Join 3,430 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Risk
January 22, 2013 9:12 AM   Subscribe

Two weeks ago, Lee Thompson ("Uncle Poodle" of Honey Boo Boo fame) gave an interview stating that he had successfully prosecuted his ex-boyfriend for transmitting HIV to him. Now, one blogger has come out saying that Uncle Poodle might actually be lying.

Related:
Mother Jones: Should Not Disclosing Your HIV Status Be a Crime?
Imprisoned over HIV: One Man's Story
Center for HIV Law and Policy: Positive Justice Project Consensus Statement on the Criminalization of HIV in the United States, Positive Justice Project/Center for HIV Law and Policy
posted by roomthreeseventeen (34 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
We're living in movie adaptation a Phillip K. Dick novel, as directed by Paul Verhoeven.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:14 AM on January 22, 2013 [9 favorites]


who would expect someone called "uncle poodle" to speak the truth?
posted by bhnyc at 9:17 AM on January 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Good for the blogger for doing the due diligence that reporters should always do, but definitely when dealing with such a sensitive issue. The whole thing seemed a little off to me when I read about it in passing yesterday, and I'm glad that these questions are being raised.

(Yes, Lee Thompson deserves his own privacy, but if you're raising the issue publicly, your privacy concerns and expectations become different.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:18 AM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


What part of "reality show" do people not understand?
posted by HuronBob at 9:19 AM on January 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


True, but, unfortunately, when national press starts reporting stories that can have a very negative impact on people's lives when taken as fact, whether or not you believe that a reality show is real is pretty irrelevant.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:25 AM on January 22, 2013


Actually, interestingly enough, that interview is spare enough that Lee Thompson might not be lying. This is the relevant part of the interview:
Dino: Lee, when did you find out about your HIV status?
Lee: I was adamant about getting my HIV status checked on a regular basis. On March 16, 2012, I tested negative. Then, in May of 2012 my test results came back positive. I knew it had been my boyfriend who infected me. I later learned he had been HIV positive and was not taking medication and had not bothered to tell me about it. I was advised that I should press charges and, hesitantly, I did. It was the right thing to do.
Dino: What happened to your ex?
Lee: He is serving a 5-year sentence. I would have been cool with his HIV status if he had been honest. I don’t have an issue with the disease. I would have known how to protect myself.
My own suspicion on reading this is that Mr Thompson might just be engaging in selective recall about what happened. It's entirely possible that Mr Thompson successfully pressed charges, and that his ex-boyfriend is now serving a five-year sentence on a completely separate case.
posted by koeselitz at 9:31 AM on January 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


We're living in movie adaptation of a Phillip K. Dick novel, adapted by John Waters, and as directed by Paul Verhoeven David Cronenberg.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:32 AM on January 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


It strikes me that none of this is any of our business.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:32 AM on January 22, 2013 [18 favorites]


Not a single district attorney or law enforcement official I spoke with could find a case to match the facts presented by Thompson, nor could they find a case in which Thompson was the named defendant.

Huh?
posted by Sys Rq at 9:33 AM on January 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


[A couple comments removed; standard operating procedure if you don't care about the topic of the thread and/or don't think anybody else does is to close the tab and move on with your day.]
posted by cortex at 9:33 AM on January 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


It strikes me that none of this is any of our business.

I don't know (obviously, since I'm the OP.) I think the debate over HIV Criminalization is as interesting and relevant as any other developing part of the law.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:34 AM on January 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


"I don't know (obviously, since I'm the OP.) I think the debate over HIV Criminalization is as interesting and relevant as any other developing part of the law."

It feels like that aspect of the topic was presented as an afterthought in the "related" section of the FPP. It seems that the focus of the FPP was the truth or untruth of the statements made in Mr. Thompson's interview.

I suppose it is unfortunate that, once you're connected to something whose whole purpose is hype and publicity, much of what you say/do is viewed in that light... thus my comment above.
posted by HuronBob at 9:39 AM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Can we just arrest the whole Honey Boo Boo clan for infesting our minds with utter crap and reducing brain cells?
posted by stormpooper at 9:39 AM on January 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sys Rq: " nor could they find a case in which Thompson was the named defendant.

Huh?
"

"Huh?", he said plaintively.

I have a hard time processing any part of this, mostly because it seems so incredibly personal and because it seems like the core act of engaging in intimacy with an HIV+ person is well outside of my personal comfort zone, regardless of risk mitigation. Pile on the reality show nonsense on top of that, and the entire thing just seems like a horrible hook for an upcoming story arc.
posted by boo_radley at 9:44 AM on January 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


HIV criminalization is a very important topic. Rep. Barbara Lee has introduced a bill, the CDC has made statements, the entire Global Commission on HIV and the Law opposes it, etc. but if you're going to frame it as something someone on a reality show may or may not have lied about, I don't quite see how you're going to get to any informed debate on the topic.
posted by gingerbeer at 9:46 AM on January 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


Eh, I've seen the show. I didn't find it a good use of time, but I don't feel any dumber. Apparently, they're putting their earnings into a trust for the girls, so they're smarter than the plenty of entertainment families I could name (ahem, Lohans).

On topic: I agree that the interview was vague enough that it's hard to tell what exactly happened. Not ready to call Uncle Poodle a liar yet.
posted by snickerdoodle at 9:47 AM on January 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


to be clear, I'm not saying that anybody's lying about status, just that the network and producers are taking advantage of the situation.
posted by boo_radley at 9:47 AM on January 22, 2013


Seriously, the dude has AIDS either way.

Uh, no. Seriously, dude...

At a minimum if we are to take his story as truth, he is infected with HIV (Human immunodeficiency virus). If he or any human being infected with the virus does not choose treatment (such as those available to suppress the virus ability to replicate within the infected person's body), then it will likely progress to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). I'm not a doctor, but people at the Mayo Clinic are:

If you receive no treatment for your HIV infection, the disease typically progresses to AIDS in about 10 years. By the time AIDS develops, your immune system has been severely damaged, making you susceptible to opportunistic infections — diseases that wouldn't trouble a person with a healthy immune system.

Misinformation about HIV and AIDS is a serious impediment to people receiving proper treatment and from even getting infected in the first place.

When serious health issues like this enter the public forum, I don't care if it is through some trumped up shitty "reality" TV show, a press interview, or forums like this, we owe it to everyone to be as truthful as possible and to not spread misinformation (or in the case of Mr. Thompson, potentially lying about it for his own aggrandizement).

Through one of my jobs, I talk to people one-on-one about sexual health issues and I waste so much valuable time undoing the damage that misinformation and lies do to the average, uninformed person. Mr. Thompson's flippant attitude is going to cause serious damage to people, potentially harming their health for life or perhaps leading to their deaths. But I doubt he gives any serious thought to this, nor understands the power he has at his disposal to educate and inform.
posted by kuppajava at 9:53 AM on January 22, 2013 [21 favorites]


I think the real issue is how quickly media outlets were accepting that part of the story at face value. And as has been pointed out, the interview itself is rather vague. But that didn't stop it from being misreported as definite fact.

And, as to whether or not it is just the network and producers are taking advantage of the situation, keep in mind that in many places this story was presented with the following headline:

'Honey Boo Boo's' HIV-positive Uncle Poodle wants his own TV show

It's a fucking mess from what is guaranteed to be a trying personal time. And I understand the motivation for any sort of lying that may or may not be happening. People are much more sympathetic if you contracted HIV because you "didn't know" or were lied to rather than by unsafe behavior. But I also know a lot of men lie about this, especially when they first find out they are positive.

Despite his own possibly conflicting motivations, I wouldn't wish going through it in the public eye on anyone.

"As reality TV has proven, 97 percent of all people think they're quite special, and we're all wrong – except for Meryl Streep and Honey Boo Boo, we're all wrong." - Tina Fey
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:00 AM on January 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


What makes me very uneasy is that this discussion is taking place in the context of this show. The show mocks the family in a bunch of ways. My students laugh at what they call the white trash family. In this context, addressing the criminalization of HIV becomes, oh,what will these trashy people do next. I find the family endearing, but that is in spite of the like two minute long footage of snot on Honey Boo Boo's nose and similar things that seem to be designed to elicit disgust on the part of the viewer.
posted by angrycat at 10:03 AM on January 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


It strikes me that none of this is any of our business.

The things people tell the national media aren't the business of the public?
posted by DU at 10:05 AM on January 22, 2013


" I would have been cool with his HIV status if he had been honest. I don’t have an issue with the disease. I would have known how to protect myself."
An HIV infection can take up to 6 months before it shows up in a test. Even your partner has tested negative, you should take precautions to protect yourself.

This is really, really basic stuff, and it's amazing how few people have an accurate knowledge of what the risks are. Everybody should take as many safe-sex precautions as are reasonably practical. There are no exceptions to this rule.

Paranoia is not only acceptable -- it needs to be encouraged.
posted by schmod at 10:18 AM on January 22, 2013 [8 favorites]


If true (or not), this wouldn't be similar to a private squabble. "Prosecute" implies that we are referring to criminal charges, brought upon by the government (not Uncle Poodle in a civil case) which represents its citizens. The case would have legal precedent for all of us.
posted by meowzilla at 10:20 AM on January 22, 2013


The things people tell the national media aren't the business of the public?

I guess I would say that just because it's in the news does not make it worth paying attention to, although spreading disinformation about HIV/AIDS is obviously something to discuss.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:20 AM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


People have been charged with deliberately infecting people here in the uk

Wiki - THT
posted by marienbad at 10:21 AM on January 22, 2013


Also, speaking of "an accurate picture of risks," very few people are aware of just how effectively one can mitigate the risks of being intimate with an HIV+ partner. There are legions of HIV+/HIV- couples who have stayed that way for a long, long time.

Modern HIV treatments, common sense, and safe sex practices effectively eliminate most of the risk for the HIV- partner. There's also been a great deal of research into prophylactic treatments for the HIV- partner that can reduce this risk even further.

The disease really doesn't deserve to have such a stigma attached to it in 2013. It shouldn't be a relationship dealbreaker at all. (And if we remove some of that stigma, maybe some HIV+ people won't be so coy about their status ---- even though you should take precautions regardless of what you think your partner's status is)
posted by schmod at 10:31 AM on January 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


HuronBob: "What part of "reality show" do people not understand?"

It's all about the drama to foster interest in oneself. We watch reality TV to see such a thing. Why should we be surprised when it happens off camera?

And I am saying this regardless of the status of the case.
posted by Samizdata at 10:48 AM on January 22, 2013


Chocolate Pickle: "It strikes me that none of this is any of our business."

Unfortunately, when you put information out there publically and theatrically (in, what I believe is an attempt to draw attention), then don't be surprised when people, well, pay attention.
posted by Samizdata at 11:19 AM on January 22, 2013


I think that it's OK for the guy to come out about it, and for us the proper response is to say, "That's interesting."

To obsessively contact legal agencies to try to track the case down, however, goes way over the line. That's the part that I think is none of our business.

Maybe he's not telling the truth. So what?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:35 AM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Because accepting his story at face value and perpetuating the myth of "the more perfect victim" sets a precedent that helps to create the exact kind of environment that leads to more young gay men lying about their HIV status AND more acceptance of HIV criminalization laws, which, whether you agree with them or not, are more often than not applied in unfair and un-uniform ways.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:59 PM on January 22, 2013


My reaction to the larger question is usually the same as whats presented at the end of the Mother Jones article: seems like criminialization would lead to reduced testing, as someone who is afraid they might have HIV could be worried about the legal consequences of _knowing_ they have HIV.

And as a general public health matter, I think more people getting tested and treated is a pretty important thing. Besides, as schmod pointed out, it's not like you should really act any differently just because someone tested negatively recently, it could still be in progress for them, could be a false negative, etc.

I mean, if someone is "deliberately" infecting people, thats pretty horrible. But it seems like 99% of the time it would be tough to prove, and laws designed for this are far more likely to hit people who are unintentionally doing so, and/or provide a deterrent to testing and knowing your status.
posted by wildcrdj at 3:04 PM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


"'Huh?', he said plaintively."

*nod*

I see what you did there.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:36 PM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Maybe he's not telling the truth. So what?

Because the criminalization of HIV is an important legal and ethical conversation that we should be having, and like every important legal and ethical conversation, honesty matters. Can you go to prison for giving someone HIV? The answer is "yes, you can," which might surprise some people. But the answer is not "yes, you definitely will." The best answer is probably "well, it's complicated, and it depends on a lot of different factors." Accurate information about HIV and AIDS matters, and that does not just extend to medical information. It extends to legal rights, too. Let's not popularize the idea that Uncle Poodle sent someone to prison for five years if he actually did not. Let's not let the pop-consciousness become "oh, if you give someone HIV, you go to jail for five years" if that isn't true. Real people are really suffering from real injustices on several fronts here — people who were unknowingly exposed, people who are serving perhaps unduly harsh sentences for not disclosing their status to a partner, people who are living in fear of being in one of those categories. How could the truth be anything less than essential?
posted by Charity Garfein at 6:59 PM on January 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


We're living in movie adaptation of a Phillip K. Dick novel, adapted by John Waters, and as directed by Paul Verhoeven David Cronenberg.

...and produced by The Onion
posted by maus at 8:48 AM on January 23, 2013


« Older In 2010, journalist David Axe spent a month in the...  |  "This week, we discovered an u... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments