RFK Jr.'s Anti-Vaxx Nonsense Got Him Kicked Off Of Instagram
Several years ago, after years of wreaking havoc by insisting that her son's (now "cured!") autism was caused by vaccines, Jenny McCarthy finally shut the hell up about them. She may still believe that, but it's been a while since she's said anything publicly. By then, however, the damage (and the measles outbreaks) was already done.
But picking up the torch as America's most prominent purveyor of vaccine nonsense was none other than Robert F. Kennedy Jr. — son of the late Robert F. Kennedy, nephew of President John F. Kennedy, environmental activist, defender of a murdery cousin, terrible husband and now chairman of Children's Health Defense, a particularly kooky anti-vaccine non-profit. And he is no longer allowed on Instagram.
"We removed this account for repeatedly sharing debunked claims about the coronavirus or vaccines," a spokesperson for Facebook, which owns Instagram, said in a statement. At the time it was removed, Kennedy had more than 800,000 followers. His Facebook page, which promotes the same crap, has not been removed. Yet. Kennedy has yet to make a statement himself, but odds are he will be blaming Dominick Dunne* for it. Not sure how, exactly, but he'll work it in.
Although Kennedy has been promoting lies about vaccines — claiming that they cause not only autism but also peanut allergies — online for years (as have many others), apparently making up things about the COVID vaccine was a bridge too far. Which is fair, because it presents a more obvious and immediate threat to our nation's health. As harmful as it is to push the regular anti-vaxx stuff, there's not as much of a time-crunch in terms of debunking it.
He's also been pushing people to go to a website where they can enter their own personal reports of "vaccine injuries" — without requiring any actual proof of anything. I'm not going to link to it here, obviously, but that certainly seems like a thing that just might be abused. Especially since "vaccine injuries" could be literally anything that happens to you after taking a vaccine, whether or not it has anything to do with said vaccine.
He's also been using data from VAERS — the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System — to report that hundreds of people are dying or being "vaccine injured" by the COVID vaccine. While VAERS is maintained by the United States government, it is also not a reliable source of data, because nothing requires people or health providers to prove a direct link from the vaccine to the actual death or injury. This is part of why there is so much variation in the list of side-effects supposedly caused by vaccines.
Astonishingly enough, according to Kennedy's "data," by January 22nd, there were 11 birth defects caused by the COVID-19 vaccine. Meaning that a very large number of people would have had to get the vaccine within one month of it being out, in their ninth month of pregnancy — at a time when the only people who are supposed even be getting the vaccine are the elderly, and there have not yet been clinical trials of the vaccine's effects on pregnant people — then given birth and had a birth defect "related to" the vaccine.
Johns Hopkins says there are no known safety concerns for pregnant people, if you were wondering what Not RFK Jr. says about it.
In addition to repeatedly claiming that the vaccines are unsafe and will definitely kill you or give your future child a birth defect, Kennedy's organization has also promoted the extremely batshit "Great Reset" conspiracy theory, in which, supposedly, this vaccine is just a ruse so Bill Gates (or Dominick Dunne???) can set up the evil Marxist empire of his dreams. It seems like a weird thing for a lifelong Democrat to believe, but RFK Jr. is a weird guy. As much as he opposed Donald Trump, he was more than happy to work with him on a "vaccine commission" that, thankfully, never actually happened.
Oh yeah. He is a Democrat. And he's done some good stuff in terms of environmental advocacy. It's a little more awkward when the people spreading the bad conspiracy theories aren't entirely bad themselves — or at least not only in favor of bad things — but it's just as important to call it out, and to put a stop to it when it puts actual people's lives in danger. While most of the anti-vaxxers seem to have drifted rightwards in recent years, a lot of that nonsense did start on the Left, and we can't give bad information a pass just because it's coming from inside the house.
*Robert Kennedy Jr. has a whole thing where he thinks that the only reason his cousin Michael Skakel was convicted for the 1975 murder of Martha Moxley in 2002 was because the media was "inflamed" by a novel published by Dominick Dunne in 1993, and just sort of has a vendetta against Dunne in general. Team Dominick Dunne here, for the record.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse