How many times do we have to say this? The First Amendment does not mean that you are free from the consequences of your speech.
Friend and scientist Yvette d’Entremont (read her guest blog here!) started a new Facebook page called “Science Babe” a month ago. Recently, she pointed out that “actor” Rob Schneider was doing insurance company commercials while arguing against vaccinations. Others picked up on this and soon Schnedier was fired as a spokesman, because insurance companies like vaccinations — they save lives and save insurance companies lots of money.
Of course, people who do not understand how the Constitution works are screaming that his rights were violated and blah blah blah. It happens every time some celebrity loses their endorsement or, as I blogged about recently, when a bank teller was fired for lecturing customers about her religion during worktime.
You have every right to say whatever the hell you want to about vaccines. You can spout nonsense about the world being flat if you want to. No one has the right to stop you from doing that. In fact, Schneider can continue to spout his idiocy forever if he so chooses.
What you don’t have is the right to a job or a platform for your speech. A newspaper doesn’t have to print your opinion. A TV show can fire you if you are saying things that they disagree with (especially if it hurts their ratings). A school can fire you as a science teacher if you’re trying to teach your students creationism. Your freedom of speech is not violated in any of those incidences. You can continue to say whatever you want, just not with an audience provided by your former employer.
By the way, I’m thrilled for Yvette. We first met at a convention where we were both guests on a panel about science and how it is used and abused in court cases. According to various anti-vaccination blogs, she’s now part of the “pro-vaccine lobby”. Not bad for a Science Babe.