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A letter published in the Deseret News March 6 illustrates the sad fact of life that our society, while technically advanced, has made little progress spiritually.

How can we justify a continuation of the kind of thinking, marked by fear and hatred, which in other eras caused lepers to be stoned, elderly and weak children to be cast out, people of other religions or different lifestyles to be burned at the stake?Surely we don't do such things today, the innocent might protest. But there it is, published in the daily newspaper, a call for confinement and isolation of people who are sick. The ugly head of uninformed fear raises its head and calls for quarantine of HIV patients.

This kind of phobic logic might also be used to quarantine all kinds of people: Why not influenza sufferers? Lots of people die from flu each year and it's easily spread (unlike HIV). Why not drinkers? They kill tens of thousands each year, maim millions more and often encourage others to join in their disease (unlike HIV patients).

Why not quarantine the victims of abuse, there is clear evidence that they often abuse the next generation, killing thousands of mothers and children each year? How about those who smoke? Why not lock them up; their habit causes thousand of deaths among nonsmokers (unlike HIV) and keep them locked up until they are cured.

Since when do we equate the sick with criminals? Criminals willingly go about harming others; do the ill? Such a comparison is outrageous. Yet our own state Legislature enacted a bill that made it illegal to marry if one has HIV. Why not alcoholics, smokers, abusers, those with flu, don't forget herpes and how about those with yeast infections? They spread it to others. When will people ever learn?

Indeed, how can we expect people to learn when our own leaders in the halls of our legislatures set such a poor example, violating basic human rights when they raise the flag of fear and make legal the witch hunt?

I challenge others in our community to get the facts. I call on our elected leaders to set an example of enlightened leadership and rid us of such shameful laws, based on ignorant fear, which deprive the sick of their constitutional rights to life and the pursuit of happiness. Such laws are never acceptable, especially in a state where the majority claim to be believers in a Christian religion. Did your Christ punish and isolate the sick?

William Jordan