This past legislative session was a rare productive period for your usually fractious Florida lawmakers. Not only did the state's representatives pass meaningful legislation; they somehow managed to do so without going full tilt into the Red State shenanigans that usually make Florida a punch line on The Daily Show. Well... almost.
Among the first 58 pieces of legislation that were passed along to Rick Scott last Thursday was Senate Bill 386, a mundane-sounding piece on foreign law that's actually nothing more than a jingoist chest bump.
The proposed law addresses the "Application of Foreign Law in Courts." In the text, it basically says a Florida court can't cite foreign law when it goes against public policy in family law cases... which is basically what the law already allows.
But although it doesn't mention the world "Sharia," the legislation was meant as a direct response to fears over damned liberals pressing Islam on your innocent country and making your daughters wear burkas.
Or something like that. Back in 2011, a Tampa judge ruling on a case involving a local mosque cited "Ecclesiastical Islamic Law." Conservative noisemakers online went HAM, accusing the court of opening the door for a Muslim takeover of the red, white, and blue. Hence the law.
What hit the Legislature this year -- proposed by Sen. Alan Hays and Rep. Larry Metz -- was a watered-down version of what was originally proposed. Regardless, the fact that the legislation was a knee-jerk jingoist move prompted a strong response. Both the Anti-Defamation League and the Council on American-Islamic Relations fought the bill. And when the legislation was passed, Democrats nearly all voted against it, 24-14 in the Senate, 78-40 in the House.
Somehow, the vote tally added up to something different for WesternJournalism.com, a mostly forgettable mouthpiece for bad info, slant, and neanderthal conservatism. Following the bill's passage, the website ran a headline proclaiming "Florida Democrats Just Voted to Impose Sharia Law on Women."
Which is, uh, an interesting way to look at it. When PolitiFact got ahold of that claim, it tore the website a new one, handing out a "Pants on Fire" label.
It's all fun and games... until your governor actually signs this thing into law. Sure, it's only a effete symbolic gesture with no real muscle. That said, how many more black eyes can Florida handle? We've already got a good number of shiners going; think we should probably avoid any more for the time being?