Why Is Florida So Weird? A Zillion Examples and 5 Theories
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Every state has something shameful to hide. But Florida is the weirdest state. It’s one thing to go online and look at the latest "Crazy Florida" lists or "Weird Florida" tours. If you Google, “Why is Florida,” before you type in another letter, it fills in, “so crazy,” “so hot,” “so weird.” But joking aside, if you drive south from Alabama and Georgia and turn on the nightly television news, you are going to find behavior that ranges from dumb and dumber to dark and despicable.
“A Florida man shot himself in his penis and testicles while claiming to be cleaning his gun,” blared one ABC-TV affiliate. “A Florida man whose hand was bitten off by a nine-foot alligator now faces charges of feeding the animal,” blared another. And state wildlife officials also were not too thrilled with a company whose business is bringing alligators with their mouths taped shut to kids’ birthday pool parties (for a $175 fee).
But then the local news goes gothic. A Florida man was upset that his wife didn’t thaw the frozen pizza and shoved her face into a dog bowl, police said. Another man forced his wife to swallow her diamond engagement ring after she announced that she was leaving. In another bad pizza story, a man punched the delivery boy after he forget garlic knots.
And then comes cannibalism. Another man “chopped off his victim’s head, removed part of the brain and an eyeball, put them in a plastic bag, walked 12 blocks to this cemetery, Lakeview Cemetery, and then ate them,” WTHH-TV reported. Other skin-eating criminals also made national news, with details too gross to mention.
So what is it? Is there something in the state’s character that delights in proving—or telling the world again and again—that Floridian facts are stranger than fiction?
“A Florida man is dead after competing in a bug eating contest at a reptile store,” another station reported. Another cockroach-eating story starred a preacher wanting to attract new parishioners. The state sponsors python killing contests, though some Floridians keep them at home as pets—until they are herded like cattle and confiscated.
The “weird Florida” list goes on and on—and then it moves into the political world.
Florida’s bad politics startled the nation in 2000, when the U.S. Supreme Court stopped a presidential recount and gave the White House to George W. Bush. Its current governor, Rick Scott, is one of America’s worst. He was elected after touting his years as CEO of Columbia/HCA, a big hospital chain that paid a total of $1.7 billion in fines for taxpayer-bilking Medicaid fraud felonies that were mostly committed while he was in charge. He spent $75 million of his money on his 2010 race. The fox now runs the henhouse.
At times, Scott, a Tea Party Republican, seems like a buffoon. At other times, he’s bent on destroying Florida government. He’s mistakenly given out phone sex line numbers at press conferences and signed a bill that unknowingly banned computers and smart phones at Internet cafes. He was called one of the nation’s worst governors by the Chronicle of Higher Education for wanting to phase out funding for the humanities. Scott resurrected a slew of Jim Crow-era voting tactics before the 2012 election, including false claims that 180,000 aliens were on voter rolls and shutting down voter registration drives.
Beyond Scott, Florida’s justice system cannot shake its inescapable racist reputation. It’s not just that the Trayvon Martin prosecution team could not convict George Zimmerman. The same prosecutor sent a black women—a young mother—to jail for 20 years for firing a warning shot after her husband, a known domestic abuser, threatened her.