Saturday, August 18 , 2018, 5:59 am | Mostly Cloudy 67º


Letter to the Editor: Florida’s Fuehrer

A government bureaucrat publicly mentions a verboten subject, is suspended from work by his ruler and required to get a mental health examination before returning.

The USSR under Joseph Stalin? Germany under Adolf Hitler? Romania under Nicolae Ceausescu?

No. The USA, state of Florida, under Gov. Rick Scott.

Sub rosa, i.e., leaving no official paper trail, Gov. Scott made known to state employees that the phrases “climate change” and “global warming” were never to be uttered or written by them while doing state work.

The gag order, of course, was meant to protect Florida real estate from any unfortunate price re-evaluations that might occur as a result of public discussion of the notable dangers to the state posed by rising sea levels — 80 percent of the state's residents live near the coast. Sea level rise is already evident there and further inundation (Miami Beach is only 4 feet above sea level) has been predicted by climate scientists. (Could the gag also have been meant to boost the Republican governor's standing with the Tea Party?)

Somehow, though, longtime state employee Barton Bieber didn't get the word. At a February meeting of a Florida Coastal Managers Forum, “he introduced himself by congratulating other officials on the call for the 'exciting' work they were doing to address climate change” (U.S. Guardian).

Shock! Revulsion! Whispers! People reaching for cell phones!

Not satisfied, Bieber compounded his flagrant disloyalty by mentioning in his official notes of the meeting “climate change,” which had been one of the subjects of the meeting!

At this threat to the peace and prosperity of his constituents, Florida's governor mercifully sidestepped capital punishment; he only dismissed Mr. Bieber from duty for two days, but to preserve some sense of propriety, required as a precondition for reinstatement a medical verification of the dissident's mental health.

Here we have Florida Gov. Rick Scott, potential Republican presidential candidate, a good ol' boy of the South, who apparently feels the need to go even further — and be more secretive — than his brethren in North Carolina, whose legislature has forbidden the use in any state document of any current climate science evaluation as to future sea rise to its shores.

During World War II, there was a popular Spike Jones record and a Disney Daffy Duck animation, whose lyrics went something like this:

“When Der Fuehrer says vee own de vurld und space
Vee “heil,” ffft, “heil.” ffft, right in Der Fuehrer's face.

Not to love Der Fuehrer is a great disgrace
So vee “heil,” ffft, “heil,” ffft, right in Der Fuehrer's face.”

But currently it seems that, other than Mr. Bieber who is now suing the state, no Spike Jones fans have enlisted in Florida's bureaucracy.

It is clear now, though, that in two of our 50 states, truth is not a defense against government decree; official diktat determines what may be recognized by the apparatus. Our (real estate) values must not be compromised.

Here is Kapitalism at its best!

William Smithers
Santa Barbara

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