Arnold Schwarzenegger questioned why people wouldn’t believe health experts about the coronavirus and charged that anti-vaxxers are “schmucks” for prioritizing their freedom over the health and safety of other people.
In a recent interview with CNN, the actor and former California governor shared his stance on the importance of following public health guidelines and told people who argue their personal freedom is being threatened by mask mandates to “screw their freedom.”
“People should know there is a virus here. It kills people, and the only way we prevent it is to get vaccinated, wear masks, do social distancing, washing your hands all the time, and not just to think about, ‘Well, my freedom is being kind of disturbed here,’” he said. “No, screw your freedom, because with freedom comes obligations and responsibilities. We cannot just say, ‘I have the right to do X, Y and Z.’ When you infect other people, that is when it gets serious.”
Schwarzenegger, who encouraged trusting public health experts and scientists who have studied viruses for decades, pointed to the government’s slow approach to tackling the COVID-19 pandemic in its early days last year before sharing that the reduced capacity at his own event, the Arnold Classic sports and fitness festival, in March 2020 made him think more about the importance of tackling the spread of coronavirus as a community, not just as an individual.
“We were only allowed to have a limited crowd last March, that’s when I realized that we all have to now come together,” he recalled. “And so I started putting posts out there about washing your hands regularly, wearing a mask and doing the social distancing and to follow the kind of rules that the experts put out there, and to face the fact that this is here, and this is going to grow and it’s going to expand it’s going to really affect a lot of people’s lives.”
But Schwarzenegger shared disappointment and frustration over people still being in denial and refusing to trust science a year and half after the pandemic first hit, describing the current U.S. COVID wave as “a mess.”
“There’s still people that live in denial. There’s still people that don’t believe in masks. There’s still people out there that say, ‘Well, I don’t have to do social distancing and all this kind of stuff,’” the Terminator star said. “I just think that people ought to be reminded over and over that the experts are saying that they have to wear masks, and especially when you go indoors.”
Schwarzenegger said that while he doesn’t want to “villainize” anyone and really wants to encourage people to work together, he argued that ignoring public health recommendations is like ignoring traffic lights.
“You cannot say, ‘No one is going to tell me that I’m going to stop here, that I have to stop at this traffic light here. I’m going to go right through it.’ Yeah, then you kill someone else,” he said. “So this is the same thing with the virus. You cannot go and not put a mask on because when you breathe, you can infect someone else, and you can infect someone that then gets sick and may die. This is why I think we all have to work together on this.”
He went on to call people who prioritize their own feelings amid the pandemic “schmucks” for not caring about people around them who might contract COVID and die.
“We have to come together, rather than fighting and always just saying, ‘According to my principles, this is a free country, and I’m going to have the freedom to wear no mask.’ Yeah, you have the freedom to wear no mask, but you know something? You’re a schmuck for not wearing a mask because you’re supposed to protect your fellow members around you. It’s just that simple.”