Ruth: Don’t pull the trigger on paranoia

Published January 30
Updated January 31

Welcome to the Demagoguery Games.

After all it is an election year in Florida, which is sure to bring out more race-baiting, fear-mongering and conspiracy-theory hustling than the last time the king of the tinfoil hats, Alex Jones, last dined alone.

And that brings us neatly to Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-A Brigand Behind Every Shrubbery, who has made it no secret he wants to succeed Rick Scott in the Governorís Bunker.

Some gubernatorial candidates at least engage in the hustings optics of promising more jobs, or improving schools, or lowering taxes. But not Richard the Lyiní Hearted.

Nosiree, this chap has decided to cut right to the chase by for all practical purposes launching his campaign for the governorship by suggesting weíre all going to die at the hands of Pablo Escobar, El Chapo and, yes, even the Tijuana Brass.

Watchdog PAC, or perhaps better put, Corcoranís "Your Papers, Please!" PAC, is spending $95,560 to air a commercial across North and Central Florida on Fox News stations (where else?) that might be best titled, "Nightmare on Corcoran Street." The fake ad depicts an attractive, young, innocent white woman casually walking in her idyllic suburban neighborhood, when suddenly she comes face-to-face with a sinister-looking dark-complected, hoodie-wearing man described as an "illegal immigrant," who shoots her to death.

The scene then cuts to Richard Corcoran, who decries "sanctuary cities," and recalls the tragic 2015 death of Kate Steinle, a 32-year-old woman who was killed by an undocumented immigrant in San Francisco.

"This could have happened to any family anywhere," Corcoran darkly intones. "Incredibly, some Tallahassee politicians want to make Florida a sanctuary state."

Not so incredibly at least one Tallahassee politician wants to cravenly scare the living bejabbers out of people.

Corcoranís not-too-thinly veiled bigoted commercial offers up some dubious suppositions on a number of levels.

For starters, there is no serious effort on the part of any "Tallahassee politicians" to make Florida a sanctuary state. And even if there was, it is rather unlikely a Republican-controlled Legislature would ever approve such a measure.

Corcoranís propagandists also fail to mention that Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, who indeed was an illegal immigrant (several times over), was acquitted in Steinleís death, after jurors concluded she was accidentally killed by a ricochet bullet fired from a weapon that the defendant had found.

At the same time, numerous studies have concluded the crime rate for immigrants is below the national average for U.S.-born citizens.

If something dreadful could happen to any family anywhere, Corcoran could have pointed to the 11 school shootings that have occurred nationwide in just the first three weeks of 2018.

Indeed, if Corcoran, who seems to be running for the governorship of Deadwood, really cared about the prospect of people being gunned down in the streets, he might ponder the conclusions of a 2016 Journal of the American Medical Association that found homicides have steadily increased in Florida since the Legislature approved the addled "stand your ground" law in 2005. But that would require some spine to stand up to the National Rifle Association.

It is ironic that the same week Corcoran debuted his homage channeling Donald Trumpís anti-immigrant rhetoric, a Florida House criminal justice subcommittee was considering HB 39, which could pave the way for the open carry of weapons across the state.

A group opposing the bill initially was prevented from entering the committee hearing unless they turned their T-shirts inside-out. Obviously the T-shirts contained an offensive message too horrible for the sensitivities of the Florida House to have to face.

What was on the T-shirts? "Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America." Oh, the scandal of it all!

Or put another way, the Florida House is preparing to turn the state into Yahooland by allowing citizens to walk around flashing their little friends and yet these same statesmen were offended by a T-shirt? Eventually cooler heads prevailed and the group was allowed in the hearing, not that it did any good.

Gay Valimont, who is the volunteer leader for the Florida chapter of Moms Demand Action, said the organization has never been prevented from entering a committee hearing because of a wardrobe issue.

" "It was demoralizing," she said. "It was an effort to put us in our place."

Demoralizing? You want demoralizing? Richard Corcoran is running for governor with plenty of money to terrify people with reckless commercials smearing the Other.

Should we be afraid? Yes, be very afraid of feckless pols bearing paranoia.