Public ID scare worries HIV positive; Does OH media see a "public interest"?

The Palm Beach (FL) Post is reporting that three law enforcement agencies have launched a criminal investigation to find out who is sending letters threatening the privacy of the 4,500 AIDS patients and 2,000 people who are HIV-positive in Palm Beach County.

From the story:

    One of the recipients of a letter postmarked March 8 told The Palm Beach Post Tuesday, "I'm very upset about this. I've been HIV-positive for a long time and, thankfully, I'm OK, but I'm looking for a job. Who is going to hire me if someone reveals my HIV status? This is a terrible thing."

    He gave his name and phone number but asked that he not be identified in print because of the stigma associated with AIDS.

Many Ohio CHL-holders can identify with the emotions these people are feeling. Several Ohio newspapers have abused the Media Access Loophole by publishing thousands of CHL-holders' names, despite the fact that Ohio gun-ban extremist Toby Hoover is on record encouraging employers to consider whether or not a potential new-hire is a CHL-holder before hiring.

Again, from the story:

    The otherwise innocuous letter with no return address that he and others received at their homes last week said, "Your name appeared on a list of HIV/AIDS patients for Palm Beach County."

    A list of patients was inadvertently e-mailed last month to 800 Palm Beach County Health Department employees, but health officials do not believe the recent mailing used the same list because it did not include addresses.

This last statement is as naïve as those who say lists of Ohio's CHL-holders, with name, age and county of residence, could not be used to track down the address of the individuals.

A letter to the editor of the Newark Advocate in 2003 suggested that if the Ohio Newspaper Association truly believes knowing the identities of CHL-holders is a "public interest", it should call for the medical records of our children's teachers to be made public be as well.

Click on the "Read More..." link below for more.

From the letter:

    The Advocate thinks it is "ridiculous" for supporters of HB12 to want to keep the names, birth dates and counties of residence private. Yet, they have no rational reason to make this information public, only irrational speculation.

    HB12 already requires sheriffs to maintain a non-public database of licensees and the Attorney General's Office is required to release statistics about issuance and revocations. Opponents of HB12 are now saying it is necessary to know if their neighbors have licenses to carry. An official at the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Safety thinks employers should use this information when determining hiring and firing policies. What's next? Should medical records be released so that newspapers can publish lists of HIV-infected persons? Don't I have the "right to know" if my son's teacher has this deadly disease? Maybe people should register their religious beliefs with the state, so self-righteous bigots don't have to live next to "those" kind of people.

Ohioans who have chosen to exercise their Constitutional right to bear arms for self-defense do not deserve to be treated like members of some sex offender registry, any more than these HIV-sufferers deserve to have their names publicized. There is no reason for CHL-holders to be held under suspicion, and every reason to give them the privacy that, for instance, Governor Bob Taft believes felons deserve.

Last year, Taft (who had just months earlier threatened to veto the concealed carry bill unless the Media Access Loophole was inserted) ordered Ohio prison officials to remove the names of all former inmates from the state's Web site.

The Akron Beacon Journal reported that thousands of names, plus photos and the descriptions of crimes committed by former convicts -- records that had been available to the public 24 hours a day for six years -- were removed.

"We have found... because certain former inmates have their picture on the Web site, it's been a disadvantage for them and an embarrassment that has kept them in some cases from getting jobs, and we think that is unfair,'' Prison Director Reginald Wilkinson said at the time.

Mark Paulus, who was an inmate in the 1990s, claims he was stigmatized by the Web site, which revealed his criminal past and embarrassed him and his wife and son.

"Even though you paid your debt and the punishment was over, there was really no end to it, no matter where you went, because it was always available on the Internet,'' he said. "My thing is, when is it over?

'When is it over'? Thanks to Bob Taft and a handful of anti-gun editorial boards, it will never be over for CHL-holders, at least not until the General Assembly moves to fix its error and close the Media Access Loophole, even if it means overriding a veto from the "nation's worst governor", and enduring the ear-piercing cries from the liberal media that of a phantom "right to know" other people's private business.


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