On Monday, we looked at a bill (designated as A416) that had been sitting idly in the New York State Assembly for several years which, if passed into law, would effectively create internment camps for unvaccinated residents of the state. A number of outlets picked up on this news and it began creating quite a stir, with reporters questioning the bill’s sponsor, Assemblyman Nick Perry of Flatbush. This turned out to be precisely the sort of attention that the Assemblyman didn’t want to receive. He began lashing out at people he claimed were spreading a “fire of lies and mistruths.” But he then turned around and pulled the bill, putting an end to the debate… at least for now. (Spectrum News)
A six-year-old bill that fueled false COVID-related conspiracy theories was yanked this week for consideration by its sole sponsor, Assemblyman Nick Perry.
The Brooklyn Democrat in a statement posted to Twitter on Monday afternoon wrote the measure was being yanked in order to end the false claims that have once again spread online for the second time in the last year.
“To deprive these individuals the ability to use this issue for fuel to spread their fire of lies and mistruths, I will take the appropriate legislative action to strike the bill, remove it from the calendar, thus ending all consideration, and actions that could lead to passage into law,” Perry said. “Get vaccinated and stay safe.”
Perry had initially introduced the measure in 2015 in response to concerns over the spread of the Ebola virus and after a nurse who was positive for the virus refused to quarantine.
The remarkable part of this story is Perry’s insistence that all of the outrage over his bill was the product of “lies and mistruths.” If you go back and read the portions of the bill we highlighted on Monday, the bill proposed doing precisely what everyone was saying it would do. While the legislation didn’t use the specific term “internment camps,” there’s really no other suitable description for what he was proposing. Putting people in “medical facilities” where they are not allowed to leave and potentially forcibly vaccinating them is absolutely nothing short of an internment camp.
Perhaps more alarming was the way that Spectrum News, one of the largest local media outlets in upstate New York, unquestioningly jumped on the bandwagon, saying that the bill had “fueled false COVID-related conspiracy theories.” Since when is publishing and commenting on an existing piece of legislation a “conspiracy theory?”
That’s not to say that there wasn’t some incorrect information floating around regarding A416. One blog had originally claimed that the legislature would vote on the bill on January 5th. That article has since been corrected, but January 5 is simply the first day of the next legislative session. As I was careful to point out on Monday, the bill has never been scheduled for a vote and has never attracted a co-sponsor.
Some people got their facts even more incorrect. Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene gave a speech where she claimed that the New York legislature had already passed the bill. I don’t get the impression that she was deliberately making things up but instead fell victim to an online version of the telephone game, where increasingly distorted versions of a news story make the rounds.
Reuters attempted to fact-check some of the claims being made and declared much of the coverage to be false. Their reasoning (such as it is) was based on the fact that Perry originally introduced the bill in 2015 in response to the Ebola outbreak that was going on at the time, so it wasn’t about COVID. They also noted that the legislation didn’t mention the word “unvaccinated.”
Both of those things are technically true, but it’s Reuters that’s doing the misleading here. The Ebola outbreak has been over for years, but Perry kept reintroducing the bill at the beginning of each legislative session since 2015. Why? Because it could apply to any widespread contagion, including COVID. As to the second claim, the legislation does not contain the term “unvaccinated” but it does contain the word “vaccination.” It’s found in the portion of the bill which empowers the people in charge of the detention centers to “require an individual who has been exposed to or infected by a contagious disease to complete an appropriate, prescribed course of treatment, preventive medication or vaccination.”
In any event, the bill appears to be officially dead, at least for now. But in its wake, it’s leaving a series of lies and smears from politicians and media outlets who are desperately trying to fend off accusations of attempted, brutal authoritarian control by one Democrat from the state assembly. That bill was written precisely as we described it here and the record remains on the state legislature’s website for all to see.