Aid for AIDS of Nevada (the largest AIDS Service Organization in Nevada) has rewritten their "Zero Tolerance Policy" for clients to include the following: AFAN reserves the right to suspend or terminate a client's services / privileges for “slander (harmful statement in transitory form. especially speech) and libel (harmful statement in a fixed medium, especially writing, but also picture, sign or electronic broadcast)”
When an agency makes a policy stating that a client may lose services if they say negative things about the agency it is nothing short than a way of silencing them. Thirty years ago when our world was first devastated with AIDS the community encouraged HIV positive people to speak up about their illness and more importantly about their dissatisfaction with the government’s response. This lead to the memorable slogan: “Silence = Death.” Now what the administration of Aid for AIDS of Nevada is saying to HIV-positive people is the exact opposite: “Shut your mouth and you can live.” Relinquish your First Amendment Right to speak up and be heard; whether it is good or bad, and you continue receiving life-saving services.
They may state that there is a grievance process, but by telling clients they cannot put anything is writing that is defamatory, they might as well tell clients to not even complain. They are telling clients they don’t have a right to respond unless it is positive. That is not democratic. That is not fair. Most of all, it isn’t humane.
To kick someone out of services just for saying something negative would be like deporting someone from this country for protesting the government. It is the right of every individual to speak up. Most of the clients who are speaking up concerning recent scandals about embezzlement, abuse of power and unjust policies have already attempted to convey their message in other way via letters to the Executive Director, Board of Directors and media. The only way left is to take it to the public.
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