New York Times Revises Ed Koch Obit To Include AIDS

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    Feb 05, 2013 11:18 AM GMT
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/01/new-york-times-ed-koch-aids_n_2600563.html

    The New York Times revised its Friday obituary of former New York City mayor Ed Koch after several observers noticed that it lacked any mention of his controversial record on AIDS.

    The paper's obituary, written by longtime staffer Robert D. MacFadden, weighed in at 5,500 words. Yet, in the first version of the piece, AIDS was mentioned exactly once, in a passing reference to "the scandals and the scourges of crack cocaine, homelessness and AIDS." The Times also prepared a 22-minute video on Koch's life that did not mention AIDS.

    This struck many as odd; after all, Koch presided over the earliest years of AIDS, and spent many years being targeted by gay activists who thought he was not doing nearly enough to stop the spread of the disease. Legendary writer and activist Larry Kramer called Koch "a murderer of his own people" because the mayor was widely known as a closeted gay man.

    The Times' omission did not go unnoticed on Twitter.

    In response, the paper's obituary editor Bill McDonald told New York magazine that the issue was being "addressed."

    A few hours later, three paragraphs were added in. The meatiest one read, "Mr. Koch was also harshly criticized for what was called his slow, inadequate response to the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. Hundreds of New Yorkers were desperately ill and dying in a baffling public health emergency, and critics, especially in the gay community, accused him of being a closeted homosexual reluctant to confront the crisis for fear of being exposed."

    Even there, the Times got it wrong, as journalism professor Joe Cutbirth noted:

    "Times revises Koch obituary to report 'hundreds' of New Yorkers sick of dying of AIDS in the 80s. The number is actually closer to 30,000."
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    Feb 05, 2013 11:35 AM GMT
    Have to make sure they satisfy the left and politicize an obituary. Blame political leaders for not being God. "Presiding over"? As if he approved of people dying? That's projecting an enormous evil. Gimme a break.
  • silverfox

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    Feb 05, 2013 1:23 PM GMT
    What does his personal life have to do with his stand on public policies?

    Evaluate the man on what he did or didn't do not because he was rumored to be "a closeted homosexual".

  • HottJoe

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    Feb 05, 2013 2:05 PM GMT
    silverfox saidWhat does his personal life have to do with his stand on public policies?

    Evaluate the man on what he did or didn't do not because he was rumored to be "a closeted homosexual".



    According to the article he ignored 30,000 dying people because he was afraid of being outed. I'd say his personal life has everything to do with politics. Besides, all politicians, gay and straight, have to answer to the people they govern, and having your personal life scrutinized has always been part and parcel to that. Don't let your own insecurities cloud your judgment. If you want a highly private life then you have no business as a leader in a democracy (republic).
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    Feb 05, 2013 2:18 PM GMT
    silverfox saidWhat does his personal life have to do with his stand on public policies?

    Evaluate the man on what he did or didn't do not because he was rumored to be "a closeted homosexual".



    Exactly. While this doesn't excuse Koch's slow reaction to the AIDS crisis, leaders from all over the world were guilty of it during the 1980s. Even the science/medical community didn't have a great handle on the situation until the mid-1980s. Furthermore, we need to take the context of the era into play. Again, this doesnt justify it, but gays and lesbiens weren't accepted in society at the time. Judgments that were made 30 years ago would not have been made today by many of the same people. Clearly, he and others made massive errors in not being proactive in a growing epidemic. Still, we have the option of viewing through the lens of hindsight where leaders of the time could not.

    While I agree that his inaction with HIV/AIDS must be noted in any obituary or autobiography, I don't see a point in demonizing him post-humously. It's best to move on, and work to ensure the same mistakes aren't repeated.
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    Feb 05, 2013 2:21 PM GMT
    HottJoe said
    silverfox saidWhat does his personal life have to do with his stand on public policies?

    Evaluate the man on what he did or didn't do not because he was rumored to be "a closeted homosexual".



    According to the article he ignored 30,000 dying people because he was afraid of being outed. I'd say his personal life has everything to do with politics. Besides, all politicians, gay and straight, have to answer to the people they govern, and having your personal life scrutinized has always been part and parcel to that. Don't let your own insecurities cloud your judgment. If you want a highly private life then you have no business as a leader in a democracy (republic).


    That's also making a big assumption. Do we know that was his motivation? It may well have been, but I don't think it's right to make a leap of that sort without him coming forward and saying so. Otherwise, it's rumor, not fact.
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    Feb 05, 2013 2:22 PM GMT
    HottJoe said
    silverfox saidWhat does his personal life have to do with his stand on public policies?

    Evaluate the man on what he did or didn't do not because he was rumored to be "a closeted homosexual".



    According to the article he ignored 30,000 dying people because he was afraid of being outed. I'd say his personal life has everything to do with politics. Besides, all politicians, gay and straight, have to answer to the people they govern, and having your personal life scrutinized has always been part and parcel to that. Don't let your own insecurities cloud your judgment. If you want a highly private life then you have no business as a leader in a democracy (republic).


    I agree 100%.
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    Feb 05, 2013 2:56 PM GMT
    Blakes7 saidHave to make sure they satisfy the left and politicize an obituary. Blame political leaders for not being God. "Presiding over"? As if he approved of people dying? That's projecting an enormous evil. Gimme a break.


    I've always preferred obituaries that were well-rounded and honest. So there. icon_wink.gif
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    Feb 05, 2013 3:30 PM GMT
    A tough issue about Koch for me to judge. I always found him to be a "character" as my late Father would say, admirable at times, and off the deep-end at others.

    I remember gay leaders demanding answers & action when the plague hit. But in the early days almost no one knew what was happening, we didn't even have the terms HIV and AIDS standardized that we use today.

    I was in the Army, a Major, and frankly this was rather remote to me, something I read in the papers or might see on TV. When I was even near a TV at all, I was such a workaholic and detached from the civilian world. And convinced I was straight, not closeted but in the deepest possible denial, so this didn't concern me on a personal or professional level. It got more of my attention when we started having mandatory HIV blood draws during our annual physicals.

    It was around 1984 or 85, I think, that I inquired if this virus could be transmitted among people via insect "vectors" that can carry diseases. Principally mosquitos & ticks that draw blood, since by then the connection with blood was being made. This was always a concern to the military with our outdoor field operations, and I was taking college ROTC cadets out training in tick-infested woods, as well as evaluating Reserve and National Guard units during their summer training exercises.

    And for a short time I wondered if Republican calls for quarantine camps (aka concentration camps) were justified. To prevent insects, and reckless personal behavior, from spreading this blood-borne disease among the general population.

    But the vector concern was disproved, and I never, in my capacity as a voter, cast my vote for a politician advocating such Draconian policies. Amazingly there are still Republicans today who will call for such measures. And that was the atmosphere & attitudes that existed in the mid-1980s, when Koch was NYC Mayor.

    So I just don't know about Ed Koch. I always thought he was gay, before I even knew I had such a skill called gaydar. But what was he supposed to do about the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the beginning? So little was known & understood, and there were no effective treatments yet. What COULD you do? Did his city, even one as big as NYC, have the resources to independently identify & deal with it?

    If Koch let people down then Ronald Reagan did even worse on a far grander national scale, during the exact same time period. I'd like to hear the specific failures of which Koch was guilty in NYC.
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    Feb 05, 2013 3:40 PM GMT
    totally ridiculous that the obit had to be amended and as said by others it was a different climate then, not alot was none specifically. Blaming Koch because he was slow to respond? Is that necessary? It certainly isnt appropriate in his obituary.
  • rnch

    Posts: 11524

    Feb 05, 2013 3:48 PM GMT
    [quote][cite]ART_DECO said[/cite]...If Koch let people down then Ronald Reagan did even worse on a far grander national scale, during the exact same time period...




    Agree.




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    Feb 05, 2013 3:51 PM GMT
    Everyone loved Koch, and he is remembered for the regeneracy of New York. I think the Times was right not to include it, in the first place. This is the kind of thing that can go in a biography, or biopic--but not his obituary.

    Also, it wasn't that he didn't want to stop the spread of the disease, or even that he didn't do enough--it's that he wasn't allowed to do enough by the social and political climate of the time. The real tragedy is that all people did not speak up to stop the spread of the disease, and call for action.

    And to say that he had no business in a public office if he didn't want anyone to know about his private life, well, I doubt he had much of a private life--maybe someone here remembers and can say--and that's beside the point. If he had come out, it would have diverted public attention from the real work he was doing. Even now, this is a distraction from his real legacy, which is the rebirth of modern New York.
  • HottJoe

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    Feb 05, 2013 3:52 PM GMT
    jerseywoof saidtotally ridiculous that the obit had to be amended and as said by others it was a different climate then, not alot was none specifically. Blaming Koch because he was slow to respond? Is that necessary? It certainly isnt appropriate in his obituary.


    Why isn't it appropriate? Since when do we have to rewrite history just because someone died?
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    Feb 05, 2013 4:03 PM GMT
    HottJoe said
    jerseywoof saidtotally ridiculous that the obit had to be amended and as said by others it was a different climate then, not alot was none specifically. Blaming Koch because he was slow to respond? Is that necessary? It certainly isnt appropriate in his obituary.


    Why isn't it appropriate? Since when do we have to rewrite history just because someone died?


    An obituary is not meant to be an historical reference--it's meant to be a celebration of a person's life.

    To say that it is inappropriate to amend the obituary, is not to say that it should not be written down in our history books--and it will be.
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    Feb 05, 2013 4:11 PM GMT
    Well he is dead and we have all made mistakes in life by not acting on something soon enough or recognizing the epidemic. Let the man go in peace and he did accomplish some good things in life. Believe me if I had to do it all over again - I probably would have done somethings different and he is human like the rest of us. He probably regretted it later in life.
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    Feb 05, 2013 8:29 PM GMT
    Again, what was he supposed to do, wave a magic wand??
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    Feb 05, 2013 9:17 PM GMT
    Afterwards said
    HottJoe said
    jerseywoof saidtotally ridiculous that the obit had to be amended and as said by others it was a different climate then, not alot was none specifically. Blaming Koch because he was slow to respond? Is that necessary? It certainly isnt appropriate in his obituary.


    Why isn't it appropriate? Since when do we have to rewrite history just because someone died?


    An obituary is not meant to be an historical reference--it's meant to be a celebration of a person's life.

    To say that it is inappropriate to amend the obituary, is not to say that it should not be written down in our history books--and it will be.


    People's lives should be celebrated. But I don't think celebrating one's life requires depicting the person as a saint who did no wrong.
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    Feb 05, 2013 9:19 PM GMT
    Blakes7 saidAgain, what was he supposed to do, wave a magic wand??


    Not be a closet case who went out of his way to avoid being perceived to give any quarter to any gay cause, for fear that it might lead voters to question his own sexuality.
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    Feb 05, 2013 9:24 PM GMT
    Blakes7 saidAgain, what was he supposed to do, wave a magic wand??


    No, he SHOULD have acknowledged the situation and help raise awareness so the gay population did not have to take it on themselves to march on Washington. Having a public official take a stand would have been a huge help. I was in my twenties during this time. All I can say is that ALL government turned a blind eye to it. People were entering the hospital and dying two weeks later, and the Mayor did not address it. This was a perfect example of Silence = Death

    EDIT: He did not have to "come out of the closet" to take the disease head on. It was his own personal agenda that kept him, or anyone in his office, to even get involved
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    Feb 05, 2013 9:26 PM GMT
    The HIV virus as we know it does not exist. Look up Christl Meyer to find out more.
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    Feb 05, 2013 9:29 PM GMT
    ElVladis saidThe HIV virus as we know it does not exist. Look up Christl Meyer to find out more.


    And everything on the internet is true...this has nothing to do with the thread
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    Feb 05, 2013 9:30 PM GMT
    Also look up "human endogenous retroviruses".
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    Feb 05, 2013 9:31 PM GMT
    Roguewave said
    ElVladis saidThe HIV virus as we know it does not exist. Look up Christl Meyer to find out more.


    And everything on the internet is true...this has nothing to do with the thread


    Yes it does.icon_lol.gif
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    Feb 05, 2013 9:33 PM GMT
    ElVladis saidAlso look up "human endogenous retroviruses".


    What's your point to Ed Koch ignoring people dying around him?
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    Feb 05, 2013 9:48 PM GMT
    Roguewave said
    ElVladis saidAlso look up "human endogenous retroviruses".


    What's your point to Ed Koch ignoring people dying around him?


    I just want everyone to understand more about AIDS and HIV, wherever the opportunity arises.