Like most people in this part of the country Mr. Beale and I used to spend a week or so at the beach every year — Florida, to be precise. We’d go to a place near Appalachicola, and rent a house for a week or two, usually in September when we could take advantage of “off-season” rates. It was cheap, we could bring our dogs, and it was a relaxing, quiet way to spend the days. We’d bake ourselves in the sun, eat lots of shrimp, go for long walks on the beach, throw a tennis ball into the water and watch the dogs chase after it.
We haven’t done that in about 10 years. Back in 2002, the last time we were down there, I was shocked to see a green pickup truck on which someone had spray-painted in gigantic letters: “Nuke The Ragheads.” They were proudly driving around town with their bigotry and intolerance on display for all to see, somehow thinking it was “patriotism.” I told Mr. Beale I couldn’t go back to Florida. So we haven’t.
Not once. Not even when we’ve been invited by relatives and friends, even though my mother-in-law goes down there every year for a month and temptingly offers a spare bedroom. I know my in-laws think I’m being nutty, a bit capricious; my friends think it’s stupid, there’s lots of wingnuttia all over the country and for god’s sake, I live in freaking Tennessee. Some of my family thinks it’s because of the stolen election in 2000 and while that may be part of it, really what pushed me over the edge was that “Nuke The Ragheads” pickup truck.
Since 2002, I’ve had lots of reasons to reinforce my Florida boycott: the statewide ban on adoption by gays and lesbians, Hillsborough County’s 2005 ban on gay pride events, the Koran-burning pastor, the Republican Party fundraisers involving shooting at effigies of prominent Democrats, the wackadoodle Governor Rick Scott, who by all rights should be in jail for ripping off the American people when he was head of Columbia-HCA. I’ve not been tempted to rethink my Florida ban, not even once. Sure I may live in Tennessee, but when I’m thinking about where to spend my vacation time and my vacation money, that ain’t it. There’s lots of coastline in the world and I don’t want my money going to support what’s coming out of Florida, even indirectly.
So that’s just me. And then we have Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who for over 30 years has apparently regularly visited a hunting camp with friends, family, donors, and other political allies. And that hunting camp was named “Niggerhead.”
I guess that’s the difference between Rick Perry and me.