A community must care

A FAILURE of compassion: That is what the three Ray brothers - Ricky, 10; Robert, 9; and Randy, 8 - and the rest of their family, in Arcadia, Fla., have evidently fallen victim to.

First it took a federal court order to get the boys, who have tested positive for the AIDS virus, admitted to public school.

Now their home has been destroyed in a fire authorities term ``suspicious.'' And so their family has gone into seclusion and is planning to leave Arcadia.

This is shameful.

There has been no medical evidence of AIDS being transmitted by casual contact.

But the fears of many Arcadia parents - including the mayor and his wife - led them to pull their children out of the school the Ray brothers attended.

AIDS does represent an exceptional public health issue. Certainly more public-health information is called for here.

Community leaders could have acted more directly to reassure people and help them deal with whatever theoretical risks they might face.

And beyond that, a community owes its members a certain basic decency, a certain measure of support when they are in difficulty.

That obviously didn't happen.

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