Our bud, artist Deborah Gorman, just got back from what she calls "Planet Florida."
Deborah grew up in the state that is sticky hot in the summer, and fled to the somewhat more temperate bay area some time back.
Now, I know there are those who think those of us in California--particularly the San Francisco Bay Area--live in looney land. Before Diane moved out here, her family referred to this as "the land of fruits and nuts."
Now, like anyone, I love home, and home is what is normal to me. And, I suspect the same is true for residents of the Sunshine State. Furthermore, it is not like weird stuff does not happen out here.
But, somehow, among Trayvon Martin, Rick Scott, weird voting laws and now the explosion of the Richie Incognito/Jonathan Martin crap, I do wonder whether the state that actually has the oldest settlement in the country (that would be St. Augustine, founded in 1565) seems to be happier living in the time of stocks and pillories, rather than the real world in which the rest of us have tried to evolve.
Between the information now coming to light about the latest questionable "Stand Your Ground" case--that would be that of Jordan Davis--and the light shed on Incognito's incredible racist diatribe, which was caught on Jonathan Martin's answering machine, I wonder just how Floridians define the sunshine in state?
Davis, who with his buds got into a dispute with a fellow traveller at a gas station, was shot to death sitting in the passenger seat of an SUV after the gunman decided Davis and company were playing their music too loud. So, Michael Dunn unloaded ten rounds from his nine milimeter gun into the SUV, killing the 17-year-old Davis.
Though no weapon of any kind (per the Davis family attorney) was found in the SUV, and oddly, Dunn's legal representative, Robin Lemonidis, told reporters her client "acted as any responsible firearm owner would have."
Which does not seem that far from the vicious message that Incognito left for Martin.
But, the other analogy here is that the inhabitants of the state largely seem as passively accepting of "Stand Your Ground" as do the Dolphins, and perhaps the entire NFL with respect to the "Incognito Affair" (is it not ironic that the guy's surname proves to be the opposite of his actual behavior?).
Now, I recognize that sports seems to have odd hazing rules. There are these unwritten rites of passage that seem to be accepted and denied at the same time. Hazing, like headhunting in baseball, or the Mafia, or honor killings in some countries, reflect the darkest side of our nature, cloaked in some delusionary rationalization that justifies said deviant behavior.
And, while I am sure the behavior that occurs in the Dolphins locker room is not unique to that franchise, let alone sport, I do have a bit of hope that like hazing rituals on college campuses, the scandal starts to quell this horrible behavior.
But, to start, I believe that Joe Philbin, the Dolphins coach, needs to be terminated immediately.
There are rumors that Philbin and his staff encouraged the hazing activities, and though that would not surprise me, that is not really the point, any more than the racist name of Rick Perry's family hunting lodge is suddenly acceptable because the name was painted over a decade ago.
That name was NEVER ok, any more than hazing was ever ok. Or stand your ground murders.
When the story first broke, earlier this week, we saw Philbin speaking, talking about the "safe environment" he wanted for his players, just like he wanted a like aura for his kid's school.
Diane said Philbin sounded reasonable, but all I could say was "bullshit."
Di asked me why, and I said, "He is the coach. He better know everything that is going on with his team, in his clubhouse, and largely among his players. At least about something like this. So, if he knew about it, shame on him, and if he did not know, well, shame on him as well."
When I was just out of college, back in the mid-70's, my high school friend Morrison England was a big and fast enough defensive football player to be drafted by the Jets, out of the University of the Pacific.
Morrison signed, and went to camp, quitting after about a month because of the horrible racist (England is African American) tenor of camp, something as a Northern Californian, he was just not used to in that degree.
So, instead of the NFL, England went to law school and low and behold, he is now the Chief Judge of the Federal Court District of Eastern California.
I think one thing we might think here is that Morrison made the right choice.
But more important, we should think of how good Jonathan Martin might be with encouragement instead of ridicule. Or, what kinds of lives Trayvon Martin or Jordan might have led had they not been the victim of said prejudice. They never even had a chance, let alone a choice.