Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Bain Affair cont'd: Did Dr Brendan Bain act out of a "conflict of interest" in testifying as he did to the Belize Supreme Court, and did he violate the trust of his patients, the UWI, and organisations involved in addressing the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the Caribbean?

UWI student, Daniel Thomas, protesting
the sacking of Dr Bain (HT: Gleaner)
Yesterday, as I continued to monitor the ongoing scandal over Dr Brendan Bain's dismissal by UWI over the demand of thirty- three or thirty- five homosexualist and linked HIV/AIDS bodies, I saw three contrasted responses, in support of Dr Bain and in support of his dismissal. 

First, his own professional body giving concerned support, and the Human Resource Management Association, which states what sort of policy framework would have been appropriate in such a case:

Medical Association of Jamaica:
The MAJ, in a statement released through its president, Dr. Shane Alexis, late on Monday, asserted that it is “against discrimination in all its forms,” and its members are “committed to improving the health of all members of society.”

Stressing that, doctors are trained and have expertise in science and scientific research, Dr. Alexis emphasized that “the veracity of a scientific conclusion should only be challenged on the basis of science and NOT on emotion or sentiment its conclusions may evoke.” He added that “statements of fact [here, Dr Bain's findings as communicated as expert testimony to the Belize Supreme Court] are never meant to be offensive.”
 The Human Resource Management Association of Jamaica:
The Human resource Management Association of Jamaica says it views with alarm reports regarding the termination of the contract of Professor Brendan Bain. 
In a release today the association says it is concerned that the University of the West Indies has used the fact that Professor Bain expressed views which certain groups do not agree with as the basis for his termination.
It says given the fact that organisations generally have guidelines the board of the association says it would have expected the University to properly outline how Professor Bain breached these guidelines.

The association also says it is disappointed by what appears to be the conduct of due process in the media and the haste by a respected employer to disregard the contribution of a long serving employee.
Both of these bodies plainly question the basis for the action undertaken by UWI. The first, underscores that claimed  facts established through research must be answered by superior research and analysis. The second, observing the way that activism and activist demands were used in this case, questions the process of termination.  

By sharp contrast, let us observe:

The Jamaica National AIDS Committee:
The National AIDS Committee has welcomed the decision to remove Professor Brendan Bain as the director of the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Regional Training Network. 
The AIDS Committee said it amounted to a conflict of interest for Professor Bain to have got involved in the suit against the Belize Government to keep homosexuality as a criminal offence.  [--> a misrepresentation, Buggery (what the law forbids) is an ACT -- penis-anus intercourse (which is reasonably arguably insanitary, damaging, dangerous and a means by which many diseases, including HIV/AIDS, are spread to great public cost) -- not a mere presdisposition to be attracted to persons of one's own sex in a sexual way.] 
It also said Professor Bain’s involvement threatened to destroy a hard-won partnership forged between the UWI and members of the gay community and the HIV response in Jamaica and the region.
This last seems to summarise the rationale offered in support of Dr Bain's dismissal. I find it disingenuous, distorting and demonising, rather than substantial, as I will answer below.

But first, let us hear and watch the protesters from outside UWI's gates yesterday afternoon, especially UWI student Daniel Thomas, who is living up to his name:

Daniel Thomas, UWI student, sums up the matter aptly:
If one can be fired from the Anglophone Caribbean's premier University for stating a scientific fact under oath to speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth in a Court of Law, what does this imply about freedom of speech, academic freedom, and freedom of conscience and worship, not only in that University and the Governments who sponsor it, but in the region as a whole?
Next, we must again remind ourselves on just what Dr  Bain's actual findings  and recommendations as given under solemn duty on pain of perjury to speak the truth, were (noting that by implication the MAJ -- Bain's peers, acting as a professional body -- finds them to be well founded, or they would have objected on grounds of stated  evidence and analysis) . . . let's clip from yesterday's post in response to Dr Bain's dismissal:
As was discussed yesterday [i.e. the previous day] here at KF blog, professor Dr Bain was under pressure from the homosexualist lobby because he pointed out on evidence that changing the buggery law in Belize was unlikely to address root causes for the spreading of HIV/AIDS among especially male homosexuals. 
Instead, in his expert testimony based on thirty years as a pioneer in dealing with the region's HIV/AIDS epidemic
 -- BTW, the testimony is now hosted online by the Gleaner, here (I suggest that all interested parties download and save it immediately, before it "disappears" under pressure from the activists who will likely falsely label it hate speech and bigotry equivalent to racism .  .  .  here is my OCRed copy ) -- 
. . . he counselled:
 . . . a major argument that has been posited by some experts is that the current [buggery] law impedes access to HIV prevention, care and treatment services by men who have sex with other men (MSM), thus jeopardizing their health and threatening premature demise . . . . The threat of illness and premature death from HIV infection has undoubtedly generated fear for persons in the general society and particularly for persons whose sexual choices put them at greater than average risk of acquiring HIV . . . . As a physician and Public Health practitioner, one of my responsibilities is to assess behaviours for their impact on health and wellbeing . . . when something is harmful, such as smoking, overeating, alcohol or drug abuse, and unsafe sexual behavior, it is my duty to discourage it. Together with promoting individual responsibility, it is clear that enviromnents that enable individuals to make and practice safe and healthy choices must be provided at family, community and govermmental levels. 
Another of my responsibilities as a Public Health practitioner is to assess the cost of behaviour, not just to the individual ‘actor’, but also to the community . . . [T]here are instances in which private behaviors result in considerable public cost due to illness, with accompanying loss of productivity and social disruption and the prospect of premature death. The public cost of these private behaviours must be acknowledged and actively reckoned with.  
This report shows that the relative risk of contracting HIV is significantly higher among men who have sex with other men (MSM) in Belize than in the general population. This is also true in several other countries for which data are available, including countries that have repealed the law that criminalizes anal sex and countries where the law still applies . . . .
HIV should not be the only consideration in relation to the matter at hand. Available data from several parts of the world indicate that the relative risk of acquiring and spreading other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and cancers is unacceptably high among MSM when compared with other men and women . . . .  
Factors associated with the high relative risk of STIs [=HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmissible diseases] and cancers in affected persons are interactive and include: (a) choosing a sexual partner whose sexual history is unknown; (b) being part of a sexual network, including having multiple partners and a high rate of changing partners [--> which, unfortunately, is highly typical of especially male homosexuality and is apparently reflected in how, e.g. in Jamaica it seems that 32 percent of the male homosexual community are reportedly HIV-infected and 4.6% of prostitutes]; (c) having unprotected sex; and (d) having a repertoire of sexual behaviours that includes actions that carry a significant risk either of causing physical trauma [= tearing, abrading, cutting etc] or of allowing contact with faecal material [= human solid wastes] — these behaviours include, but are not confined to, penis-anus intercourse. Therefore, even when certain behaviours are done in private, they turn out to have serious deleterious public consequences.
On the strength of this and other supportive argument and evidence, he advised:
All sexually active persons [--> notice, this is across the board] must be urged to take responsibility for private and public behavior change [--> note the implication, that we do have capability to choose what we do, and how we behave as a result] as part of a comprehensive national approach that includes individuals delaying their sexual debut, reducing the number of their intimate sexual partners, getting tested for HIV and other STIs in relation to known risky exposure, learning and practising assertive skills in order to avoid coercive sex, disclosing the presence of an STI to prospective partners, using approved barrier protective devices, avoiding the use of mind-altering drugs -- especially during or in temporal proximity to intimate sexual activity, and eliminating behaviours that carry the highest risk of coming into contact with infections. Successful programmes to stem the tide of HIV infections and other sexually transmissible illnesses must be comprehensive rather than piecemeal. In this approach, public and private health and education authorities ensure that everyone in the nation has accurate information and is supported and enabled to take responsibility for the health and safety of self and others.  
A comprehensive approach calls for honest collaboration rather than confrontation.
Glorified common good sense, backed up by decades of experience and research, counsel and advice that should be unobjectionable to a reasonable and reasonably informed person. 
One wishes that the plea in the last line had been heeded.
So far, these seem to be essentially uncontested facts led out to reasonable analysis and recommendations, implicitly endorsed as such by the Jamaica Medical Association, which would be deeply familiar with the actual situation with HIV/AIDS on the ground in Jamaica as well as the wider region. And indeed, they closely echo statements in the peer reviewed literature cited by Bain in his evidentiary attachments.

 Against these, we find a declaration that Dr Bain somehow violated trust and exhibited conflict of interests. This, I find to be false and an attempt to besmirch a man unjustly dismissed for speaking the well founded truth and making recommendations that were little more than glorified common sense backed up by research and experience of working with HIV/AIDS in our region from the outset of the epidemic.

In steps of thought:

1 --> The report to the Belize Supreme Court, from what I can see and from the direct implications of the MAJ response, is indeed quite sound and sober. 

2 -->  We must also note how Dr Bain's report calmly and professionally states or summarises clinically observed and statistically soundly investigated facts that should not be in serious dispute, and draws out findings that are very carefully broadened from the Buggery law -- and BTW, this is about a sexual act that is generally reasonably seen as insanitary and dangerous, not a disposition --  to the full range of people at risk. Any sexually promiscuous person or anyone who interacts sexually with such a person is at risk in our region, or anyone who carelessly handles blood or other body fluids. (Intravenous drug use is not a significant factor in the Caribbean . . we smoke or drink, we don't "jook" here. [And, we should stop the smoking and drinking to excess too.])

3 --> That is Dr Bain is seeking to speak the truth and the whole truth as he has found it based on having done his investigative and analytical work, and as not only a physician but a researcher, an expert, a public health professional and an educator acting in response to a health crisis that has put many thousands of lives on the line and which threatens to overwhelm our region's economic capacity to cope.

4 --> Where also, he has the implicit backing of his professional peers on the substance of what he has had to say.

5 --> In addition, he has spoken in effect under oath and penalty of perjury to speak the truth, the whole truth and naught but the truth. So, if his expert report to the Belize Supreme Court is indeed his sincere and research/analysis based view, he was duty-bound to speak as he did once he had taken that solemn oath, or even if he gave an un-sworn statement as an expert.

6 --> Where also, with lives potentially on the line . . . . not least those of homosexual men . . . remaining silent in the face of a known error when you are a leading expert and educator, is to lie by willfully continued misrepresentation. Which would make him guilty of blood. That is, patently:
Dr Bain . . . as a man of integrity, a Christian gentleman, a physician and public health investigator as well as a leading educator in the teeth of a fatal epidemic . . . was honour bound, duty bound to speak if asked, and indeed if he simply knew of the matter, to offer to so speak.
7 --> This last utterly demolishes the "conflict of interest" claim and smear.

8 --> Why is that? Dr Bain, as we just noted, is an educator, with grave responsibility as a pioneer in the field of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in our region. As such, he has patent duties of care to inform the public of the region and officialdom that go above and beyond those of an ordinary medical practitioner and researcher.

9 --> With lives -- many thousands of lives at risk of this horrible and so far invariably fatal disease -- on the line. (Let us not forget, the drug cocktails only postpone the destruction of the body imposed by this horrible virus. At great expense, and with a lot of linked problems that must be borne not only by individuals, but families, workplaces, communities and the general public. This is a matter of public interest. As Dr Bain also took pains to point out.)

10 --> So, when the aggressive advocates were demanding his silence or else his perjury -- yes, PERJURY, in either of these cases he would have been  guilty of blood before his conscience and before his professional duties.

11 --> In effect, these advocates are their own worst enemies, in demanding that Dr bain remain silent or promote a false picture of the HIV/AIDS pandemic's root causes and propagating dynamics.

12 --> Where also, the evidence in hand from Dr Bain . . . so far not effectively contested on the merits . . . indicates that the Buggery provision of the Belize and other Caribbean Criminal codes that seem to be the latest target for the advocates, is not reasonably strongly connected to those driving forces that spread HIV/AIDS.

13 --> Let us further remind ourselves, from the KF post on Tuesday in which I first addressed the issue, dealing with its various facets in turn:

well over a decade ago, the USA's Supreme Court struck down all US laws against sodomy, but in 2010 the US Centres for Disease Control were still having to admit that “gay” men (including “bisexuals”) are forty times more likely to have the disease than the general population; a general trend that still continues. As a result of this tendency, some sixty percent of new infections occur among that quite small fraction of the US population, that -- on various reports over the years -- may be about three percent or so.

14 --> That is, it is not whether or not there is a Buggery provision in the criminal code that counts, but the actual ways in which homosexuals interact sexually. Which obviously continue in jurisdictions that have repealed buggery laws or the equivalent. 

15 --> That is, the matter being pushed by the activists and which now seems to be taking root in official policy across our region, is tangential and irrelevant, reflective more of a radical social agenda that targets marriage and the Christian faith (which -- for cause -- is irrevocably committed to the view that Creation Order marriage is God's provision and demand for human sexuality), than substance on the merits.

16 --> But, does the buggery law so create a climate of fear and intimidation, that it needs to go . . . and should our societies open the door (as has happened in the US and elsewhere) to demand distortion of the nature of marriage by perverting it into so-called same sex marriage -- thus forcing Christians or others of similar convictions into a corner, or even criminalising the Christian Faith or at least Christian morality?

17 --> First, have there been hundreds and thousands of cases of Buggery provision prosecutions for acts done in private, across our region in recent decades? Patently, not. (And the few cases of prosecution for public buggery, fall under the general principles of preserving public morality and decency in defence of an atmosphere in which children can be nurtured and stimulated without fear.)

18 --> Next, have Medical Doctors -- especially Christian ones, Nurses, Pastors, etc been serving as unofficial police, reporting those who come to them for prosecution? With Dr Bain himself in the lead (remember, the region's leading practitioner who has spearheaded the fight against AIDS since its beginning), patently not. Instead, with Dr Bain in the lead since 1983, our health care professionals have reached out to victims of this horrible disease, regardless of how they acquired it. And, they have made a difference. Indeed, the Jamaica Association of Evangelicals notes in its May 11 letter to UWI Vice Chancellor Harris, how:

 "in 2102 UNAIDS reported that the percentage of men who have sex with men who were reached through the National HIV programme in Jamaica was 87%. This compares well with other developing and developed countries for example Germany 69%, Bahamas 79% and Brazil 39%.

. . . It then pointedly, aptly, asks: 
"Surely this testifies to the fact that our programmes provide assistance to the MSM community. What then is Professor Bain guilty of?"
19 --> Yes, unfortunately, there have been troubling incidents of violence against homosexuals by members of the public who feel they have some imagined right to beat up or attack homosexuals or perceived homosexuals. This is to be condemned, is condemned, and is separately illegal under the very same Criminal Codes across our region as assault, battery, etc in law. No responsible person or body or church approves of such lynch mob attitudes.

 20 --> Therefore, at minimum, regardless of what CARICOM or the draft Melbourne Commonwealth Declaration or others may say, buggery provisions -- on the evidence and linked reasonable analysis that has obviously passed the peer review by the Medical Profession in Jamaica -- are largely irrelevant to the driving dynamics behind HIV/AIDS. 

21 --> And on the recent examples before us on where the radical homosexualist agenda is headed, our region would be well advised to be very cautious indeed about how it moves on changing Buggery provisions or the like.

22 --> Just to document, here is Lesbian Activist, Masha Gessen, of Russia and Australia, in a discussion that was taped and has been posted on Youtube for some time now. First, an illustration:

. . . next, an audio:

23 --> So, Professor Doctor Brendan Bain was fully justified and even credibly duty-bound to speak as he did.

24 --> The activists who demanded his head on a platter, and the administrators who allowed themselves to deliver him up as demanded, should be ashamed of themselves.

The bottom-line is stark:
The University will not properly police itself in this matter, Governments -- on the grounds of taxpayer funds, and the rights of students and staff -- should step in. If they refuse to act, they should be put out of office by vote at the next election, as this is a matter of fundamental rights. And if our governments have become so penetrated and dominated by such radical factions and enemies of liberty and our publics have lost the will to act in defense of liberty, our region is in deep, deep trouble. At minimum, we should therefore also be looking at the development of an alternative system of universities and health care, as this is indicative of a serious, sobering rot.
Now, too,  if what I suspect is going on behind the scenes is even half-way so (and notice protesters speaking of selling out for thirty pieces of silver . . . ), we had external forces with financial leverage over UWI, who sought to use radicals as a front lending apparent legitimacy to holding UWI to ransom to suppress research and analysis based findings identified by Dr Bain, on the real causal factors for the prevalence and patterns of HIV/AIDS in our region. 

That is, grant money may well have come to WI with some ugly, hidden, enslaving chains attached. 

Which is a wake-up call on what sort of money we should accept, from whom, for what . . . our souls are not for sale.

I therefore have a word for my Alma Mater:

It is time for us to stop, pause and rethink, UWI administrators.

I trust that we can take the long Labour Day weekend in Jamaica, think again, and come to a more reasonable, more just conclusion than what now obtains as of Tuesday Afternoon this week. END