COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Many Republican lawmakers have criticized state emergency restrictions since the outbreak of the coronavirus. Now that most of the legislature is back in session, a new kind of push back is taking root – misinformation.
In their comments or inviting skeptics to testify at a legislative hearing, some GOP lawmakers use their platform to spread false information about the virus, the steps needed to limit its spread, and the vaccines that will bring the country out of the epidemic.
In some cases, erroneous statements have met with a quick response, even being censored online. It has raised tough questions about how aggressively it has fought in the fight against potentially dangerous misinformation of elected officials or in legislative hearings to protect freedom of speech and people entering government.
Last week, YouTube filmed a video of the commission’s testimony at an Ohio home after a witness incorrectly claimed that COVID-19 did not kill children. The platform says the video violates its community standards against spreading misinformation.
Ben Wisner, ACLU’s director of speech, privacy and technology, says YouTube has gone too far.
“When we talk about testimony at public hearings, the much better answer would be the opposite, perhaps in the form of fact-checking or labeling, rather than trying to leak that memory hole,” Wisner said.
However, opposing votes are not always allowed during committee hearings.
In Michigan, for example, the House Audit Committee did not include a discussion by state health officials or other virus experts on Democratic youth sports by Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat.
It featured Ayem McElwane, a skeptic of the virus, who spread the word about the QAnon conspiracy and the baseless allegations of election fraud by former President Donald Trump. Let McLuhan, the founder of a band called the Instrumentalist, question the mask’s mandates during a legislative hearing, a science based on state COVID-19 data where there were no witnesses from the opposite side.
Wisner said such an imbalance should be emphasized, not restrained.
“People need to know that this is what local governments are for,” he said. When the hearings are posted online, Google, the owner of YouTube, has many tools for identifying suspicious information and directing people to facts, Wizner said.
In Tennessee, the Republican legislature is tightening legislation that prohibits most government agencies from requiring anyone to receive COVID-19 vaccines, which is nowhere mandated. MP Bud Hals tried to drum up support, reducing the severity of the disease.
He cited selective statistics as saying that COVID-19 had a lower infant mortality rate and falsely claimed that vaccines could cause genetic changes.
Hulsey backed down from his Republican co-chair, Rep. Sabi Kumar’s surgeon, who was rarely the GOP’s advocate for wearing a proper mask as lawmakers gathered outside the Tennessee Capitol.
“My concern is that (the bill) creates an anti-vaccine attitude,” Kumar said.
Kumar noted that vaccines have saved countless lives over the centuries, and have repeatedly checked the facts with Halsi, stressing that vaccines do not alter human DNA.
Hals was not convinced.
“People have seen governments across the country doing things that have never happened in the history of the United States, it scares them,” he said. “They have a right to be afraid.”
His bill was passed by a subcommittee of the House of Representatives.
In Alaska, Gov. Mike Dunlive is battling what he calls state Sen. Laura Reinbold, a Republican, for distorting the law, saying he will no longer send his board members to his Senate Judiciary Committee.
In a scathing February 18 letter citing his Facebook post, Danliv accused Reinbold of distorting the COVID-19 response and deceiving the public.
“The misinformation must end,” the governor wrote.
Rinbold was very critical of Danley when he made disaster statements before the legislature convened. His committee used the votes of people who questioned the effectiveness of the masks և the government’s response to emergencies.
On social media, he described the Dunleavy administration as “wild” over these “experimental” vaccines. During a hearing in early February, Rainbold questioned the extent to which the administration had suspended regulations during the epidemic.
“It’s almost like a state of war,” he said.
The governor said that although he had tried to ease business rules such as the suspension of duties, he had never imposed martial law or forced Alaskanians to take vaccines. Reinbold called the governor’s criticism of him unfounded.
“Some people call ‘misinformation’ information that they do not agree with or do not want to hear,” Rainbold said in an email.
Dust clearance was intervened by the Senate President, who said he expected his committees to take a “balanced approach.”
Idaho Deputy Heather Scott opened the legislature in January, announcing: “The epidemic is over.” He said the death of COVID-19 plus Idaho in 1600 was “nowhere near the epidemic.”
The average daily CODID-19 case is falling in Idaho, but the death toll is rising.
During a live-streamed forum with voters in mid-February, Scott criticized the National Ruling Association, which last year issued a statement to combat misinformation about the virus. He claimed that the group was led by “globalists” of the World Economic Forum, that “those who are out” came COVID. ” The term “globalists” is widely regarded as anti-Semitic.
Scott did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Some of those who spread false information about the virus in the legislature also supported Trump’s false claims that in 2020. The election was stolen.
In Virginia, Republican Del Dave LaRoche, who attended Trump’s rally in Washington that preceded the attack on the US Capitol, warned the state House Health Committee in late January that COVID-19 vaccines should not be trusted. He said they are especially dangerous for some communities, including the elderly and people of color.
Democrat Del Sia Price, a black man, called LaRock’s allegations “just dangerous.”
“There is a legal hesitation about the vaccine in the communities, which Mr. enumerated, but the factual, factual information is key, not igniting the flames, which are based on historical events,” he said.
Bore reported from June Uno, Alaska. Associated Press writers David Egert in Lansing, Michigan; Kimberlee Kruesi in Nashville, Tennessee; Off ef Mulvihil in Cherry Hill, New Jersey; Sarah Rankin in Richmond, Virginia; ith Keith Ridler, of Boise, Idaho, contributed to this report.