Tuesday, January 03, 2023


In The Washington Post, Philip Bump writes:
It was less than an hour after Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field in Cincinnati that Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk decided to blame the injury on coronavirus vaccines.

He was circumspect in doing so, admittedly, offering his opportunistic observation with a wink rather than a shout.

“This is a tragic and all too familiar sight right now,” Kirk wrote on Twitter: “Athletes dropping suddenly.”
Actually, Kirk wasn't being circumspect. He didn't shout because he didn't have to -- his wingnut audience is now primed to believe that literally every time a healthy-seeming younger person dies suddenly or has an unexpected health crisis, the cause is COVID vaccination.

Bump continues:
... a number of injuries, illnesses and unexpected performances have been linked without evidence to the athletes’ having been vaccinated. It’s quite explicitly cherry-picking: Anything even remotely linked to circulatory issues has been lumped into a vast “just asking questions!!” universe of suspicion, generally by those on the political right. It’s not that there is a demonstrable increase in illness among athletes; it’s that any illness in any athlete at any level now becomes fodder for inclusion in that universe. That some 70,000 Americans under the age of 45 have strokes each year means there are lots of cherries that might be plucked.
And while deaths among pro football players are rare -- perhaps because first-rate medical care is available to these players on site -- it's been reported that an average of a dozen high school and college players a year die in practices and games. That's not a COVID-era statistic -- that's from the years 1990 to 2010.

Bump adds:
... outlets like the increasingly fringe Rasmussen Reports are releasing surveys claiming that a large number of Americans believe they know someone who died of vaccine side effects — an effort to inject dubious evidence into the debate. (To bolster the legitimacy of the idea, Rasmussen points to a film from an extreme-right radio host named Stew Peters, who last May declared that his political enemies were “possessed by demons.”)
The film in question is Died Suddenly, which is very popular on the right. Here's the trailer, which has 2.5 million views on the right-wing video site Rumble:

Peters is not exactly an upstanding citizen, as the Daily Beast noted in late 2021:
Peters has risen on the far right ... as a sort of slightly less unhinged version of Alex Jones, pumping out coronavirus disinformation and other conspiracy theories while allying himself with Trumpworld figures like lawyer Lin Wood. Amid his calls for Anthony Fauci’s execution, Peters amassed a sizable audience of nearly 300,000 followers on social media app Telegram, and played host on his show to figures as prominent as Arizona GOP chair Kelli Ward....

Around 1 a.m. on Feb. 19, Peters’ wife called the police in Red Wing, Minnesota, claiming Peters was in a drunken rage after getting home from his bowling league. In an angry scramble to find his phone, according to an account from Peters’ wife recorded in a police report, he had allegedly started to berate her and thrown household items, including boots and pillows, at her....

This wasn’t Peters' first encounter with police. He was convicted of theft as a teenager for stealing stereo equipment from a Radio Shack where he worked. Peters was arrested in Florida in 2006 for falsely impersonating an officer, unlawful use of a blue light, and robbery of less than $300 while using a weapon.

... Peters emerged from obscurity as the face of “Red Voice Media,” an online video company based around promoting professionally produced “The Stew Peters Show.”

... The show quickly became a hub for conspiracy theories, with guests claiming that the Florida condo building collapse was caused by the “deep state,” and promoting false claims about vaccine deaths. Peters claimed in June that humanity would face an “extinction-level event” if Trump didn’t retake office within 60 days, a prediction that failed to come true.
And now he's reinforcing the message that sudden deaths and health crises are inevitably the result of vaccines. "Died suddenly" is now a shibboleth on the right.

But what should we think about stories like these?
Teen YouTube star Caleb Logan LeBlanc, part of the popular "Bratayley" family on YouTube known for posting humorous, wholesome daily videos, has died suddenly at 13, his family and police said.

LeBlanc died Thursday in Maryland following a "medical emergency," the Anne Arundel County Police Department said in a statement Monday.


American Express president Ed Gilligan has died suddenly, the company said in a public letter Friday. He was 55.

He became seriously ill on a flight home to New York this morning, the statement said.


Family and friends said goodbye to Daniel Fitzwater after he died suddenly over the weekend. But exactly what caused his death is still not known.

... The former Calvary Baptist Academy quarterback died overnight Friday, and was found by his sister Saturday morning.


Cristy Caserta, who competed in Season 15 of ABC reality show "The Bachelor" in 2011, died suddenly in South Florida on Thursday, according to police in the Broward County city of Sunrise. She was 38.

Officer Luis Fernandez confirmed to USA TODAY that Caserta was in a training class of some sort early Thursday when her classmates noticed her head hit her desk and her coffee cup went flying.

They rushed to offer aid but she was unresponsive. An emergency team arrived to perform CPR. She was taken a hospital, Westside Regional Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead just before 9 a.m. EDT, Fernandez said.

The cause of death has not been established; the county medical examiner is conducting an autopsy Friday, Fernandez said.
Well, the first, second, and third stories are all from 2015; the fourth is from 2018. Sadly, many people died suddenly before we had COVID or COVID vaccines. If it seems to you as if it's happening more often now, it's probably because your news sources are scouring the press nationwide and highlighting every story about a mysterious death because doing so reinforces the suspicions of vaccine skeptics. If your favorite news outlets decided to highlight every story about health problems experienced by guys named Steve, eventually you'd come to believe that the name Steve is associated with a high rate of sickness and death. But that would be a distortion of reality -- just like this.

No comments: