I thought that would get your attention.
Lovely Oldest Daughter is now in her first year of college and taking a literature class titled "Writing the Unspeakable", in which her class is reading fiction about wars, the Holocaust, natural disasters and the like. Her assignment this week was to try to find the earliest reporting she could locate regarding the AIDS epidemic. She headed to the campus library, where she located a bunch of bound volumes of old periodicals like Time and Newsweek. Naturally, the magazines were full of stories about St. Ronnie this and St. Ronnie that, as if Reagan was the fucking second coming. Boy, did that ever bring some memories flooding back for me.
It was the prudish and puritanical atmosphere created by St. Ronnie and his administration that prevented open and frank early discussions about the potential sexually-transmitted nature of AIDS, and as a result, it was widely ignored for several years. Scientific research was wildly underfunded. I don't doubt that many (hundreds of thousands, maybe millions) fewer people would have died if the sexual pathway had been addressed sooner, and more vigourously. The AIDS epidemic is the greatest example of how NOT speaking about sex in the public marketplace of ideas can be deadly.
The behavior of Reagan and his administration towards "the Gay Disease" was nothing short of criminal. Maybe I shouldn't think about it almost thirty years later, but I still do. For no greater reason (although I can think of a number of others) does the post-hoc adulation of St. Ronnie piss me off royally.