Confederate Flag Flies Again in Marion County

Okay, time to layer in some complexity, this one is probably not as obvious as you think it is…

1) Marion County has a “five flags” display outside their courthouse, in other words they fly the historic flags of the five nations (France, Spain, Britain, USA, and CSA) which at one time or another have flown over the state of Florida. That the Confederate States was one of those five nations is a historical fact.

2) If you are going to have a “five flags” display, the flag representing the Confederate States should be one of the three (or more counting variations) national flags of the CSA, and not the “battle flag”, which was never used as a national flag. Setting aside for the moment the racial connotations the battle flag has taken on after the war, it simply is not the correct flag to fly to represent the nation that was the Confederate States of America. To Marion County’s credit, the flag they use is the third national flag of the CSA, and not the battle flag.

3) While the display is both historically valid and accurate, one should remember that lynchings were widespread across the South up until the mid 1930’s, and Marion County led the state in the number of lynchings of black men. Florida as a whole had more lynchings of blacks per capita than any other southern state. I’m not sure historical validity and accuracy is of much comfort to the families of those who were murdered not that long ago based on the color of their skin.

4) I wonder why supporters of Marion County’s flag display aren’t doing more to honor and embrace their French, Spanish, and British heritage in the same way they embrace their very brief period under CSA sovereignty. I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw a royal French or Spanish flag flying from the back of a pickup truck, and Union Flags in these parts are pretty much only used to identify Doctor Who fans (a few of whom do drive pickup trucks).

The Southern Class System

Recent comments on the seeming inequity of how the “Stand Your Ground” law is applied in Florida have been popping up all over the Internet. Some seem confused or surprised by the results, but to me it seemed a perfectly logical, albeit inherently unfair, and frequently sad, outcome.

What people are failing to recognize is this: Even though we like to think of ourselves as a “classless” society, and that we are all equal under the law, the southern class system, as old as the South itself, still plays a large role in everyday life in much of Florida. This is no more true anywhere than in the way criminal law is applied in our courts.

I suppose I’ve spent so much time living here that I just sort of assumed everyone knew how things really worked, but if you don’t understand the southern class system, I imagine much of what happens in the Florida courts will be a complete mystery to you.

Please understand – I do NOT advocate this class system, I would like very much for it to become a thing of the past. I am documenting it here so that we can all recognize it for what it is – and if we see it, and know it, and become aware of it, we can work to remove it, and maybe one day realize our ideals of true equality under the law.

So, this is meant to educate, not to offend. Apologies in advance to any of you who don’t know me or understand this concept. Anyhow, it goes something like this.


The Southern Class System

White Males
Hunting Dogs
White Women
English Speaking Foreigners (Brits, Aussies, etc)
Other Proper Foreigners (Germans, Swiss, etc)
Irishmen, Italians, and Poles
Other Farm Animals
Chinamen and Mexicans
Dark-skinned people who aren’t really Black Folk
Black Folk
Ticks, Fleas, and other Parasites
The Devil Himself
Carpet-Baggers (a specific type of Northerner)

1. You may notice Gays are not included, they would be classified under “Frenchmen”.
2. Jews do not require a separate classification, most of them are already “Northerners” anyway.
3. After 1945 change “Carpet-Baggers” to “Commie Pinkos”.

Dealer Licensing

Do you know what the state of Florida requires you to do if you want to become an auto dealer?

– get a $25,000 bond
– get $25,000 in liability insurance
– provide proof of lease or ownership of your location
– make sure your location has a permanent structure for an office
– have DMV inspect and approve your location
– complete a 16 hour dealer training seminar
– submit fingerprints
– complete an application
– pay a $300 application fee

Do you know what the state of Florida requires you to do if you want to become a gun dealer?

– nothing
– no really, literally nothing

(In the interest of full disclosure, an ATF license is required for gun dealers in any state. The application fee is $200. It does require fingerprinting and a background check.)

In other news, the my future dream business of “Wiggins World of Wheels” will be changing it’s name slightly… to “Wiggins Weapon Wonderland”.

Swing State

One of the “benefits” of living in a swing state is we get to see all of the campaign commercials. Two in particular have been making the rounds, one featuring Obama, and the other featuring Bill Clinton for Obama, both basically suggesting we need to continue on the same path, and eventually it will all work out.

This reminds me of that little kid at the party who keeps trying to do the magic trick, but never quite gets it right. “Is this your card?” “No wait, here, is THIS your card?” “No, hold on, let me do it again, is this your card?” “No?” Eventaully his mommy will come along and tell him that’s enough, and to go play in his room now.

Now let me be clear, I don’t think Obama is the Devil. I don’t think he is the anti-Christ. I don’t think he is a Socialist. I don’t think he will plunge this country into a thousand years of darkness. (Really Chuck? A thousand years of darkness?). But, I am getting tired of waiting for his magic trick to work, and I think maybe it is time for him to go to his room.

Only problem is, then we have to talk to creepy Uncle Mitt, and he always calls us “sport” and “champ” and rubs our head and asks how our lacrosse team is doing this year, and I don’t know what to say ’cause I don’t even know wtf lacrosse is.

My Florida

The little Pontiac is a mid-engined two seater, and 20 years ago it was bordering on the exotic. Today, well, it goes from point A to point B, with an acceptable level of reliability. I let her warm up as I loaded up some supplies in the passenger seat and in the small cove it calls a trunk. When we were both ready I hopped in and drove south out of town, past the edge of civilization, and the antenna farms that lie just beyond. Through the jungle and into the Florida savannah that stretches southward towards the Everglades. The open landscape is flavored here and there with farms; growing oranges, tomatoes, strawberries, and tropical fish. And everywhere cows, always cows, and stands of live oak, and the occasional palmetto bush.

There are a few little towns along the way, a curious miixture of retirement communities of old people from the Northeast and Midwest, where polyester is still a viable fashion choice, and the best parking spots at the Publix supermarket are reserved for golf carts; and immigrant enclaves, where Mexicans and Guatamalans and Hondurans and others are busy chasing their own version of the American dream, which for them is little more than working in the fields by day, to put food on the table and a roof over their family’s heads at night. In between these villages you find the good old fashioned Florida crackers, the spiritual descendants of the original farmer/ranchers who were the only ones willing to settle this land from the time of the Spanish until the invention of air conditioning. This is red state country, land of Jesus and Budweiser and Nascar and Marlboro.

Here moss doesn’t grow on the north side of the tree; It hangs thick and silvery from every branch. Here a Cuban may be a person, but more often than not it is a sandwich. It is rarely, if ever, a cigar. It is hot here, and unbearably humid, but most years the summer rain comes and goes in the afternoon with a regularity that the retirees envy. Most true Floridians do not own an umbrella, for to carry an umbrella is a full time commitment with little payoff.

If you ever come here, you should know – the people here are insane, but for the most part harmless, and they can be quite fun if you get to know them. For lack of a better word, they are “kooky”. They, like the state itself, are a confusing mixture of oddities that make no sense together, yet somehow, it all works.