During These Uncertain Times (TM), celebrities have been trying to one-up each other by competing over who can post their most problematic opinions about the Covid-19 vaccine, thereby ensuring rapid cancellation. The latest to join the fray of freshly canceled anti-vax celebrities like Nicki Minaj, Offset and Victoria’s Secret model Doutzen Kroes is Penny the Fire Pig, a baby teacup pig and resident of the Engine 239 firehouse in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
Penny the Fire Pig went marginally viral earlier this year, garnering local headlines when her human companion, FDNY firefighter Darren Harris, adopted her from a farm in Virginia because his daughter is afraid of dogs. He then brought her to the firehouse, making Penny Engine 239’s unofficial mascot. It was the kind of heartwarming story that is designed to capture the attention of pandemic burnt-out netizens, and Penny became a minor Instagram influencer, racking up more than 12,000 followers.
The porcine tastemaker’s narrative arc took a dark turn, however, on Wednesday, when the Penny the Fire Pig account (which typically posts such innocuous content as Penny cavorting with neighborhood children, skateboarding, or slurping up a coconut icee) reposted a flier in opposition to the recent FDNY vaccine mandate on Instagram Stories. Last week, New York City announced it would be rolling out the mandate to all public employees with no test-out option, effective Nov. 1, prompting backlash among many city employees such as members of the NYPD’s largest union, which has filed suit against the city.
The flier reposted by the Penny the Fire Pig account suggested that almost half of the FDNY would be laid off as a result of the mandate, appended by an ominous warning of a forthcoming firefighter shortage. “WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? If you have to call 911 for your family member having a heart attack or your home starting to burn down, the Fire Department WON’T BE ABLE TO COME,” the now-deleted post read, encouraging New Yorkers to call their local elected officials and local news and “let them know you stand with us.”
In an Instagram DM to Rolling Stone, the person behind Penny the Fire Pig’s post, who seemed to confirm he was Harris, explained he was motivated by his concerns over the vaccine mandate potentially creating a first responder shortage in New York City. “I’m vaccinated and understand importance of the shot,” he said. “I just don’t want any firehouses shut down.” He said that he deleted the post because Penny the Fire Pig is currently working on a “fire safety children’s book, and does not have business [expressing] personal views.”
When asked more specific questions about their views on the vaccine mandate, and what message they thought it sent to use Penny the Fire Pig as a platform to send a message in opposition to vaccine mandates, Harris said, “I’d rather talk about [Penny’s] book. I’m so sorry.”
In response to concerns over a potential first responder shortage following the vaccine mandate, Mayor Bill DeBlasio said on Wednesday that “these are organizations used to crisis and disaster and they know how to keep things going,” and that he was not concerned about potential budgetary issues as a result of employees putting in overtime: “I want to note, we’re not looking at this from the budgetary perspective, we’re looking at this from how to keep people safe, how we end the Covid era, how we turn the corner in the biggest crisis in our history. That’s our focus.”
Whether or not it is the focus of the seemingly redpilled Penny the Fire Pig, however, is another story, though rumors that Penny will now pivot from adorable photos dressed as a baby bumblebee to defending medical freedom on Ben Shapiro’s podcast were unconfirmed at press time.