Sometimes, while not screaming at the ceiling, we repeat ourselves here at Happytown™ HQ. Sure you could blame the thin air in our lofty second-floor offices or the wafts of fish and popcorn coming from the break room, but mostly our repetition is a result of anger culminating in a series of Network-esque moments involving the fact that we're mad as hell and not particularly wanting to take it anymore. It's what you do when you realize that your righteous indignation is not echoing the way you hoped it would.
Case in point: Last week, we made a breezy mention of the fact that Gov. Rick Scott, during a $142 million game of running with budget- cutting scissors, decided to remove $1.5 million from the state's 30 rape crisis centers during Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The story kind of took on a media life of its own, with the whole shebang winding up with Scott, according to the now defunct Florida Independent, attending a Tallahassee awards ceremony the very next day to honor victims' advocates, including - wait for it - Nicole Bishop, who runs a certain Palm Beach County Victim Services Division that happens to be a rape crisis center that got in the way of Scott's eager cutting implement. Genius.
The governor's spokesperson Lane Wright was quick to jump to his master's defense, calling the new $1.5 million “duplicative” to the Huffington Post, adding, “There was no information suggesting any needs in this area that weren't already being met. The state already provides about $6.5 million for rape prevention and sexual assault services. That is in addition to the funds available for domestic violence programs - $29 million, to be specific. Many victims of sexual violence seek refuge at domestic violence shelters.”
Before we get too high on our ladyhorse here, it's worth pointing out that Wright's transparently flip equivocation of the various needs of women in trouble is just a small part of what we've already made ourselves hoarse over in trying to point out the general Republican war on women. Nationally, there's been a battle brewing in the U.S. Senate over preserving the 18-year-old Violence Against Women Act, with Senator-psycho Marco Rubio choosing to vote against extending the legislation along with his oak room pals, basically because they're afraid it's too kind to gays and immigrants. Back home in Florida, insult will meet injury on the ballot come November when Amendment 6 - a confusing bit of “right to privacy” and parental notification nonsense that even Florida Family Policy Council douche-in-residence John Stemberger admits in a legal analysis is intended to erode a woman's right to choose - comes up for some political air. At what point are women going explode in rage at all of this? How much more will it take?
“It's like, what else can they possibly do?” says Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando President and CEO Jenna Tosh, who was called a “harlet” [sic] by one of the always informed Orlando Sentinel commentariat after writing an op-ed on Amendment 6 on April 27. “Every time you think they've gone as far as they can possibly go, they come up with some new, creative way to attack us. It's this idea that women are an interest group that can be marginalized and not 51 percent of the population. We're not an interest group. Everybody has a mother.”
And everybody presumably has a brain, which makes that $1.5 million cut to rape services all the more inexplicable, especially when held up against the Kevlar-coated $2 million reserved annually in Florida for the funding of the pamphleteers at Christian crisis pregnancy centers - or, rather, the billboards that support them. 18 days! Heartbeat! Fuck off!
“It's just devastating,” says Tosh, who points out that the area's only domestic abuse center for women, Harbor House, already has a waiting list. “Rape crisis centers and domestic violence centers actually save women's lives. Those billboards are on there to make women feel bad about themselves.”
That, dear readers, seems to be the goal all around. In the immortal words of Bongwater's Ann Magnuson, “that's what women are all about, anyway, right? Sucking and shopping, sucking and shopping.”
Florida, in general, seems to be all about not knowing its head from its ass or where to suck the most, at least when it comes to university education. The other goal in Florida - as has been embarrassingly illuminated by a national news outlet for men with bellies as big as their bankrolls, Forbes - is to ensure that everybody remains stupid and poor while pretending to look smart. An April 22 piece by the magazine reported that gator-frat-beer-pong-heaven, the University of Florida, would be dropping altogether its computer science department. Why? To save $1.4 million, allegedly, or at least ensure that fewer people would be wearing glasses and pocket protectors. The move has predictably incited an uproar - including the obligatory online “save the geeks”-style website - and prompted, according to Forbes, acclaimed computer scientist Carl de Boor to send a nice little letter (email?) to the UF president asking, “What were you thinking?”
Thinking? Who does that, anymore? A couple of points of context that Forbes brings up: Rick Scott has been hot to create that new polytechnic school in Lakeland that is basically a fuck you to the University of South Florida in addition to the various fuck youshe's already issued to liberal arts education in general; also, back at the University of Florida, the athletic budget has jumped by $2 million, because that's what really matters when you think about it. Beers all around!
Apparently coming to its senses, or fearing reprisal from bellies and bankrolls, the University of Florida announced on April 25 that it would not be dropping its computer science program after all, because that would just be dumb.
“As many of you know, the proposal has been met with overwhelming negative response, much of which I believe has been based on misunderstanding,” burped UF President Bernie Machen in a statement. “Nonetheless, it is clear that the University of Florida must figure out a way to make it through these financially difficult times in a productive manner. I am optimistic we can do that.”
Optimism will get you everywhere.