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Hoylman rejects R.F.K. Jr. debate challenge, calls on Twitter to suspend top anti-vaxxer

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | Two weeks ago, state Senator Brad Hoylman called on Twitter C.E.O. Jack Dorsey in a letter to permanently suspend Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s Twitter account, along with that of the organization he founded and chairs, Children’s Health Defense, for repeatedly spreading misinformation about the efficacy and safety of COVID-19 vaccines.

Hoylman’s letter laid out specific cases in which Kennedy’s accounts had spread harmful and false medical information, while citing Twitter’s recently introduced “five strike system” restricting access to users who repeatedly violate Twitter’s “COVID-19 Misleading Information Policy.”

“Mr. Kennedy’s and Children’s Health Defense accounts — which often tweet the same misinformation — have a combined 280,000 followers on your platform and reach exponentially more people through retweets,” Hoylman wrote the tech tycoon. “These Twitter accounts seek to dissuade people from receiving what is widely heralded as a lifesaving vaccine at a time when concerns are being raised about a third wave of COVID-19 spreading across the country. … I strongly urge you to permanently suspend both Twitter accounts.”

Dorsey so far has not responded.

Another tweet that violates Twitter’s policy on spreading “misleading information” about the efficacy of the coronavirus vaccine and the prevalence of the virus, according to state Senator Hoylman.

Twitter itself has not flagged any of these tweets by Kennedy or his organization for violations. But Hoylman has identified offending sections from the articles cited in a total of 12 tweets — six by the iconic anti-vaxxer and six by his C.H.D. — then stated which clauses of Twitter’s policy they violate.

According to Hoylman, R.F.K. Jr. and C.H.D. should thus be permanently banned on the basis of Twitter’s policy. For similar reasons, Facebook recently removed Kennedy’s personal Instagram account for “repeatedly sharing debunked claims about the coronavirus or vaccines.”

Tyrion Lannister of “Game of Thrones.”

Last week, however, Kennedy responded to Hoylman’s letter with one of his own, quoting “Game of Thrones” author George R.R. Martin, challenging Hoylman to a Zoom debate on science. R.F.K. Jr. cited a quote by Tyrion Lannister, the wily dwarf nobleman: 

“R.R. Martin observed that when a government official like yourself ‘tears out a man’s tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you’re only telling the world you fear what he might say.’ Instead of asking Mr. Dorsey to tear out my tongue, I invite you to debate me publicly on these important issues about which you claim to have expertise.”

A tweet by RFK Jr.’s anti-vax organization, linking to an article about Bill Gates and the alleged profit motive behind vaccines, which also violates Twitter’s policy on misinformation and the COVID vaccine, says state Senator Brad Hoylman.

But the state senator said that publicly debating R.F.K. Jr. would only give more exposure to his anti-vax views.

“Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s rantings and citations of debunked pseudoscience add nothing to our national discourse,” Hoylman said. “We won’t take the bait — and we are not going to give him a platform to continue to spread medical disinformation through a debate.

“Scientists agree: These conspiracy theories are wrong and pose a danger to our public health,” the state senator asserted.

“As COVID cases continue to increase worldwide, we need to stand together and show the public that these vaccinations are safe and effective,” Hoylman stated. “The only way we will finally defeat this pandemic is if we get vaccinated. I encourage Kennedy to get vaccinated as well.”

3 Comments

  1. JQ LLC JQ LLC May 4, 2021

    Does Brad Holyman have anything better to do with his time? And why is an elected official going after a public figure for what he writes on social media platforms? This smacks of McCarthyism.

    I thought Brad had more sense than this, but he’s just another modern-day Quaker looking for witches to burn.

  2. Robert Lederman Robert Lederman May 5, 2021

    During the past two years the concept of freedom of speech has been almost completely destroyed in this country. Expressing a viewpoint or daring to share information counter to the corporate-government-mainstream propaganda flow has become almost impossible. Elected officials like Mr. Holyman who swear an oath to defend the Constitution have become professional censors, abusing their power to silence anyone who dares express a contrary view. If he had lived during the Renaissance, Mr. Holyman would likely have advocated burning Galileo at the stake for daring to suggest that the Earth rotated the Sun. In this particular instance, Mr. Holyman, a non-scientist, describes as “false and misleading,” statistics that RFK Jr is quoting from a US government agency about vaccine injuries and deaths. [The injury data is sourced from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).] Millions of American citizens, among them thousands of doctors, nurses, EMTs and other health professionals, have expressed exactly similar skepticism about the vaccines and the government’s approach to the pandemic. They do so at great risk to their careers and even their safety. Freedom of speech is not about whether people should only be “allowed” to express ideas, opinions and data that are “true,” or “government approved.” On the contrary, freedom of speech means we can express ANY idea, specifically, unpopular or controversial ideas. Medical “truths” change constantly. A medical school textbook from 1950 would be considered so out of date on the scientific facts today that it would be virtually worthless. Mr. Holyman is expressing a belief system, not “facts.” It’s not even his own belief system, but is simply the view that vaccine companies, corporations and the government are trying to coerce the entire world to believe. The government’s actions on the pandemic are so inconsistent, irrational and politically motivated that many thinking people feel they can no longer trust anything they say. This is not the fault of RFK Jr, Internet providers or activists; it is the direct effect of the government’s dysfunctional actions. As just one very recent example, if you were actually trying to prevent new infections (rather than increase them), why would you allow daily flights into the U.S. from India, China and numerous other countries that are being devastated by new Covid strains? If the scientific consensus really was overwhelmingly pro-Covid vaccines, why do you have to silence every doctor, scientist and informed opinion with a contrary view rather than allow public debate? The wave of censorship that is destroying freedom of speech has, like many evil things, a seemingly good intention. Like cancel culture, it is a destructive force masquerading as virtue. During the last election we saw Internet companies ban Donald Trump for expressing controversial, misleading and, at times, outright false information. Many liberals applauded this sterilization of public discourse as a social good. Now, however, we are seeing the famous slippery slope, when the censors eventually come for you. When contrary or unpopular views are completely sanitized from the Internet, TV and newspapers, we are no longer living in a democracy. Democracy can only exist when there is the freedom to express. Mr. Holyman should be deeply ashamed.

    Robert Lederman

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