Now that Gov. Crist has signed a bill removing the term "shylock" from Florida's law books, he's opened the door to a host of other possibilities. "Shylock" had to go because it was offensive to Jewish people. It dates all the way back to Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice, in which a Jewish money lender named Shylock, who's reviled by the Christian merchants, demands a pound of flesh for a debt that's not repaid. The old state statute uses "shylock" to mean the same thing as loan shark, perpetuating the stereotype of money-hungry Jews that has persisted for hundreds of years. As the token Jewish blogger for The Juice, I'm happy to see it go.
But I was thinking, aren't there better words we could use instead? How about Madoff sharks? Or AIG-style loans? Countrywide, anyone?
Try as they might, the best bigots in the state couldn't invent an ethnic slur that would be more accurate than the names of America's most prestigious financial institutions. Sure, Madoff happens to be Jewish. But you can bet no one's inviting him to a Boca Bat Mitzvah any time soon.
Besides, Bush is Christian and well, you know the rest.