When two people engage in sexual behaviors, there is a risk. No matter how well you think you know somebody, however honest you believe someone to be in terms of their sexual history, there is a leap of faith involved.
Is that level of trust often given too easily? Of course it is.
Does that make a person knowingly walking around with an STI keeping that information from his or her sexual partner a cad? Absolutely.
Does it make him or her a criminal?
Well, that’s the question du jour following reports that 28-year-old David Golding of the U.K. received 14 months in prison for “inflicting grievous bodily harm” after giving his girlfriend genital herpes.
The court heard Golding had denied having the infection when his then girlfriend, 24-year-old Cara Scott, was diagnosed with it soon after their relationship began in 2009. He only admitted it to her shortly before they broke up in 2010. Scott then went to the police.
According to the Daily Mail, Judge Michael Fowler said at sentencing, “‘Because it was in a relationship, it was particularly mean and an offense which amounted to a betrayal — a betrayal in a relationship in which you [Golding] professed love.
“The injury you caused her by this infection is at least or more …
… serious than an injury leaving a scar because it carries continued recurrence, extreme discomfort and consequences for relationships she will have in the future.”
Okay, Golding is certainly guilty of being a liar. There’s an argument to be made that he at least at one point in his life made poor decisions in terms of his sex life, leading to his own herpes infection. He’s certainly falls under the “asshat” category.
I just can’t agree with that.
And the judge? I’m sorry, sir, but there are betrayals in relationships every day, marriage vows that are broken on a regular basis, and deplorable people of both genders that metaphorically shit all over people they claimed (and in some cases promised in front of clergy or court) to love.
Where do you draw the line?
Nigel Scott, of the Herpes Viruses Association, said, “This is outrageous. Will children also now be prosecuted for giving their friends chicken pox? For passing on a cold sore?”
Sexual health consultant Dr. Colm O’Mahony said, “Being sent to prison for passing on herpes simplex is like being sent down for 10 years for a parking offense. I’m appalled. There is no way of proving who gave herpes to whom and with so many of the population already unknowingly infected it is irrelevant to blame someone specific. It is a cold sore in an awkward place.”
Not to sound crass, but Golding has received a double punishment above and beyond his prison sentence.
First, he has to live with the herp for the rest of his life. Doesn’t sound like much fun to me.
And then, of course, is the fact that this story is making national news. I mean, imagine this scenario playing out.
GOLDING: Hey, can I buy you a drink?
WOMAN AT BAR: Sure, that’d be great.
GOLDING: My name is David, David Golding. It’s very nice to meet you.
WOMAN AT BAR: Holy shit, you’re the herpes guy! I saw you on Fox News. I’ll buy my own drink, thank you.
So, yeah, I think it’s a shitty thing to have unprotected sex with someone when you know full well that you are putting him or her at risk. In fact, this is a great reminder of why condoms are always a good plan, regardless of whatever sort of female-based birth control you might be on.
But I do not believe it is a criminal offense, and I think David Golding’s getting a crappy deal for something that happens all the freaking time.
Am I way off-base here?