We noted here Monday that nationally prominent political commentator Candace Owens was refused service — a COVID test, no less — by a medical lab in Aspen last week because the business didn’t care for her public stance on vaccination, masks and the pandemic overall.
As we pointed out, Owens is among those who have chosen not to vaccinate against COVID. It’s a point of contention nationwide, of course. Yet, whatever anyone believes about the vaccine shouldn’t disqualify them from testing for the virus. Shouldn’t an ethical medical provider offer that service to anybody — regardless of a patient’s beliefs — out of a sense of responsibility to the patient and, even more, to the broader community? You’d think.
Yet, Aspen Laboratories turned her down in an email that was part sermon and part taunt.
“We cannot support anyone who has proactively worked to make this pandemic worse by spreading misinformation, politicizing and DISCOURAGING the wearing of masks and actively dissuading people from life-saving vaccinations…”
The email, which Owens posted to social media, even suggested she turn to the only other local tester, which sends its samples to Texas and, the email alleged, has “inconsistent result times.” As if to say, “good luck with that.”
Last week’s bravado, however, seems to be giving way to second thoughts. The lab’s proprietors, who declined comment to The Gazette about the incident, are tempering their sanctimony with an apparent legal disclaimer. Are they worried about potential litigation? Maybe even being hauled in front of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission?
This week, the lab posted on its website a public statement that reads a lot like it was dictated by lawyers. It at first claims the lab is “under no obligation to provide our services to anyone who leverages their sizable public platform to undermine basic containment measures aimed at reducing the effects of this pandemic.” But then, the statement does an about-face, insisting, “We absolutely do not condone any form of discrimination or bullying.”
“… As a service provider, we would never pick and choose who we serve based on their race, politics or vaccination status, or other criteria,” the lab contends in its statement.
It also goes on to state, “We are not currently the only local testing option, however, and would not have referred business elsewhere if we were. We regret any and all politicization of this public health emergency and encourage all Americans to treat each other with kindness and dignity so we can get through this difficult time together.”
Indeed, co-owners Suzanna Lee and Isaac Flanagan might well come to “regret” the whole affair. At least, if Owens cares to pursue the matter with some lawyers of her own.
The lab claims it doesn’t condone “any form of discrimination” and “would never pick and choose who we serve based on their race, politics or vaccination status, or other criteria.” Yet, a juror might conclude the lab was guilty of as much — and even admitted it — by turning down Owens explicitly for her views on vaccinations.
For that matter, might a juror even conclude Owens’ race played a role? She is Black, and her face is widely recognized in political circles. As she retorted in an email back to Lee last week, “The last time a white person refused a Black person services because, ‘I don’t like your thoughts and ideas,’ we were in the Jim Crow era.”
That had to hurt, especially in woker-than-thou — yet,white-as-snow — Aspen.
We’ll stay tuned.
The Gazette Editorial Board