the community forums of aidsmeds.com - forums to which both Ronnie and I belong.

Essentially comrades, this is about activism and the activist is motivated by three basic concepts:

  • Educate
  • Agitate
  • Organise

As activists we seek to apply these concepts in an attempt to bring about change. As a democratic socialist I believe that capitalism is exploitatative and inherently corrupting. It is as simple as that and I could see that idea at work in Ronnie's Spin Cycle post. Pharmaceutical companies as part of the capitalist system seek profits first and foremost, above even the interests of their consumers - those from whom they profit.

In a potent and timely challenge to those preconceived notions which serve to perpetuate the manipulation of oppressed people, such as those of us who live with HIV and AIDS, Ronnie simply asked what influence "Big Pharma" exercises over all the HIV/AIDS magazines, websites and other organisations it funds. He used the example of the development of a prophylactic vaccine for HIV to underline his point.

Ronnie's post recognised the way in which capitalism disempowers and divides us in an attempt to profit from our misery and he dared to suggest that we should take back power and take responsibility for ourselves.

In the often bitter debate at aidsmeds.com many correspondents demanded to know what alternative there is to the current system. Well I've got one and it's very straight forward - we need to bring about the democratic socialisation of industry, production, distribution and exchange if we are eliminate the exploitation of consumers and workers. This includes the socialisation of the means of development of life saving treatments for diseases such as AIDS. HIV treatments and their means of production should belong to the people, not to the select and privileged few.

Many at aidsmeds suggested that Ronnie had no right to ask such a question. I say it is his duty as an activist to ask it and Ronnie has carried that duty out. Ronnie has shown us that complacency must not be permitted. The mark of Ronnie's success in this was that among all the handwringing and carrying on, his question was indeed answered. An explanation of aidsmeds editorial policy was given and thus we have been informed.

There is no doubt that aidsmeds.com provides an excellent service and access to quality information but surely there can be no harm in questioning the role of it's pharmaceutical industry backers? Moreover there was criticism of Ronnie that he made his statements here at the Spin Cycle, well why not? That is what this blog is here to do - to question. Ronnie more than happily answered directly his detractors and critics at aidsmeds in the community forums over there and he did so in friendly and non-confrontational way.

In the process of answering, Ronnie has been vilified, abused, patronised and derided for his brave stand on this issue and this comes as no surprise to me. Those who question the status quo usually receive that sort of treatment. I know that Ronnie is more than strong enough to withstand the opprobrium that has been heaped upon him in this debate - it is in his activist nature.

Ronnie, I say to you congratulations. It is inspiring to see another HIV+ gay man standing up and following the activist path laid down by ACT-UP and other progressive and radical HIV groups and movements. I am proud to be associated with you here and at aidsmeds.com. You have undertaken the activist challenge and brought us and our cause great distinction. With regard to the slurs, insults and barbs hurled at you I say one thing:

Wear them like a badge of honour comrade.

IN SOLIDARITY,

MtD

12 Comments:

At Thu Jul 21, 06:14:00 AM GMT+10, Anonymous Anonymous said...

activist you call him? Hardly. More like a well spoken troll.

You state the role of an activist is to: Educate
Agitate
Organise

The only thing he has done is agitate.

There has been no 'education' nor organization. Just alot of shit stirring. And yes, that is exactly what I think of your posts in reference to that site.

You both have lost a lot of respect in my eyes, not that you care.

Ronnie runs his mouth and doesn't hang around to discuss it or take responsibility for his words, but really merely said, hey, it's great this discussion is happening. Well, activist participate in those discussions, they don't abandon them. Basically he said the sky is falling without checking with nasa to see if it was.... or even looking out his front door.

Matty, I'm disappointed in you as well. You can support the ideals all you want and 'spin' it your way, but the response here to the forum posts is way off. Your site here is aptly named because the only thing going on here is 'spin'.

In the end, neither of you have accomplished anything but burning bridges. Do you feel like an activist now?

You have gotten commentary and clarification from aidsmeds.com, but why on earth wouldn't you have asked for the clarification first. Much like a journalist, you have a responsibility to have your facts right before spouting nonsense. You didn't and were called on it.

Tsk.

 
At Thu Jul 21, 11:42:00 AM GMT+10, Blogger Bucko said...

You both have lost a lot of respect in my eyes, not that you care.
**********************************

We'd care if we knew who you were, luv.

Bisous,
B

 
At Thu Jul 21, 12:09:00 PM GMT+10, Blogger Matty the Damned said...

Dear anonymous visitor from aidsmeds,

Welcome and thanks for your feedback. Ronnie certainly does say his piece and you're right he is well spoken, but I think you're wrong in calling him a troll.

As I said in my blog, Ronnie very patiently answered the criticisms over at aidsmeds and he did so in with grace and goodwill. Unlike a lot of his detractors who took to him in an hysterical and pack like manner. It was a shame to see so many good and worthwhile people let themselves down like that.

I think Ronnie achieved a great deal with his blog on the Big Pharma question.

You know aidsmeds is not above being questioned and strikes me as passing strange that an opportunity to explain how the pharmaceutical industry support that aidsmeds receives doesn't affect independence was greeted with such hubris and indignation.

Did Ronnie hit a nerve?

One other thing, you'd be surprised but I do care what you think and I wouldn't want you to labour under the misconception that I haven't thought carefully about this issue.

Once again thanks for you input and I look forward to hearing from you in the future.

MtD

 
At Thu Jul 21, 12:58:00 PM GMT+10, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think that Ronnie accomplished a great deal with his blog on Big Pharma at all. Quite honestly the theory is nothing new and one that I would venture to guess that 99% of your audience at Aidsmeds has heard before. Perhaps educating yourselves first would have been the way to go. But I'm sure you guys were gung ho to start off your new blog with a bang. Not such a smart way to begin your new endeavor, if you ask me. Which you didn't.
Your condescending "dearies" and "luv's" don't particularly foster a friendly environment here either, although I'm sure they are fun to type and re-read.
Perhaps ,for now, it would be best for you all to stick to educating your readers on the how-to's of mindblowing, yet gratuitous, cocksucking.

 
At Thu Jul 21, 01:22:00 PM GMT+10, Blogger Matty the Damned said...

Hi there!

Let's take a look at a couple of your points, shall we?

But I'm sure you guys were gung ho to start off your new blog with a bang.

I can certainly say that none of us here at The Spin Cycle expected Ronnie's article to create the hullabaloo that it did. The ferocity of reaction at aidsmeds came as quite a surprise.

Not such a smart way to begin your new endeavor, if you ask me. Which you didn't.

Well how could we ask you? We don't know who you are and that's fine. We welcome all comments and feedback here and offer the ability to respond anonymously quite deliberately.

Your condescending "dearies" and "luv's" don't particularly foster a friendly environment here either, although I'm sure they are fun to type and re-read.

Now don't be like that! It is the nature of us queens to mince and flap and call people "luv", "dearie" and from time to time "mon petit chou". But you are right, it is fun to re-read the fruits (there I go again!) of our rapier wit.

Perhaps ,for now, it would be best for you all to stick to educating your readers on the how-to's of mindblowing, yet gratuitous, cocksucking.

Fear not! As you've noticed we have the world's foremost authority on cock-gobbling in the Divine Bucko so you can sleep easy knowing that we will be offering many more treatises on that subject as well as the rest of the Perverted Arts.

Fondest regards,

MtD

 
At Fri Jul 22, 02:08:00 AM GMT+10, Anonymous Ann said...

I never thought for one minute that Aidsmeds is above questioning. But that's just the trouble... no questions were ever asked before Ronnie made his accusation. What is so hard to understand about that? There must be something that you two don't understand.

You said that "Ronnie very patiently answered the criticisms over at aidsmeds" but that was part of the problem as well... he never addressed the criticism at all, he just went on about how pleased he was that people were talking about it.

 
At Fri Jul 22, 06:58:00 AM GMT+10, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's should have been title "ronnie's badge of shame" because that is all it is.

Like I said before, he only agitated. There was no education, no organization.

If simple agitation is what you consider valid activism these days, the heaven help us all.

As posted above, he didn't respond to the questions asked to him. He ignored them outright.

Maybe you all need to take Activism 101 again because your fledgling attempt crashed and burned. If you are going to make accusations, make sure they are factual, not just BS made up on the spot. It's slanderous. Of course, it he had ever actually bothered to ask first before opening his mouth, then you wouldn't be in this position where nobody respects ronnie or you my dearest matty.

Ask questions, ask away, that is good activism, but accusations without facts are what you have done.

For shame.

 
At Fri Jul 22, 11:22:00 AM GMT+10, Blogger Matty the Damned said...

You said that "Ronnie very patiently answered the criticisms over at aidsmeds" but that was part of the problem as well... he never addressed the criticism at all, he just went on about how pleased he was that people were talking about it.

Again Ann, not so. Ronnie did answer the criticisms both at aidsmeds and here, but more importantly he provoked a timely debate.

How others chose to use that debate is a matter for them.

Thanks for commenting and come back soon!

MtD

 
At Fri Jul 22, 11:28:00 AM GMT+10, Blogger Matty the Damned said...

It's slanderous. Of course, it he had ever actually bothered to ask first before opening his mouth, then you wouldn't be in this position where nobody respects ronnie or you my dearest matty.

Slanderous! Someone always invokes the spectre of slander in circumstances like these. Of course, Ronnie said nothing defamatory.

As for respect, well I may have lost your respect (though I suspect I never had it in the first place) but I'm not at all convinced that I've lost any great deal of respect.

Thanks for you contribution and visit us often!

MtD

 
At Fri Jul 22, 01:29:00 PM GMT+10, Anonymous Anonymous said...

actually, you did matty. You are bright and witty, which is why I've lost respect for you since you are seemingly intelligent enough to comprehend everything that others have said, yet you tow the line of ronnie having done no wrong.

In any event, this activist movement was like preaching to the choir saying their church sucks. The only thing you have made at best, are people ignoring you, at worst, people hating you and in between, people who have lost respect for you.

All I know I that I'm glad I don't live near where Ronnie does. His style of 'activism', is pretty sad.

One doesn't need to knock down fine organizations to build a name for themselves.

This will be my last visit, as I have nothing more to say to you nor do I care to hear more of your 'activist' rubbish.

 
At Fri Jul 22, 04:05:00 PM GMT+10, Blogger Matty the Damned said...

actually, you did matty. You are bright and witty, which is why I've lost respect for you since you are seemingly intelligent enough to comprehend everything that others have said, yet you tow the line of ronnie having done no wrong.

Well given that I don't know who you are you'll forgive me when I say that I'm not going to lose a great deal of sleep of the loss of your respect nor will I place great store in your claim to speak for others.

The point really, is that my purpose is not to tell you what you want to hear, but what you need to hear and you need to hear that Ronnie's position is ideologically correct.

Regards,

MtD

 
At Sat Jul 23, 04:52:00 AM GMT+10, Anonymous Robert said...

"How would these websites - ones that are so bold and obvious to have medications as part of their name while claiming to be "HIV owned and operated", generate their fortunes? "

It was the quote above which raised the ire of many AIDSmeds users because it was unfairly aimed directly at AIDSmeds, a forum ronnie has been a part of for several months. AIDSmeds.com has never hidden its funding by the pharmas and is one of very few sites which doesn't allow pharma advertising. As one who has been using AIDSmeds for several years I honestly say they are one of the best, most unbiased resources on the net for HIV+ individuals.

If ronnie had only insulted AIDSmeds it would have been bad enough, but the claim that the hosts at AIDSmeds are making "fortunes" is inexcusable. If ronnie has facts to back up his claim he's free to make it but in lieu of evidence his remark was below the belt and unconscionable.

I agree with ronnie totally about the greed and corruption of many if not most of the pharmaceutical companies. He could have made scoring points by referring to several websites which are patently tied to pharmas but he didn't. AIDSmeds is an example of how pharma money can be used to improve the lives of those infected and affected by HIV,

 

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