Arnold Schwarzenegger Apologizes For Saying, “Screw Your Freedom!”

Arnold Schwarzenegger apologized for saying, "Screw your freedom!" in a social media post during the pandemic.

By Kevin C. Neece | Updated

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Arnold Schwarzenegger uttered the phrase “screw your freedom!” during the COVID-19 pandemic, but recently apologized for doing so on Twitter. The apology came in response to a user on the social media site who applauded Schwarzenegger’s new podcast, Pump Club, but expressed sympathy for those who had trouble reconciling the podcast’s positive demeanor with the actor’s inflammatory statement. The FUBAR star responded with a quote tweet that acknowledged his poor choice of words, which has haunted him for some time.

At the time of his original statement, Arnold Schwarzenegger likely felt justified in saying the words for which he has now apologized. In 2021, there was still an enormous backlash against things like wearing masks and getting vaccinated against COVID-19, and there were many, like Schwarzenegger, who were frustrated that so many people seemed willing to sacrifice the health and safety of others—including society’s most vulnerable—for their own sense of freedom. It was against this mindset that the former “Governator” was pushing back, but the core sentiment was overshadowed by many by the careless word choice.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has been dogged by the phrase, even as recently as last year when protesters rushed the stage during his acceptance of the Champion of Democracy Award, shouting criticisms. As a former Republican politician, the action film star has a particular position in the often-partisan battle that took place during the pandemic over mask and vaccine rules, which perhaps fuels the vitriol of those who felt his pro-vaccine, pro-mask position was a betrayal. Notably, he did not apologize for this stance, but for his choice of words in promoting it—a choice that he surely saw as now jeopardizing the positive spirit of his latest venture.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has always tried to be positive and encouraging in public, using his celebrity status to promote mental and physical health, much like his once-rival and now-friend Sylvester Stallone. But saying “Screw your freedom” can be hard to defend within the context of promoting social responsibility, let alone outside that context. The actor surely didn’t want to see the relentless positivity of his new podcast tainted by the reputation of those words.

Apologies can be risky because they can call attention to old mistakes that many might have forgotten, but he didn’t seem willing to let this one slide, and the result has been seen as an honorable moment in the often divisive cesspool that is social media.

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But protecting his brand didn’t seem to be Arnold Schwarzenegger’s only motivation in offering this mea culpa. He also expressed appreciation for the fan’s attitude, which emphasized a conciliatory sensibility, thanking him for his “open-mindedness” and agreeing with him that differing viewpoints don’t need to make us one another’s enemies. While the tweet had expressed disagreement with Schwarzenegger’s stance, presumably on the entire issue and not just on his words, he also said he understood the position because he had friends and family who sincerely held the same beliefs.

And so, Arnold Schwarzenegger, famous for blowing people up onscreen, has given us a moment of real congeniality and moving past differences toward common goals that can inspire us all to do better. Reconciliation sometimes requires apologizing for things that upset or hurt others, even if we felt justified in saying or doing them at the time. Schwarzenegger might not be the Terminator of toxic online discourse, but he’s at least showing us there is a better way.