Sunday, January 09, 2011

Palin's Target Ad = 
Black Gay HIV Cross-Hairs Ad?

Much justifiable criticism is being directed at Sarah Palin and her PAC's web ad that targeted several Democrats who voted for health care reform, including the seriously wounded U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords:

How did the Congresswoman react to Palin's ad campaign, when asked by a cable news host? Giffords spoke the truth:

"When people do that, they've got to realize there are consequences to that action."

As the Tucson tragedy and the aftermath were unfolding yesterday, I couldn't help but think back to my objections in 2006/2007 to an HIV prevention social marketing campaign, paid for by the city of Philadelphia. To put it mildly, I had major complaints against this ad from the campaign:

After tremendous criticism from gays of all colors and straight black leaders in Philadelphia then grappling with an increase of black men dying from gun violence, the city of Brotherly Love pulled the ads. Sadly, the creator of the ads himself gunned down in 2007. Here's another disturbing image from the campaign:

The Philadelphia health officials may have looked to San Francisco's Department of Public Health's ads that used similar violence and fear-based imagery to deliver a message. This is part of a full-page ad the SF DPH ran in the Bay Area Reporter in 1999:

I'll grant Palin a small degree of credit for refraining from either using an image of Giffords or any other politician targets by her PAC's ad, and thank goodness there was no photo of Giffords behind the cross-hairs. I cannot say the same about the gay HIV prevention ads in Philadelphia.

What I'm suggesting here is that the gay health authorities, AIDS prevention agencies and gay graphic designers have done more than their share in creating a hostile environment in which needlessly provocative, over-wrought and sizzling hot, violent rhetoric is the basis for public discourse.

Who's to say if the past two decades of such HIV prevention messages have in any way influenced the likes of Palin and the Tea Party extremists? There may not be a direct correlation between the gay ads and those of the SarahPAC, but if we as a nation are going to insist on dialing back the destructive and violent imagery and wording of politicians, let's not stop there.

Let's also put a stop to the cross-hairs and time-bombs and fear-mongering of campaigns targeting gay men regarding HIV.

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