There are a number of possible responses to the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial for killing Trayvon Martin.
Stevie Wonder has one of the more sensible ones. He’s giving up Florida — and any other state with a Stand Your Ground law.
The more I consider this, the more sense it makes.
John Oliver, standing in for Jon Stewart, declared Florida “The Worst State.” This is a title Florida has spent decades earning.
Even my grandparents, who moved down there in accordance with the time-honored law that All Grandparents Must Move To Florida Unless They Can Supply A Doctor’s Note Excusing Them, have given up on the place and headed back north. They would rather contend with ice in winter and the presence of actual quality ice hockey than spend another day in the Sunshine State.
When you move to a new state, most times you think, “Hey, I have a lot of years left in my life to spend in a place. What place should I choose? I’d like to raise some kids here and Do Things!” Florida is the opposite. “I’d like to golf and sit around the house a lot,” you say, “but I’d prefer to do it closer to alligators, and also my bridge group is all there already.” “Only one place to do that! Let’s drive down to the panhandle!”
What has Florida ever given us, besides hanging chads, citrus fruit and Flo Rida? Snickering from teenage boys noticing the shape of the United States on a map? We have the Washington monument for that.
Sure, Florida has its merits. Tampa may not be the strip-club capital of the nation, but where else in the nation is there a place called 2001: A Nude Odyssey, a strip club shaped like a spaceship where you can make it rain remotely? In what other state do you have a superhero fixture like Florida Man, noted for exploits like “Florida Man Arrested For DUI On Lawnmower On Fourth Of July” and “Florida Man Climbs Through Starbucks Drive-Thru Window, Refuses To Leave Without His Flip-Flops.” Life would be a little bleaker without headlines like “Grease-Covered Florida Man Found Stuck In Store Window; Tells Deputies He Needs To Poop,” but — I think we’d recover.
Plus, there are backups for almost everything Floridian — if you need Disney World, there’s Disney Land. If you need the University of Miami in your life, there’s one in Ohio just waiting for you. If you insist on going to the Holy Land Experience, a theme park where you can go experience the Last Supper with Jesus and then walk outside to watch him get crucified — well, there’s no substitute I can find, but is this really the best use of your day?
Most other states give you at least a theoretical choice among heat, humidity and the constant fear that you might be eaten by an alligator. Most other states do not have such terrible PR that the Internet fears, briefly, that they might have outlawed computers. More pressingly, in most other states it is not the case that, Ta-Nehisi Coates points out, “in any violent confrontation ending in a disputed act of lethal self-defense, without eye-witnesses, the advantage goes to the living. An intelligent, self-interested observer of this case, who happens to live in Florida, would not be wrong to do as George Zimmerman did — buy a gun, master the finer points of Florida self-defense law, and then wait.”
The rest of it’s silly. That’s serious. And Stevie Wonder’s got a point.