Bigoted evangelist Pat Robertson is still out there, doing his question-answering thing on The 700 Club. Tuesday's query came from a woman who felt "deceived" after she learned that the sickly fellow parishioner she had been asked to drive to Sunday services was dying of AIDS. "What if we had had an accident?" she wrote, apparently worried that her church had put her in harm's way. Robertson began by almost bringing her up to date on the latest information on how the disease is spread: "I must confess, I don't know all the ramifications of infection with AIDS. I used to think it was transmitted by saliva and other things. Now they say it may be sexual contact. So, what you want to say if you're driving an elderly man who has got AIDS, don't have sex with him." A fine answer, considering the source. Unfortunately, he added, "But that's a little too simplistic."
What more complicated things should the public know about the transmission of AIDS? Well, "You know what they do in San Francisco? Some of the gay community there, they want to get people. So, if they've got the stuff, they'll have a ring. You shake hands, and the ring's got a little thing where you cut your finger," Robertson revealed. "Really?" asked his co-host. "Really," he confirmed. "I mean, it's that kind of vicious stuff which would be the equivalent of murder." It's almost as bad as the time the gays helped cause 9/11.
Update: It turns out that the even the Robertson-founded Christian Broadcasting Network, which airs The 700 Club, realized that this particular instance of hate speech should not be made public: Right Wing Watch noted that the segment was removed from the version of the episode the station posted online this afternoon. Robertson also issued a non-apology to the Atlantic Wire. "I regret that my remarks had been misunderstood, but this often happens because people do not listen to the context of remarks which are being said," he wrote. So, in the spirit of providing context, you can read the entire statement below, though there's nothing in it to suggest that anyone actually misunderstood his comments:
I was asked by a viewer whether she had a right to leave her church because she had been asked to transport an elderly man who had AIDS and about whose condition she had not been informed. My advice was that the risk of contagion in those circumstances was quite low and that she should continue to attend the church and not worry about the incident.
In my own experience, our organization sponsored a meeting years ago in San Francisco where trained security officers warned me about shaking hands because, in those days, certain AIDS-infected activists were deliberately trying to infect people like me by virtue of rings which would cut fingers and transfer blood.
I regret that my remarks had been misunderstood, but this often happens because people do not listen to the context of remarks which are being said. In no wise were my remarks meant as an indictment of the homosexual community or, for that fact, to those infected with this dreadful disease.