In the past I’ve defended a hell of a lot of people who’ve made idiotic statements or cracked crude jokes. It’s so easy to unleash hell on someone who says or does something offensive these days — to recruit millions to join in a frenzied pile-on and use that to tear a person’s life to shreds — that we should be careful about how we use the kind of power social media has given us. That said, if you make controversial comments or hold well-known beliefs that are diametrically opposed to the very mission of the company that’s paying you money, you can’t really blame that company if it decides to fire you — and you can’t really blame the public for bringing your beliefs to that company’s attention.
A few days ago, State Farm Insurance cancelled Rob Schneider’s policy, so to speak, which was only slightly less surprising than the fact that the company ever thought it was a good idea to resurrect a character he did 20 years ago on SNL in the first place. The reason its “Richmeister” commercial campaign was dropped had to do not with Schneider’s history of doing really shitty comedies like The Animal and Deuce Bigelow, but his history of vocally opposing childhood vaccinations. Schneider’s the guy who once compared vaccination requirements at schools to the Nuremberg laws and who actually said unironically, “The efficacy of these shots have not been proven. And the toxicity of these things—we’re having more and more side effects. We’re having more and more autism.”
Now if Rob Schneider had been recruited to pitch, say, toilet bowl cleaner, it wouldn’t much matter what his views on childhood vaccines were since unless you’re Rob Schneider you’re probably not drawing any direct link between your toilet bowl and autism. But seeing as how the very reason for State Farm’s existence is to make money off keeping you and your family safe and healthy, you can see where those views might become a problem. So, yeah, Schneider doesn’t get a pass on this. He deserves to be shown the door.
In response to being dropped, Schneider immediately went home and Googled “Freedom of Speech + Founding Fathers + Quote” and came up with this gem:
No, see, again, if you’re telling people to do something that’s incredibly unsafe not only for their children but for a hell of a lot of other people, the company you’re working for whose business model is built on keeping people as safe as possible gets to shit-can you because you’re embarrassing it. You should be embarrassing yourself, but since you’re Rob Schneider, and you made The Hot Chick, you’re obviously immune to that sort of thing. On the plus side, I guess this means you won’t need to be vaccinated against it.