News & Politics

Oklahoma GOP Candidate Denies Advocating Euthanasia for Poor and Disabled People

Christopher Barnett claims his Facebook account was hacked and that offensive posts were added by someone else.

Oklahoma Republican gubernatorial candidate Christopher Barnett apparently made repugnant comments over the weekend advocating euthanasia for poor and disabled people who are unable to support themselves — but he now argues that the remarks were fraudulently made in his name.

The issue first erupted when a series of posts and comments raised the disturbing ideas on Barnett's campaign Facebook page. The remarks have since been removed, but several outlets and others documented them before they were taken down.

The comments came in reply to an initial poll posted on the page asking: “Should a person be required to apply for 2 jobs a week if receiving Food stamps and take any job offered to them to gain employment and if they refuse, they lose their food stamps?”

In reply to some of the comments, Barnett's account wrote, "The ones who are disabled and can’t work…why are we required to keep them up? Sorry but euthanasia is cheaper and doesn’t make everyone a slave to the Government.”

The account added in a follow-up comment: 

I firmly believe we should have assisted suicide in the US. I also ask the legitimate question of why should we have to keep up people who cannot contribute to society any longer? Obviously, I’m not saying the Government should put these people down, I’m just saying that we shouldn’t keep them up. If they can take care of themselves without Government assistance, great. If not, let them starve and die. Easy as that.

Blogger Tim Peacock posted screenshots of these comments.

Barnett now says his account was hacked and that he did not write these comments. He says he has received hundreds of calls, including many death threats, after the posts went up. While he posted a complaint about the incident on his campaign website, he told news station KFOR that he has not filed a police report.

In a meandering and disjointed post on his campaign webpage, he blamed Facebook for the incident, writing: 

Facebook is at again.  They are trying to sway another election.  I have not had any access to my Facebook page for several days.  When this took place, myself, nor my husband were even remotely on the internet or even our phones.  We were celebrating mothers day, all day long with our family.  Thank you Facebook.  Facebook needs to have a dedicated team to help its victims who have been compromised and pay a special level of attention to political candidates because timing is everything. Facebook, are you going to pay for my continued security detail?

Peacock noted that Barnett's delayed response to the incident raised questions about his claims about being hacked. Perhaps, Peacock speculated, Barnett was trying to be provocative, only to realize he went too far. He notes that "[The] Barnett campaign made no mention of being hacked until being contacted by news media – no press releases, no mention of the breach on their website…nothing."

But Barnett is a novice politician, and it may be that his poor handling of the situation is nothing more than a newcomer's mistake. At this point, the incident raises more questions than answers.

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Cody Fenwick is a reporter and editor. Follow him on Twitter @codytfenwick.