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Fuck you, Florida

I went to Florida once. It was back in 2009, and I was exhibiting a research summary at a conference in Orlando. Because I was travelling partially on my own dime, and because I was too young to rent a car, I ended up staying at a hotel that was far away from the convention centre and took public transit to the exhibition hall. Living as I have in cities like Toronto, Mississauga, and Brampton, I was immediately struck by how brown the busses were. It was as though all of the lower-income people who had to get places, but didn’t make enough money at those places to afford a car, were black and/or Latin@. Everyone I met in a service position was dark-skinned, all of the management staff were white. Without exception. It was a surreal experience for me.

It would take a couple of years for me to finally wrap my head around what I had seen. It wasn’t an illusion or a clustering effect or just a weird coincidence – Florida was a seriously fucking racist place:

Walton Henry Butler, 59, was arrested by Gulf County Sheriff’s deputies on Monday night for shooting 32-year-old Everett Gant, who is black, in the head with a .22 caliber rifle.

According to a charging affidavit obtained by The Star, Butler had referred to Pamela Rogers’ child and other children at his apartment complex with racial slurs. Gant was shot between the eyes when he went to Butler’s apartment to confront him over the remarks, the documents said. Butler allegedly closed his sliding glass door and left Gant bleeding on ground outside.

The suspect contacted 911 and had finished his dinner before Gulf County Sheriff Joe Nugent arrived. Nugent recalled that Butler appeared “inconvenienced” by the arrest, saying that “he had only shot a n*gger.” “He was brought to the investigation unit where he was interviewed and basically admitted to shooting the victim and said he shot a, used a racial slur, and said that is what he shot and acted like it was not like a big deal or anything to him,” Nugent told WJHG.

This happened. A guy went to go confront his neighbour, justifiably upset (but amazingly unarmed) over the open use of racially-demeaning slurs directed at children. In response to this, instead of apologizing or attempting to explain himself, Walton Henry Butler shot Mr. Gant between the eyes and went back inside to finish his dinner. His explanation? It was just a nigger.

Nigger.

This, incidentally, is why it’s not okay for your white buddies to use the word, or to make jokes about it, or to decide to tell black folks that it’s “just a word” and that we shouldn’t “choose (choose!) to get offended by it”. Nigger is not just a mean word. Nigger is what the guy with his finger on the trigger (or on the nightstick, or on the gavel, or on the job application form) thinks to himself right before he decides to destroy a black life. Nigger is the denial of black personhood. It is the ultimate expression of the idea not only that black people are inferior, but that they (we) don’t even qualify for the basic decency of not getting shot in the head and left to die while you finish your Hungry Man.

And all for the crime of standing up for the right of some children to live free of the deranged invective of a hateful homicidal asshole.

But hey, at least Butler only killed one person, right?

In the debate over new laws meant to curb voter fraud in places like Florida, Democrats always charge that Republicans are trying to suppress the vote of liberal voting blocs like blacks and young people, while Republicans just laugh at such ludicrous and offensive accusations. That is, every Republican except for Florida’s former Republican Party chairman Jim Greer, who, scorned by his party and in deep legal trouble, blew the lid off what he claims was a systemic effort to suppress the black vote. In a 630-page deposition recorded over two days in late May, Greer, who is on trial for corruption charges, unloaded a litany of charges against the “whack-a-do, right-wing crazies” in his party, including the effort to suppress the black vote.

In the deposition, released to the press yesterday, Greer mentioned a December 2009 meeting with party officials. “I was upset because the political consultants and staff were talking about voter suppression and keeping blacks from voting,” he said, according to the Tampa Bay Times. He also said party officials discussed how “minority outreach programs were not fit for the Republican Party,” according to the AP.

The comments, if true (he is facing felony corruption charges and has an interest in scorning his party), would confirm what critics have long suspected. Florida Gov. Rick Scott is currently facing inquiries from the Justice Department and pressure from civil rights groups over his purging of voter rolls in the state, an effort that critics say has disproportionately targeted minorities and other Democratic voters. One group suing the state claims up to 87 percent of the voters purged from the rolls so far have been people of color, though other estimates place that number far lower. Scott has defended the purge, even though he was erroneously listed as dead himself on the rolls in 2006.

As Vanity Fair noted in a big 2004 story on the Sunshine State’s voting problems, “Florida is a state with a history of disenfranchising blacks.” In the state’s notoriously botched 2000 election, the state sent a list of 50,000 alleged ex-felons to the counties, instructing them to purge those names from their rolls. But it turned out that list included 20,000 innocent people, 54 percent of whom were black, the magazine reported. Just 15 percent of the state’s population is black. There were also reports that polling stations in black neighborhoods were understaffed, leading to long lines that kept some people from voting that year. The NAACP and ACLU sued the state over that purge. A Gallup poll in December of 2000 found that 68 percent of African-Americans nationally felt black voters were less likely to have their votes counted fairly in Florida.

Racism in the mind of a single murderous psychopath is dangerous. Racism in the minds of a political party so run through with avarice and arrogance as the Republicans is an absolute disaster. And while this is not just happening in Florida, it finds its ideological home there. A place where Stand Your Ground laws are disproportionately killing black and brown men, recently highlighted by the case of the odious George Zimmerman. A place where the rule of law comes second to demonizing and punishing the poor.

And, apparently, a place where the white man rules with one hand over the ballot box, and the other with a gun pointed at your face. And the word “nigger” on his lips.

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Comments

  1. thetristantomes says

    Welcome to Florida! #1 in being bat shit crazy.

    Tangentially related, I find this interesting and insightful.

  2. CJO says

    I’m getting really fucking upset about all these policy efforts toward disenfranchisement.

    I’d like to see a post about efforts to stop this. I want to contribute to efforts to stop it.

  3. says

    I’d imagine you could probably just do a quick Google search and find 4 or 5 groups working at combatting the laws. No need to wait for me to get started.

  4. kurt1 says

    I think, that they want to keep POC from voting is not solely based on racism. It´s this attitude, that politics is a game and winning is the most important thing, so the ends justify the means.

  5. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    This, incidentally, is why it’s not okay for your white buddies to use the word, or to make jokes about it, or to decide to tell black folks that it’s “just a word” and that we shouldn’t “choose (choose!) to get offended by it”. Nigger is not just a mean word. Nigger is what the guy with his finger on the trigger (or on the nightstick, or on the gavel, or on the job application form) thinks to himself right before he decides to destroy a black life. Nigger is the denial of black personhood. It is the ultimate expression of the idea not only that black people are inferior, but that they (we) don’t even qualify for the basic decency of not getting shot in the head and left to die while you finish your Hungry Man.

    This needs to be screamed from the rooftops, apparently, because how the fuck can people STILL NOT GET IT?

    I’m not a violent person, but each time I’ve encountered this story I have fantasies of following it up with “what? it was just a disgusting, revolting, evil bigot!”

  6. smhll says

    Connecting two of your points together, people who take the bus all the time often don’t have driver’s licenses and will tend to be disenfranchised by proposed laws in the US that require government photo ID to vote. (I tend to think ID cards for non-drivers will have to be free in the US for this to be legal. But that doesn’t make it easy for people to get to the Dept of Motor Vehicles.)

  7. Alverant says

    I know how vile THAT WORD is and I never use it. But what I hear too often from other people is, “If that word is so objectionable, why do black people use it among themselves?” and other such implications that it’s only wrong when white people say it. How do you respond to that? (I don’t mean anything by it, I just need an answer to give them.)

  8. smrnda says

    The frightening thing isn’t just that he shot a man in cold blood for being Black and having the audacity to say something about kids getting called racial slurs – this guy doesn’t even pull a Zimmerman and try to justify it.

    On IDs – I do not drive since I can’t see very well and I have a state ID – they cost less than a drivers license and are valid for a longer time. A problem may be that if the address on your ID is out of date, which happens at times because they last for several years. They are cheaper than a license, but a trip to the DMV is a cost to people of limited means.

    Living in big cities, (Chicago and NYC) riding a bus or train is a way of life for me, but I’ve run into people in other areas who clearly have racist ideas about what type of people (always some ‘them’ ) ride the bus, and how if a bus stop goes up near them, they intend on moving. So racist white people are destroying the environment because they don’t want to ride a bus with minorities in a lot of places.

  9. says

    There are a lot of answers to that question. The first is, black people DON’T all use it among themselves – there are many of them (us) who abhor the word in all of its forms. The second is that most of the time when it IS used, it is in the form ‘nigga’, which most will argue (and have, ad nauseum) is a reclamation of a word to take it away from the oppressor. The third is that context is important, and that particular word coming from a black person means something very different than coming from a white person (there are things, for example, that you’re allowed to say about your family members that would be fighting words if they came from someone not in your family). The fourth is that the word has a history of use from white people – it has a different historical connotation coming from black people.

    And again, this seems like something that would be fairly easy to Google. I can’t imagine I’m the first person to attempt to answer this question.

  10. Droopy says

    good news: Everett Gant may survive the gunshot. Who know what condition he will be in, though.

  11. callistacat says

    There is a great book called The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout. She says that a very small portion of the population (1 in 25 people) could be diagnosed with this disorder. And it doesn’t necessarily manifest in violent behavior, just a complete indifference and inability to feel remorse or guilt or any empathy for others.

    But one exception to this is when non-sociopathic people believe there are some people who are “outside of their moral universe.” They can behave exactly like a sociopath toward the group they’ve decided don’t count as people and commit atrocious acts like murder and not feel any remorse, even feel justified.

    That is why dehumanizing labels like “nigger” are so damaging. It’s not just offensive, it is dangerously putting people outside of your moral universe.

    I hope that made sense, Dr. Stout’s book articulates it so much better, I highly recommend it.

  12. smrnda says

    This is probably why racial slurs are used – they help in the process of dehumanization. I can’t find the source on this, but after the success of the term “Jap” in WWII, the military typically chooses an official slur for whatever enemy they are fighting.

    To me, using a racial slur is like training your mind to think someone is less than human. Pretending to use it in an ‘ironic’ way is training yourself to be indifferent to it.

    Nice mention of the book though – I wonder how many people are affected by the out-group sociopathy deal?

  13. says

    My name here contains a good example of this sort of thing. I throw it back at the people who use it against me because I know that, if I have pissed someone off enough for them to hurl this epithet at me, then I am probably doing something right. However, that doesn’t make the word any less historically laden, or any less of a weapon in the hands of the wrong person. (If a random dude who’s been catcalling me yells it at me when I tell him to fuck off, then I don’t care. If my feminist husband called me that then I honestly don’t know what I would do.)

    You learn that, when words have been wielded against you enough, you have to put them in a place where they won’t hurt anymore. You take the power back from other people. That doesn’t mean that the word “bitch” (I also seriously considered “cunt”) doesn’t carry the implicit threat of rape and abuse that I’ve experienced from men who used the word freely in my general direction, nor does it mean that “nigger” doesn’t carry the weight of strange fruit and stand your ground, which have no substantive difference. Just because I can throw it in my oppressors’ faces without shame doesn’t mean that they can’t still tear me down, and it doesn’t mean that black people don’t face the very real threat of being murdered without recourse.

    You have to start somewhere, or it all gets too heavy.

    Your mileage may vary.

  14. Pteryxx says

    On the ground, the ACLU, NAACP and (I think) the League of Women Voters have been actively fighting these disenfranchisement efforts. Call/email up your local branches and ask if you can donate or volunteer – I hear one method of effective discrimination has been inadequate poll staffing for poor and minority districts, so it could be as simple as helping run a polling place on the big day.

  15. says

    Butler didn’t actually kill anyone. Fortunately, he was using a .22, so Gant survived. I can’t find any info on his condition, though. It could be a scar where his skull stopped the bullet and a serious headache or way worse.

  16. Randomfactor says

    It’s situations like this where the second section of the Fourteenth Amendment should be invoked.

  17. Arakiba says

    It’s so much easier to kill someone (or steal from them, or commit any other crime against them) when they become the Other, something inferior, something less than you. Using a racial, religious, or sexual slur goes a long way towards instilling this mindset.

  18. Interrobang says

    I decided ages ago that Florida was a horrible place and I was never going back, and I’m white. I can’t imagine — well, yes, I can, but I’d like to sleep tonight, sorry — trying to cope with being a POC there. I had a hard enough time in Orange County, California, as a non-driver (obviously riffraff).

    Floridians also seem to have a habit of shooting Canadian tourists, which makes me nervous, as well.

  19. James says

    I’m white and British so maybe I don’t have the most useful perspective on this question, but for what it’s worth…

    Isn’t a crucial difference (and one particularly highlighted by the story of Everett Gant) that when used by white people it can mean inferior.

    In fact from the description of the attitude it sounds like the shooter didn’t see Everett Gant as human at all. He wasn’t saying “I shot someone – another human being – but it’s not a big deal because this particular human being I shot happened to be black.” He was actually saying “I didn’t shoot a human being. What I shot was something else – a nigger.”

    Could that ever be the case when it’s used between two black people? I don’t know. I imagine it could be derisive, but not quite in the same way. On the other hand I can also imagine it having connotations of fellow-feeling or some sense of commonality.

    Basically, I can imagine it being intended, and perceived, to mean something like “You and I, we’re the same,” when used between people of colour. I can also imagine a person of colour hearing me say it and perceiving it to mean “You and I are totally different in some way I think is fundamental.”

    If someone can’t see that and how it might be a problem, coming off as racist isn’t their only worry.

  20. jackal says

    I think misogynistic behavior is based in othering. Women aren’t real people, they’re just bitches, hos, sluts, prudes… That’s why it’s ok to pay them less, disregard their opinions, treat their bodies like your property, demonize their sexuality to rally your political base… Same with homophobia. (They’re “abominations,” doncha know?)

    But to respond to a complaint by shooting someone?! And then go on to finish your dinner?! It isn’t enough to for me to dehumanize something. My instinctual revulsion for inflicting harm extends all the way to bugs. It takes a direct physical threat to mute my empathy enough to want to do harm. Some hate-violence is spurred by an imagined threat from the target or their demographic, but that wasn’t even the case here. Butler shot a person point blank in the face, out of annoyance. If he isn’t a clinical psychopath, he has taken otherizing to an extreme that should be considered pathological.

  21. F says

    Fuck all that. Shit.

    I have nothing cogent to say right now, but I hope they all pay dearly, and keep paying, until this stops. (Long view wishful thinking, I’ve got it.)

  22. TheVirginian says

    I’m a Southerner and my mother, who was a Virginian like me, made sure I and my brother never used the N word. This was in the 1950s-60s. I think it’s because she grew up with black people in the house in one way or another, back in the 1920s-30s. So she understand how vile the word was, even if she was not a supporter of the civil rights movement and at times expressed some racist ideas, in a mild form. My father was from New York, probably did not know any black people growing up, and was more racist than my mother; he used the N word at times, in casual ways. Not constantly, but enough to be irritating to me.
    The N word is not like most other ethnic slurs. I live in Louisiana, and the Cajuns have to some extent reclaimed
    “coonass” from its insulting character, and I have had a friend of Polish ancestry who told “Polack” jokes. In these cases, however, these are “white” people and the insults always lacked any big sting. The N word however was both an expression of contempt and hatred, and often the last word many black people heard at lynchings. Its history is too vile to defend. I would only use it in connection with some classic literature that uses it because these works are too valuable to exclude from education, I oppose censoring them and I think it can important to see how people at earlier times thought about various issues. It would be like censoring ancient Greek or Roman literature because we consider slavery offensive. It was a part of their world and we can’t understand their cultures without knowing about slavery and other aspects that we now consider to be immoral.
    As far as I’m concerned, anyone who uses the N word, except in the limited circumstances cited above, is a racist and a scumbag, and I will not apologize for insulting such people.
    (And, no, Lenny Bruce was not a scumbag because he was trying to show how wrong racist and ethnic slurs were, not trying to reinforce them.)

  23. Onamission5 says

    I moved to Florida once. Never, ever again. After two months I wanted to go home.

    I won’t even go into all of the jaw droppingly racist shit I experienced as a formerly sheltered out-of-stater. Suffice to say I felt panicky in my need to get the fuck out as soon as possible, and I wasn’t even the target, just a bystander. The panic didn’t wane until we got to North Carolina three years later. That should tell you something. I felt safer as a human being in NC than in the sunshine state.

    Fuck you, Florida, indeed.

  24. jenny6833a says

    Yeah, Florida isn’t my favorite state for all the reasons mentioned. Yet, Florida’s largest metro area has a fully legal and extremely popular clothing-optional beach. Pasco County, just north of Tampa, has the largest cluster of nudist resorts in the nation. So, in that respect at least, Florida is far less bigoted than most of the other states in the USA. It’s not all bad.

  25. Holms says

    There I was, thinking that that aweareness of racism was growing and hence racism itself was gradually being weeded out of our nations. I knew there was still plenty of work still to go, but it is somewhat shocking to see it so naked. There go my illusions of progress. That arsehole’s thinking dates all the way back to the iron age.

  26. birgerjohansson says

    So the racism was / is that bad in metropolitan areas? I don’t want to know what it is like in the rural parts of the state….

    Also, isn’t there a sharp political divide between different counties of Florida?

  27. carlie says

    It’s just breathtaking in how blatant it is.

    And then I realize that what’s unusual is just that this guy isn’t hiding it, not that it’s an unusual amount of hatred.

    Fuck.

  28. JPGK says

    I am a white college student living in Florida; I was born and raised here by parents from the Northeast United States.

    These events in my home state are horrifying. During my youth, Florida had always been such a beautiful place (the climate, beaches, and forests). Obviously, while growing up I was insulated from this bigotry, violence, etc. – even while my home city enjoyed the highest per capita murder rate in the nation.

    And I know that now. One of the hardest parts of “growing up” for me (and I’d wager I’m not alone in this) was that moment when you learn that things aren’t as good as they seemed – the people, the culture, the institutions; things have serious flaws that need correction.

    I hope that more people – especially and including Floridians – can share in that realization, can look past their infantile prejudices, can accept that things are not alright, and can admit we’re wrong, move forward to solve the problems, instead of pulling the same old “see no evil” act time and again.

    I love my home state, and I hope the coming decades see a profound change in our culture here.

    But there are good people here, rest assured. And we’re fighting the bigots from the inside.

  29. Pen says

    This, incidentally, is why it’s not okay for your white buddies to use the word, or to make jokes about it, or to decide to tell black folks that it’s “just a word” and that we shouldn’t “choose (choose!) to get offended by it”.

    That’s fine with me, because the only word that springs to mind right now is ‘scum’ and it applies to Butler. Here’s hoping they lock him up and lose the key inside a crocodile.

  30. John Kruger says

    That shooting story blows my mind. I cannot even begin to imagine how someone can follow an ideology so far as to casually attempt to murder another human with so little remorse. I am even more shocked that he called the police and expected clemency from them. His amazingly evil attitude must be somewhat systemic.

    There is some really evil shit in this world, and I feel damn lucky the life I have lead makes exposure to these kinds of things still seem shocking to me.

  31. Jeremy Shaffer says

    There I was, thinking that that aweareness of racism was growing and hence racism itself was gradually being weeded out of our nations.

    This might be an example of how awareness of racism is growing. 50 years ago something like this probably wouldn’t have been local news much less national or international. Even 10 years ago this might have made local news while the national news might have a short blurb on page 6. While the actions are still abhorrent there may be signs of improvement in that it is getting out to the public at large.

  32. John Kruger says

    I too have to admit a white male perspective on this, so take my opinion for what it is worth.

    I think in general the victims of various slurs get more leeway because it is strange to think they are dehumanizing themselves. It is not strange at all to think people like a group that has historically done amazingly racist things is indeed dehumanizing people when using racial slurs about another group, so it makes sense to crack down harder on them.

    I have also heard the argument that using the word puts old racist attitudes front and center, away from where most people would like to sweep them under the rug. So even if people want to pretend racism is over, the ugly word connected to the ugly concept is a useful reminder of past mistakes. Whether or not this actually works as intended is of course debatable, but it is one more argument out there.

    Being a white male guy I take pains to do my best to empathize with other people, which includes not doing things which can be seen as racist, even if I don’t think I am actually being racist. It is possible for me to use racist slurs or do things which have been historically considered racist in a non-racist way, but the initial reaction people will have is not worth it. It is just a matter of respecting other peoples’ feelings. I cannot imagine any acceptable context for a person like me using any slurs of any kind at any time.

  33. David says

    I’m reminded of something my grandmother said many years ago following a particularly hefty snowstorm, “that nice nigger boy down the street shoveled my walk for me so I’m baking them some cookies.” There was no malice in what she said, at least none that I detected at the time, her mind reached for a description and that’s what it came up with. In the context, to her it was just a word. It wasn’t the best word, in fact it was an unnecessary word, and we told her so, but to her it was synonymous with “dark skinned person”. So too have I said it here in recounting the story, and others above have said it in their own responses on the topic. To us these are “just words”.
    That being said, what is “just a stick” to one person is a club or spear to another. If you’re holding a stick, waving it around a little in demonstration perhaps, even while discussing the history of that stick, it’s perfectly understandably that someone who had previously been hit by that stick, or seen others like them hit with the stick, to get freaked out and upset by it. This is not something I’d really considered before today, something I’ve never HAD to consider before today, never even considered that I might have to consider it one day (as is the nature of privilege), and until my mind fully understands the concept I’ll defer to greater wisdom: is it truly never OK for a white person to use that word, or are the situations where it is ok just complex enough that if I have doubts I’m better off saying “the N word” always, should the situation arise (which it hasn’t in a very long time, I should emphasize).

  34. smhll says

    Everyone I met in a service position was dark-skinned, all of the management staff were white. Without exception. It was a surreal experience for me.

    I took a minute to boggle my mind imagining what would happen if/when the first dark-skinned person got hired into management at any of these places. It’s pretty easy for me to imagine a barrage of disrespect and harassment.

    Three years ago? Wow!

  35. says

    You know, JPGK, you sound a lot like me. And it’s ironic that you’re fighting the same things I fought twenty-five years ago as a student. At one point, I was actually in the local Klan’s sights for something I’d published in my school newspaper. It was insane – this was the late 1980s, not 1930!

    Anyway, I lived in Florida from age 7 until age 38, was raised by a northeastern parent, everything very similar to your description. I loved the beauty of my state, enjoyed the beaches and the climate and the springs.

    And then I noticed that no one really cared about its beauty, and certainly not many people cared about its citizens who were poor and/” darker than a paper bag”. And that racism, sexism, and Fox News-ism were as rampant as the boll weevil once had been.

    A few years ago I moved to Boston.

    When I return every year or two at the holidays, it depresses me for weeks on end. It’s not just the casual racism, the accepted sexism, the rampant and delusional classism, the religious biases. It’s not even entirely the third-rate educational system and the self-congratulatory provincialism. Nor is it the utter lack of what I’d call a real bookstore for fifty miles in any direction from my parents’ homes.

    It’s that no one really seems troubled by those things. So long as things work mostly okay for most middle-class Floridians, nothing will change.

    When my parents are gone, I don’t see any reason to return to the place. It can fall off into the sea for all I care.

  36. Chaz says

    As someone looking to move over to the USA and being here on a reconnaissance mission at the moment, I too noticed the issue about the buses being of a certain “colour” or “class”. It was just an observation on my part and while I may have some suspicions as to the why’s and wherefores, it’s to early for me to confirm or deny these not having done and research. Therefore it was interesting to read this piece.

    What does disturb me a lot is the level of brazen racial discourse and how seemingly intrenched it is in general and also within what appears to be a certain main stream political party as mentioned. Sadly the constitution seems to me to have been reduced to just a piece of paper that is fast losing its value.

    On a slightly different note I am also equally troubled by how partisan the court system is. Judges are known and referred to as being democratic or republican leaning? How can this be? Justice is supposed to be blind. There must be another way to do this surely, i.e. perhaps not by elected officials as is the current fashion? There must be other better models. For example, how do they do it in the UK?

  37. says

    I’m not particularly comfortable with that last part. If present trends continue, many of the most populous cities in Florida will be underwater by 2100.

  38. Scott says

    I’m a white guy with relatives from Florida. I would caution any POC against visiting northern or central Florida. The things I have heard my relatives and there friends say are shocking. I remember visiting for Christmas in the early 1990’s. I was at a church Christmas party hosted by one of my Aunt’s friends. The friend’s son was about my age and was a deputy sheriff. He seemed very nice and introduced me to many people in the congregation, including several black people. As we were talking I asked him what it was like to be a deputy sheriff. He answered, “It is OK except for all the n*****s”. I was so stunned I probably stood there with my mouth hanging open as I looked over his shoulder at some of the black church members he had just introduced me to. I now wish I had called him out, but I was just too shocked at the time. Being a white guy with blue eyes means many racist whites think I am one of them and I have heard terrible things in many parts of the country, but Florida is a special case.

  39. jenny6833a says

    Nope, not a joke at all.

    As the late Lee Baxandall used to say, “Clothing-optional areas are the distinguishing mark of civilized countries.”

  40. says

    So your response to “Florida is a place where people get shot in the face and denied the right to vote because of their race” is “but some people can be naked in public, therefore it’s not all bad!”

    Maybe you want to take a minute to sit and think about where your priorities are at.

  41. Pen says

    I thought that was something I ought to know, so I looked it up for you. Judges are appointed by competitive process. This is the result of changes to the system that occurred only in 2005. You’d think I would know about it, but I was out of the country as usual! I think there would also be cultural reasons why judges appear less politically partisan than in the US – views considered extreme are held to make people look uneducated and unreliable – that’s my impression, anyway.

  42. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    Racism counts when it’s a means as well as when it’s an end.

  43. says

    You’re absolutely right. DMVs tend to be located in the suburbs, where public transportation options can become much more limited. Visiting the DMV necessitates taking at least one full day off work due to queues. Add more time to this if you need to go out and get supporting documentation (like a birth certificate or social security card).

    Some people don’t understand just how much of a pain it is to make a trip to the DMV when you don’t already have a car.

  44. EllenBeth Wachs says

    Puhlease, people! Get it right! It is Floriduh! And we are home to Sheriff Grady Judd a man that idolizes and aspires to take the place of Joe Arpaio. He doesn’t make the inmates wear pink underwear. Nope. He doesn’t give them any underwear!

    http://www.wtsp.com/news/article/201010/8/Polk-Sheriff-No-free-underwear-for-inmates

    He also is well-known for abusing his office and sending his deputies after you if you criticize him. Child protective services just so happened to investigate the author of this letter criticizing one of his racist deputies.

    http://www.theledger.com/article/20120731/EDIT02/120739941/1037/edit02?Title=Deputy-Remarks-Racist-&tc=ar

  45. Rieux says

    I cannot imagine any acceptable context for a person like me using any slurs of any kind at any time.

    At a substantial risk of engaging in white/mansplaining myself, I would submit that using slurs “in quotation marks,” as it were—that is, as objects of good-faith, non-bigoted, and non-stupid analysis and discussion about those slurs—can be acceptable even for white people. Though even under those circumstances, care must be taken, for the reasons described up and down this thread.

    See, for example, callistacat @11 on this thread; I don’t know that callistacat is white, but even if zie is, it seems to me that hir use of the N-word is unobjectionable.

  46. baal says

    I visited my parents in NC one xmas (a suburb of Raleigh even). I was generally appalled and wanted to leave as fast as possible. Just one detail (of many) – the neighbors let my parents know that their red, blue, green xmas lights were not ok. Colored lights were for colored folks. White folk need to use white lights.

    I can’t imagine Florida if it’s worse.

  47. Cashdoller says

    I followed this from the link that read:
    “The N word” is just a word! By choosing to be offended, you grant it power.”

    And for the life of me I can’t see how this blog posting is any argument against you granting it power by getting emotional over it.

    But what I’m really curious is where does niggers little sister “nigga” fit into this whole equation? Is that one okay on any level for anyone? Is there a difference? Should there be a difference?

  48. Cashdoller says

    Did those black people not identify with being niggers? Meaning – did they think of “niggers” as a class below black people? Hence – it being okay for him to talk about niggers in front of the privileged white and black people? (That’s a rhetorical question because I am genuinely curious)

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