A columnist with The Los Angeles Times has declared that it is acceptable to ridicule the unvaccinated Orange County deputy district attorney for dying of COVID-19, writing: ‘mockery is not necessarily the wrong reaction’.
Michael Hiltzik, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and author, on Monday turned his attention to the death of Kelly Ernby, 46.
Ernby, a rising Republican star, died on January 2 of COVID-19.
Her husband, Axel Mattias Ernby, has since denounced his wife’s choice to spurn the vaccination, and rally against vaccine mandates.
‘She was NOT vaccinated. That’s the problem,’ he said, according to screenshots of his comments shared on social media.
Her death was greeted with derision on social media, and Hiltzik said it was appropriate.
‘Mockery is not necessarily the wrong reaction to those who publicly mocked anti-COVID measures and encouraged others to follow suit, before they perished of the disease the dangers of which they belittled,’ he wrote.
Kelly Ernby, 46, died of COVID-19 on January 2. She is pictured pre-pandemic, in November 2019, speaking against vaccine mandates in California, arguing that compelling vaccinations against chicken pox and measles were an infringement of liberties. She continued the argument with COVID vaccinations, arguing that they were unlawful
Michael Hiltzik, a LA Times columnist, said that mockery of Ernby’s death was justified
‘Nor is it wrong to deny them our sympathy and solicitude, or to make sure it’s known when their deaths are marked that they had stood fast against measures that might have protected themselves and others from the fate they succumbed to.
‘There may be no other way to make sure that the lessons of these teachable moments are heard.’
Ernby spoke at a rally against COVID vaccine mandates at the Irvine City Hall on December 4. The event was hosted by the Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine chapters of the conservative group Turning Point USA.
‘There’s nothing that matters more than our freedoms right now,’ she said, according to the Daily Titan.
Ernby had long railed against all vaccination mandates, stating pre-pandemic that they were unnecessary and an infringement of liberty.
California requires K-12 pupils to have as many as 20 doses of immunizations against polio, measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough, diphtheria, hepatitis and chicken pox.
‘I don’t think the government should be involved in mandating what vaccines people are taking,’ she said, asked about a proposal to eliminate the waiver for vaccinations on ‘personal belief’, in November 2019.
‘If the government is going to mandate vaccines, what else will they mandate?’
Ernby, 46, was a California deputy district attorney and rising Republican star before she died from complications of COVID
In August, she posted a statement on her Facebook page supporting Huntington Beach firefighters who were opposing a vaccine mandate.
‘The vaccine is not the cure to Covid, and mandates won’t work,’ she wrote.
As news of her death spread, many crowed about her actions.
The anti-Trump group Duty to Warn tweeted: ‘Here’s an update on Kelly Ernby, a Republican Deputy DA in California who ran for the State Assembly in 2020, and who said, at a rally last month: ‘There’s nothing that matters more than our freedoms right now,’ and who recently tested positive for Covid. She’s dead.’
One woman said: ‘Orange County Deputy DA Kelly Ernby dead from Covid at age 46. This didn’t have to happen.
‘Even before the pandemic, Ernby was an anti-vaccine activist. Once the pandemic hit, ‘Ernby remained an ardent and vocal opponent of COVID-19 vaccine mandates.”
Another man noted: ‘Prominent anti-vax res dead of Covid-19? There have been some others …’
He then listed the radio hosts and prominent activists who have died of COVID.
‘Deputy District attorney Kelly Ernby, orange country California in great health 46, dies from Covid due to antivax position for freedom,I bet she feels pretty free right now,’ said another.
‘Honestly if your freedom is so fragile that wearing a mask or being asked to get vaxxed scares u U R dead.’
Another added: ‘At age 46, Kelly Ernby had all the opportunities to get vaccinated!
‘Now that she is dead, maybe, this will be an eye opening to those who are still following her deadly path!
‘Was all about her freedom but unfortunately, she got the freedom of graveyard!’
Hiltzik said that their mockery was warranted.
‘As for whether a vaccination mandate is a slippery slope to more government control, as Ernby maintained, government mandates have been with us for untold decades. We require drivers to wear seat belts, cars to be equipped with air bags and drivers to observe speed limits and avoid pedestrians. We ban smoking in public places,’ he argued.
‘Obviously, the mandates exist because these diseases threaten not only infected persons themselves, but the community, meaning anyone they come in contact with.
‘That’s the folly of the anti-mandate argument: It places a perverse conception of individual ‘freedom’ in opposition to the communal interest.’
He said that the impact of Ernby’s rhetoric was deeply dangerous.
‘What’s especially iniquitous about the anti-mandate and anti-vaccination arguments is the damage they are doing to America’s public health system,’ he wrote.
‘Republicans like Ernby used COVID vaccines to turn public health into part of their partisan culture war.
‘The consequences are pernicious. They can be measured in overwhelmed emergency rooms and intensive care units, in hospital staffs burned out or rendered missing in action because they’ve been infected.’
Ernby’s husband lamented his wife’s decision.
Kelly Ernby’s husband Axel appeared to criticize his wife’s choice to stay unvaccinated in a Facebook comment
‘She was NOT vaccinated. That’s the problem,’ he replied on a comment thread about his wife
Her husband Axel is a self-employed management consultant in Huntington Beach
Ernby, center, decried vaccine mandates at a Turning Point USA rally at Irvine City Hall just a month ago
Ernby’s friend Ben Chapman, the chairman of the Greater Costa Mesa Republicans, also confirmed on Facebook that Ernby was not vaccinated.
‘My friend was not vaccinated and no one of credible source is making the claim she passed due to being vaccinated,’ Chapman wrote on Tuesday.
‘Her husband and I have openly stated that she was not vaccinated. However, the left is making this political stating we, Republicans, are saying she passed due to being vaccinated. So far from the truth. Stop spreading lies!’
Ernby urged the crowd at the Turning Point USA rally last month to unite and fight for their beliefs against vaccine mandates.
She had been an outspoken critic of vaccine mandates since before the pandemic. In 2019 she railed against a state law proposing new vaccine requirements for schoolchildren.
Ernby compared the current political division to the 1960s fight against socialism.
‘Our government for the people and by the people is not going to exist without action of the people,’ Ernby said.
Ben Chapman, chairman of the Greater Costa Mesa Republicans, posted about Ernby’s death
He’s since also confirmed that she wasn’t vaccinated in a post on Facebook
Ernby is survived by her husband Axel, who is self-employed as a management consultant in Huntington Beach, and her dog Nixon.
Ernby was born to Navy veteran parents and grew up in San Diego, according to the Los Angeles Times.
She got a law degree from the University of San Diego School of Law and was recruited to join the Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher law firm in Irvine.
The Huntington Beach resident worked as an Orange County deputy district attorney for 10 years specializing on in environmental and consumer law.
She first joined local politics in 2020 when she ran for state Assembly in the 74th District challenging Newport Beach Mayor Diane Dixon, a fellow Republican, to replace Cottie Petrie-Norris, the freshman Democratic incumbent.
The self-proclaimed political outsider earned endorsements from several local politicians but lost in a close race. She continued to search for her spot in politics getting involved in the county Republican Party as the precinct chairman.
Ernby became an elected Orange County GOP central committee member later in 2020. She was midway into the four-year term at the time of her passing.
The 46-year-old fought against vaccine mandates even before the COVID pandemic dragged the issue into the national spotlight.
Ernby, left on December 4, fought against vaccine mandates even before the COVID pandemic
Ernby, a vaccine mandate critic before COVID, is survived by her husband Axel, right, and her dog Nixon
Ernby was a strong vocal opponent of vaccine mandates and was not jabbed herself
Ernby’s last Facebook post (pictured) shows her celebrating the Christmas holiday with Axel and Nixon while honoring her mother who passed away
‘She was very passionate about her love for politics, for America and the Republican Party,’ said Jon Fleischman, former executive director of the California Republican Party and a longtime Orange County GOP activist, according to the Los Angeles Times.
He was shocked by her ‘sudden’ passing and explained that the two planned to meet later this week to discuss another state Assembly run.
‘I found her to be funny and generous,’ he said. ‘She quickly became part of the fabric of our party. We’re really going to miss her. It’s very sad.’
Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer expressed his sorrow in a statement: ‘The Orange County district attorney’s office is utterly heartbroken by the sudden and unexpected passing of Deputy Dist. Atty. Kelly Ernby.’
‘Kelly was an incredibly vibrant and passionate attorney who cared deeply about the work that we do as prosecutors — and deeply about the community we all fight so hard to protect.’
He also remembered his ‘incredibly vibrant and passionate’ colleague in a touching Twitter thread.
Orange County Supervisor Don Wagner also memorialized his colleague online. ‘Kelly was an outstanding public servant and an even better person,’ he said on Twitter.
Ernby was also strong voice the in Governor Gavin Newsom’s recall election, which he won with 60 percent of the vote. She openly opposed him and strongly backed Larry Elder.
Much of her dislike of Newsom came from his strong stance on COVID vaccine mandates and closures.
‘I don’t like the fact that he is shutting down our churches, our schools, our businesses, and that people have rights and liberties that he is not protecting,’ she told the Costa Mesa Brief ahead of the recall election.