Michael Hiltzik: Pulitzer winner says mocking anti-vaxxers' Covid deaths 'necessary'

'Mockery is not necessarily the wrong reaction to those who publicly mocked anti-Covid measures and encouraged others to follow suit,' the 69-year-old reporter wrote

                            Michael Hiltzik: Pulitzer winner says mocking anti-vaxxers' Covid deaths 'necessary'
Michael Hiltzik thinks the Covid deaths of unvaccinated people are 'teachable moments' (michaelhiltzik.com)

A Pultizer prize-winning journalist, Michael Hiltzik, has said that ridiculing the deaths of unvaccinated people is not a bad idea. In his column for the Los Angeles Times, Hiltzik especially mentioned the death of Orange County deputy district attorney Kelly Ernby, a staunch opposer of Covid-19 vaccines, who died after getting the infection.

The 46-year-old rising Republican star reportedly died on January 2 and her husband Axel Mattias Ernby has insisted that the tragedy happened because she refused to get jabbed. “She was NOT vaccinated. That's the problem,” her husband wrote in the comment section of a Facebook post.


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Orange County deputy district attorney Kelly Ernby died on Jan 2 (facebook/ Kelly Ernby for Assembly)

Who is Michael Hiltzik?

Hiltzik is a 69-year-old Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and author. According to his website, he’s “written for the Los Angeles Times for three decades, serving as a financial and political writer, investigative reporter, technology writer and editor, and foreign correspondent in Africa and Russia.”

He was honored with the prestigious award in 1999 “for articles exposing corruption in the entertainment industry". His other awards for excellence in reporting include the 2004 Gerald Loeb Award for outstanding business commentary and the Silver Gavel from the American Bar Association for outstanding legal reporting. He has also written a number of books that included ‘Iron Empires: Robber Barons, Railroads, and the Making of Modern America,’ ‘Big Science: Ernest Lawrence and the Invention that Launched the Military-Industrial Complex,’ and ‘A Death in Kenya: The Murder of Julie Ward’. 

Recently, he made news for writing a column for the LA times with a title that read, ‘Mocking anti-vaxxers’ COVID death is ghoulish, yes – but may be necessary’. In the piece, he wrote, “Mockery is not necessarily the wrong reaction to those who publicly mocked anti-COVID measures and encouraged others to follow suit, before they perished of the disease the dangers of which they belittled.”


Hiltzik then said, “Nor is it wrong to deny them our sympathy and solicitude, or to make sure it's known when their deaths are marked that they had stood fast against measures that might have protected themselves and others from the fate they succumbed to. There may be no other way to make sure that the lessons of these teachable moments are heard.”

Ernby had rallied against Covid-19 vaccines. In December, she gave a speech in Irvine, where she said, “There’s nothing that matters more than our freedoms right now.” She had also reportedly once said that “the vaccine is not the cure to Covid, and mandates won't work.” Soon after news of her death came out, many people began ridiculing her decision to not take the vaccine. “Here's an update on Kelly Ernby, a Republican Deputy DA in California who ran for the State Assembly in 2020, and who said, at a rally last month: ‘There’s nothing that matters more than our freedoms right now,’ and who recently tested positive for Covid. She's dead,” the anti-Trump group, Duty to Warn, wrote on Twitter.


A user tweeted, “This is where her story stops being about politics and is simply a human tragedy.” Another user said, “Play stupid games; win stupid prizes.” “She chose the hill she was willing to die on. All of the information and vaccine availability is out there. Anyone that is still unvaccinated is willfully doing so and knows the risk of their decision. This has become an every day occurrence and I refuse to care anymore,” the third user added.




Hiltzik has supported this kind of mockery as he stated, “As for whether a vaccination mandate is a slippery slope to more government control, as Ernby maintained, government mandates have been with us for untold decades. We require drivers to wear seat belts, cars to be equipped with air bags and drivers to observe speed limits and avoid pedestrians. We ban smoking in public places.” He added, “Obviously, the mandates exist because these diseases threaten not only infected persons themselves, but the community, meaning anyone they come in contact with. That's the folly of the anti-mandate argument: It places a perverse conception of individual 'freedom' in opposition to the communal interest. What's especially iniquitous about the anti-mandate and anti-vaccination arguments is the damage they are doing to America's public health system. Republicans like Ernby used COVID vaccines to turn public health into part of their partisan culture war. The consequences are pernicious. They can be measured in overwhelmed emergency rooms and intensive care units, in hospital staffs burned out or rendered missing in action because they've been infected.”

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