Wednesday, January 26, 2005


It wasn’t that long ago California was the undisputed heavyweight champion of American goofiness. The Golden State could always be counted on for producing more than its fair share of absurdities. The rest of the country pretty much laid back and waited to be entertained by hemp worshipping transcendental skater boarders, bug eyed vegan/animal rights yapping starlets who couldn’t spell vivisection much less tell you what it means, or an attention sucking politician advocating tossing the Julian calendar in favor of something more gender neutral or perhaps lawyers protecting the constitutional right of death row inmates to organ transplants.

Yet lately, California has seen its dominance in the doofus quotient usurped by its Sunshine State cousin back east. Florida has become the bright shining star of “What the Fuck?” behavior that confounds, amuses and has the rest of the country thanking God and fate they don’t live there.

Beyond its rigged elections and spawning such horrors as Katherine Harris and Hooters, Florida has been entertaining us with carnival acts like the “Divine” impersonator who managed to wrangle her fifteen minutes and a cool $28,000 from a decade old grilled cheese sandwich she claimed carried the visage of the Virgin Mary.

If one is looking for the root causes behind this epidemic of madness, one apparently need look no further than the state's educational system and the local constabulary to see where it all begins.

The latest episode of Florida sun stroke induced human stupidity belongs to grade school dean (dean?) Marty Clifford and the Ocala Police Department. After viewing the homicidally themed artistic collaboration of two students, 9 and 10 years old, Clifford concluded a significant threat was afoot and he called police. The two lads had drawn a pencil and crayon self portrait showing themselves impaling and lynching a fellow classmate who had apparently invoked their ire.

The Ocala police handcuffed the aspiring Pollack and De Kooning and spirited them off to jail. According to Ocala police sargent and certifiable dimwit, Russ Kearns, "When an adult or even myself look at the picture looked at it at first I was thinking there is really not much to the picture or I would not be that scared by the picture those children drew however, we have to put ourselves in his mind and that's the bottom line here. It is his well-being and the way he perceived that picture to be. It actually put him in extreme fear and he was in fear for his life."

Right. There’s a leap of logic most level headed adults would make with 10 year olds. It couldn’t be possible that "he" is the class snitch and young Jackson and William were merely hoping to scare the snot out of him. Or God forbid, "Dean" Clifford might actually earn his living by sitting the boys down and explaining to them that they need to knock this crap off or he is going to send them home to their parents.

If that’s the kind of police work they teach in Florida it explains why it took them forever to track down Ted Bundy and why Eileen Wuornos was so successful. Mental acuity of this stripe is an open invitation for every criminal in America, in and out of the White House, to make a pilgrimage to Jeb’s state where the gettin’ is good just as long as you’re not a fourth grader with construction paper and crayolas.

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