The celebrity anti-vaxxer brigade has a new member.
Rob Schneider, of Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo and The Hot Chick fame, has taken to Twitter to air his grievances with the hotly debated California immunization bill. Since his first tweet in April, a retweet of an article shared by vocal anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., he has posted 464 times. Recently, he’s been sharing as many as 10 tweets a day, scolding California state legislators in all-caps and sharing famous quotes about political tyranny.
The California bill in question, SB 276, would make it more difficult to obtain medical exemptions to vaccines without approval from a public-health officer. As The New York Times reports, California (along with Maine, Mississippi, and West Virginia) is one of four states that prohibits parents from choosing not to vaccinate their children for personal reasons. Doctors are legally permitted to provide exemptions if there is a medical reason, but if SB 276 passes, they will no longer retain that right.
In a testament to his passionate opposition to SB 276, Schneider challenged Democratic California state assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (who coauthored a 2015 bill eliminating personal beliefs vaccine exemptions) to a debate.
On Thursday he wrote on Twitter, “Dear @LorenaSGonzalez respectfully, either accept my offer to debate you on the merits of sb276 or refuse and kill this awful piece of Government OverReach and admit that the PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN and want to KEEP MEDICAL DECISIONS MADE BY PARENTS NOT FACELESS BUREAUCRATS.”
Based on the comedian’s liberal use of Caps Lock, I can’t say I blame Gonzalez for not taking him up on his offer.
As it turns out, Schneider and Gonzalez have a years-long history of feuding. In response to Schneider’s pushback against her 2015 bill, Gonzalez tweeted a photo of herself on the phone with the caption, “I’m calling back @RobSchneider to discuss the FACTS around #measles #immunizations and our #CAleg bill.” This isn’t even the first time he has challenged her to a debate. As highlighted in a 2017 John Oliver segment, she once responded to the actor’s foolish request on Facebook, writing, “Let’s be honest…that is 20 minutes of my life I’ll never get back arguing that vaccines don’t cause autism with Deuce Bigalow, male gigolo.”
Lorena Gonzalez’s family seems to at least have a sense of humor about the drama. With a note of humorous disbelief, her daughter tweeted last week, “I hope whoever marries me is okay marrying into a blood feud against….@RobSchneider??”
The barrage of angry anti-vaccine tweets is not out of character for Schneider, who has a laundry list of other controversial moments from throughout his career (including, but not limited to, repeatedly wearing an unfortunate patterned newsboy cap). Though there are prominent anti-vaxxers on both sides of the aisle, Schneider has discussed his switch from Democrat to “conservative independent” at length.
In an interview with Larry King in 2017, Schneider said, “There is a push and a constriction on freedom that is coming from the left now.” He profoundly stated that America has some imperfections, citing inequity, poverty, and race, to which King bluntly replied, “All of those are things liberals stand up for.” The segment then devolved, predictably, into an anti-vaccine diatribe.
Of all of Schneider’s characters, from the Richmeister on Saturday Night Live to his numerous racist portrayals of guys with accents who are also friends with Adam Sandler, paranoid anti-vaxxer is undeniably his least funny role to date.