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Pat Robertson’s Gay AIDS Ring refers to a video clip of the conservative Christian talk show host claiming that some in San Francisco’s gay community intentionally try to spread the HIV virus by cutting each other with special rings. The video saw a surge in popularity in late August 2013 after Robertson failed to have it removed from YouTube, resulting in the blowback phenomenon known as the Streisand effect.
On August 27th, 2013, the left wing news blog Right Wing Watch published an article highlighting a video clip of Robertson from his Christian Broadcasting Network program The 700 Club in which he claims that gay men in San Francisco infect one another with the AIDS virus by cutting themselves with spiked rings while shaking hands (shown below). Immediately after, the video was submitted to the /r/atheism subreddit, where it gained over 2,400 up votes and 450 comments in the first three weeks.
On the same day, Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) filed a copyright claim to have the video clip taken down from YouTube, as well as removing Robertson’s remarks altogether from the original broadcast.
Also on August 27th, The Atlantic Wire published an article about the controversy, which included a statement from Robertson who defended his claims by citing a warning he received from security officers in San Francisco:
“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.”
On August 28th, CNN host Anderson Cooper showcased the controversial clip and criticized Robertson’s comments in a segment called The Ridiculist on his show Anderson Cooper 360 (shown below).
On the same day, Redditor DrCE submitted Robertson’s video to the /r/cringe subreddit, where it garnered more than 700 up votes and 240 comments in less than three weeks. On September 13th, Right Wing Watch published a follow-up article reporting that the YouTube clip has restored after the website filed a counter claim asserting that their upload is protected under fair use. On September 15th, Redditor Archaeopterygidae resubmitted the video to the /r/videos subreddit, noting that Robertson unsuccessfully attempted to have it removed from the Internet. In the first 24 hours, the post accumulated upwards of 13,600 up votes and 1,100 comments.
Right Wing Watch – Robertson Loses Fight to Keep Gay AIDS Ring Video off the Internet
The Atlantic Wire – Pat Robertson Defends His Warning of Gay AIDS Handshake Rings