Jim Carrey’s Reckless Campaign Angers Parents of Autistic Boy

It would seem that there’d be nothing more to say after Sean Illing already called Jim Carrey a “dangerous idiot” Thursday in Salon. But that would be an underestimation of Jim Carrey’s dangerous idiocy.

As Buzzfeed’s Virginia Hughes reported late Wednesday, Carrey — who’s been particularly excitable since California moved to shut down personal exemptions for vaccinations for school children — overstepped a bit in a recent all caps “REASONABLE REQUEST.” In a Wednesday tweet in which he said, “A trillion dollars buys a lot of expert opinions. Will it buy you? TOXIN FREE VACCINES, A REASONABLE REQUEST!” Carrey posted a photograph of a shirtless, clearly distressed little boy. The implication was clear — this is what happens to some kids who are vaccinated. But the mother of the boy — 14-year-old Alex Echols — says the photo was used without her family’s consent, and that the message was disingenuous. “Jim Carrey has a huge platform — a huge following,” says Karen Echols, “and is misrepresenting my son’s image by attaching it to his anti-vax rant.”

On the family’s blog, they explain that Alex has “Tuberous Sclerosis, seizures, Autism, and very severe self-injurious behaviors. He hurts himself so badly that he can’t live with us anymore. After the heartbreak of placing him outside the home, now we’re having to fight an uphill battle for the medicine that may actually help him.” They have been working over the past several years to raise awareness of the condition and obtain medical marijuana for the boy to alleviate his symptoms. On Twitter Wednesday, Karen Echols filed a copyright complaint to Twitter and asked Carrey directly, “Please remove this photo of my son. You do not have permission to use his image. It was soon taken down but by then, Buzzfeed says, it hard already been retweeted over six hundred times. Ms. Echols’ sister, Elizabeth Welch, also spoke out about the image, telling Buzzfeed, “It kind of felt like he was mocking [Alex], and that’s what was upsetting,” and posting on Instagram that she’s “very disgusted and sickened that a celebrity would use a photo like this that was used in the first place to spread awareness of Tuberous Sclerosis to mock him and and my sister for vaccinations. Even if that was not his intended outcome, it is what happened.”

Carrey has also tweeted two other messages with what appear to be stock photographs of crying little boys and warning, “This could be the face of California’s future. TOXIN FREE VACCINES, A REASONABLE REQUEST!” Hey, Carrey: You’re still ridiculous. The CDC notes, by the way, that “Since 2001, with the exception of some influenza (flu) vaccines, thimerosal is not used as a preservative in routinely recommended childhood vaccines.” And anyone who’s concerned about the pernicious scourge of preservatives in vaccines is by all means free to check out the actual content. Also, Carrey’s mercury concerns may be aimed in the wrong directionthis week.

But it’s not just his misinformed views about vaccine risks that make his recent posts so galling. It’s how a person with nearly 15 million followers would choose to depict children. The implication of the images he’s posted, his dire directive that “This could be the face of California’s future” and his blathering about neurotoxins and the “corrupt” CDC, is that the current vaccine system could pave the way for a bunch of screaming, crying, damaged children.It’s not that neurotoxins aren’t a real and potentially serious issue. It’s linking them to vaccines and then linking vaccines to severe disorders that’s a mighty leap. And the suggestion that’s hard to miss is this — under the current California vaccination enforcement, you, parents, risk winding up with a kid who’s broken. You risk getting a kid like Alex Echols — a real human being whose family happens to love and care for him and whose condition, it should be noted, is genetic. That’s insulting, to Alex Echols, to his family and to every family with a special needs kid. Yet Carrey does not appear to have apologized for his action, which is so petty and so disconnected from reality to cross over into plain mean. And it’s pretty absurd that Carrey is busy daring the CDC “to admit they have been wrong about mercury/thimerasol” [sic] while not admitting he was wrong to exploit a child for his the sake of his own ignorant Twitter rants.

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