After writing several articles exposing Larry Cook’s harmful group Stop Mandatory Vaccinations last week, Cook decided to aim at my autistic son. Instead of refuting the allegations I laid out in my articles, Cook tried to hit me right below the knees and accused me of causing my son’s autism with vaccinations. His group of minions responded in typical fashion with name-calling, insults, and gave applause to their guru for insulting a child with Autism.
In his group, Larry shared my article “Ethan Lindenberger’s Mother Admits They Aren’t Speaking.” Larry wasn’t angry about the content of the article but took issue with the fact that I used his photo. Sadly, Larry doesn’t realize that anyone can use photos posted publically on Facebook.
Per Facebook’s Statements of Rights and Responsibilities, “When you publish content or information using the Public setting, it means that you are allowing everyone, including people off of Facebook, to access and use that information, and to associate it with you (i.e., your name and profile picture).”
None of that mattered to Larry; he used the photo as an opportunity to bash my son and me. In the update he shared in his group, Larry wrote,
“Oh, ain’t that sweet – Katie Joy grabbed my photo for her trash talk story. Well, now I know why Katie hates anti-vaxxers: her child has autism. She’s turned to yellow journalism to feed her anger. Face it Katie, we probably know what happened to your child and that pisses you off to no end.”
After he shared his views about me, the group swarmed to defend Larry and trash me.
None of these behaviors surprises me as a writer. I’ve been hit with many insults over the years. However, the fact that he went after my child speaks to Larry’s inability to refute any of the claims I made in my articles.
My articles have outlined his exploitation of the group by soliciting them for donations, selling his books, promoting his seminars, and shilling his supplements. By Larry’s admission, he targeted women ages 22-55 in all of his Facebook ads. His choice to target women shows that he is only interested in manipulating, persuading, and scamming mothers that want to do the best for their children.
Here is a screenshot of Larry’s recent advertising campaign on Facebook. His target audience was ONLY women.
Not only have I pointed out his strategy to manipulate women, but I’ve also discussed how he uses images of babies and falsely associates their deaths with vaccines. His recent campaign is an example of the tactics he uses to elicit fear and panic in people about immunizations.
Another article I wrote titled, “Anti-Vaccine Facebook Group Spreads Propaganda about Measles,” outlined a video that Larry made about the measles. In the video, two naturopaths wrongly state that the measles is a benign childhood illness. The “doctors” minimize the side effects and assert that recovery from the virus is as simple as laying in bed for a week.
When Larry shared the video with the group he wrote the following:
Larry also started a GoFundMe campaign in the middle of the Washington measles outbreak to “help families” affected by the measles. But he changed the campaign days later to raise money to stop ‘mandatory vaccinations’ across the country.
Last week Facebook announced changes to the platform regarding vaccine misinformation. Facebook stated they would no longer allow pages to promote vaccine conspiracies. Larry has used the boost feature on posts for years. By advertising misleading articles, Larry has managed to grow his page and group to over 100,000 people each.
Now that Larry has lost his cash cow and ability to promote, he’s choosing to lash out at me. Not once has he refuted or contacted me to retract the information I have posted. I have been able to back-up all my claims through screenshots and Larry’s words.
Because he can’t deny anything that I’ve written, he needs to go after my character and child. His behavior is not indicative of a man that is innocent of wrongdoing. Larry is gaslighting and moving the goalposts to prevent his followers from learning the truth.
Larry utilizes strategies consistent with most cult leaders by fostering a “us vs. them” mentality. To create loyalty within his group, Larry needs to devalue the outsider. He trashes my position because it enables him to reinforce the beliefs of the group. Within the group, Larry avoids dissent and blocks or bans people that speak out against him.
By changing the subject from my article topic to my motivations, Larry reinforces his ego and stature within the group. He views me as an outsider that is attacking the group. My articles are a threat to him and his mission to control people. By devaluing and minimizing me, Larry can detract the group from the content within the articles.
He shared the article because he knew that the report was circulating on Facebook. By posting the article, he controls the message and influences people before they have a chance to read the content.
Larry doesn’t know what fuels my advocacy for vaccinations nor does he know if I’m angry about my son’s autism. Instead, Larry plants that idea into the minds of his group. Therefore, I am discredited as a writer because I am the vindictive, angry, and an irrational mother. Through this strategy, anything written by me about Larry should be viewed as invalid and a smear campaign against him by the group.
If Larry wants to know why I advocate for vaccines or work to expose charlatans like him, all he has to do is ask me. However, he’s never reached out to me through any of my MANY social media platforms.
Larry can make me the bad guy all he wants. He can turn me into an angry and irrational woman. I’m fine with all of that, and none of his words will change what I write about him.
For the record, I’m not angry that my son is autistic. My son is pretty amazing, and I’m lucky to be his mother.
Watch my Video response to Larry:
*Katie Joy is a columnist and hosts Without A Crystal Ball on Patheos Non-Religious Channel. She writes articles on parenting, disability advocacy, debunking pseudoscience, atheism, and crimes against women and children.
She co-hosts the YouTube show, “The Smoking Nun,” with Kyle Curtis. The show airs weekly and tackles pseudoscience, current events, and crime stories.
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