Sunday, July 06, 2008

Florida: no more old folks at home.

All de world am sad and dreary,
Ebry where I roam,
Oh! darkies how my heart grows weary,
Far from de old folks at home.
-Stephen Foster- Old Folks at Home

Time marches on, but Florida just wanders around in the heat. Tomorrow, Tuesday marks the inauguration of some new laws and other changes that may or may not make life here different, but will reflect the push and pull of activists, lobbyists and variously impassioned people.

For one thing, Florida boosters will no longer be singing about "darkies." Stephen Foster's "Old Folks at Home" is no longer the State Song, Governor Christ's feeling being that the rendering of 1850's dialect is condescending at best. I have to agree about the old Minstrel show song, although as with Mark Twain's use of the N word, it reflects the way people spoke at the time, not they way certain words are taken today - both Foster and Clemens sympathized with abolition and the plight of enslaved people. "Florida Where the Sawgrass Meets the Sky" has been designated as the state's new official anthem.

Republican fiscal responsibility having impoverished a sizable number of Floridians to the point where a traffic fine might mean bankruptcy, one can now do community service as penance.

Despite the tragic revenue shortfall the Bush economic miracle has brought about, they're bringing physical education back to elementary and middle schools. Let's hope it's not dodge-ball. Now, if they will teach literacy and history, we might begin to break the Republican stranglehold on young minds.

In the "why the hell didn't we do this 20 years ago" department, a second conviction for molesting a child will earn the perp a life sentence without parole. Let's just hope we don't extend the definition of "lewd and lascivious molestation" as far as certain activists would like. as it stands, "mooning" can be classified as molestation if a kid sees it.

Be careful about picking on us old people too. Aggravated abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult will be a first-degree felony and don't forget that many of us geezers are excellent marksmen.

And Florida has finally put a price on freedom: it's $50K a year if they wrongfully imprison you -- but not if you have a prior record. That gets the Fogg Say What? award for 2008.

But all in all, things may be getting better here. Looks like there's really going to be a substantive effort to restore the Everglades and to stop supporting the sugar cartel at the expense of our formerly pristine environment. With developers going bankrupt and people fleeing to a cheaper lifestyle in the Carolinas, it's getting greener all the time.

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