What does Bodily Autonomy mean?

One of my values is: My body. My choice.

When I saw the photo in the TU of the protester at the recent “Reopen Florida” rally with a sign about bodily autonomy, it got me to thinking.

What is the difference–as it relates to bodily autonomy–between gay rights, consent to being touched, abortion, and vaccines?

The difference is that vaccines and other requirements around Covid-19 are designed to protect my body and those of my loved ones especially those with compromised immune systems. If people don’t adhere to the guidelines and suggestions, then MY body might be harmed.

I’m a freedom loving individual so I tend not to favor authoritarian laws. I would hope that everyone could be convinced to do the things that would protect the lives of others. But what should we do if people don’t voluntarily keep six feet away from us and if they refuse to take the vaccine once it’s available?

The guy, who was carrying the sign about bodily autonomy and about his desire that the vaccine not be mandated, was also carrying a sign about V. A. Shiva Ayyadurai. According to Wikipedia, Dr. Shiva wrote that a national lockdown was unnecessary and advocated that large doses of vitamins could prevent and cure the disease.

Are people that haven’t seen the polio or measles epidemic the only ones that think vaccines are not necessary? We need to learn from history even if we haven’t personally lived it.

I do find it odd that Trump seems to be egging on these anti-vaxxers while at the same time pushing for vaccines and medications that aren’t properly tested. I don’t want to take a vaccine that isn’t properly tested. It might do more harm than good. However, I do hope everyone wants to take the vaccine that is proven safe once it is available if they don’t already have the antibody against this new virus that is infectious even when the carrier is asymptomatic.

Questions of fairness and bodily autonomy and freedom of conscience are important for our country.  It is my belief that the First Amendment to our Constitution was trying to balance the competing rights of people within a community.  It is my belief that the First Amendment should not give special privileges to certain groups but it should be used as a tool to see if a regulation or rule is too egregious. If one group can arbitrarily be exempt from the law, then perhaps the law isn’t actually needed.  And if the law is needed, then why would one group be allowed to arbitrarily be exempt?

This is being brought to light in a recent court case in Kansas. Some churches want to be exempt from some of the laws which aim to protect the community from covid-19. Americans United for Separation of Church and State, an organization whose mission statement includes protecting religious liberty,  submitted an amicus brief about the case.  My understanding of their brief: groups can’t use religious liberty as a reason to harm others. The First Amendment should be used as a shield to protect an individual and not as a sword to harm others.

References

Link to photo of the guy carrying the Dr. Shiva and bodily autonomy sign:
http://photos.jacksonville.com/mycapture/enlarge_remote.asp?source=&remoteimageid=28581306&_ga=2.150159665.642738862.1587566705-365010665.1557152173

Link to wikipedia where I got the quote about Dr. Shiva:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shiva_Ayyadurai

Article about Trump and vaccines:
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/09/health/trump-vaccines.html

Americans United for Separation of Church and State issued press releases regarding churches that want to be exempt from the laws aimed to reduce the spread of covid-19:
https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/kentuckys-public-health-order-temporarily-banning-large-gatherings-does-not
https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/americans-united-denounces-federal-court-decision-on-kansas-public-health
https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/religious-services-shouldnt-be-excluded-from-bans-on-large-gatherings-to
https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/au-urges-4th-us-circuit-court-to-affirm-virginias-ban-on-large-gatherings-can
https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/virginias-ban-against-large-gatherings-protects-public-health-does-not-require
https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/texas-countys-mass-gathering-ban-protects-public-health-does-not-require

I used the phrase authoritarian laws but maybe paternalist laws would have been a better term.  Quote from this article:

It is paternalism for the government to tell you that you cannot imbibe noxious substances that will rot your brain. It is paternalism to tell you that you cannot indulge your hedonistic desires to the detriment of your productivity or your everlasting soul.   …

If the only consequence of reckless behavior is that engaging in it will cause YOU harm, that is one thing. You might underestimate your risk or the baneful consequences, but those are risks for you to take and you can suffer the consequences of those risks.

But in the case of COVID-19, self-harm is not the only or even the primary consequence of ignoring the recommended guidelines. The consequence of engaging in reckless behavior is that you dramatically heighten the risk of spreading the disease to others and as a consequence of significantly harming or even killing them.

Thoughts on Covid-19

What are the rules for quarantine once someone tests positive? Are there any fines if someone violates the quarantine orders?  (ref 1)

South Korea is being praised for their efforts in combating the virus. However (if I am reading the news article correctly), they didn’t shut down their beaches.  They put strict quarantine rules on people that tested positive. They fined people that broke the quarantine rules.  Why aren’t we fining people that break the quarantine rules while they are awaiting their test results or after testing positive for the novel coronavirus? (ref 5)  How many cities are providing quarantine hotel rooms to people while they await their test results? (ref 11)

South Korea is fining people that break quarantine orders. Governor DeSantis has ordered people coming for NY to quarantine. What’s the fine if they don’t? What steps are being taken to quarantine people that came in contact with someone that tested positive? What use is the testing if we don’t follow up with quarantines?

What questions do they ask people that are getting tests for the virus? How is the data being accumulated  to try to understand how this is spreading?. Are researchers getting information so they can determine how people are getting the virus?

People getting tested for the novel coronavirus should be asked:

1.  Have you stood within six feet of anyone in the last 14 days? If yes, where?

2. If you haven’t stood within six feet of anyone in the last 14 days, have you attended an event where more than 10 people were in attendance? If yes, where?”

How different would things be now if everyone had been required to wear a mask out in public starting back in January? A call for tests and quarantines and masks should have been happening starting in December.(ref 6) If the office dedicated to pandemics had not been disbanded in 2018, would that office have helped coordinate activities so we would have been better prepared? (ref 10)

Will future elected officials remember the lessons we learn? Will they start the production of tests and protective gear as soon as we hear of a new virus that could possibly lead to a pandemic? (ref 9)

Are the people in power making suggestions based on current available information?Their suggestions seem inconsistent.

It feels inconsistent to allow exemptions for golf courses and churches but no effort to let us walk and surf at the beach. I don’t begrudge people being allowed to golf as long as they stay six feet from each other.  But why can’t those of us that love walking on the beach be given the same privilege?

Are the beaches closed where Senator Thompson fled after testing positive for the novel coronavirus? It certainly seems the powerful get more privileges than the rest of us. Because the senator has the money to own a home on the beach, he gets to enjoy the beach that has been closed to the rest of us. (ref 1)

I have written the ACLU asking their opinion about Governor DeSantis giving special assembling privileges to some groups that he isn’t giving to other groups. I’ll let you know if I hear back.  The fact that the church in the Tampa area is a bastion of the local Republican party makes this look especially egregious. Why are churches getting exemptions that other groups are not getting? This favoritism must surely be unconstitutional. (ref 2)

Can the people in power prevent one group from being a church? That would be contrary to the religious freedom laws, yes? Who gets to define a “church”? It shouldn’t be the GOP that is in power that gets to decide who can assemble in a way that privileges certain people over others. Doesn’t it smell of a Theocracy to let churches meet but not other groups? The First Amendment demands freedom of assembly in addition to freedom of religion.(ref 4).  Why can’t a surfing club be a religion?  And part of their religious beliefs is to surf.

Make the same rules for everyone. Keep six feet apart.  And no more than 10 people in an enclosed area measuring 1400 square feet.

references
(1) Quote from article:
According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Thompson was symptomatic and hospitalized on March 19 while he waited for testing results. Three days later Thompson confirmed he’d contracted the virus. … Sen. Bruce Thompson’s arrived at his beach house on the island late Tuesday night in a caravan of three cars.
https://www.jacksonville.com/news/20200402/coronavirus-florida-after-local-outcry-georgia-senator-who-tested-positive-for-coronavirus-leaves-st-george-island

(2) Quote from this article:
Warren said. “It looks like the governor is putting his own political ambitions above the lives of health care workers, law enforcement officers and the entire state of Florida.”
https://www.tampabay.com/news/health/2020/04/02/hillsborough-officials-appeal-to-churches-after-governors-order-exempts-religious-services/

(3) Quote from article:
The North Florida PGA Section obtained the clarification from the Governor’s office with the requirement that all courses must either allow golfers the option of walking, or have one person per electric or gas-powered cart, with no exceptions.
https://www.jacksonville.com/sports/20200401/coronavirus-florida-golf-courses-still-allowed-to-operate-under-state-jacksonville-executive-orders

(4) Quote from article:
Can I go to church?
Although many churches in the Jacksonville area have switched over to streaming services online, religious services conducted in churches, synagogues and houses of worship are considered “essential activities.” According to a spokesperson for Mayor Curry’s office, congregations can be 50 people or less, and people must stay 6-feet apart.
https://www.news4jax.com/news/local/2020/04/01/can-i-go-to-church-and-answers-to-your-questions-during-safer-at-home-order/

(5) Quote from article:
In this way, governments around the world are facing a hard choice between these two violations of individual rights (information exposure and movement restriction). South Korea has chosen the former, but France and Italy had to choose the latter. The former requires the necessary infrastructure and a culture that tolerates a certain level of surveillance, neither of which can be created overnight.
https://theconversation.com/coronavirus-south-koreas-success-in-controlling-disease-is-due-to-its-acceptance-of-surveillance-134068

(6) Quote from link :
Simple cloth masks that cover the mouth and nose can prevent virus transmission from such individuals when they are out buying groceries or seeking medical care, according to the memos obtained by The Washington Post.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2020/03/31/coronavirus-latest-news/

(7) Quote from link:
Behind its success so far has been the most expansive and well-organized testing program in the world, combined with extensive efforts to isolate infected people and trace and quarantine their contacts.
https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/03/coronavirus-cases-have-dropped-sharply-south-korea-whats-secret-its-success

(8) Why aren’t they telling us if these people followed the keep six feet away rules? This link tells us how many people have tested positive but not much else: Florida Health Covid-19

(9) Excerpt from this article: … the US has been extremely slow to roll out diagnostic testing for the Covid-19 disease. It’s unclear if there’s a specific policy or decision to blame for the current situation. It arose from a combination of manufacturing problems, chronic underfunding, and an apparent lack of foresight. But no matter the specific reason, the testing challenges, scientists tell us, make us less prepared to deal with this unfolding public health crisis that will probably get worse before it gets better.
https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2020/3/6/21168087/cdc-coronavirus-test-kits-covid-19

(10) Excerpt from article:
The top White House official responsible for leading the U.S. response in the event of a deadly pandemic has left the administration, and the global health security team he oversaw has been disbanded
“It seems to actively unlearn the lessons we learned through very hard experience over the last 15 years,” said Konyndyk, now a senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development. “These moves make us materially less safe. It’s inexplicable.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2018/05/10/top-white-house-official-in-charge-of-pandemic-response-exits-abruptly/

(11) Quote from article:
Hillsborough County on Monday announced it had signed six-month renewable leases with two hotels to provide up to 360 beds for residents who either need to isolate or quarantine because of the virus.
https://www.tampabay.com/news/st-petersburg/2020/03/30/st-petersburg-mayor-rick-kriseman-warns-social-distancing-or-citation/

Talking points to oppose HB 1079

Great summary of last week’s committee meeting;
https://www.jacksonville.com/news/20200122/bill-for-elected-duval-schools-superintendent-advances-in-legislature

HB 1079 is being heard: Tuesday, January 28, 2020 3:30 PM  in room 102 House Building


I think we should first say a short description of why we’re here. This is what I’ll say:
My father was in the Navy.  I went to public schools all over the United States of America.  My daughter and I graduated from Jacksonville public high schools. I feel very grateful for my public education and for my daughter’s public education. That is why I am here today.


Option one
I think the best way to have the most qualified superintendent is for the school board to interview, hire, and fire (if needed) the top administrator of the school district.

Just as the JEA board (a Jacksonville board currently appointed by our mayor) hires the top administrator, the school board needs to continue to hire the top administrator. Incompetent or unethical administrators can be removed immediately as the JEA board did with the JEA top administrator Aaron Zahn. Perhaps the board removed Zahn due to local public outcry, but still the point is that it was possible to immediately remove him. It is more difficult to remove elected officials.

The local city council can put things on our ballot. As a matter of fact, they are contemplating putting something on our ballot to change the way the JEA board is appointed.  I hope that will be on our ballot soon, but it might not make it onto our ballot until November 2020.

The point is that we’ll have lots of things on our November 2020 ballot without this horrible attack on home rule being added to my city’s ballot by the state legislature.

HB 1079 is in violation of the local bill manual which says local bills should not be used if the purpose can be accomplished at the local level.  Things can be put on our city’s ballot by the city council, the school board, and by citizen initiatives.

Senator Gibson and Representative Davis of the Duval Delegation voted no on J-1. I thank them for their no vote.  The required economic impact statement completed by Jason Fischer and the OGC should have included the cost of educating the voting public about the issue. Democracy only works when the voters understand the ramifications of their vote. We do not want taxpayer dollars and energy wasted on unnecessary ballot proposals and campaigns.


Option two

Our elected school board members are elected specifically to represent the public interest in our education system. The voters have given them the authority to make decisions specifically about our school district. The school board passed a resolution opposing J-1 (HB 1079).

Under our County Charter we have the authority in our jurisdiction to make the change suggested by HB 1079 if it is ever desired.  However there is not now, nor has there ever been community outcry for this bill or its intent.

Please vote no on HB 1079. This local bill is a horrible attack on home rule.


Option 3

HB 1079 is in violation of the local bill manual which says local bills should not be used if the purpose can be accomplished at the local level.  Things can be put on our city’s ballot by the city council, the school board, and by citizen initiatives.

Our school board plans to put on our Jacksonville ballot in November 2020 an item that will allow us to raise funds to renovate or replace district owned school buildings that have lasted over 50 years.  As you may know, school districts all over Florida have passed these referendums because the state has cut funding for capital outlay funding going to district owned school buildings.

In addition to the school board’s referendum on our November 2020 ballot, state citizen initiatives will be on our ballot.

As an aside: Please don’t vote yes on any of the bills before the current legislature that will make it harder to get citizen initiatives on the ballot. Citizen initiatives with huge support are a great way for the people’s voices to be heard.

Three initiative campaigns have, thus far, qualified to go before voters in November’s general election – Florida For A Fair Wage’s “Fight For $15”; an “open” primary proposal for state Legislature, Governor and Cabinet; and a constitutional amendment stipulating “only,” rather than “any,” U.S. citizen can legally vote. Two other prospective amendments still vying to meet the signature requirements by Feb. 1 – Ban All Assault Weapons’ and Make it Legal Florida—may also be on our ballot.

The point is that we’ll have lots of things on our November 2020 ballot without this horrible attack on home rule being added to my city’s ballot by the state legislature.

Please vote no on HB 1079. This local bill is a horrible attack on home rule.


Option four
I want our elected school board to continue to be able to conduct a nationwide search for a qualified superintendent with the academic credentials, skills and experience necessary to run a large school district. (128,000 PLUS STUDENTS, 14,000 EDUCATORS AND STAFF).

If Representative Fischer brings up the UNF poll in his closing arguments as he did in last week’s committee meeting, I hope you will do your own research on it. As Mike Binder, director of the Public Opinion Research Lab, mentioned in an article, the question was poorly worded and could have misled respondents. Plus the poll only included about 600 people that answered their phones.

Please vote no on HB 1079. This local bill is a horrible attack on home rule.


Option 5

I hope Representative Fischer will let us know in his closing arguments who in the Duval Delegation voted yes on the amendment to HB 1079. Amendments to Duval local bills have to be approved by the majority of the Duval Delegation before the amendment can be presented to the state legislative committee according to the local bills manual.

 Without approval of the amendment, HB 1079 was in violation of Florida’s Constitution Article IX Section 5. The fact that the amendment was needed to bring HB 1079 into compliance with Florida’s Constitution was a clear sign the bill wasn’t properly vetted and I thought it may have caused some on the Duval Delegation who originally voted yes on J-1 (Clay Yarborough, Aaron Bean, Cord Byrd, Wyman Duggan, and Kimberly Daniels) to withdraw their support for HB 1079 and vote no on the amendment.

 Please vote no on HB 1079. This local bill is a horrible attack on home rule.

If you haven’t already signed these voter initiatives, why not?

If you haven’t already signed these and you want to sign one, then please print it  from the My Florida website.  Be sure to print on both sides of the paper if the petition is a front and back.  There is an address on each petition as to where to mail it.

Details of below initiative can be found at this link:
https://dos.elections.myflorida.com/initiatives/initdetail.asp?account=64632&seqnum=5
BALLOT SUMMARY: Allows all registered voters to vote in primaries for state legislature, governor, and cabinet regardless of political party affiliation. All candidates for an office, including party nominated candidates, appear on the same primary ballot. Two highest vote getters advance to general election. If only two candidates qualify, no primary is held and winner is determined in general election. Candidate’s party affiliation may appear on ballot as provided by law. Effective January 1, 2024.

Details of below initiative can be found at this link:
https://dos.elections.myflorida.com/initiatives/initdetail.asp?account=70490&seqnum=3
BALLOT SUMMARY: Prohibits possession of assault weapons, defined as semiautomatic rifles and shotguns capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition at once, either in fixed or detachable magazine, or any other ammunition-feeding device. Possession of handguns is not prohibited. Exempts military and law enforcement personnel in their official duties. Exempts and requires registration of assault weapons lawfully possessed prior to this provision’s effective date. Creates criminal penalties for violations of this amendment.

Details of below initiative can be found at this link:
https://dos.elections.myflorida.com/initiatives/initdetail.asp?account=73891&seqnum=1
BALLOT SUMMARY: Requires State to provide Medicaid coverage to individuals over age 18 and under age 65 whose incomes are at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level and meet other nonfinancial eligibility requirements, with no greater burdens placed on eligibility, enrollment, or benefits for these newly eligible individuals compared to other Medicaid beneficiaries. Directs Agency for Health Care Administration to implement the initiative by maximizing federal financial participation
for newly eligible individuals.

Details of below initiative can be found at this link:
https://dos.elections.myflorida.com/initiatives/initdetail.asp?account=70115&seqnum=1
BALLOT SUMMARY: Raises minimum wage to $10.00 per hour effective September 30th, 2021. Each September 30th thereafter, minimum wage shall increase by $1.00 per hour until the minimum wage reaches $15.00 per hour on September 30th, 2026. From that point forward, future minimum wage increases shall revert to being adjusted annually for inflation starting September 30th, 2027.

I was troubled at the city council meeting on May 28, 2019

I went to a city council meeting Tuesday night. I went to support Earl as he gave his secular humanist invocation. I stayed to speak during the comment period in support of  the city council allowing the school board to ask the voters for a dedicated revenue stream to keep the neighborhood schools in good repair.

The city council talked mostly about internet cafes. I didn’t understand their banter. I’m glad the Times Union wrote an article about it which you can read at this link:
https://www.jacksonville.com/news/20190529/jacksonville-city-council-cracks-down-on-simulated-gambling

I still have questions.

I don’t have a problem with gambling being illegal. BUT shouldn’t we be consistent? Is there other problems to gambling other than the addiction issue? Why is the lottery OK but not these internet cafes? IF these machines are so bad, why do nonprofits get to operate them? In response to this part of the article: “The bill lets nonprofits operate gaming events twice a year …”

I wish someone would write a more detailed article about this part of the article:

“If the city doesn’t enforce the rules, a change drafted by Councilman John Crescimbeni would let residents do it themselves by going to court and seeking a judge’s order through a process called injunctive relief. A similar process has been used to prod the city to enforce its rules protecting trees from being eliminated for development, Crescimbeni said, noting that the city is required to pay attorney fees for successful resident challenges.”

Is the above quote saying residents can sue the city? Why the city? Why don’t they sue the landlord or the operator? And for the tree ordinance, why don’t they sue the violator? Why the city? I fund the city with my tax dollars. I’m not sure I’m in favor of making it easier to sue the city unless some city official is biased or negligent then hopefully the lawsuit results in a firing. No? Am I wrong?

I can understand that citizens don’t want unsavory characters in their neighborhoods. That is what zoning laws are for, yes? In response to this part of the article: “We have a problem where people are coming from outside our state and outside our county..”

Some of the council members said the citizens are complaining about the internet cafes. What exactly is the complaint? Unwelcome tourists? In response to this part of the article: “We have families that are reaching out to us and they’re begging us to do something about it.” One council member asked if a vacant building would be worse than an internet cafe.

The crime mentioned in the article is people robbing these places because they have a lot of cash on hand. Why are these cafes more vulnerable to robbery than other businesses with cash?

I am worried about Gulliford’s desire to hank someone’s city certificate with 5 days notice when they haven’t done anything illegal. The ones without COU’s can already be prosecuted according to the way I read the article. I am glad that cooler heads prevailed and the city council gave the business with valid COU’s six months before they hank their COU.

Is this legal? Landlords being punished for someone else’s crime? How will landlords know what their tenants are doing? In response to this part of the article: “Property owners who let someone else operate the machines in their buildings can be fined $1,000 for each violation” Hopefully the landlord will get a warning and help with their eviction proceedings.

Some council members mentioned that they are voting yes on the bill because they’ve driven by these internet cafes. Doesn’t that strike you as odd? What business is next? Maybe the internet cafes should be illegal BUT the reasoning of “I drove by one” makes NO sense to me.

I also hated Gulliford’s joke toward the end of the city council meeting where he simulated shooting someone. How distasteful for an elected official to say that. I wasn’t able to trim the video perfectly so a couple of council members speak before and after Gulliford makes his joke in this clip:

It smells like partisan politics to me. Did these internet cafes not give enough campaign dollars to Curry? Maybe I’m just too cynical these days.

Quotes from article:
110 businesses hold city certificates authorizing them to operate….
“We’ve already begun with the non-COU holders,” Hughes said. ”… We’re prepared to move forward.”

Here is the link to the proposed ordinance:

http://cityclts.coj.net/coj/COJbillDetail.asp?F=2019-0209\Current%20Text

BUT the bill raises more questions also.   Quote from the proposed bill:

WHEREAS, gaming and gambling are not presently lawful in the City;

 

Thoughts and links on HB 741

I was following HB 741 thru the various committees during the recent Florida legislative session. I found it fascinating that it passed unanimously. (ref 1)

Representative Kimberly Daniels mentioned the so-called Messianic Jews as she stated her support for the bill called antisemitism. Representative Daniels makes her comment about Messianic Jews around the 2 hour and 16 minute mark in the video. Link to the video (in case you want to hear Representative Daniels): https://www.myfloridahouse.gov/VideoPlayer.aspx?eventID=2443575804_2019031312

I wonder if anyone mentioned this to Representative Kimberly Daniels: “​V​arious Christian leaders have publicly criticized Messianic Jews for their aggressive missionizing in the Jewish community and for misrepresenting themselves as Jews.” (Ref 2)

I know many people were outraged when Vice President Pence invited a so-called Messianic Jewish Rabbi to give a prayer after the murders at a synagogue. Here is a link to one article talking about that: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/30/us/mike-pence-rabbi-jacobs.html  When I originally read the news, I (like Representative Daniels) didn’t understand the history of the Messianic Jewish movement. A friend explained it to me. Hopefully someone explained to Representative Daniels why bringing up the so-called Messianic Jews while expressing support for an antisemitic bill was inappropriate.

Representative Fine said his bill HB 741 is trying to address a growing fever of antisemitism.  In the Florida House Education Committee (link above) and the Florida Senate Judiciary Committee (link below) you can hear many people express their support for Israel and their sadness over the existence of antisemitism in this country.

The bill was heard in the Florida Senate Judiciary Committee on April 8th, here is the link (discussion of HB 741 begins around minute 20):
http://www.flsenate.gov/media/videoplayer?EventID=2443575804_2019041108&Redirect=true

During the session when the Florida House voted on HB 741, they started the meeting with “In Jesus’s Name We Pray.” I thought that was odd. Here is the link to the  video: http://www.flsenate.gov/media/VideoPlayer?EventID=2443575804_2019041146
The prayer is at the beginning of the meeting. They discuss HB 741 (the antisemitism bill) beginning around the 3 hour and 45 minute mark.

Representative Fine spoke up and put into Florida law that antisemitic language is not welcome in Florida. You can hear him say (in the full house meeting on April 10th–see link above) that the law won’t put anyone in jail for saying mean stupid things. The bill clarifies and acknowledges that words matter and some words make people feel excluded.

I continue to wish that HB 741 would apply to not only the public schools but also to the private schools receiving voucher money. Since some of the most vocal Christians mentioned their love of Israel rather than their disdain for antisemitic language in the debate of the bill, I do wonder about their motives of adding “religion” in the list in Florida Statute 1000.05. These days, when people add religion to a list I wonder if instead of using it as a shield to protect against discrimination, they want to use religion as a sword to harm others.

Quote from this article https://www.npr.org/2019/05/23/724135760/how-the-fight-for-religious-freedom-has-fallen-victim-to-the-culture-wars:

“RFRA was originally enacted to serve as a safeguard for religious freedom,” he said, “but recently it’s been used a sword to cut down the civil rights of too many individuals.”

There is a lot in the bill I don’t understand. And I do wish the definition of antisemitic language was broader so it included the definition of bigoted language in general.  However, there is something cool about 100% of the Florida legislators saying antisemitic language should not be used.  I do worry, however, that the dominionist christians have ulterior motives,

I read a Huffington Post article (see quote below) and it made me wonder why Governor DeSantis is signing HB 741 in Israel.  Governor to sign HB 741 in Israel.

Quote from this article: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/opinion-ingersoll-jerusalem-embassy-end-times_n_5afae504e4b09a94524c312c

…Some heard in those prayers generic messages about peace and the safety of Israel. Some Evangelical Christians heard that they, and their fellow believers, are at the center of God’s plan for history. And they heard loud and clear the essential message that, despite his failings, the president is playing his part.

These are the questions I’d like answered by Representative Fine (the sponsor of the bill):
1.  What do you think of Representative Daniel’s  mention of the so-called Messianic Jews?
2.  What do you think of Representative Sullivan’s emphasize on Israel rather than on antisemitism?
3.  Will adding religion to 1000.05 create problems similar to how RFRA created problems?  In other words, will this be used not only to provide a shield against discrimination but as a sword to harm others?  If a religion’s tenets call for harm to others, how will this be sorted out?  I recently read an article that a legislator said his religious beliefs say that the races shouldn’t mingle.  I have heard that some religions condemn homosexuality.   Some religions require that wives obey their husbands.  How will these things be sorted out?
4.  Why didn’t you include wording to make sure the bill applies to any school that receives public funding?  Does it cover the charter schools?  Does it cover the private schools receiving voucher money? If not, why not?
5.  Could you tell me more about the statute that Representative Thompson mentioned? Is every school in Florida that receives public funds required to teach details of the holocaust? (ref 3)

Representative Sullivan expresses her support of Israel but makes no mention of antisemitism when she speaks at the 2 hour and 23 minute mark
Education Committee–03/21/19 https://www.myfloridahouse.gov/VideoPlayer.aspx?eventID=2443575804_2019031312

House Session 4/10/2019  starts around the 3 hour and 45 minutes mark:
http://www.flsenate.gov/media/VideoPlayer?EventID=2443575804_2019041146
Some of the quotes from the session:
Representative Fine says that antisemitism is increasing.
Representative Fine says it applies to public schools.  [BUT how does he define “public schools”?  Does it mean any schools receiving public funds even private schools receiving voucher money?]
The first part of the bill is merely the definition of antisemitism.
Representative Fine says the bill does not criminalize antisemitism.  People are allowed to be anti-Semites and racists.
Representative Thompson says there is a statute that requires that public schools require the teaching about the Holocaust

References
1. https://www.timesofisrael.com/florida-senate-passes-anti-semitism-bill/

2. https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/messianic-judaism/

3. https://www.adl.org/blog/why-we-need-legislation-to-ensure-the-holocaust-is-taught-in-schools

How is a Legislator Supposed to Vote When a Bill Isn’t Perfect?

Some Florida Senators and Representatives voted no on bills banning fracking because the bills didn’t ban all fracking. Environmentalists felt the omission was intentional and encouraged legislators to vote no on any bill that didn’t ban ALL fracking. SB 314 is the good law. Whereas SB 7064 fails to include a ban on matrix acidizing that threatens Florida’s sources of potable water.

I listened to a committee meeting discussing SB 588 designed to take away home rule regarding the banning of plastic straws. GOP legislators introduced a bill to prevent a county from banning plastic straws and then added wording to the bill about generators at gas stations. Why did they do that? If a legislator didn’t like the preemption bill concerning plastic straws, then would the legislator be forced to also vote no on the part of the bill that would keep gas stations open during a hurricane evacuation?

What is a representative to do IF a bill isn’t perfect?

Senator Gibson’s quote from this article:

I am a champion for all people, all races and all religions. And there’s a lot of misinformation and seemingly deliberate efforts to try to paint me as someone I am not.

Senator Gibson had asked that a bill (mentioned in the article) be more broad in terms. She wondered if singling out one religion might have unintended unwanted consequences to the group being singled out.  I also feel it would be better if Representative Fine used the following wording (instead of the wording in lines 61 to 78 of HB 741 that he used):

Bigoted language includes: calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of a group of people based on their religion, race or gender; making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about a group of people based on their religion, race or gender; denying a well documented atrocity.

The above wording was copied in part from Representative Fine’s bill EXCEPT he made the wording specific to ONE minority religion. I rephrased his wording so that bigoted language was defined more broadly.

I also have other issues with Representative Fine’s bill HB 741. Why doesn’t SB 1272 (and the companion bill HB 741) drafted by Representative Fine apply to ALL schools receiving public monies either directly or indirectly? It only applies to the neighborhood schools and the magnet schools. Why didn’t Representative Fine want the bill to apply to charter schools and private schools receiving voucher money?

Another thing causing me to worry about Representative Fine’s bill (as it was worded when Senator Gibson voted no on the bill) is that adding religion to 1000.05 of the Florida Statutes might allow the evangelical dominionists to have more power to use religion as a sword to harm others.

We need the wording of the Do No Harm Act whenever we’re adding religious protection so the law can be used as a shield against discrimination and not a sword to harm others. RFRA taught us that sometimes people use what was meant to be good legislation in a way that harms others. Whenever religious freedom is added to the laws, the following wording should also be added:

This religious freedom law should not be interpreted to authorize someone to cause harm to another.

HB 741 adds religion to 1000.05 of the Florida Statute. Here is how the statute (before adding religion) reads now:

1000.05(2)(a)Discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, disability, or marital status against a student or an employee in the state system of public K-20 education is prohibited. No person in this state shall, on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, disability, or marital status, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any public K-20 education program or activity, ….

I am not saying that HB 741 doesn’t have the potential to be a good bill. It merely needs to make the wording broader with the goal of preventing bullying of people based on religion, race,  gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, national origin, disability, or marital status.

More information about the rise of bullying based on religion, race and gender:

https://www.adl.org/take-action

The current legislature and governor are diverting more and more taxpayer money to charters and private school vouchers. Why aren’t these anti-discrimination and anti-bullying laws applying to those schools?

 

Does bigoted language increase feelings of hate? Are feelings of hate growing in our country?

A few quotes from an article (Bigotry and the English Language by TA-NEHISI COATES) that explores the definition of bigotry:

Wes Alwan’s definition of a bigot as someone who is wholly unpersuadable, wholly without conflict, and wholly without doubt, is a description of a myth. … Wes Alwan’s understanding of the word “bigot” is ignorant of the word’s current usage, especially its usage by those most affected by bigotry.

Link to the article:
https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/12/bigotry-and-the-english-language/281935/

This is a good time to point out that taxpayers are funding charters and private schools that do not need to follow the rules of the neighborhood schools. How horrible will we feel if a charter school or a school receiving voucher money turns out to be some sort of white nationalist propaganda mill? There is no reason SB 1272 (and the companion bill HB 741) shouldn’t apply to any school receiving public money, either directly or indirectly.

SB 1272 and HB 741 lay out the words of antisemitism. As Coates says in that Atlantic article, words trigger feelings of discrimination. Those not within that minority group may NOT understand how hurtful certain words might feel. When bigoted people use certain words they are signaling those other bigoted people within their bigoted group. I think that is the reason that Representative Fine goes into such detail as to what words signal antisemitism in his bill HB 741. Experts in drafting laws and in Jewish history and current affairs should consider that the law would be more effective if it was drafted in broader terms rather than specific terms. For example, instead of specific language, what about substituting lines 61 to 78 of HB 741 with these broader terms as to what constitutes bigoted language:

(a)
1. Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of a group of people based on their religion, race or gender.
2. Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about a group of people based on their religion, race or gender.
3. Accusing a group of similar people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single person from that group.
4. Denying the Holocaust. [Perhaps the narrative could be specific as to exactly what happened during the Holocaust.]
5. Accusing a citizen of being more loyal to another country just because another person of similar ethnicity or religion has demonstrated that proclivity.

Link to the bill:
https://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Documents/loaddoc.aspx?FileName=_h0741c2.docx&DocumentType=Bill&BillNumber=0741&Session=2019

Please write your representatives and ask that SB 1272 (HB 741–the companion bill) be amended. Racial, gender or religious bigotry should NOT be tolerated in any school receiving public funds, either directly or indirectly. The language of the Do No Harm Act (H.R. 1450) should be included because we want freedom of religion laws to be used as a shield against discrimination and not as a sword to harm others. Require that civility classes be taught. Prevention and education are the keys to reduce bigotry.

Link to information about the Do No Harm Act:
http://www.protectthyneighbor.org/do-no-harm-act

In addition to describing bigoted language, SB 1272 (HB 741-the companion bill) wants to add religion to this statute. Here is how the statute (before adding religion) reads:

1000.05 (2)(a) Discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, disability, or marital status against a student or an employee in the state system of public K-20 education is prohibited. No person in this state shall, on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, disability, or marital status, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any public K-20 education program or activity, ..

SB 1272 goes before the Florida Senate Judiciary Committee on April 8th. Jacksonville Florida Senator Audrey Gibson is on that committee. Please write to the Honorable Audrey Gibson about this issue before April 8th. Feel free to use any of the points I used in my email to the Florida Senator:

To: gibson.audrey@flsenate.gov

Honorable Audrey Gibson,

SB 1272 is on the agenda for the Judiciary committee for April 8th at 4 pm. The bill addresses antisemitism and adds religion to Florida statute 1000.05. PLEASE ask for these amendments to be added to the bill before voting yes:

1. SB 1272 (and the companion bill HB 741) should amend 1000.05 of the Florida statutes so that the statute applies to any school receiving local, state or federal financial assistance. Religious, racial or gender bigotry should NOT be tolerated in any school receiving public money, directly or indirectly. How horrible will we feel if a charter school or a school receiving voucher money turns out to be some sort of white nationalist propaganda mill? Now is the time to make sure that 1000.05 covers all schools receiving local, state or federal financial assistance.

2. In addition to specifically mentioning antisemitism, please also mention anti-atheism and other minority groups that have felt the brunt of religious bigotry.

3. The bill should include a requirement that civility and sensitivity classes be taught in all schools receiving local, state or federal financial assistance. All school children should learn that religious, racial and gender bigotry isn’t polite. The idea is to address hatred, yes?

4. The language of the Do No Harm Act (H.R. 1450) should be included. Our First Amendment religious clauses and other religious protection laws should be a shield of protection from discrimination not a sword to do harm to others.

The comments during the House Education and the House Judiciary committee meetings (discussing HB 741) made it clear why we need civility and sensitivity classes in all the schools. People testified in those committee meetings about the discrimination they or their friends have experienced in life.

I am worried that adding religion to the Florida statutes (without safeguards) might cause unintentional consequences (similar to what happened with RFRA). Americans United for Separation of Church and State as well as the ACLU supported RFRA decades ago. They did not predict how it would be used to harm others. They are now promoting the Do No Harm Act to fix the problems caused by RFRA. In my view, the wording of the Do No Harm Act should be included wherever religion is given special protection in state or federal laws. Our First Amendment religious clauses and other religious protection laws should be a shield of protection against discrimination not a sword to do harm to others.

Sincerely yours,
Concerned Jacksonville citizen

I see the need for sensitivity and civility training

HB 741 should provide for funding and require that sensitivity and civility classes be taught in all schools. If you don’t have a solution, why pass a bill?

Video of the March 21st Florida House of Representatives Education Committee meeting:
https://www.myfloridahouse.gov/VideoPlayer.aspx?eventID=2443575804_2019031312

Below are some comments made by legislators at the meeting discussing HB 741 that indicate we need civility and sensitivity courses taught in all the schools.  Around the 2 hour 6 minute mark in the video, Representative Fine answers a question with words similar to this:

“I don’t know the answer. The bill doesn’t regulate how the issue will be addressed in the schools.”

Later in the meeting, Representative Massullo mentions that discrimination is partly caused by ignorance. Representative Valdes says that she wishes we could change hearts. Representative Daniels mentioned Messianic Judaism.  Keep in mind that this bill is trying to address the problem that Representative Fine describes as a growing fever of antisemitism. Shouldn’t Representative Daniels’ remarks regarding Messianic Judaism indicate another example as to why we need classes in sensitivity? I know many people were outraged when Vice President Pence invited a Messianic Jewish Rabbi to give a prayer after the killings at the synagogue. Here is one quote from this article:

https://religionnews.com/2018/10/31/jewish-groups-decry-messianic-jewish-rabbis-prayer-at-pence-rally

The Jewish groups argued that allowing the rabbi, whom they don’t recognize as Jewish, to offer a prayer for victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting sowed religious division at a time when Americans should be standing with Jews.
A statement from the Rabbinical Assembly, a Conservative Jewish group and one of several to object, declared that “so-called ‘Messianic Judaism’ is not a Jewish movement.

In addition to requiring classes in sensitivity, I also wish they’d include the wording of the Do No Harm Act (H.R. 1450) in the bill. Any mention of religious protection should offer a shield against religious bigotry not a sword to attack others.

I do not understand the problem or know the solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.  I know that some people (including Representative Fine) see the need for this to be included in HB 741:

(b) Examples of anti-Semitism related to Israel include: Delegitimizing Israel by denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination and denying Israel the right to exist.

In addition to antisemitism, I wish Islamophobia and anti-atheism were specifically mentioned in the bill. There are examples of anti-atheism in this country and the world.  Here is how lines 51 to 54 of HB 741 reads now:

A public K-20 educational institution must treat discrimination by students or employees or resulting from institutional policies based on anti-Semitism in an identical manner to discrimination based on race.

There are many groups worried about legislation before our Florida Congress trying to expand taxpayer money to fund unregulated charter and private schools. As it stands now, this bill won’t cover those schools. In my view and in the view of many others, this is a BIG problem. IF religious bigotry is a problem and we’re trying to solve it, then a bill should not only apply to the neighborhood schools, it should also apply to any school receiving local, state, or federal taxpayer money.

Only 24% of the registered voters voted

Only 24% of the registered voters voted in the election — in Duval County –that ended March 19th.  Why so few?

Is it because news sources aren’t giving us enough information so that we’re uncomfortable voting?  Here is a funny skit about that:

Or is it because people feel the majority always wins so why bother?  If that is the reason then would proportional representation help? 
Quote from https://www.fairvote.org/how_proportional_representation_elections_work:

Proportional representation systems have the goal of ensuring that more voters receive some representation. Various systems have different ways of achieving these goals.

Why not elect the 5 city council at large seats via a proportional representation system? For example, what about the following? 

1.  10 candidates –with the most votes– win the unitary election for the at-large city council seats
2.  Those 10 candidates run in the general election.  The 5 candidates with the most votes would then serve as at-large city council representatives.

How do you think it would change if we got proportional representation? As it works now the majority get to pick all five at-large candidates.  In the election that ended March 19, the starred ones (in the below list) got the most votes in each individual election race and (even though some face run offs) will probably be our at-large representatives:

 **Lisa King , **Darren Mason,  **Tommy Hazouri,  **Matt Carlucci,  **Samuel Newby, Gary Barrett,  Connell A. Crooms, Jack Daniels, Terrance Freeman, Ron Salem, James C. Jacobs,Greg Rachal,Harold McCart, Don Redman, Niki Brunson, Chad Evan McIntyre.

I like the simple system that I stated above. I think single transferable vote is too complicated and doesn’t lend itself to easy auditing or recounts. Quote from this  LINK to the wikipedia page about STV:

The single transferable vote (STV)is a voting system designed to achieve proportional representation through ranked voting in multi-seat organizations voting districts.

I went to a Socrates Cafe on March 20th and we discussed voting.  The participants didn’t convince me that ranked voting for a single position made sense. This link   https://www.fairvote.org/how_proportional_representation_elections_work offers a lot of options but they seem too complicated to me and I don’t see how they’ll solve the problem if there is still only ONE person to be chosen.

This Vox article talks about ranked choice voting.  The advantage they point out is that the advertisements are less negative. Here is a quote from another ARTICLE from Vox explaining why they like San Francisco’s  ranked choice system:

To “game” the system in a simple plurality-winner election, the basic strategy involves mobilizing your base while trying to tear down competing candidates. This involves lots of scorched-earth negative campaigning. To “game” the system in a ranked-choice voting election, the basic strategy is to try to appeal broadly and say, I’d like to be your first choice, but if I can’t be your first choice, I’d like to be your second choice. In ranked-choice voting, we’d expect soft alliances among candidates who realize that they’re both stronger through coalition building than they are by law-of-the-jungle campaigning

 
http://www.voteguy.com/rcv-academic/ is a link to a wonky examination of ranked choice voting. This white paper was mentioned in the Vox article.

Yea…less negative ads is appealing BUT if candidates can be nice then why won’t they do it no matter what kind of voting system we use? I worry about making the voting too complicated. According to this article Duval votes were lost due to voters completing their ballots incorrectly. My view is that we don’t need to make it more complicated.

Quote from this ARTICLE

… we know that voters often skip reading instructions. … people rush to mark their votes … Americans, including New Yorkers and Floridians, want their votes to count. Let’s help them do that with well-designed ballots that don’t create confusion, or worse — change the results of an election.

I think we need to trust our voting machines before we make voting more complicated. Quote from this article:

It is also important to ensure the scans are accurate by checking a good sample against the original paper ballots.

Quote from this article:

Florida law requires a sample of ballots to be hand-audited after each election to ensure accuracy.

https://dos.myflorida.com/elections/voting-systems/certified-voting-systems-and-vendors/