The phenomenon of Florida Man

around since 2013

florida man beerI’m not convinced that men in Florida are, per capita, any weirder than fellows in Oklahoma or Maryland or New York. Yet the notion of the Florida Man has been around since 2013. The meme calls attention to Florida’s supposed notoriety for strange and unusual events.

This narrative is explained HERE. “On May 12th, 2015, the Miami New Times published an article titled How Florida’s Proud Open Government Laws Lead to the Shame of ‘Florida Man’ News Stories, which cited the state’s Sunshine Act as a possible cause for the bevy of ‘Florida Man’ news stories.”

The paper “noted that freedom of information laws in Florida make it easier for journalists to obtain information about arrests from the police than in other states and that this is responsible for the large number of news articles.

“All we have to do in most cases is call the police department and ask for an arrest report, and the cops are required to give it to us. Nowadays a lot of cops simply email the reports, and some departments even post arrest records online. Some of the more dedicated weird-Florida-news reporters go through batches of arrest reports at a time.”

For instance, here are 60 examples posted in 2018:
Florida Man attacked during selfie with squirrel
thousands of gun owners in Florida planning to “shoot down” Hurricane Irma
Florida Man gets tired of waiting at hospital, steals ambulance, drives home
Florida Man breaks INTO jail to hang with friends
Florida Man denies drinking and driving, says he only swigged bourbon at stop signs

Here’s a list from Huffington Post and a description in the Urban Dictionary.

In fact, the phenomenon has engendered some reflections. It turns out that people from Florida are (slightly) better at guessing if a ‘Florida Man’ story really happened in Florida.

I’ve been to Florida twice, both to conferences in the 1990s. Once, I was in Miami during a muggy October. The other time was in Orlando, but no, I never went to Disneyworld or Universal Studios.

FL Florida – first two letter. The traditional abbreviation was Fla. Capital: Tallahassee. Largest city: Miami.

FM Federated States of Micronesia. Capital: Palikir. Largest town: Weno. It is “a sovereign, self-governing state in free association with the United States of America, which is wholly responsible for its defense.”

For ABC Wednesday

Is Stand Your Ground bad law?

I could have sworn I had written about my concerns about the Stand Your Ground laws after Florida passed it, long before the shooting and killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. Can’t find it. So I’ll cheat, and expand on this document from the government of the state of Connecticut.
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The Castle Doctrine and “stand-your-ground” laws are affirmative defenses for individuals charged with criminal homicide. The Castle Doctrine is a common law doctrine [going back to English common law] stating that an individual has no duty to retreat when in his or her home, or “castle,” and may use reasonable force, including deadly force, to defend his or her property, person, or another. [There was a case a few years ago where some drunk guy wandered into someone’s home in western New York at 1 a.m. The intruder was shot and killed, and no charges were filled.] Outside of the “castle,” however, an individual has a duty to retreat, if able to do so, before using reasonable force.

Stand-your-ground laws, by comparison, remove the common law requirement to retreat outside of one’s “castle,” allowing an individual to use force in self-defense when there is reasonable belief of a threat. [Note this important distinction; one does not have to walk away from the conflict.] Deadly force is reasonable under stand-your-ground laws in certain circumstances, such as imminent great bodily harm or death.
Continue reading “Is Stand Your Ground bad law?”

Florida: race, murder, self-defense

“The most damning element here is not that George Zimmerman was found not guilty: it’s the bitter knowledge that Trayvon Martin was found guilty.”

After George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin death in Florida, the New York Daily News did a piece When will it end? Deadly racial targeting of black men and teens is hardly ancient history.

So I find it difficult to look at the case as a singular event but in the context of a social pattern. Black-on-black murder doesn’t make headlines, unless it hits an epic proportion, as it has in Chicago recently. Black-on-white murders statistically draw tougher sentences. So there is always uneasiness when a white-on-black killing takes place. Continue reading “Florida: race, murder, self-defense”