Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson faced the consequences of his actions today at a COVID-19 town hall in Siloam Springs where he was heckled for urging his constituents to get the vaccine. As he and state Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero took questions and tried to explain the science behind the shot and how it’s safe and effective, anti-vaxxers interrupted the event with loud yelling and hijacked the audience’s microphone to spew the various COVID-denial conspiracy theories to him.

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Hutchinson recently had to admit that he regrets signing a ban on mask mandates into law after his state was overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases, with hospitals rapidly running out of beds, as high rates of unvaccinated residents fell ill to the delta variant of the virus. The Arkansas vaccination rate for those 12 and up currently sits at just under 44 percent.

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A video spreading on Reddit’s “Public Freakout” forum shows Hutchinson at the town hall getting shouted down as soon as he says “COVID is real.” As he tried to shush the hecklers, they repeatedly called him liars. They were again unhappy when he said that more people would die “if we don’t increase the vaccination rates.”

“So it sounds like some people want low vaccination rates,” he says to cheering and applause.

But our favorite part comes next, when Hutchinson tries to get a woman to stop talking over him and then literally says “no, don’t give her the mic” as the woman’s voice gets significantly louder because someone gave her the mic.

The rest of the video shows the anti-vaxxer crowd going through their laundry list of conspiracy theories and falsehoods, including hits like “what’s the vaccine” and “there’s aborted fetuses in the vaccine.” For the record, there are not aborted fetuses in the vaccine. The last woman then declares that we should all be trusting experimental treatments for COVID-19 instead of what they consider to be an experimental vaccine.

Isn’t there something people say about an ounce of prevention? Anyway.

According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, other attendees of the town hall spoke in favor of the vaccine and told stories about how overcrowded local hospitals are creating dangerous situations both for COVID patients and people who need medical help for other reasons. Hutchinson, though he seemed irritated in the video, later gave a statement in support of ignorant people yelling ignorance at him.

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“I think it’s the essence of democracy whenever you have the government being asked tough questions and health advisers of the important issues of the day,” he said. “Whether they are opposed or not they had the opportunity to speak out today.”

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*First Published: August 13, 2021, 1:04 pm