Sean Penn: Being Unvaccinated Is Like Pointing A Gun In Someone's Face

(Photo by Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP, File)

Given Sean Penn’s alleged penchant for physical abuse, the actor probably should have come up with a pro-vaccination analogy that didn’t reference assault, but there’s no taking back this comparison. While on CNN this weekend, Penn raised eyebrows with his comparison, as well as his insinuation that he’s a strong supporter of the right to keep and bear arms; a strange assertion for someone who gave up his guns a few years ago.

‘It’s, you know, I have some areas of strong belief in the Second Amendment,’ Penn to host Michael Smerconish.

‘But I think that you need to recognize how, you know, with something like this, you can’t go around pointing a gun in somebody’s face, which is what it is when people are unvaccinated.’

Penn, who recently refused to return to the set of his upcoming Starz series Gaslit until the entire cast and crew were vaccinated, explained his call for everyone involved to receive the vaccine.

He told Smerconish that currently only crew members who personally interact with the cast are required to have received the vaccine.

Penn said, ‘I didn’t want to feel complicit in something that was taking care of one group and not the other.’

Like Penn, I too am vaccinated against COVID. Unlike Penn, I still have my collection of firearms, though if Charlize Theron wants to try to convince me to get rid of them she’s more than welcome to try. And as a vaccinated Second Amendment supporter, I have to say that Penn’s comparison simply doesn’t make much sense.

According to a new study from Oxford University, vaccinated individuals can still carry just as much of a viral load as unvaccinated folks, which means that they can transmit the COVID virus just as easily as the unvaccinated can. So, despite Penn’s assertion that the unvaccinated are “pointing a gun in somebody’s face,” the evidence suggests that the vaccinated can spread COVID just as easily as the unvaccinated can. Or, to put it another way, every time Sean Penn opens his mouth to spout off in the vicinity of someone else, he too is engaging in what he believes the equivalent of pointing a gun in someone’s face.

That would suggest that the best thing Sean Penn could do, at least if he wants people to stay safe, is to quit talking.

To be fair, while both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been shown to be not all that great at preventing transmission, they do appear to be effective at reducing the risk of serious illness or death, which is much lower among the vaccinated population even during the current surge in the Delta variant. However, that’s a much better argument for getting vaccinated than the idiocy spouted by Penn, which is that the unvaccinated are putting fully vaccinated people at risk. The evidence suggests that those who choose not to receive a vaccine may be putting themselves and other unvaccinated folks at risk, but they’re not having much of an impact on the the millions of Americans who’ve already received a vaccine.

I suspect that Penn’s hot take isn’t having much of an impact on his target audience either. I don’t think anyone’s been swayed into a pro-vaccination position because of Sean Penn, anymore than we saw a surge in Americans giving up their guns after the actor turned over dozens of firearms to be melted down back in 2015. We tend to tune out the celebrity class when they impart their “wisdom” on the rest of us, in large part because they’ve repeatedly proven themselves to be no smarter (and often much dumber) than the average non-celebrity. I might listen to Penn talk about what it takes to be a good actor, but I’m not taking his advice on how to be a good person.

Dec 08, 2021 12:30 PM ET