We have this idea in free society that people are entitled to their own opinions and the government should not force people to believe one thing or another. And it’s not like we lack precedents where totalitarian governments actively suppress ideas that might disrupt their regime. So we do need to keep in mind that indvidual people should be free to be wrong and be assholes. That kid in the gorilla costume at Tennessee State was an asshole, but should he be brought up on criminial charges? We need to ensure that “assholes” are not summarily suppressed. Richard Dawkins acts like an asshole but he’s still right about evolution.
Now, when it comes to these nurses, the situation is entirely different. They are entitled to their *personal* opinion. But this is a matter of professional activity. In their capacities as nurses (even on their own time), they represent their employers. As a CS professor, I could be dismissed for a wide range of inappropriate behaviors in my “personal life,” including hooking up with an undergrad and making offensive and racist statements on social media. I can maintain my right to express an opinion, and my employer can exercise their right to not be associated with someone who does not represent their core values. (Although, I will say that I’ve heard that BYU won’t grant tenure to anyone who they see as not sufficiently “Mormon,” and I think that’s reprehensible, so there is some room for debate on this, which is why we have courts.)
There’s also not much room on this subject for “personal opinion.” Science doesn’t have answers for everything, but all attempts to show a solid link between vaccines and autism have failed, and those attempts have been numerous. This isn’t based on a single publication with no replication studies. This topic has been beaten to death. It be shown that their statements are factually wrong. They are also not researchers in this area. If they were, then they would be in a position to conduct further studies to see if they could prove a link. Instead, they are just talking out their arses.
Even more important, they are putting people in danger. And that’s what this is all about. The benefits of vaccines are not in dispute, and the risks are minimal and nebulous. When your scientific illiteracy puts people in danger, you need to be stopped.