Publishing Op-Ed Was Irresponsible

Weavers Way Co-op, admirably, has devoted significant thought, care and resources toward protecting staff and shoppers during the pandemic. I was therefore surprised that the Co-op thought it was a responsible decision to publish a lengthy opinion piece in the October Shuttle (“Co-op Community Should be Open to Alternate Approaches to COVID”) encouraging members to come together to discuss “alternate” approaches to COVID-19 that are completely at odds with the scientific guidance coming from our public health authorities. 

Several social media platforms have put in place policies to reduce the spread of COVID-19 misinformation. They recognize that the public is best served when their platforms are not used to promote conspiracy theories and false information concerning public health and safety. Reading the Shuttle opinion piece, it’s clear that Weavers Way hasn’t a similar policy.

The piece accuses the media of promoting a COVID-19 “scare campaign,” claims that “the virus is no longer a threat,” and provides links to numerous websites and groups promulgating debunked conspiracies, an anti-vaccination agenda and arguments against mask wearing. The most appalling and ridiculous links in the piece were from notorious conspiracy-mongers Del Bigtree and Kelly Brogan, whose videos have been banned as COVID-19 misinformation on several social media platforms.

COVID-19 is disproportionately killing Black Philadelphians, so it’s ironic and disturbing that an opinion piece pedaling COVID-19 misinformation was published alongside articles promoting the Co-op’s recent racial justice efforts. Perhaps it’s Shuttle policy that all Co-op member opinions merit an airing. If so, I look forward to seeing more letters promoting “alternate” theories: “Some members of our community are saying a prominent politician is running a pedophilia ring out of the Co-op’s basement. Join us for a Zoom meeting to discuss!” 

— Adam Ornstein