Rob Schneider on California Bill AB 2109: The latest celebrity antivaccinationist to make a fool of himself

Remember California Bill AB 2109? I’ve written about it at least a couple of times before. In fact, for some reason, the comment section of this post on AB 2109 suddenly come alive again a couple of days ago, with antivaccinationists infiltrating it, much to the annoyance of my regular commenters. It turns out that the reason was that a couple of days ago AB 2109 came up for discussion in the California Senate Health Committee (and passed to be sent out to the full Senate for a vote), after having passed the California House a couple of months ago. I also now know why antivaccinationists infested that comment thread. Believe it or not, when I Googled “California Bill AB 2109” last night, my post actually appeared at the top of the search!

Bow before the power of Orac! Or something. At least I know that my “Insolence” on the topic is placing high in Google searches—for now. No wonder the antivaccine cranks are finding my humble post!

My well-deserved hubris aside, though (wait, isn’t “well-deserved hubris” an oxymoron?), our very own regular commenter lilady* has mentioned some of the craziness that’s accompanied the testimony for the bill. I can’t link directly to her comment, but here’s a brief account:

“I oppose medical nazism based on voodoo science” — chiropractor

One of the MIND founders pounding on vaccine injury

“Unconstitutional” — Christian Scientist

Oh geez this is the same as the last hearing.

Yep, same as it ever was. On the other hand, there was a bit of unintentional humor injected into the craziness surrounding the proceedings. I’ve learned of a new celebrity antivaccinationist, one whom I hadn’t known about before. For example, I’ve known about Jenny McCarthy (of course!), Mayim Bialik, Charlie Sheen, and others. I didn’t know, however, that Rob Schneider was antivaccine, too. After watching the video I just linked to (unfortunately I can’t embed it), all I can say is: With friends like these, antivaccinationists don’t need enemies.

I also hadn’t realized that apparently Rob Schneider is big in progressive politics. Who’d have thought it? I also hadn’t realized that he also appears to embody the stereotype of the crunchy liberal who is antivaccine. Seriously. Look at the video of his interview about AB 2109. All the typical antivaccine talking points are there. Schneider starts out talking about how he’s for “parental rights” and against “government coercion” (as if requiring something resembling true informed consent before a parent is allowed to claim a philosophical exemption, which is all AB 2109 does, is some sort of grave fascistic threat to democracy). He erroneously says that mandates are “illegal” even though the Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that they are not.

Amusingly (or sadly, depending on your point of view) Schneider even pulls a Godwin, likening vaccine mandates (or AB 2109—I’m not sure which) to the Nuremberg Laws**. I kid you not: The Nuremberg Laws. You might remember the Nuremberg Laws, which were passed by the Nazis in 1935. These laws stripped Jews of their German citizenship and forbade them from marrying (or even having sexual intercourse with) non-Jews, under pain of imprisonment with hard labor. They are widely viewed historically as one of the major steps towards the Holocaust because they eliminated many of the remaining existing legal protections for Jews. He then brings home the crazy by comparing vaccine mandates to laws in the early 20th century mandating sterilization of the mentally retarded and people with mental illnesses. Lest you think this is an anomaly, two days ago he took to Twitter with the following Tweet:

Because trying to make sure that parents who make a potentially damaging health decision about their child have at least been made aware of the potential adverse consequences of that decision is just like Nazi Germany. After all, the penalty is much like the Nazis’ favored methods of punishment: brutal prison, concentration camps, and execution (often by guillotine). Oh, wait. It’s not anything like that at all. All it says is that a child who doesn’t get all the mandated vaccinations or doesn’t have a valid religious or philosophical exemption can’t attend public school. Fascists! Nazis! Schneider doesn’t even understand what actually happened a couple of days ago. It wasn’t that AB 2109 passed. The bill was only approved by the California Senate Health Committee, which means that it will now go to the full Senate to be debated and voted on. If the Senate approves it, it will then go to the governor to be signed into law.

Next up, Schneider goes into a predictable (from an antivaccine standpoint) tirade about how doctors “won’t tell you both sides” because they’re told what to say by the pharmaceutical companies. He does go a bit off course, though, claiming that “when you and I were kids” we only got eight shots but that now kids get 70 shots. Yes, that’s right, 70 shots. It’s utterly ridiculous, and nearly twice the largest number of shots even estimated by antivaccine groups like Generation Rescue. After that, the stupid burns fast and furious as Schneider claims that there are no safety or efficacy studies for vaccines.

It’s at this point where he makes such an utterly brain dead anomaly to car seats. Yes, he actually seems to think that there should be a randomized clinical trial of car seats, as he actually says that for a car seat you’d have 1,000 crashes with the seat and 1,000 crashes without it “and you can compare.” After this, he trots out a call for an “vaccinated versus unvaccinated study,” apparently not understanding that such a study would be utterly unethical, claiming that pharmaceutical companies don’t want to do that “because it’s not what they want to hear.” Why? Because, according to him, “we’re having more and more side effects; we’re having more and more autism.”

He even trots out the tried-and-not-true antivaccine canard about mercury being the “second most toxic thing on this planet besides plutonium.”

But that’s not all. His rant is like an antivaccine canard greatest hits album. How dare we vaccinate babies against Hepatitis B when you can “only get it from intravenous drug use or sexual activity”? Yep, it’s there; he even calls vaccinating babies against hepatitis B “beyond ridiculous” and “criminal.” He calls AB 2109 “lunacy.”

And what is his recommendation for reading material? Randall Neustaedler’s The Vaccine Guide: Making an Informed Choice. I must admit, I had never heard of Neustaedler before, but it didn’t take very long for me to find his website, which reveals that he’s a homeopath and practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine (i.e., by definition a quack given that homeopathy is one of the purest forms of quackery there is). It didn’t take me much longer to find articles on his website about homeopathic vaccines and an article claiming that vaccines are “destroying our immune systems.” So what Schneider is relying upon for his information about vaccines is a book by a homeopath chock full of antivaccine misinformation, and that is how he advises parents to “become informed” so that they can make an “informed decision.”

A misinformed decison, more like it.

I know, I know. I probably shouldn’t get as annoyed by the antics of misinformed celebrities who think they know something about science and medicine on the basis of reading quack literature. It’s also true that no one expects the “makin’ copies” guy to be any more intelligent than Jenny McCarthy. However, unfortunately, celebrities matter. They influence people more than non-celebrities. They have the limelight, fame, access to the media, and money. Add to that the arrogance of ignorance, and there’s no telling how much damage some of them can do. One wonders how long it will be before Schneider starts showing up at Generation Rescue events. Maybe he already has.

In the meantime, look for the antivaccine craziness to ramp up as AB 2109 is sent to the full Senate for a vote.
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*I made a mistake here. It was Liz Ditz who said this, not lilady. Oh well. They’re both regular commenters and they’re both awesome. I guess that’s what happens when I’m in a hurry.

**It’s been pointed out to me that Schneider sounds as though he was probably saying that school vaccine mandates are against the Nuremberg Principles (erroneously conflating the Nuremberg Laws with the Nuremberg Principles, two very different things), not that he’s likening mandates to the Nuremberg Laws. This interpretation might well be correct, and I might have misheard. However, even if it is what Schneider was saying that would not render his analogy any less brain dead than if he were indeed likening school vaccine mandates to the Nuremberg Laws. The reason, of course, is that it is the very principles laid down in the Nuremberg Code to protect human research subjects, as well as in other documents such as the Belmont Report, that render the “vax vs. unvaxed” study whose absence Schneider laments so loudly and whose “need” he illustrates using his even more brain dead analogy comparing vaccines to car seats completely unethical. Moreover, since school vaccine mandates are not research, the Nuremberg Code doesn’t apply to them anyway. In other words, whichever interpretation of Schneider’s statement is the correct one, he’s illustrating what can only be described as thermonuclear-grade burning stupid. Think about it. Either Schneider is brainlessly pulling a Godwin, or he’s demonstrating a complete lack of understanding of what the Nuremberg Code is and says, as well as a complete lack of understanding of some very basic clinical trial ethics. (Take your pick.) Finally, Schneider clearly Godwinned the issue in his Tweet anyway. So my characterization of him as viewing school vaccine mandates as some sort of fascistic destruction of freedom stands as still accurate, and that doesn’t even take into account his likening vaccine mandates to eugenics laws 80 years ago mandating the sterilization of the mentally ill and mentally retarded.