The subreddit r/HermanCainAward has almost 340,000 followers and “awards” anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers and those who believe Covid is a hoax with an award when they are admitted to hospital with the virus.
It is named after Herman Cain – a Republican politician who died from Covid in July 2020 after attending a Donald Trump rally without wearing a mask.
According to the subreddit: “Nominees have made public declaration of their anti-mask, anti-vax, or Covid-hoax views, followed by admission to hospital for Covid. The Award is granted upon the nominee’s release from their Earthly shackles.”
When a person is “nominated” it means they have become ill and hospitalised with the virus. When they are “awarded” it means they have since died.
The group was created in September 2020 and was originally started to highlight people opposed to wearing masks but has now evolved to highlight anti-vaxxers who succumb to the virus because of their decision.
Many of the posts on the page are screenshots taken from the social media accounts of anti-vaxxers, though personal information like their name or username is always blurred out to comply with Reddit rules.
The title of one post read: “Like father, like son. Father Blue and Junior Pink were anti mask, anti vax conspiracy theorists. Father awarded in April. Son nominated since late July. Libs in shambles.”
While predominantly focussing on the unvaccinated, the subreddit also highlights people who have changed their minds about receiving the vaccine.
One post was upvoted almost nine thousand times after the person claimed the subreddit had “kicked some common sense in” and encouraged them to get vaccinated after being hesitant. They earned the “Immunized to Prevent Award”.
The subreddit has faced criticism for celebrating deaths as a form of “public shaming”.
Medical reporters Damian McNamara and Kelly Wairimu Davis wrote on WebMD that it “turned death notices from public announcements into a cudgel for public shaming of sorts”.
Slate writer Lili Loofbourow also said the subreddit is “a place where deaths are celebrated” and “it’s more horrible than satisfying because the horror isn’t going to stop”.
Despite the criticism, members and moderators of the group insist they wish there were no need for this subreddit.
A moderator for the group told Insider: “If you don’t want to see yourself or your family in the Herman Cain Awards, it’s easy. Go get vaccinated.”
They continued, explaining that the subreddit had been “an emotional outlet born out of frustration” adding, “emotions aren’t always black or white, good or bad”.