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Friday, August 22, 2008

Syphilis has a long history of afflicting tyrants and thugs. No wonder some Alberta politicians are nervous

Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, mobster Al Capone, Adolf Hitler (he needs no introduction) and Russian czar Ivan the Terrible – syphilis afflicted them all.

This disease, normally transmitted sexually, can also afflict the innocent, though. In a recent press release, Alberta NDP leader Brian Mason said “The unnecessary death of five babies due to congenital syphilis is of great concern to all Albertans.” Mason is calling the situation in Alberta a “syphilis epidemic” and wants an emergency meeting of the provincial Health committee to look into the matter.

Mason is alleging that the Alberta government is covering up the problem and that the departure of top public health officials could be connected to this cover up. (Source: Download mason_letter_to_horne.pdf)

Health Minister Ron Liepert denies the claim, and in an email from an Alberta NDP communications staffer, Brookes Merritt, I learnt that no emergency meeting has been called. According to Merritt, Chair of the Standing Committee on Health, Tory MLA Fred Horne, agreed only to deal with the matter at the next scheduled meeting of the Committee.

As to whether or not there is a syphilis epidemic in Alberta, Minister Liepert says the problem is narrowly confined and that high-risk Albertans "have to take more responsibility for their own personal health."

More personal responsibility!? That has a nice ring to it. (Does this mean Liepert will be ushering in an era of more private health care? Albertans looking to "take more responsibility for their own personal health" should hope so.) 

So enjoy what’s left of your summer, Albertans. And if you do notice any open sores, take some penicillin.

Another public service announcement brought to you by the good people at the Western Standard.

Posted by Matthew Johnston on August 22, 2008 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink

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Comments

Matthew,

Ivan the Terrible was murdered and Hitler committed suicide to avoid capture. I think you are misreading a list of people purported to have had syphilis as a list of people killed by it.

Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-08-22 3:23:24 PM


Matthew,

"This disease, normally transmitted sexually, also kills the innocent, though."

I hope you don't mean to imply that people who get syphilis through sexual contact are cannot be "innocent" as well. Even if your idea of sexual morality is that any sex outside marriage is morally "guilty" sex, a married person who gets syphilis from his/her wife/husband because the wife/husband has been unfaithful is also an "innocent" victim - doubly so as the person is a victim of infidelity and of syphilis.

Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-08-22 3:33:47 PM


Sorry, Fact Check. That was sloppy on my part. I've corrected my post, but not before you got to it first. The list of famous people who were killed by syphilis was short, so I added the afflicted, but didn't change the wording.

Embarrassing.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-08-22 3:35:41 PM


How about the "completely innocent" then, which we can agree that babies are?

And "no," I don't think people who catch syphilis are necessarily guilty or reckless. But there is such as thing as an at risk cohort when it comes to sexually transmitted diseases. For starters, you have to be sexually active – and normally with more than one partner.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-08-22 3:44:47 PM


It's always the children who suffer for the sins of the father and mother. Sad but true. If I didn't advocate a reduced government presence in daily life, I'd be highly tempted to license would-be parents and submit them to mandatory blood tests.

And yes, Fact Check, syphilis is, like AIDS, very much a lifestyle disease. While anyone can be infected, the monogamous are at almost zero risk. The same is not true of people who share needles or go through sexual partners like potato chips.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-08-22 3:47:01 PM


Matthew,

"For starters, you have to be sexually active – and normally with more than one partner."

Yeah, but as I pointed out the victim of infidelity can get syphilis by being faithful to one partner and only having sex in marriage.

"How about the 'completely innocent' then, which we can agree that babies are?"

I don't see why a baby is any more innocent than a betrayed married person who has never had sex outside marriage. It's one thing to say people must be responsible for the consequences of their actions, but it is quite another to call the faithful spouse anything less than completely innocent. To see it as less would be like saying a pedestrian hit by a reckless driver was not "completely" innocent because he could have stayed home and knew that it was possible a reckless driver could hit him. That's just silly (and mean).

Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-08-22 3:52:51 PM


Fact Check -- I was just making the point that babies are innocent. That doesn't exclude others from being innocent as well.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-08-22 4:03:24 PM


Another public service announcement brought to you by the good people at the Western Standard.
Posted by Matthew Johnston on August 22, 2008

It's not all bad news about Alberta though. This months US Airways inflight magazine has a story on Alberta. I noticed it on a flight from Phoenix to Burbank. You guys should be proud.

http://usairwaysmag.com/2008_08/alberta-homage-to-wierd-wacky.php

Posted by: The Stig | 2008-08-22 6:18:13 PM


There's an error in that article Stig. The colossal teepee in Medicine Hat was built for the 86 expo in Vancouver, not the 88 olympics. It was a colossal waste of time and money to bring it to Medicine Hat. Nobody ever pulls in to look at it. They tried to give it to the Indians, but they didn't want it.

I worked with a guy many years ago that was involved in a love triangle, and they couldn't figure out why they kept coming down with syphilis. It took all one winter to get it under control. Both guys worked in the oilpatch, and came home at different times. It seems pretty funny when I look back at it.

Posted by: dp | 2008-08-22 7:20:47 PM


This can't be. Pinochet and Trudeau died in their beds.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-08-23 9:17:53 AM


And where else would men with terminal syphilis be at the moment of death, Zebulon?

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-08-23 4:29:51 PM



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