Shrek and Pirates Of The Caribbean screenwriter Terry Rossio has apologised after likening being called an anti-vaxxer to being called the N-word.
The Oscar-nominated scribe used the racial epithet as he hit out at another writer who had backed the purchase of vaccine kits from UNICEF to help vulnerable children.
Writer Julia Benson shared a “brilliant” Reddit post, which encouraged people to donate vaccinations for children in the name of their anti-vaccination relatives.
— Julie Benson (@TheJulieBenson) November 23, 2018
“I’m not saying you should buy it and then send a card to an anti-vax relative saying you’ve provided lifesaving vaccinations in their name, but actually that’s exactly what I’m saying,” the post read.
But in response, Rossio made a rather far-fetching comparison.
“My heart goes out to all the parents of vaccine damaged children, who have to not only endure the sadness of their loss, but also the vitriol of ill-informed and insensitive people (such as those here),” he wrote.
“‘Anti-Vax is equivalent to calling someone a n***** and makes as little sense.”
But Rossio has now backed down after receiving a huge backlash.
“In a recent Twitter post, arguing against stereotyping and hate speech, I referenced the ‘n-word’ (the actual word) as an example of what not to do. That was a mistake. I am sorry. I now understand that the word has no place in any conversation, ever,” he wrote on Twitter.
“You can’t make a point against hate speech and reference actual words of hate speech. That was insensitive and ignorant. I am immediately deleting the post to remove that toxic word from the internet, where it should never appear in any context.As the mistake was mine alone, this apology is also mine alone. A deeply felt apology to all. I continue to stand against hate speech and dehumanizing labels in any form.”
Rossio’s response immediately sparked a huge backlash from figures including fantasy writer Jeffrey Grubb, who told him to “eat shit”.
“God, this is such a good point. I remember how American founders and citizens enslaved vaccine skeptics for decades. And then, even after freeing them, the government enshrined laws to marginalize vaccine deniers and to deny them wealth and opportunity. That’s just history,” wrote Grubb.
“Making that comparison would only be offensive if, let’s say, vaccine deniers were just being mocked like every other fringe idea ever. And also if vaccine deniers had every opportunity to perform the peer-reviewed research to prove their notions.
“But, of course, we all know that this isn’t just the typical societal quality control that every other idea must go through. And who among us hasn’t been to a public whipping of vaccine deniers who try to perform even the most basic research? ‘Oh, and finally: eat shit, Terry’.”
Rossio added: “Do you realize that you are using the equivalent of the n-word in promoting memes that tag people as anti-vax? Do you realize that the same collectivist stereotyping lies behind belittling any group with a label? Do you have no feelings for vaccine damaged kids and parents?”
Rossio joins a group of high profile figures including Jim Carrey, Jenna McCarthy, and Charlie Sheen who have been outed as anti-vaxxers, believing that they cause harm to children.