A Kentucky Republican state lawmaker has come under fire for a now-deleted tweet that appeared to compare COVID-19 vaccination efforts to the Jonestown massacre.
State Rep. Regina Huff, who heads the state House education committee, tweeted photos of cult leader Jim Jones and White House medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci on Tuesday, the Louisville Courier Journal reported.
Jones’ photo includes a textbox saying, “I persuaded over 900 people to drink my Koolaid” — a reference to the hundreds of people in Jones’ cult who drank poisoned Kool-aid and died in a mass murder-suicide in 1978. Next to it, Fauci’s image simply reads, “Amateur.”
“Some will cavil, they will not be able to help themselves,” Huff tweeted alongside the image, the news outlet, which posted a screen grab of the tweet before it was deleted, reported.
Huff explained herself in a second tweet that “I did indeed delete the tweet because of the vulgarity within the comments” — which was also deleted.
The original tweet was “representative of the efforts gearing up to mandating and controlling citizens,” she wrote. “Our students need to be in school, with parents deciding if they wear a mask.”
In a third tweet, Huff wrote that her first post was “not a reference to vaccinations at all,” but about “mandates and efforts to control.”
“I don’t have any problem whatsoever with vaccinations. It is each individuals right to choose to vaccinate or not.”
The tirade came as Kentucky school districts consider requiring masks at schools, and if any mask rules need to apply to all students, including those who have been vaccinated, the news outlet reported.
Kentucky has seen COVID-19 cases steadily rise recently as the delta variant became the dominate strain around the country; several Kentucky counties were in the state’s “red zone” as of Thursday, including two that Huff represents, the news outlet reported.
As one-third of the country’s eligible population remains unvaccinated and the delta variant continues to spread, the seven-day average for daily new cases rose over the past two weeks to more than 37,000 on Tuesday, up from less than 13,700 on July 6, the news outlet reported, citing data from Johns Hopkins University.
Huff’s tweets sparked calls for her to resign, as well as jokes about Kentucky’s low performance in national education rankings, the news outlet reported.
“If the Education chair wanted to appeal to her base, fine, but Twitter is global – businesses, families, & anyone else considering Kentucky sees this stuff,” James Thomas, an education professor at the University of Kentucky, tweeted.
“We need to stop electing those that damage the ‘optics’ of Kentucky. I do not care about party, I do care about KY.”