Andrew Speaker: I don't want to. I don't care. I'm smarter than you. You can't make me.
And speaking of lawyers, here is an outstanding example of the type of behavior that we all see on a daily basis. Andrew Speaker is the first person to be forcibly quarantined by the federal government since 1963, and it looks like he deserves it. Please note the differences in the way this story has been played in the last few days and today. From the Kansas City Star. Note his comments that I have placed in boldface, which appeared in the news yesterday:
The case of a jet-setting tuberculosis patient might soon shift from the hospital wards to the courts. The patient, Andrew Speaker, an Atlanta personal injury attorney, could sue the federal government for being quarantined on the basis of federal regulations that some scholars see as unconstitutional.
Or Speaker could be sued by fellow airline passengers, especially if any caught the disease from him - which some legal scholars say is much more likely.
"He may be personally liable if someone contracts TB" from being near him on his recent flights to and from Europe, said Peter Jacobson, a University of Michigan professor of public health law. "I can see a jury coming down very hard on someone like that who willfully ignored advice not to travel."
Speaker flew to Europe for his wedding and honeymoon after being advised by health officials not to make the trip because he had TB. Then, while he was in Rome, U.S. health officials told him to stay put because further tests showed he had an even more dangerous, drug-resistant type of TB than previously thought.
The 31-year-old newlywed disregarded those instructions, taking commercial jets to Prague and then Montreal in an attempt to sneak back into the United States.
In an interview earlier this week with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Speaker said he declined to report to Italian health officials because he believed the only lifesaving care for his condition was available in the U.S.
"I'm a very well-educated, successful, intelligent person," he told the newspaper. "This is insane to me that I have an armed guard outside my door when I've cooperated with everything other than the whole solitary-confinement-in-Italy thing."
Yeah, and the not-leaving-the-country thing, and the not-flying thing, and the pulling-your-narcissistic-head-out-of-your-arse thing. Except for that.
Now today, we hear that his new father-in-law WORKS for the CDC specializing in infectious diseases including TB. Dad-in-law is stating that he never encouraged his new son-in-law to fly. And Mr. Speaker, Esquire, after careful lawyerly consideration, is now saying he's sorry for scaring everyone on his flights, and besides, nobody REALLY REALLY REALLY told him he couldn't jet off to Europe:
An Atlanta attorney quarantined with a dangerous strain of tuberculosis apologized to his fellow plane passengers in an interview aired Friday, and said he was told he wasn't contagious or a threat to anyone.
"I feel awful," Andrew Speaker said, speaking through a mask with ABC's "Good Morning America" at his hospital room in Denver. "I've lived in this state of constant fear and anxiety and exhaustion for a week now, and to think that someone else is now feeling that, I wouldn't want anyone to feel that way.
"I don't expect those people to ever forgive me. I just hope they understand that I truly never meant them any harm."
Speaker, 31, said he, his doctors and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention all knew he had TB before he flew to Europe for his wedding and honeymoon last month. But he said he was told that he wasn't contagious or a danger to anyone. Officials said they would rather he didn't fly but didn't forbid it, he said.
His father, also a lawyer, taped that meeting, he said.
"My father said, 'OK, now are you saying, prefer not to go on the trip because he's a risk to anybody, or are you simply saying that to cover yourself?' And they said, we have to tell you that to cover ourself, but he's not a risk."
Speaker, his new wife and her 8-year-old daughter were already in Europe when the CDC contacted him and told him to turn himself in immediately at a clinic there and not take another commercial flight.
Speaker said he felt as if the CDC had suddenly "abandoned him." He said he believed if he didn't get to the specialized clinic in Denver, he would die.
"Before I left, I knew that it was made clear to me, that in order to fight this, I had one shot, and that was going to be in Denver," he said. If doctors in Europe tried to treat him and it went wrong, he said, "it's very real that I could have died there."
Even though U.S. officials had put Speaker on a warning list, he caught a flight to Montreal and then drove across the U.S. border on May 24 at Champlain, N.Y. A border inspector who checked him disregarded a computer warning to stop Speaker, officials said Thursday.
The unidentified inspector later said the infected man seemed perfectly healthy and that he thought the warning was merely "discretionary," officials briefed on the case told The Associated Press. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the matter is still under investigation.
The inspector ran Speaker's passport through a computer, and a warning — including instructions to hold the traveler, don a protective mask in dealing with him, and telephone health authorities — popped up, officials said. About a minute later, Speaker was instead cleared to continue on his journey, according to officials familiar with the records. The inspector has since been removed from border duty.
Colleen Kelley, president of the union that represents customs and border agents, declined to comment on the specifics of the case, but said "public health issues were not receiving adequate attention and training" within the agency.
The next day, Speaker became the first infected person to be quarantined by the U.S. government since 1963.
He was flown by medical transport Thursday to National Jewish Medical and Research Center, where doctors put him in an isolation room where he will be treated with oral and intravenous antibiotics.
Wow. Poor him. Victimized by the CDC. "Abandoned" is a good word, too, very laden with emotional meaning. Like a big-eyed little puppy painted on velvet. A puppy that can give you a debilitating and potentially fatal disease as you breathe recycled air in a big metal tube with him for eight hours.
Who are these people who disregard any concern for anyone else but themselves? Where is a feeling of obligation to the community? And where can we find some border agents who can actually take warnings seriously? I for one certainly feel more safe now that that one agent has been removed from duty. I'm sure that'll solve the problem.