Media Outlets Attack Jim Carrey For His Anti-Vax Twitter Tirade, But Is His Stance Really ‘Anti-Science’?

With the passing of California’s new vaccination law SB 277, Jim Carrey took to Twitter to make sure his 14 million fans knew exactly how he felt about the new legislation. Carrey is strongly opposed to the law, which forces all children enrolled in public or private schools in California to be vaccinated against all childhood diseases on the state’s prescribed vaccine schedule, regardless of parents’ religious and other personal beliefs. The law gives parents until July 1, 2016, to comply. The only children exempt from the vaccine schedule are children with specific medical conditions, such as immune system deficiencies, which are required to provide a doctor’s note which states the exemption reason. Carrey immediately took to Twitter after the signing of SB 277 to claim “greed trumps reason” and that citizens must stand together to stop “this corporate fascist.” However, it seems that Jim Carrey’s stance on the issue was not warmly received by many in the media who have called his views “dangerous,” “anti-science,” and “idiotic.”

NBC News reports that California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law SB 277 which requires that all school-aged children attending public or private school, as well as daycare, be vaccinated following the state’s vaccine schedule. No personal or religious exemptions will be accepted, and the only children exempt from the multiple jabs will be those with specific medical issues, such as immune deficiencies. A medical exemption will require a doctor’s note to be placed in the child’s school file. After the law was signed, Jim Carrey quickly took to Twitter to express his disapproval.

After the series of tweets, a number of people in the media blasted Carrey for his “anti-science” and “dangerous” stance, noting that Carrey is “completely wrong” about vaccines and that the vaccine legislation is a “victory” for California. Sean Illing with Salon is one member of the media who is not thrilled with Carrey’s stance. Illing calls Carrey an “imbecile,” “ignorant,” and “anti-science” in a piece with the headline “Jim Carrey, dangerous idiot.”

In the Salon piece, Illing attacks Carrey and even goes so far as to blame him, in part, for the Southern California measles outbreak.

“The measles outbreak in Southern California earlier this year, for instance, spread to six states; nearly 150 people were affected by it. Who’s responsible for that? The parents of children who refused to get vaccinated, despite being told that so doing endangers everyone in the surrounding community, share much of the blame. But the Jim Carreys of the world are also responsible. They have large platforms – people, unfortunately, listen when they speak. What they say matters.”

The measles outbreak is the only real life case example used in the Salon piece, so let us take a closer look. Are anti-vaxxers to blame for the “outbreak”? Are they putting the “public health” at risk? First, it is important to note that no deaths were reported from the outbreak. In total, 147 people were sickened with the CDC reporting patients with a measles rash. So is a rash a “public health” risk? Despite being told we were experiencing a “significant” outbreak, no one died and no one experienced a severe or life-threatening symptom from the dreaded measles. Though there are instances, mostly in the immune-compromised, where measles can cause significant health threats, the majority of healthy individuals experience minor symptoms and are able to move on with life. So is it accurate to say “public health” in a disease that is not life-threatening to the majority of the community?

In fact, despite numerous “outbreaks,” there has been zero reported deaths in the U.S. from measles in the past decade. Therefore, many parents are wondering why they are required to vaccinate their child against a disease that is so easily treated in today’s health system. Those opposing the SB 277 in California note that the law takes away parental rights and reduces religious freedom. However, writer Phil Plait with Slate notes that sometimes “rights must have limits” for the public good.

“I’m happy to discuss the ramifications of laws like this on the basis of parental rights—as a parent myself I have very strong feelings about those rights. I’m also something of a social libertarian, wanting most rights to lie with the people, and not the government. But I also know those rights must have limits, because people make mistakes and in some cases need to be regulated.”

What do you think? Should a government body be able to tell parents, despite personal or religious beliefs, that they must vaccinate a child? What type of medical authority should a government body be given for “the greater good”? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

[Image Credit: Getty Images / John Lamparski]