The family of an autistic boy is “pretty annoyed” with Jim Carrey for using the boy’s photo to accompany a Twitter rant against vaccinations, according to a report in Buzzfeed News.
On Wednesday, Carrey — known for his comedic acting and his scientifically illegitimate opposition to vaccination — began tweeting pictures of supposedly autistic children in distress. Those pictures were accompanied by text implying they were victims of vaccines.
When he tweeted out a picture of 14-year-old Alex Echols, the accompanying text read, “TOXIN FREE VACCINES, A REASONABLE REQUEST.” But Alex’s mother, Karen Echols, told BuzzFeed that Alex’s autism had nothing to do with vaccination. In fact, Alex’s condition is caused by tuberous sclerosis, a genetic condition that causes growths to develop on the brain. The condition is actually one of the few things that can be scientifically linked to autism.
“Jim Carrey has a huge platform — a huge following — and is misrepresenting my son’s image by attaching it to his anti-vax rant,” Karen Echols told Buzzfeed’s Virginia Hughes by email.
Carrey has since deleted the tweet and issued an apology.
I'd like to apologize to the Echols family and others for posting a pic of their kids w/o permission.I didn't mean to cause them distress.
— Jim Carrey (@JimCarrey) July 3, 2015
Several major United States cities recently saw an outbreak of measles — a once-eradicated disease — due in part to a resurgence of what many call “vaccine truthers.” Vaccine truthers subscribe to a conspiracy theory that vaccines cause autism, despite an overwhelming body of scientific literature that has discredited that link.
Carrey himself has been outspoken about opposing vaccines for a long time, but recently drew attention to himself with a series of rants on Twitter. Prior to tweeting Echols’ photo, he accused California Gov. Jerry Brown of “poisoning more children” and called him a “corporate fascist” for recently signing a law that eliminated vaccine exemptions for religious or personal reasons.
Carrey also dated Jenny McCarthy — arguably the face of the vaccine truther movement — from 2005 to 2010.