Florida under Governor Rick Scott is
slowly becoming the kind of dictatorship
portrayed years ago in the movie "Z"
This story takes place in Florida but I’m going to begin it almost half a century ago in Greece. That was when a peace activist and physician named Gregoris Lambraskis was clubbed over the head, in public, for his political opinions, and died of the beating.
His death lead to demonstrations that captured the Greek headlines. Over half a million people joined a protest against the right wing government – actually more of a military junta than anything most Americans would recognize as a government. When honest government investigators began uncovering connections to ultra right wing extremists and the army, the investigators were fired from their jobs.
All this was retold in a 1969 film called "Z," a real-life thriller that fully deserves a revival. You can learn more about it and see the trailer here.
In the film, as in real life, the protest movement begins scrawling grafitti around town consisting of one letter, “Z,” which was shorthand for “He Lives!” referring to Lambrakis. So the government, in reaction to public exposure of corruption and illegalities, and still trying to maintain thought control, outlaws the letter Z.
And now to Florida.
The Miami Herald is reporting that Governor Rick Scott’s office has threatened to fire, and in fact has fired people for using forbidden words and phrases. The forbidden words and phrases are, “climate change,” “global warming” and "sustainability.”
“We were told not to use the terms ‘climate change,’ ‘global warming’ or ‘sustainability,’” said Christopher Byrd, an attorney with the DEP’s Office of General Counsel in Tallahassee from 2008 to 2013. “That message was communicated to me and my colleagues by our superiors in the Office of General Counsel.”
One former DEP employee who worked in Tallahassee during Scott’s first term in office, and asked not to be identified because of an ongoing business relationship with the department, said staffers were warned that using the terms in reports would bring unwanted attention to their projects.
“We were dealing with the effects and economic impact of climate change, and yet we can’t reference it,” the former employee said.
The prohibition against words pertaining to global warming occurred after one agent of Governor Scott, Herschel Vineyard Jr., was appointed director of Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection, effectively changing it into a department of environmental destruction. The Miami Herald also reports:
Under Vineyard, the DEP was repeatedly embroiled in controversies, from the suspension of its top wetlands expert after she refused to approve a permit to a failed effort to sell off surplus park land. Longtime employees, including Everglades scientists, were laid off or fired, while top jobs went to people who had been consultants for developers and polluters. Meanwhile the emphasis in regulation shifted from prosecuting violations to helping industry avoid fines.
As for Chris Byrd, well, he hasn’t been clubbed over the head in Tallahassee by thugs in a passing truck, the way Lambraskis was in Greece. Not yet, anyway. But Governor-Dictator Rick Scott and his coo-conspiring corruptocracy have already sought revenge. The Miami Herald reports:
DEP dismissed Byrd in 2013. His termination letter states: “We thank you for your service to the State of Florida; however, we believe the objectives of the office will be accomplished more effectively by removing you from your position.” Byrd, now in private practice as an environmental lawyer in Orlando, said he was fired because he repeatedly complained the DEP was not enforcing laws to protect the environment.