TRENTON, NJ – Hours after New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said he won’t tolerate any vaccination discrimination after lifting the COVID-19 restrictions, his own administration has possibly committed the first act of vaccination discrimination.
“We will not tolerate anyone being demeaned or bullied or excluded for wanting to continue to mask up,” Murphy said Monday afternoon after lifting some of his longerm face mask executive orders.
Hours later, the New Jersey Law Enforcement Commission had canceled the virtual campaign debate between Republicans Jack Ciattarelli and Hirsh Singh. That’s because Singh, a conservative Republican said he does not believe he should have to disclose his vaccination status in public nor does he feel that he should be forced to take a COVID-19 test, despite showing absolutely no symptoms of COVID-19. He might as well take a pregnancy test while he’s at it.
Jack Ciattarelli’s team criticized Singh for not complying with the state’s request. PBS, which was to host the debate said they were canceling due to fears of getting COVID-19 from Singh.
“Due to Mr. Singh’s refusal to participate and comply with the COVID-19 testing requirement that is part of NJ PBS production protocol … we are unable to send a member of our crew to him for the debate production,” said Jamie Kraft, the senior managing editor of NJ Spotlight News. “Unfortunately, we must cancel the debate.”
The statement by NJ Spotlight News reflects clear COVID-19 discrimination against a candidate who does not wish to divulge his public health information to the government or subject himself to an unnecessary test in order to participate in a virtual debate where television crews would remain socially distanced from the candidates.
“The most ridiculous aspect of their condition was that they wanted me to take a COVID test and be vaccinated for participating in a virtual debate from the confines of my own home or office. I do not need to be vaccinated to be in my own home or office,” Singh said. “After the new CDC guidance, it is an utter disgrace that we cannot hold a debate in-person. It’s time to end the anti-science policies, end the mask mandates, and reopen New Jersey.”
Ciattarelli’s team responded, criticizing Hirsh’s medical freedom stance on the matter.
“Hirsh Singh’s weak decision to back out of this debate — despite previously agreeing to it and knowing all of the rules well in advance has nothing to do with medical freedom or vaccines or masks,” Ciattarelli campaign spokesman Stami Williams said.
Although the station did not mandate proof of vaccination, it said Singh must comply with a COVID-19 test for the virtual debate. Since he did not, the station canceled the debate.
Singh and Ciattarelli will debate live in-person on Tuesday on NJ101.5. The fiasco now highlights a real-world problem facing the state as it reopens. How far will New Jersey’s vaccinated population go to exclude and discriminate against citizens who either have not been eligible to vaccinate or perhaps have medical, religious, or personal reasons to not vaccinate in the workplace?
Imagine co-workers in an office refusing to allow an unvaccinated employee to work with them or being denied access to a business because you have not yet been vaccinated. The issue with the debate highlights a very serious concern for New Jersey going forward.
“It’s anti-science and will send the complete wrong message if a debate isn’t held in person,” he said. “We cannot go backwards and spread more fear about the virus. New Jersey is reopening and we are going back to normal. Holding a virtual debate after all the progress that’s been made would only confuse New Jersey voters.”