Undermining Progress


As veterans of forty years in the non-profit world, we have learned that just because an individual, or even an organization, professes commitment to a worthy cause and noble goals those don’t guarantee that those leaders will support actions that further their asserted aims. If they can’t claim credit, raise funds as result of the action or have other ulterior motives it is not unheard of for non-profit “leaders” to defy logic and argue against actions that deal proactively with the issues they are ostensibly all about.

Fortunately, it is fairly unusual for examples of this phenomenon to appear in the news, it’s almost unprecedented to have two disturbing cases of this type of behavior appear on one day in our newspapers; yet yesterday’s Los Angeles Times had TWO such stories.

The Times had a lengthy California section front page “>responsible for the delay in adopting the salutary policy—- “because of one person with a grudge match, we’ve dawdled for two and a half years.” The “PrEP” policy has already been implemented in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington State—but Los Angeles, with the second largest population of AIDS and HIV in the country, has just acted. The delay in Los Angeles County may have resulted in the unnecessary exposure and infection of some 4,000 new cases.

Weinstein’s arguments seem to parallel those who oppose the distribution of birth control aids to at risk youth—claiming that they would encourage promiscuity or that they aren’t 100% foolproof. It wasn’t a convincing argument against birth control, it isn’t any more convincing about HIV/AIDS. Life has very few solutions that are foolproof, in virtually every arena of life if someone offers a remedy that is 99% effective we’d all take it.

There seems no rational reason why a “non-profit leader” who is ostensibly concerned about AIDS, should have argued against the new policy and seemingly delayed it—yet there it was in today’s paper. Hard to believe.

The “>The New York Times offered another example of “neutral” experts raising issues and “concerns” that defy logic.

Both papers reported on an experiment conducted by researchers on three Canadian college campuses with female freshmen that “substantially lowered their risk of being sexually assaulted, a rare success against a problem that has been resistant to many prevention efforts.”

The “>editorial accompanying the research in the New England Journal by an official of the Center for Disease Control took a similar, rather bizarre line. Katherine Basile asserts that the study’s “primary weakness is that it places the onus for prevention on the potential victim, possibly obscuring the responsibility of perpetrators and others.”

If my kids took karate or judo classes to learn self-defense it was not to exonerate or otherwise minimize the cruelty, criminality, or culpability of bullies or other assaulters; it was a way for them to protect themselves. Similarly, the transparent conclusion of the Canadian study is that providing young women with more tools than they might otherwise have can be very helpful in fending off predators.

Why those who are concerned about rape and sexual assault would construe that finding as somehow taking predators off the hook is hard to fathom. Are they afraid that acknowledging that some action by potential victims in some cases might reduce rapes will undermine public abhorrence of the crime or our interest in punishing perpetrators? Would they prefer that these findings never have been made? Would yong women then be better off?

There is a climate of political correctness that non-profit leaders often promote because of their aura of concern about issues, ideas and principles—as opposed to dollars. But they can be as wrong-headed and dangerous as if they were lusting after bottom line profits to the exclusion of all other concerns or morality.

Between fighting AIDS in LA and reducing campus sexual assaults, the opposition is jaw dropping. A bit like what Alice observed in Wonderland,

If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary-wise; what it is it wouldn't be, and what it wouldn't be, it would. You see? 

Got it? Alice makes about as much sense as some of our “experts.”

+