Joseph Arthur has filed a $25 million anti-defamation lawsuit against the Los Angeles Times over a 2021 article he alleges labeled him an anti-vaxxer.
The article came after Arthur had posted a new song on his social media accounts titled "Stop the Shot" that included these lines — "So take me uptown, baby / I don’t want to make a fuss / And keep your graphene oxide out of me / Baby, I don’t want to rust" — that made reference to a debunked vaccine conspiracy theory. Arthur was interviewed for the article and called the song "jokey." More:
An advocate of fitness, wellness and homeopathic remedies — he recently documented a five-day water-only fast and a series of “dopamine fasts” — Arthur has gone so far as to use the term “segregation” while discussing the blowback that he and other vaccine-hesitant artists have been experiencing.
“If you say ‘segregation,’” Arthur says, “the woke crowd comes at you with knives out.”
Arthur, who’s tall and yogi-lean and wears his brown hair long, aligned the pro- and anti-vaccination camps with Nazis and Jews on a video on his Facebook page. He says forces are conspiring to muzzle questioners and “chastising them as evil or vile or below consideration — evil even worthy of total annihilation, disregard and disrespect. This is what Nazis did with the Jews when comparing them to vermin before rounding them up and taking them to camps.”
Rolling Stone reports that Arthur's lawsuit claims the August 10, 2021 Times article “was instantly understood to convey a defamatory meaning, including that Arthur is an anti-vaxxer, spreading disinformation," and "deliberately excluded and misrepresented Arthur’s position and falsely portrayed him as a radical anti-vaxxer, who spread disinformation and otherwise engaged in extreme behavior.”
The lawsuit goes on to say that Arthur told the Times that he wasn't an anti-vaxxer before the publication of the article, it also includes a text message to the reporter as proof, writing he was “not an anti vaxxer. I’m anti this experimental shot with no long term tests that is harming many and completely ineffective against the spread of the virus.” The CDC has said otherwise.
“The Article impugned Arthur’s professional integrity and exposed him to hatred, contempt, ridicule, or obloquy as someone who was against all vaccines,” the lawsuit says. “Publication caused him to be shunned and avoided. The Article severely injured Arthur in his occupation as a musician, leading directly to the cancelation of multiple gigs.”
While the lawsuit claims Arthur "has not made fraudulent statements about the COVID-19 vaccines on his Instagram, YouTube and Facebook accounts," Rolling Stone notes, "Instagram’s fact-checking feature labeled at least three posts on Arthur’s page published two months before the LA Times article as false."