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State Representative Russ Diamond (R-102) stoked a familiar sense of controversy using his social media presence over the past week through a chain of events that began with a Monday, Aug. 23, Facebook post in which the Lebanon County legislator appeared to suggest mandatory vaccinations were akin to rape, albeit without actually saying that word.
More than two dozen individuals chimed in on the post, suggesting that “rape” was indeed the word that Rep. Diamond had in mind.
One commenter, Kath Gehman, said:
Rape? Really people? Unless you are ACTUALLY talking about RAPE, pick your words more carefully.
Diamond responded to Gehman: “In every other area of law, the body’s surface is a bright line of demarcation. This is no different.”
Diamond did not appear to dispute the “rape” characterization directly, either by clarifying his meaning or offering an alternative interpretation for the graphic verbiage.
On Aug. 25, the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR) issued a statement seeking an apology from Diamond and removal of the post.
“We are outraged by Rep. Diamond’s statement comparing rape to vaccines,” said PCAR. “Comparing other topics to sexual assault to make tasteless jokes minimizes victims’ experiences.”
Contacted by email, Diamond said that the PCAR statement was disingenuous and that “the post was a statement about our right to control what happens to our own bodies.” However, he did not answer whether the post was an allusion to rape.
Questioned in a followup email specifically whether he meant to compare mandatory vaccinations with rape or sodomy, albeit while stopping short of actually saying those words, Diamond said “other people went there” and his post did not.
Acknowledging again that he did not say the literal words, Diamond was asked whether he disputed that his post was an allusion to rape or sodomy.
Diamond again rejected the question, and suggested that the post was consistent with others on his profile page.
“I post about the vaccine and how it should always be a personal choice,” said Diamond.
“I have two bills – HB261 and HB262 – about this topic.”
In July 2020, Diamond faced a similar public outcry over a meme he tweeted equating the wearing of a mask by a child to an act of child abuse.
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