(LOS ANGELES) — Jim Carrey has apologized to the family of a young autistic child after posting pictures of the boy without their permission during an extended Twitter rant about California’s new vaccine legislation.
The actor tweeted his mea culpa Thursday night, apologizing to the family of Alex Echols of Eugene, Oregon.
It all began Tuesday, when the 53-year-old actor and comedian went on a Twitter tirade about California’s new law that eliminates vaccine exemptions for personal or religious reasons.
Although the scientific consensus is that vaccines do not cause autism, and the well-known autism advocacy group Autism Speaks has been urging parents to vaccinate their children, Carrey remains part of a group of people who feel the ingredients in vaccines are potentially harmful.
In one of his tweets Wednesday, Carrey wrote, “A trillion dollars buys a lot of expert opinions. Will it buy you? TOXIN FREE VACCINES, A REASONABLE REQUEST!” and attached photos of distressed-looking children, including one boy crying with his arms behind his head.
That boy turned out to be Alex Echols, and his family was not at all happy to see it included in Carrey’s anti-vaccine rant.
The boy’s mother, Karen Echols, and aunt, Elizabeth Welch, responded on social media after seeing Alex’s photo.
Posting a copy of Carrey’s tweet on Instagram, Welch explained that although Alex does have autism, he was diagnosed with it before receiving any vaccinations. Alex was born with tuberous sclerosis, or TSC, she said, which can cause benign tumors to grow all over the body, including the brain. Many children with TSC have autism.
“I’m very disgusted and sickened that a celebrity would use a photo like this that was used in the first place to spread awareness of Tuberous Sclerosis to mock him and my sister for vaccinations,” Welch wrote on Instagram. “Even if that was not his intended outcome, it is what happened. Please spread this, and let’s try to get this tweet removed.”
Carrey did remove Alex’s picture and apologized, which was noted by the boy’s mother. His apology read, “I’d like to apologize to the Echols family and others for posting a pic of their kids w/o permission. I didn’t mean to cause them distress.”