A crime is a crime, hatred or no…

Fascinating piece from Rod Liddle in the Spectator today, in which examines the strange case of Sarah Porter, a woman who “set about passing on the [HIV] virus to as many men as she could, by ‘encouraging’ them to have unprotected sex with her”. Most of the men were black, as was the guy who passed the disease onto her. Although as Liddle points out, that did not emerge in the course of her trial. Otherwise he argues, it might have been classified as ‘hate crime’ and the penality a multiple of her current jail term of two years and eight months.

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  • When I read about this the other day, I was amazed at how lenient her sentence was. Surely what she did was tantamount to delayed murder, or at least manslaughter.

    Just because it may take ten or twenty years to reach its ruthless and logical conclusion (i.e. death), not to mention the suffering and hardship that will likely be endured by the innocent recipient in-between, surely that should not detract from the magnitude of her actions.

    This was a cynical and destructive crime and the sentence should have reflected that, both to punish her and to deter others from attempting to do the same.

  • Betty Boo

    El Matador,
    I agree that her actions are those of “delayed murder, or at least manslaughter”. But “innocent recipient in-between”?

  • Stephen Copeland

    Mick,

    Your report shows up another weakness in the system. The fact that the men concerned were all black, and thus apparently targetted on the basis of their race, need not have been the only reason why this could have been considered as a hate crime.

    Because the men were also targetted specifically as men. The woman was thus attacking a group (men) as well as a sub-group (black men). Her hate was apparently against black men, but both parts of that expression are groups, and hatred against either part (‘black’ or ‘men’) should have been dealt with in the same way.

  • Nevin

    Here’s another interpretation.

  • BB-

    Sorry, just to clarify- I was referring to suffering which is likely to be endured by the innocent recipient of the virus (i.e. the man mentioned) during the intervening period from contracting the disease until his death.

    The point is, when handing down a sentence, this should be taken into consideration in addition to the fact that it will eventually kill the recipient.

  • El Mat – both myself and my girlfriend reacted the same way as yourself when we saw this on the news, ie along the lines of – basically she’s getting just over 2 years for multiple murder (or attempted murder anyway since it’s hypothetically possible that they may die of other causes before the death sentence she has given them is allowed to take its course).

    It’s an appallingly lenient sentence.

  • Betty Boo

    Beano,
    you don’t know all what’s to it. You judge very easily with very little information on your hand.

  • Brenda

    Wasn’t she a victim too, and couldn’t she be considered the victim of a hate crime against women?

    It is a light sentence, but a few years is taking a huge chunk out of what she has left.

    All of them did choose to engage in unprotected sex. None of them innocent victims, considering they are adults afterall.

  • Harry

    How long did the man get who infected her?

  • Rory

    I tend to find myself more in tune with Hannah Pool’s commentary (link above,courtesy of Nevin) than Ron Liddle’s and in any case, whatever admiration I might have for his bare-faced cheek, the idea of a Spectator journalist pontificating on matters of sexual promiscuity I find risible in the extreme.

    I also happen to be a man and a man of my times to boot and could not hold my own past behaviour up as an exemplar of ” a bold, gentille, parfait knight”. While I may have been fortunate not to contract and pass on STD to any female partners, that was perhaps as much down to luck as to responsible behaviour and I am sure that I was the cause of much emotional damage.

    So I would be loathe to rush to condemn a woman in this position not least because the record of men recklessly, and in full knowledge of their own HIV status,passing on infection to unwitting women who then often to go on to unwittingly transmit it to their unborn child. It is not only the women of Africa and Russia who can attest to this assertion.

    It would be a vindictive prosecutor indeed who attempted to increase the seriousness of the crime by tacking on a racism label as well. If Ms. Porter’s original source of infection had been a white man and her subsequent lovers also white then no such interpretation would be proferred.

    Still I suppose it all helps to detract from the well trumpeted sexual peccadilloes of Mr. Liddle and others among his colleagues on the Speccie. Addison and Steele should be alive at this hour.

  • Occasional Commentator

    Hannah Pool of the Guardian (thanks to Nevin above):
    “The fact is that had any of the men Porter is reported to have had unprotected sex with insisted on taking safe-sex precautions, they would have much less to worry about. They, too, had the sex, remember.”

    That’s like saying that road users deserve everything they get if they are killed by a drink driver. i.e. ‘They, too, were on the road, remember’

    Hannah is casting baseless accusations that the media can’t admit to themselves that they are just targetting a white woman for sleeping with a black man. The reality is that Hannah is targetting all these people simply for having sex.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Brenda: “Wasn’t she a victim too, and couldn’t she be considered the victim of a hate crime against women?”

    If the partner who infected her was A) aware of his infection and B) maliciously infecting women in an effort to gain some measure of revenge for his infection, then perhaps, yes.

    If, however, he was ignorant of his medical condition and simply sleeping around, then perhaps not.

    This is where the whole concept of “hate crime” leaves me a little itchy… the same behavior gets punished differently, based on what other think the perpetrators thoughts / reasoning / motives were.

  • Brenda

    Maybe there was no hate crime angle. Perhaps she prefered black men.

    What ever floats your boat.

  • Gum

    Just saw the sentence now – our whole sentencing system needs serious review and overhaul. Recent sentences for terrible crimes have been far too lenient.

  • Betty Boo

    OC
    I don’t think your way of logic works well, since I firmly believe sex and driving a car are two very different things of engagement.

  • Brenda

    OC do you see Hannah as some sort of mary whitehouse. Even if she is, sleeping around and having unprotected sex is like playing russian roullette nowadays. Sooner or later a person that does that will catch something.

  • Brenda/ Harry-

    Firstly, yes she is a victim. But it is unclear whether she is a victim of misfortune (the person who passed it on to her was unaware he was a carrier) or a victim of crime (the person who gave her the disease did so maliciously).

    Either way, it doesn’t matter- it was no excuse for her to spread the misery of her disease further to other innocent people. Someone who has been stabbed doesn’t go out and start stabbing other innocent people in retaliation.

    Brenda-

    “It is a light sentence, but a few years is taking a huge chunk out of what she has left.”

    Then she shouldn’t have willingfully spread HIV to innocent people. She’s ruined their lives too now.

    “All of them did choose to engage in unprotected sex. None of them innocent victims, considering they are adults afterall.”

    At least one of them was in a long-term relationship with her. Any contributory negligence on their part is miniscule, and it doesn’t detract from the fact that she willfully infected them.

    As regards the issue of race hatred, I wouldn’t pay much heed to that theory unless it can be proven that race played a role in who she targetted. What she did was despicable enough in itself without having to take into account any other factors.

  • Brenda

    Someone who has been stabbed doesn’t go out and stab others in retalliation.’

    some don’t need a reason to stab you, one case comes to mind was the young pregnant mother on a street in london not so long a go. A mentally ill man did it. No logic to it no reasoning, not even retalliation.

    The fact that she did do it in retalliation points to her mental state.

    I’m in no way excusing what she did, the first case of this came from an English woman on holiday and was given HIV by a Greek man. That was the first prosecution for this sort of crime.

    But surely it is not hard to see that the experience of being infected by a black man and her subsequent infecting of black men is a result of her mental state. It’s not sound reasoning. Hence the lighter sentence. It in no way condones her actions but recognises the fact of her mental state.

    However, what restrictions will be placed on her at relaese? Will she be free to do so again. Most likely yes. Like child molesters. Supposedly being watched but cannot be watched 24/7.

    As a society we need to find a better system for sex crime and how it is dealt with. Not just sentencing but what happens after release.

  • Rory

    I find OC’s comparison with road victims simply ridiculous. I have worked in the field of sexual health promotion and with a leading HIV/AIDS charity and the message that is drummed into everyone one is to : BE SAFE! TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR OWN PROTECTION! This advice most particularly applies to casual or promiscuous sexual activity. It is, in the main, the refusal of men to limit their own pleasure by wearing condoms and engaging in the bravado of “barebacking” (remember all the chuckling references to “Bareback Mountain” recently?) that is largely responsible for the spread of HIV/AIDS.

  • TAFKABO

    I find the notion that having unprotected sex means one is no longer innocent to be a very disturbing line of reasoning.

    Some people can’t seem to shake this underlying notion that people ought to be punished for having a good time, or if some ill befalls them whilst having a good time, then they deserved it.

    Yes, we all do reckless things, but that doesn’t mean we are ‘guilty’ and deserving of punishment, it means that we may incur some negative consequences.

    Ferfuxsake are we still in the Dark Ages or what?

    As for this woman, she may have been a victim, but that doesn’t negate her responsibilities under the law.If she knowingly inflicted harm upon others, then she ought to be held accountable.

  • Brenda

    Taf she has been held accountable.

  • Brenda-

    “As a society we need to find a better system for sex crime and how it is dealt with. Not just sentencing but what happens after release.”

    I agree, but locking the perpetrator up for a length of time befitting of the crime would be a start. Even if just to send out the message to others who would consider similar activity.

    Let’s not forget that this crime was aggrevated by her non-cooperation with the police with regard to disclosing who else she may have infected.

    If her mental state is such that she has lost control of her conduct to the extent that she thinks it is fine to infect people thus, then surely she should be admitted to some sort of facility for treatment until she can be deemed fit to return to society.

    A light sentence and letting her back out in her current state of mind poses a threat to society.

  • “Taf she has been held accountable”

    A few months in the slammer? Hardly.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    TAFKABO: “Some people can’t seem to shake this underlying notion that people ought to be punished for having a good time, or if some ill befalls them whilst having a good time, then they deserved it. ”

    Its a matter of assumed risk, TAFKABO. The disease and the manner in which it spreads is a reality, good time or no. If your idea of having a “good time” involves risks, then you either have to assume those risks or abstain from the behavior. You want to ride bareback with strangers, hey, fine, but that chance of being infected come with that pleasure, just as eating fugu (puffer fish sashimi) comes with the risk that the chef had a bad day and you’ll drop dead in the next couple seconds of a pin-point’s worth of neurotoxin. Its a matter of choices and what trips your trigger.

    TAFKABO: “Yes, we all do reckless things, but that doesn’t mean we are ‘guilty’ and deserving of punishment, it means that we may incur some negative consequences.”

    Its not a matter of deserving, TAFKABO. No one “deserves” this sort of thing. However, those more prudent souls who don’t engage in that behavior are entitled to shake their head and say “that was a stupid risk” when the risk catches up with the risk taker, be it sex, sky-diving or sashimi.

  • TAFKABO

    When someone employs terminology such as “they were/are not innocent” it implies guilt deserving of punishment.

    I think everyone who contracts disease is an innocent victim in that I don’t think anyone deserves to suffer.
    Haven’t we drawn up laws and institutions to mete out punishment in a humane and civilised way?
    Isn’t this because we rae supposed to believe it is wrong to inflict suffering upon other humans as a form of punishment?

    Were a person to be beaten up by state forces there would be an outcry, but I humbly suggest the mental torture of living with HIV, not to mention the very real physical suffering if one contracts full blown AIDS are much much worse, yet I see shades of people arguing here that this is basically what some men and women deserve for leading promiscuous lives.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    TAFKABO: “Haven’t we drawn up laws and institutions to mete out punishment in a humane and civilised way? ”

    That’s the theory… the practice, however, appears to need a little work. The woman’s sentence, to my admittedly cynical eye, is far too short.

    TAFKABO: “Were a person to be beaten up by state forces there would be an outcry, but I humbly suggest the mental torture of living with HIV, not to mention the very real physical suffering if one contracts full blown AIDS are much much worse, yet I see shades of people arguing here that this is basically what some men and women deserve for leading promiscuous lives.”

    I agree with pretty much everything you’ve said regarding the pain and suffering in this situation. That said, I think you might be reading too much into some statements, although I, in turn, may be reading too little.

    I do stand by what I said previously — when one engages in risky behavior, one assumes certain risks. When and if the probabilities catch up with the one, there will be those who say “Gee, that was a stupid risk.” Human nature and it covers a world of sins, from sex to street racing. Now, are there always going to gloating bluenoses, the “Sister Bertha Betterenyou” class who will laugh up their sleeves at the pain of others? Yup. Price of multi-culti life — everyone is entitled to their beliefs… and just as they are entitled to their self-perceived moral superiority, you’re are just as entitled to think them a collection of congenital idiots.

    I’m afraid, short of re-education camps for one side or the other, its the best we can do on short notice. Ignore the bluenoses — you’ll be happier for it.

    Illegitimus non caborundum est.

  • Crataegus

    The Lady knew she had aids, she with held that information from others, she was the only one in the relationships fully aware of the salient facts. Her mental state may mitigate but you have to ask how many people has she killed, her partners, their partners. This is a serious crime.

    Imagine I had severely limited sight and decided to get into a car and drive and in the process mowed people down how would one views that particular crime. Imagine in the process I also offered someone a lift should they have asked to see my license?
    Having a car isn’t a crime, being blind isn’t a crime but put the two together!

    This Lady has issued a sentence of death on innocent victims and has help spread a serious disease.

  • Betty Boo

    The comparisons on this thread stink. We are talking about people having causal sex with multiple partner and do so unprotected. What do you think you are getting under such circumstances? A medal for scoring? Consenting sex amongst adults without protection means both agreed. If men or women are so stupid and go for it then both have to take responsibility. I hardly can blame the man alone for getting pregnant.

  • Betty-

    That’s ridiculous. You speak as though the HIV was transmitted as if by magic. Yes, the risk of pregnancy is one which one takes if one engages in this type of activity. Yes, catching an STD is another risk one takes. But this is a whole different ball park- in this situation there was additional info available, i.e. she knew she had HIV, but she withheld it from her partners. That is a disgusting and sick thing to do- by trying to make out that all risks were even and both were to blame, you are excusing her behaviour, which is shameful.

    It’s one thing takinga risk- it’s another thing when someone doesn’t tell you they have HIV.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Cratageus: “The Lady knew she had aids, she with held that information from others, she was the only one in the relationships fully aware of the salient facts. Her mental state may mitigate but you have to ask how many people has she killed, her partners, their partners. This is a serious crime. ”

    To play devil’s advocate for the moment, there are treatments — palliatives, to be sure, but very effective palliatives nonetheless. Given the glorious socialized medical program, these folks have years of productive life ahead of them, don’t they? HIV is no longer an automatic death sentence. Assuming careful treatment and meticulously following their pharmaceutical schedules, they should be functional members of society. Now, she has breached criminal law, but she hasn’t “killed” anyone… leastwise, not yet.

    Cratageus: “Imagine I had severely limited sight and decided to get into a car and drive and in the process mowed people down how would one views that particular crime. ”

    At least one key difference is that while there are drugs to limit the impact of HIV, there are not yet treatments for being dead. She has impacted and perhaps imperiled live, she has not ended them, as in the scenario you present above.

    Cratageus: “This Lady has issued a sentence of death on innocent victims and has help spread a serious disease. ”

    Hyperbole will not make this debate any more reasonable.

    Betty: “We are talking about people having causal sex with multiple partner and do so unprotected. What do you think you are getting under such circumstances?”

    Its an assumed risk, Betty. The fact that one of the parties was a 100% certainty didn’t guarantee transmission and anyone riding bareback should have the thought in the back of their head’s that this is not safe behavior. They chose, poorly as it turned out, but that was their choice.

  • Betty Boo

    Dread Cthulhu,
    Yes.
    El Matador
    “You speak as though the HIV was transmitted as if by magic.”
    No. Sex, unprotected.

  • Betty-

    So are you saying the man in this situation was as to blame for getting HIV as the woman?

    BTW, the man was in a long-term relationship with her. It wasn’t ‘casual’.

  • “At least one key difference is that while there are drugs to limit the impact of HIV, there are not yet treatments for being dead. She has impacted and perhaps imperiled live, she has not ended them, as in the scenario you present above.”

    That is the most ridiculous ‘argument’ I have ever heard. So basically you are saying that this woman’s action were somehow lessened in their repulsiveness because the victims may die, rather than they will die.

    That is insane.

    That’s like saying that it is ok for me to walk around rubbing a plutonium rod on people- they will contract cancer and they may die, but it’s ok because it isn’t certain that they will die!

    Do you really think that this woman sat down and thought “I give these people HIV, but it’s ok because they’ll take drugs and that’ll stop them from dying.” And even if she did think that, does that somehow lessen what she did?

  • Dread Cthulhu

    El Matador: “So are you saying the man in this situation was as to blame for getting HIV as the woman? ”

    Which one — there were several…

    El Matador: “BTW, the man was in a long-term relationship with her. It wasn’t ‘casual’. ”

    This get’s trickier. Was he aware of her recent promiscuity? If “yes,” then I would say it falls under the heading of “assumed risk.” If he were blissfully ignorant of it, then, perhaps, he is the only unblemished victim in the whole scenario.

  • Betty Boo

    El Matador,
    the man you referred to should have been told in particular as should anyone else. It makes me wonder though what sort of relationship they had. Don’t get me wrong, I do not defend her in any shape or form for having unprotected sex, knowing she had the disease. But what or who else she was having outside her kind of relationship should have used protection for this very reason.

  • Crataegus

    Dread Cthulhu

    At least one key difference is that while there are drugs to limit the impact of HIV, there are not yet treatments for being dead.

    I stand corrected; This Lady has issued a sentence of slow death on innocent victims.

    Betty Boo

    I hardly can blame the man alone for getting pregnant.

    Let’s imagine you told the man you were on the pill and were not? Who then has greater responsibility?

    We don’t know how many partners her lovers had, some may have had lots some few, some may have taken care normally, we just don’t know, but we do know that this lady deliberate choose to put others at perilous risk.

    Any man or woman who knows they have aids have a burden of responsibility. She knew what she was doing, her partners were taking a risk but that doesn’t in any way mitigate her of her responsibility. If I worked in a canteen and had food poisoning should I go work? If I dine in a canteen I know there is always a risk but big difference.

    Her behaviour was wreckless, it showed no regard for the well being of others.

    I am not wantonly attacking a Lady but her attitude is completely wreckless and unacceptable. It was a terrible and callous thing to do.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Cratageus: “I stand corrected; This Lady has issued a sentence of slow death on innocent victims. ”

    Isn’t that we get from the start, barring unforseen circumstances?

    Cratageus: “Her behaviour was wreckless, it showed no regard for the well being of others. ”

    No, her behavior was wreckless because you were the one with the car, she was the one with the disease…

  • Betty Boo

    Crataegus,
    “Let’s imagine you told the man you were on the pill and were not?” – unimaginable.
    Having unprotected sex is “completely wreckless and unacceptable. And “a terrible and callous thing to do.”
    How many ways are there to hammer it home? And it is the bottom line.
    She obviously has a very sickening sense of justice and as said before I don’t argue in support of her. I doubt the judgement of those men she slept with and who willingly agreed to do so without the little rubber. They most likely didn’t asked and she didn’t tell. What makes her more guilty then them. But she is not solely responsible.

  • Alan Law

    This idea that someone is always to blame for your own mistakes is frustrating…at some point she may have had sex with another man before she was aware of her situation. If he contracted AIDS then it would have been misadventure….surely sex with strangers (and sometimes those not so strange) has to be considered risky…working on the premise that unless you’re called Casanova and cat charm the birds from the trees, then the chances are that you are joining a long line or previous conquests.
    This analogy is not gender specific.

    The responsibility for protecting yourself against STI’s is not a certificate that someone is clean, it is wearing a dom and staying healthy.

    Prosecutions like this are pointless and will further undermine the confidence of others with STI to alert previous partners.

  • This was absolutly disgraceful. She intended to infect these men with a disease for which there is no cure. She deserves to suffer, she should spend the rest of her life in jail.

  • Poz parties: Do Sarah’s detractors support th egay lobby meeting for Poz parties? This is HIV+ men meeting for sex, often unprotected. Are these people responsible? What about the fist fucking fraternity?
    These guys slept around, fucked anyone they could and paid the price. Let them take their retro drugs and deal with it. Maybe apear on Oprah.
    There was a HIV+ guy, wrote The Moon at my back, lived in Ballymun, topped himself in Whitehall church, the ladies used to queue up to fuck him as he was cute.
    Safe sex. What a joke. These guys think with the little head, not the big head. Now they have something to really think about. Let them be a warning to others. What goes around comes around. No such thing as a free lunch bonk.

  • Brenda

    I have to agree with betty and taigs. The guys were adults, they know the score, if there was a guy in a long term relationship with her and she was sick, there must have been signs of the HIV,ie pills etc and she was off out doing it with others, what sort of relationship was that.

    Maybe he wasn’t the full shilling. Or lived off her immoral earnings which is more likely.

  • Occasional Commentator

    Rory: I find OC’s comparison with road victims simply ridiculous. I have worked in the field of sexual health promotion and …

    Nothing ridiculous about my comparison. You are the one taking the ridiculous position by believing that if something is predictable, then it automatically becomes justifiable.

    If somebody forgets to wear their seatbelt do they deserve to die if a drunkard crashes into them? Obviously, they may have survived if they wore the belt and we should remind people to wear their belt, but your position seems to be that death by drink driving is less wrong (or even perfectly acceptable) if the victim wasn’t wearing their belt – it would be a strange world if that could be used as a defence.

    I admit the driving analogy might seem a bit wierd, but there is no contradication whatsoever in strongly supporting safe sex and simultaneously calling a spade a spade when it comes to attempted murder.

  • Occasional Commentator

    Rory: I find OC’s comparison with road victims simply ridiculous. I have worked in the field of sexual health promotion and …

    Nothing ridiculous about my comparison. You are the one taking the ridiculous position by believing that if something is predictable, then it automatically becomes justifiable.

    I admit the driving analogy might seem a bit wierd, but there is no contradication whatsoever in strongly supporting safe sex education and simultaneously calling a spade a spade when it comes to attempted murder.

  • Turkery Ar La

    She’s gotta be a prod. One of themmuns..you know

  • TAFKABO

    This thread has certainly been a revelation.

  • “BTW, the man was in a long-term relationship with her. It wasn’t ‘casual’.”

    If she really went out of her way to maliciously
    infect her “long term boy friend” you really have to question her mental state….. she needs counselling not custodial.

  • Crataegus

    Dread Cthulhu

    “I stand corrected; This Lady has issued a sentence of slow death on innocent victims. “
    Isn’t that we get from the start, barring unforeseen circumstances?

    Always the optimist.

    Betty Boo

    If I had an STI, and knew I had, I would make dam sure I didn’t pass it on to someone else. I find this behaviour hard to comprehend. Unless we were actually there we have no idea what her victims were like, some may have been real devils other just unfortunate to have met her. Also we don’t know what was said between them. In this day and age it is also hard to believe that anyone would have unprotected sex with someone they recently met. Naïve, stupid, who knows but still think there is a big difference between them and the black widow!

    Taigs & Brenda
    Safe sex. What a joke. These guys think with the little head, not the big head. Now they have something to really think about. Let them be a warning to others.

    The sword of judgement is upon you. Am I detecting a good Catholic upbringing here; you know original sin and all that. This could well be the thread where we see Catholicism and evangelical Protestantism in unison.
    Brenda

    if there was a guy in a long term relationship with her and she was sick, there must have been signs of the HIV,ie pills etc and she was off out doing it with others, what sort of relationship was that

    We just don’t know, what exactly the relationship was and he may simply have trusted her. I am off to the AA meeting tonight love. Just spending the weekend with my mum! If you are in a relationship do you go around rummaging through belongings and track every movement. If you do the relationship won’t last.

  • Betty Boo

    Crataegus,
    you seem to be very selective in what you read in a post and what not.(on this occasion)
    “Black widow” Maybe Goodwin’s Law needs an extension.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Crataegus: ““I stand corrected; This Lady has issued a sentence of slow death on innocent victims. “

    Dread Cthulhu: “Isn’t that we get from the start, barring unforeseen circumstances? ”

    Crataegus: “Always the optimist. ”

    Cynicism is easier on the soul — you’re so rarely disappointed by outcomes.

  • Rory

    Just in order to get another opinion on my thinking on this issue I asked my daughter, a young woman, and her friends to read the comments on this thread and to give me theirs in return.

    On the car driver analogy my daughter commented:

    “If he don’t know the difference between driving a car and having sex I wouldn’t want to get into one of his cabs”.

    Her friend, Nicci, said:

    “Wot about that bloke then? The one that was done for the same fing? Nobody was crying about them gels. They was all treated as slags. Served ’em right and all that. Wot about that then?”

    There was ideed a recent case where a man had knowingly and recklessly infected a number of (identified) women who, realising the source of their infection, had come forward. And I recall public and press reaction being much as Nicci inferred.

    Nicci’s response deserves consideration.

  • Rubicon

    Rory, if you are suggesting sex-discriminatory treatment of this woman it might be best to start with the respective sentences handed down. Do you know the sentence the man you refer to got?

    As regards the other comments about her partners’ culpability in having unprotected sex – isn’t this really a red-herring? Of course there’s a risk of contracting HIV from unprotected sex – but this woman was found guilty of KNOWINGLY passing the virus on. It was a premeditated act and a wicked one at that. That her partners took risks should not be a mitigating factor.

    As for the possibility that her victims may not die – that too seems irrelevant. There is no cure for this disease and the mutations of the virus suggest that it could be a very long time before one is found. Hence, she passed on a deadly disease for which there is treatment but no cure.

    The sentence she received was not commensurate with her crime – nor is it reflective of the very real risk she posses to society on her release.

    Perhaps she is in need of psychiatric care – but that care should be in a custodial environment and be used to advise any probation board asked to review her sentence – had she been given an appropriate sentence.

    As it stands the legal system failed to deal with this case appropriately.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    I don’t disagree with much of what you’ve said, in so far as the criminal case is concerned — my only beef there is she is getting off far too lightly.

    Much of the recent posting has had more to do with the societal / moral ramifications of all this. Here, things get a little fuzzier and the actions of other parties do become germane to the conversation.

  • Rubicon

    DC – I certainly accept that the actions of other parties have been commented on here – but some of those comments have come perilously close to blaming the victims of a crime; a crime done to them that will lead to their premature death.

    From the reports I have read there is very little information about Ms. Porter’s victims; we know they had been encouraged by her to have unprotected sex, that one of her victims had been her partner for 2 years and that they were black (though I fail to see the relevance of the last detail unless the media is trying to indicate that she deliberately targeted black men).

    One of the reasons there is so little information is due to Ms. Porter refusing to assist in partner notification. This refusal aggravates her crime since the most likely outcome is that her victims will unintentionally pass on the virus to still more victims. Are these victims to be blamed too?

    While having unprotected sex is risky – it is not a crime. Having unprotected sex with a partner known to you for 2 years shows the depths of deception practised by Ms. Porter. I wonder how many of the posters here on Slugger who cast blame on Porter’s victims have themselves practised unsafe sex after knowing their partner for 2 years?

    The only positive outcome from Porter’s absurdly lenient sentence is that it has attracted additional publicity to her case. Hopefully that publicity will alert her former partners.

    As for Ms. Porter herself, her behaviour is one of an unrepentant psychopath from whom the legal system has offered society little protection.

  • Crataegus

    Betty Boo

    I just could not resist the Black Widow description, some deep inner desire to be a SUN journalist surfacing. Something simple for a headline.

    In my far and distant youth I had a fried who was an unmitigated bounder. Women adored him, why I have never been able to fathom as he made no pretence to have any morality whatsoever. A challenge perhaps? However one girl accused him of being the father of her child. This is a girl with whom he had had no relationship whatsoever, and I believe him as you tended to know ever lurid conquest plus some probably, (like having a charadter from Tom Jones relate their adventures) and apart from that in many ways he was basically honest. He would have taken responsibility. You have no idea the effect this accusation had on him. Family of girl believed the girl and so on, eventually he simply got up and left.

    The girl was obviously not quite normal as she pursued her objective ruthlessly. Her aim was to marry ‘Jack the Lad.’ An illogical obsession perhaps, but pursued clinically and ruthlessly. You come across males and females who are infatuated and some are a menace if you are on the receiving end.

    Since then I have always had a slightly dark view of what people are capable of and just how vulnerable any of us are.

    In addition I was ill with TB for a lengthy period and the thoughts of passing on any serious infection are unimaginable. If you have such a disease and are ill the last thing any normal person is going to do is give someone else it. Those who knowingly spread such a disease are dangerous people, they show absolutely no regard for the well being of others. My objectives first and foremost and to hell with others. This is psychopathic behaviour.

  • Nevin

    HIV Transmission and the Criminal Law

    How did we get here and where to now

    So they’re prosecuting under an 1861 law and the Home Office is, er, reviewing the topic. Speedy progress can be expected – not.

  • Occasional Commentator

    Rory quotes his daughter’s friends:

    Her friend, Nicci, said:

    “Wot about that bloke then? The one that was done for the same fing? Nobody was crying about them gels. They was all treated as slags. Served ‘em right and all that. Wot about that then?”

    There was ideed a recent case where a man had knowingly and recklessly infected a number of (identified) women who, realising the source of their infection, had come forward. And I recall public and press reaction being much as Nicci inferred.

    Nicci’s response deserves consideration.

    I don’t need to consider it much, Rory. It’s a straw man argument – unless you can find some evidence of me being hypocritical over this, stick to the issue.

    My simultaneous belief in tough sentences for attempted murder and also my support for encouraging safer sex are perfectly compatible. You seem to persist in believing that they are not compatible, and even worse, that I am lying when I say I believe they are compatible.

  • Rory

    Well, Crataegus, at least we have something in common. For I too am a recovered sufferer from tuberculosis which was the AIDS of its time back in my day. Indeed it was worse as, being both contagious and infectuous it did not require exposure to blood products for transmission. But at least the long months in Crawfordsburn sanitarium at Helen’s Bay gave me lots of time to read and think so helping to produce this waspish old git that we all know and so love today.

    (Yes, the same Crawfordsburn that had been the former home of UVF icon, Colonel Crawford, who ran the guns into Larne and kicked off the whole bloody shebang).

    I do not have the sentencing information to hand in the case of the man but memory tells me that it was certainly much more punitive than that given to this woman. But I would argue that this difference in sentence indicates the judge’s view of the more serious deliberation of intent of the man and that the lower sentence given to the woman indicates the judge’s view of the woman’s lesser culpability.

    In any case it was the difference in public reaction to these two cases that I addressed earlier and it seems to me that, whereas in the first case, little sympathy was given to the women that he had infected on the “Should have known better – only themselves to blame” principle, the opposite now appears to be so in the case of Sarah Porter and this seems to me to be symptomatic of the double standards that are applied and that so discriminate against women in our society who are often more sinned against than sinning.

  • Summary: This woman knew she had HIV and purposefully infected people. She then withheld their details from police. She got a short sentence- in my view it should have been longer, or at least she should have been admitted indefinitely to a mental health facility until she was fit to return to society.

    Anyone who tries to lessen the gravity of her actions, for instance by claiming HIV isn’t too bad or that the men took the risk and were therefore significantly to blame for contracting HIV from her, need their heads seen to.

  • Rory

    Occasional Commentator,

    Firstly may I say that I most certainly did not make any imputation that you may have been lying. Nor indeed did such imputation ever cross my mind and I am at odds as to how you can draw this conclusion from my remarks. However acid my remarks might be on the subject matter of any thread I have never, nor would I, attack the integrity of another contributor. Nor is there much need since if his integrity is indeed suspect his own words will invariably betray it. I am happy to say that your words gave no such indication and that your integrity, accordingly, remains inviolable.

    There was no charge of “attempted murder” brought in this or any case involving HIV transmission. The charge is one of reckless endangerment of putting another at risk of infection. An important distinction.

  • Occasional Commentator

    Rory,
    I (and presumably you) don’t know the details of each of the men in this case. Imagine one of the men was certain that he himself was free of STDs (perhaps because of testing or because he was always very careful). Then he starts going out with a woman who is adamant she too is healthy. If they have unprotected sex and he picks up HIV and it turns out she knew about it, how can you turn around and lay into him by tarring all men with the same brush? (“It is, in the main, the refusal of men to limit their own pleasure by wearing condoms …”)

    Some of the men involved may have been entirely careful and innocent victims, some may have been reckless with their own health (knew they were safe but didn’t give to much thought to her), some may have been reckless with others’ health. But they are all victims in this case, whether or not they are victims who also need to be criticized.

    I know she wasn’t actually charged by the police with attempted murder, but deliberately infecting somebody with a usually fatal disease sounds like attempted murder to me. But I’ll avoid the term in case people actually assume that this was the crime of which she was convicted.

  • Occasional Commentator

    I meant to also add that I admit I went a bit over the top with Rory earlier – sorry about that.

  • Betty Boo

    “You come across males and females who are infatuated and some are a menace if you are on the receiving end.” And she is, Crataegus. I do remember the case Rory mentioned. And this is the aspect which annoys me. It is bad alright but it is worse when committed by a woman. I’m not taking away the seriousness of either case, just noticing a bit of discrimination going on there.

    El Matador,
    You are right, I need to go to the hairdresser.

  • Rory

    No apology necessary, OC. This is a very emotive issue and passion does burn hot. But you are gracious, thank you.

    I take the argument presented in your first paragraph and agree that no blame should accrue to a man in that case nor indeed could he be held to have been careless. If he was involved in what he believed to be a monogamous relationship and contracted an infection via his partner’s undisclosed unfaithfulness of course he is an aggrieved party.

    I am also convinced that anyone, man or woman who practises unsafe, unprotected sex with multiple partners in the face of HIV prevalence are certainly guilty of social irresponsibility at the very least and bear a criminal liability if they knowingly and maliciously pass on an infection to another person to whom they have not made known their HIV+ serostatus.

    It is on this issue of different public perception of guilty men and guilty women that I take issue with. What is sauce for the goose ought to be sauce for the gander.

    Fortunately, so far at least, the judiciary in England and Wales do not seem to share the public taste for harsher treatment for women.

    I sometimes do not know whether to weep or cheer when I find that the state appointed judiciary take a more progressive stance than the public on this and many other issues. Those who dream of right-wing coups and such must surely cheer.

  • Occasional Commentator

    Ah, that old chestnut: ‘right-wing’. What does it mean this week!? I’m not getting at you Rory for using it, it’s just that it doesn’t seem to mean anything in particular. I want to legalise cannabis (one doesn’t have to partake of it to call for it’s legalisation) and privatise the health service. Does that make me left- or right- wing? More police and tougher sentences, and also a high burden of proof. Left or right? I want the UK to have a genuinely independent nuclear deterent (not bought off the shelf from the US) and also I believe that Guantanamo Bay is a disgrace. Is that left or right? I think all my opinions form a consistent whole, and the fact that I can’t classify myself just convinces me that they are terms referring to constantly changing coalitions of groups that don’t really have that much in common.

    Anyway, back to the subject. You said: ‘Those who dream of right-wing coups and such must surely cheer.’ Do you mean that some right-wingers are glad that the judiciary have a different opinion from the masses as that this will increase the chances of the masses overthrowing the status quo?

  • @El Matador on Jun 23, 2006 @ 10:57 AM

    Spot on there EM!!
    They should also be ashamed of themselves.

  • Rory

    Your views on health privatisation and “strong” defence and law ‘n’ order policies and, funnily enough, the legalisation of cannabis would, OC, place you pretty firmly in the old 19th century liberal economist camp which is much were Margaret Thatcher (and now, Tony Blair) is. To be a fully paid up liberal economist though, it would help if you also called for privatisation of defence and law ‘n’ order. Your views on Guatanamo Bay would indicate a humane streak which indicates a sufficient lack of ruthlessness to qualify you as a leading light in that cause.

    The legalisation of cannabis is a clear liberal, not socialist, policy since it calls for a further decrease in the power of the state to interfere in “private” matters and was a mainstay of the platform of the right-wing Adam Smith Institute, a Thatcherite think-tank in the hey-day of She-who-must-be-obeyed.

    You may be understandably reluctant to be categorised as right-wing because of the pejoratively negative connotations of that term today. But if I held your position honestly I would simply embrace the term.

    I do not share your position and my views often lead me to be branded as a “Red”, to which I simply reply, “Too bloody right I am!”

  • Rory

    p.s. I’ll just be off now to roll meself a big fat one.

  • Crataegus

    Betty Boo

    And this is the aspect which annoys me. It is bad alright but it is worse when committed by a woman.

    For myself, and I believe all those commenting, there is no difference be it man or woman, and nor should there be. Any male or female behaving in this manner should be taken right out of circulation. They are a greater threat than Blair’s terrorists or Bush’s weapons of mass destruction. This week they infect 2 people they each infect 2 more and on it goes. For us to stop the spread of this disease we need to change behaviour and we need to ensure that people like this don’t infect others. We must set a fairly rigorous standard..

    Rory

    Sorry to hear you had the same misfortune, as you say a good opportunity to read and read and read. It also gives you a bit of time to take stock.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Rubicon: “I certainly accept that the actions of other parties have been commented on here – but some of those comments have come perilously close to blaming the victims of a crime; a crime done to them that will lead to their premature death. ”

    I think the proper verb in that sentence should be “may,” seeing as there are a number of promisng therapies, including some that reduce the virus below a detectable threshold. But, eschewing semantics for the moment, on the victim’s side, I have to say that they should have had some inkling at this late date that riding bareback was to be taking their lives in their own hands. Now, while I do have sympathy on the basis that they were maliciously infected, its not untainted by that notion that their behavior — casual unprotected sex — was a risk factor. Play with fire long enough and you will get burned — the odds would have eventually caught up with them, were they to play long enough.

    Rubicon: “One of the reasons there is so little information is due to Ms. Porter refusing to assist in partner notification. This refusal aggravates her crime since the most likely outcome is that her victims will unintentionally pass on the virus to still more victims. Are these victims to be blamed too”

    No arguement from me re: Ms. Potter — my only problem is that her sentence isn;t long enough. Personally, I think she ought to be held in contempt of court until such time as she divulges and then she would be allowed to start her time in prison with *NO* credit for time served as a part of the contempt.

    As for the others, the sex, as I understand, was casual, consensual and unprotected. As such, the gentlement in question were assuming the standard risk that would accompany such behavior. Likewise, any folks who have sex with them on the same basis would (or at least should) be assuming the same risks. Does this make them victims? I would say no — there is no malice, ergo, no crime occurred. This is not an absolute — any circumstance that negated consent would make the infected party a “victim,” to my mind. In the presence of consent, all you have is a fool.

    Rubicon: “While having unprotected sex is risky – it is not a crime.”

    Neither is investing your life-savings in junk bonds. However, there are substantial risks involved.

    Rubicon: “I wonder how many of the posters here on Slugger who cast blame on Porter’s victims have themselves practised unsafe sex after knowing their partner for 2 years? ”

    Given the latency of the disease is (or at least was — the virus mutates rapidly) 10 years on the outside. Likewise, I haven’t (and I think most haven’t) held Ms. Potter’s partner as being quite the same as her other targets.

    Just because her victims (with the exception of her long-time partner (and there are still circumstances I can think of that would diminish his status as “victim”)), while I have some sympathy for their circumstances, they were damned fools. This doesn’t make them bad people, but its does mean that they bear some measure of responsibility for the situation they find themselves living in.

  • Rory: Margaret Thatcher never missed an abortion vote; she believed in “a woman’s right to choose”. Economically “conservative” and socially “prgressive” is common neough and is one of the mainstays of the GOP. Just look at the Progressive Democrats, the GOP/Sinn Fein or anyone else who take their lead from Maggie.
    People who dip the wick run risks. They can’t say theyhaven’t been warned. From Lazarus in Hell to these “victims”, people don’t want to know. They will still think with the little head. HIV must be harder for women as they don’t have the gay fraternity to fall back on.

  • Crataegus

    Dread Cthulhu

    The weakness of your argument is her intent!

    Let us remove this from sex and consider that this lady employed someone to fix her gutter and supplied a dodgy ladder, if an accident occurs she bares blame. Now the bloke may have been foolish to accept the use of an untested piece of kit and may have been induced by the thoughts of a quick job but the blame is not his.

    Imagine however she did this not once, but over and over again one would start to ask what has she got against people who fix gutters? It ceases to become a matter of negligence, but becomes a matter of criminal intent. A ladder may not be a gun but it is a weapon.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Crataegus: “Let us remove this from sex and consider that this lady employed someone to fix her gutter and supplied a dodgy ladder, if an accident occurs she bares blame. Now the bloke may have been foolish to accept the use of an untested piece of kit and may have been induced by the thoughts of a quick job but the blame is not his. ”

    A valiaa
    t effort, Crataegus, but this “change of venue” from the realm of personal responsibility to something approach civil iability is flawed. First, it takes two to tango. Secondly, there is a fair to middlin’ chance that the workingman, depending on facts an circumstances, could be deemed an “expert” by the court, which would limit / nullify the woman’s culpability, on the grounds he would be one to know better than her. Its a far cry from the act in question. Besides, I have not been talking civil liability.

    Crataegus: “Imagine however she did this not once, but over and over again one would start to ask what has she got against people who fix gutters? It ceases to become a matter of negligence, but becomes a matter of criminal intent. A ladder may not be a gun but it is a weapon. ”

    Once more for the cheap seats, Crat — I hold that, if anything, her punishment is too light, not inappropriate. Her criminal intent has never been in question.

    Go re-read my posts, this time looking at what I wrote, with an eye for what I said, rather than what you hoped I said. The fact taht she is criminally liable and the fact that her victims, with one notable exception, were damned fools, are not mutually exclusive. Her intent is not material to the notion that these fellows did something that they, at this late date in the progresion of the HIV virus, they should have known better to do.

  • Rubicon

    The discussion’s focus on Ms. Porter’s victims is interesting since it attempts to extend responsibility for their infection from Porter to themselves. In the case of casual sex I can see the logic – but wonder if the same ‘logic’ would be acceptable in other types of cases; eg, a woman walking home alone late at night and then raped?

    Walking dark streets alone is “risky”.

    Is she a “fool”?

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Rubicon: “The discussion’s focus on Ms. Porter’s victims is interesting since it attempts to extend responsibility for their infection from Porter to themselves. In the case of casual sex I can see the logic – but wonder if the same ‘logic’ would be acceptable in other types of cases; eg, a woman walking home alone late at night and then raped?

    Walking dark streets alone is “risky”.

    Is she a “fool”?”

    That comes down to facts and circumstances. In most normal ones, no she wouldn’t. In some, its debatable and and in a spare few others, the suggestion could be made that she was foolhardy.

    Then again, in N.I. you can’t a teenage male down a dark street without the “riskiness” of the locale coming into play occasionally.

    Your empty rhetorical questions aside, there are behaviors that are inherintly risky. To partake is to accept the risks. One of the unavoidable risks of casual unprotected sex is the HIV virus. I’m sorry if this notion offends you, but it comes with the territory, just as parachute not opening comes with the territory of sky-diving. What is so radical about the notion that when some actions carry risks?

  • Rubicon

    DC – “Your empty rhetorical questions aside …”

    The question was a genuine one – it raises the notion of a victim’s own culpability in the crime done to them. I note that you acknowledge that only in a few spare cases could the raped woman be thought foolhardy. (I differ with you – for me, the answer is none. Raping a woman is a crime – no excuses and speculating that she was foolish I’d consider unwarranted).

    It isn’t quite your emphasis in the case of Ms. Porter’s victims though is it? You absolve only one of Ms. Porter’s victims of foolishness – despite not knowing who they are, how many there are and in what circumstances they had sex with Ms. Porter.

    “The fact taht she is criminally liable and the fact that her victims, with one notable exception, were damned fools, are not mutually exclusive.”

    In today’s paper I read that the person who reported Ms. Porter had practised safe sex and used a condom – it broke. On later hearing that Porter could be HIV positive he then reported her.

    Does this mean that Ms. Porter’s intended victims not being foolish could now number 2? Could it be more?

    Your rhetoric that they took risks so they had it coming is the issue on which myself and others differ with you. In the same way as there being no circumstances in which a woman should be implicated in causing her own rape there are no grounds here for diminishing Porter’s victims.

  • Crataegus

    Dread Cthulhu

    Our views on Ms Porter are similar.

    An interesting discussion and point of view, which throws up all sorts of implications, like those just posted by Rubicon.

    Compliable negligence is a very difficult area in this sort of case. Acting like a fool may well make you an easy target for a predator. If we all took more care there would be less burglaries and if we were generally less naive and trusting there would be less cons and fewer muggings. But we are Human and often we don’t think of the consequences, if we did we wouldn’t race motor bikes or ski.

    Be they stupid or irresponsible a victim is still a victim, but there is something about this case that doesn’t sit well with me. If I get on a motor bike I know the risks, but this case is as though someone had deliberately sabotaged the bike to ensure I crash, yes biking is risky but the risk is different than getting on a bike that is highly likely to crash. If I knew I simply would not mount even if I had the appropriate head gear.

    I think first and foremost they are victims, now they may have been naïve and stupid, but still they were targeted by someone who intended them no good. Something evil their way came.

    Good discussion and enjoyed it, beats the tedium of progress at the Assembly.

  • Crat

    Have you lived on planet earth for long? How do you think so many Africans have HIV? Have you any idea of syphilis rates in South Asia? How aobut of chlamidya among young folk? Wake up and smell the coffee. These guys thought with the smal hea,d not the big head. Next time you drive your “bike”, wear a goddam helmet.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Rubicon: “The question was a genuine one – it raises the notion of a victim’s own culpability in the crime done to them. I note that you acknowledge that only in a few spare cases could the raped woman be thought foolhardy. (I differ with you – for me, the answer is none. Raping a woman is a crime – no excuses and speculating that she was foolish I’d consider unwarranted). ”

    Never, ever underestimate human stupidity.

    Rubicon: “You absolve only one of Ms. Porter’s victims of foolishness – despite not knowing who they are, how many there are and in what circumstances they had sex with Ms. Porter. ”

    There is a difference between having sex with a long-time partner and indulging in casual sex with near strangers, is there not?

    Rubicon: “Your rhetoric that they took risks so they had it coming is the issue on which myself and others differ with you. In the same way as there being no circumstances in which a woman should be implicated in causing her own rape there are no grounds here for diminishing Porter’s victims. ”

    Not quite. My position is that they indulged in activities where a reasonable person would acknowledge there are risks. If one indulges in these activities, the risks have to be assumed. Now, just as if one BASE jumps, there is a chance one turns into street pizza, if one has consensual unprotected sex with acquintances, there is a greater than zero chance of contracting HIV. Unless one has been living under a rock, this is common knowledge. That they picked up / were picked up by someone who was HIV positive, someone with malicious intent, doesn’t factor into the baseline equation — they’re choices put them at risk — the condom only reduces risk and then only imperfectly, as demonstrated above. If you playthe game , you take your chances.

  • Occasional Commentator

    I’m not directing this at anyone in particular, but just making a general observation on the types of fallacious arguments that sometimes appear on this type of thread.

    Of course I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who has no difficulty assigning 100% of the blame for a crime on the criminal while also point out that crime can be prevented by different behaviour from potential victims and also that some people are reckless with their health and the health of others.

    Blame is not a zero-sum game. If anyone here wants to continue to argue that once somebody becomes a victim of a crime it retrospectively means every aspect of their behaviour was perfect, then please make a proper argument. Any claims that I am not taking the main crime seriously (rape or whatever) is a straw man argument.

    If you don’t believe it’s logical to blame the criminal 100% and also comment on the victim’s behaviour, then starting explaining why you believe so and don’t try to twist others’ arguments to suit your logic (for example with nonsense like ‘anyone who points out that drunk women are more likely to be raped must surely be diminishing the crime of the rapist’). Either argue about the opinion I hold or don’t argue with me at all.

  • MC

    Let’s get a few things right here:

    1. Sarah Porter was convicted of the reckless, not deliberate transmission of HIV.
    2. No motive was ever entered in court – any talk of revenge is pure speculation on the part of one particular police officer.
    3. HIV is now a treatable infection – morbidity and mortality due to HIV in this country have fallen dramatically since effective anti-HIV therapy became available in the late 1990s. Indeed, the main reason why people with HIV become ill or die today is because their infection is diagnosed too late – I doubt very much is the flurry of ill informed prejudice and hate this case provoked will do much to encourage HIV testing. Provided the individual infected by Porter takes his treatment properly he will anot die because of HIV.
    4. Didn’t he and Porter’s other sexual partners have some responsibility for looking after their own sexual health?
    5. It beggars belief (and shows Liddle’s ignorance and preducies) that Liddle tried to equate reckless behaviour which will not lead to death with a deliberate decision to beat to death a man simply because he was gay. let’s remember, be was so badly beaten he couldn’t even be recognised by his own family.
    6. Any a final thought for you all – the least infectious individuals with HIV are those who know they have it and are receiving treatment – approximately 33% of HIV in this country is undiagnosed – perhaps you should remember that and take some responsibility for yourself.