Countering the Floridation of America

“Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.” (Harry S Truman)

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Florida Sunset

No, I’m not talking about fluoride, the naturally occurring mineral added to local water systems to fight tooth decay. I’m talking about the southern state whose governor and legislature are bent on promoting truth decay.

A few years back, under a different governor, the lawmakers of the great state of Florida banned the use of the terms “climate change,” “global warming,” or “sustainability” in any official communications, emails, or reports. Now, they have passed what is being called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which forbids discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in primary classrooms.

In recent days, the Florida legislature has also passed the “Stop WOKE Act,” designed to protect its sensitive residents from being made uncomfortable by the truth. Thus, it prohibits the teaching of history about race, identity, events, or circumstances that some might find unpleasant. Further, it restricts private corporations or businesses from offering diversity, equity, and inclusion trainings, as well, potentially, as sexual harassment trainings, if they cause discomfort.” Wounded employees could actually sue their employers for the distress. (And they call us snowflakes? Just sayin’.)

Having nixed critical race theory, and surely turning their attention now to Covid denial and sea-level-rise repudiation, conversational topics in the Sunshine State are becoming limited.

Pretty soon, Floridians will find approved conversation limited to orange juice (a wholesome breakfast beverage, as long as it’s made only from Florida oranges, and not those progressive California upstarts) and Mickey Mouse. Actually, they’re on the fence about Mickey. Despite his ambiguous voice, he is almost certainly a heterodent, but his Disney handlers are expressing some quasi-liberal sentiments, to the discomfort of Florida’s repressive regime.

Six thousand miles away, Russian President Vladimir Putin has banned the terms “war” and “invasion,” sanctioning only the phrase, “special military operation” to describe his full-scale aggression and war crimes against Ukraine. Those who disobey—journalists or private citizens—could face lengthy jail sentences. And last year, Putin signed a new law banning individuals designated as “extremists” from running for public office in Russia, and threatening prosecution of Russian citizens who participate in protests, retweet opposition posts, or donate to opposition groups.

Putin has already limited conversation about gay or trans  citizens in Russia with his infamous 2013 “gay propaganda” law, which bans all mention of LGBTQ+ issues in any places accessible to minors. He went so far as to label the movement for transgender acceptance “a crime against humanity” and to equate homosexuality with pedophilia. Over the last twenty years, Putin has conducted an all-out offensive on his country’s LGBTQ community, couching it as necessary to protect Russia’s “traditional culture.”

When words and ideas are considered so dangerous that they must be regulated by legislation or decree, it’s a sure sign that those doing the legislating are: 1) seeking to restrict the free will of people they see as inferior to themselves, and 2) very, very afraid. Instead of conveying strength, Florida’s governor and Russia’s president have succeeded in demonstrating to the world just how weak they are and how feeble their positions are if they can only be upheld by guns and threats.

When we police language, when we legislate what words may and may not be used, and what conversations may and may not take place, we take away the basic human right to think for ourselves. We give power to those who seek to impose their will and their bigotry on others. We threaten freedom everywhere.

I’m not telling you anything new, anything you don’t already know. But we need occasionally to remind ourselves that we are not the resistance. They are. And that we must continue to do everything in our power to keep those who are standing in the way of justice, equality, and a safer world from spreading their lies or restricting our thoughts and our words.

Words have power. I have written before and will surely write more about how words have the capacity to wound and to heal, and how we need to choose our words with the awareness that they both convey and create the world as we want it to be.

Florida is a beautiful state. I have friends who live there and love it. I probably wouldn’t take kindly to their criticism of my own state’s politics. But like so many things we are seeing today, these examples of escalating prejudice and creeping fascism are too important to ignore, or to flick away with a wave of the hand and that dangerous old phrase, “It can’t happen here.”

“A terrible thing is happening … attention must be paid.” (Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman)

19 thoughts on “Countering the Floridation of America

  1. What you are saying here is so important and what is happening is so alarming and so disheartening. It can happen anywhere and none of us, whether we live in the US or not, can afford to just sit back and think or hope we can do nothing and it will just “go away.” We are all in a very precarious situation.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I know what you mean, Neil. I thought people with such hateful (hate-filled) views were a declining breed. Turns out, they seem to be coming out of the woodwork and multiplying like termites. I was going to say rabbits, but rabbits are harmless. I think termites is an apt analogy.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. “seeking to restrict the free will of people they see as inferior to themselves”

    And therein is the crux of it. Until the so-called superiors understand they aren’t superior, nothing will change for the better. Haters gotta hate and will protect their own.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I have no psychological training, Ally, but I think a lot of experts would say that those people who act so certain of their superiority may be trying to hide just how inadequate they fear they may be. Or they are the kind of narcissists who see themselves as central in the universe and will never see anything else. I think these are especially dangerous, because if they start to go down, they won’t hesitate to take the entire world with them.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Excellent piece, Donna, and I’m sure you’re aware that I completely agree with your words. (Not that you need or seek my approval in any way, of course, just showing solidarity.)

    The Floridation is happening here in Texas, as well. (I’m also sure you’ve seen an article or two or three hundred.) The “powers that be” are ramming through bill after bill, knowing full well that the current imbalance of the Supreme Court will let them eventually get away with most of it. It’s depressing and painful to experience, but the worst thing (for me) is how these Self-Annointed Saviors do NOT represent the people of Texas.

    Even though this is a red state, poll after poll has shown that the majority of Texans support reproductive rights. They do not support banning books that contain LGBT characters and themes. They think everyone should have equal access to the ballot box. And, perhaps most surprising (or not) they are not bothered by Critical Race Theory or transgender children seeking beneficial therapy.

    Yet the state legislature and state leaders are in a frenzy to gain the tainted but coveted “mark of the beast” approval from Trump, and he likes nothing better than examples of people not like him being denied their rights. It’s pathetically and dangerously sad.

    Long road ahead, my friend. Long road.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi, Brian, thanks for your comments and your solidarity. Yes, I have been watching Texas with similar dread and disbelief. And bewilderment. I have a number of friends and acquaintances in Texas and not one supports the ideas and legislation that are coming from its lawmakers. Is it gerrymandering that gives you (and Florida) so many right-wing crazies in government? We will all be watching Texas’s governor’s race later this year with great interest and trepidation. Closer to home, our neighbor state, Idaho, is following the same playbook (as are many others). As for seeking approval from Trump, can they really be blind to the fact that the only person, cause, or policy he cares about is himself? He will turn on any of them in an instant if they aren’t 100% in lockstep, or if their own spotlight starts to rival his. I guess I just answered my own question. Indeed, we do have a very long road ahead, and months and years of balancing hope with despair.
      As a rule, I have avoided all the “insider” tell-all books about the last five years and the Trump regime, but I just finished reading Congressman Jamie Raskin’s book, Unthinkable, about the January 6 insurrection and subsequent second impeachment trial (for which he was lead manager), woven into the story about the suicide of his extraordinary son just one week before the riot. It’s an amazing book—beautifully written, eye-opening, and ultimately hopeful. I think you’d like it.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks for the book suggestion, Donna. I now have it on the wish list on my Kindle.

        In answer to your first question concerning how so many right-wing crazies get elected in this state, gerrymandering is a big part of it. (The Supreme Court, at least until the recent Packing/Imbalance, was constantly striking down the blatantly biased redistricting efforts by the legislature, but the Republicans won’t stop. Some of the districts are ludicrous, snaking and weaving along to gather up as many red votes as possible and splintering the blue votes.) Voter suppression is a big part of it, as well, with polling places shuttered in blue areas (whilst there are many locations in red areas). Harris County (home of Houston, 4th largest city in the country, and a sizeable contingent of Democrats) only has ONE drop-off box for mail-in ballots. Nearly 5 million residents in the county, and one box? Oh, and a college or university ID is NOT valid when voting in person, but a gun license IS. (And then there’s the fact that all of the valid forms of ID for voting in this state have a cost associated which, in my opinion, is a form of poll tax, and therefore a violation of the 24th Amendment.) The list goes on and frustratingly on…

        Sorry to ramble so. This issue just gets me worked up a tad bit… 😉

        Liked by 2 people

        • Thanks, Brian, for explaining some of the background to Texas’s repressive leanings. It baffles me that anyone believes they have the right to restrict others from voting. But, as you note, the current Supreme Court is not likely to intervene. I share your frustration.

          Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Janis! I feel the same about living in Washington State and having grown up in California. Happy with the politics, the weather, the natural beauty. We don’t have orange groves, but lots of apple orchards. And murder hornets. So, it’s not Eden.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Florida’s fanaticism seems to be marching across the nation, sadly. What will these kinds of Draconian laws will turn us into as a society? I’m literally worried for my kids. Thanks for this post, Donna.

    Liked by 1 person

      • It’s as if we’ve returned to the Middle Ages. The all our assault on women is the worst, but that’s because the patriarch is dying and a new era is being ushered in. With great change comes great chaos. Hopefully we can manage the chaos and come out the other side better than we are now, Donna. 🤞

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