On Wednesday, the far-right conspiracy theorist and radio-show host Alex Jones was ordered to pay 15 plaintiffs $965 million for spreading conspiracy theories about the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting. Apparently, one anti-vaxx celebrity saw this as an appropriate time to reiterate her thoroughly unscientific claims about Pfizer’s COVID-19 shot. Musician M.I.A. likened Jones’s conspiracy theories to celebrity vaccine endorsements, touting what appears to be an entirely unrelated conspiracy theory about the coronavirus vaccine.
“If Alex Jones pays for lying shouldn’t every celebrity pushing vaccines pay too?” she wrote on Twitter. The post was followed by another, longer missive: “Alex jones lying and Pfizer lying both trending. One with penalty other without. If you have no critical thinking faculty, this is about as crazy as we should get before a nuclear war wipe out the human race.”
In recent months, Jones has been on trial for his completely unsubstantiated claims that the Sandy Hook massacre — an elementary-school shooting that killed 28 people, most of them children — was a hoax designed to give the government an excuse to take away people’s guns. Parents of Sandy Hook victims say Jones’s followers have harassed and doxxed them, including sending them photos of dead children to “prove” they didn’t know what dead children looked like, accosting them at charity events planned in memory of the victims, and going after one of the young victim’s siblings, who survived the shooting. One parent said he couldn’t visit his son’s grave amid threats to exhume his son’s body to prove his existence.
As for M.I.A., she first shared her anti-vaccine views toward the beginning of the pandemic. In March 2020, she tweeted, “If I have to choose the vaccine or chip I’m gonna choose death.” The following month, she clarified that she’s “not against vaccines” but “against companies who care more for profit then [sic] humans. I don’t want it coming from banks / tech /hedge fund sector and I want a choice.”
To be clear, the search terms “Alex Jones” and “Pfizer” were both trending on Wednesday, though not with the word lying attached, and the link captured in M.I.A.’s screenshot is a Reuters piece reaffirming that vaccines do reduce transmission. Please, M.I.A., I was excited for your new album, but spreading vaccine misinformation makes it very hard to celebrate your return to music!