“Stand Your Ground” Just Tip of Iceberg for Baxley’s Racism, Religious Intolerance and Gun Fetish
The tragic murder of Trayvon Martin has focused attention on Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law sponsored originally by Representative Dennis Baxley, who is serving for a second time in a district just south of the one in which I reside. Baxley has long been a symbol of all of the wrongs that ultra-conservative Republicans in Florida represent.
During his first time in Florida’s House from 2000 until he was term-limited out in 2007, Baxley distinguished himself with his outright racism:
Baxley is currently a lonely voice opposing efforts to drop the state’s official song, “The Old Folks at Home.”
A compromise eventually revised the lyrics to remove the most offensive portion and added a state anthem. Here is what Baxley didn’t want removed:
Oh! darkeys, how my heart grows weary,
Far from de old folks at home.
As if that were not enough, Baxley had another racist project at the same time:
Baxley is also advocating a new specialty license plate that would showcase the Confederate flag, with proceeds going to a group he belongs to, the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
Baxley, NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer and the NRA teamed with ALEC to spread “Stand Your Ground” to 21 states. But “Stand Your Ground” is just one of several gun bills Baxley has developed. On his website he also touts a bill that ” eliminated the prohibition on firearms in national forests and state parks”. He also sponsored a bill that would have allowed employees to bring their guns to work, but it was defeated in committee in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shootings.
Baxley’s image among Florida Republicans is that of an upstanding Baptist Sunday School teacher. He even spent his time out of the House leading Florida’s Christian Coalition, a position from which he spoke out in 2008 about Barack Obama’s exposure to Islam when he was younger:
“He’s pretty scary to us,” he said. “I think his Muslim roots and training — while they try to minimize it — it’s there.”
Asked what he meant, Baxley pointed to Obama’s childhood stint in Indonesia and his Muslim relatives.
“That concerns me particularly in the period of history we are living in, when there’s an active movement by radical Muslims to occupy us,” Baxley said of Obama’s background. “That whole way of life is all about submission. It concerns me that someone rooted in those beginnings, how it might have affected their outlook. That’s what scary for me.”
Baxley’s fear of Obama’s potential “submission” to Islam is particularly ironic, given his complete submission to a distorted radical Christian fundamentalism and gun worship. Back in 2005, Baxley was especially deranged in trying to help David Horowitz fight against fictional persecution of fundamentalist conservatives in academic settings. In the process, Baxley’s bill would have set academic freedom back immensely (garbled formatting in article left as is):
In his statement to the committee, Horowitz compared universities in America to those in the �third world,� and said a large minority of professors don�t behave like professionals in the classroom.
Casting the �crisis� in higher education as a struggle between �leftist totalitarianism� and �mainstream values,� Horowitz cited anecdotes about students being marked down for disagreeing with professors in class. He divulged neither the names of these students nor their professors.
Baxley also asserted that the bill would not lead to lawsuits, even though a legislative staff analysis warned the bill could allow students to sue their professors if they feel their views aren�t being respected.
The analysis even recommends $4.2 million be spent to hire new lawyers for universities to fight such suits if the bill is passed.
Fortunately, Baxley’s bill never passed and academic freedom was not removed in Florida.
Returning to “Stand Your Ground”, Baxley is trying to claim that George Zimmerman was improperly cleared in Trayvon Martin’s killing:
As the prime sponsor of this legislation in the Florida House, I’d like to clarify that there is nothing in the law that provides for the opportunity to pursue and confront individuals. It simply lets those who would be victims use force in self-defense.
But media reports about Trayvon Martin’s death indicate that Zimmerman’s unnecessary pursuit and confrontation of Martin elevated the prospect of a violent episode, and does not seem to be an act of self defense as defined by the law.
Baxley is clearly squirming now as the impact of what he has done begins to hit home. He was warned of bad outcomes when the bill was passed:
But John F. Timoney, Miami’s police chief, called the bill unnecessary and dangerous. Chief Timoney, who has successfully pushed his police officers to use less deadly force, said many people, including children, could become innocent victims. The bill could make gun owners, including drivers with road rage or drunken sports fans who get into fights leaving ball games, assume they have “total immunity,” he said.
“Whether it’s trick-or-treaters or kids playing in the yard of someone who doesn’t want them there or some drunk guy stumbling into the wrong house,” Chief Timoney said, “you’re encouraging people to possibly use deadly physical force where it shouldn’t be used.”
Timoney’s prediction was spot on:
State figures indicate that justified use of deadly force by private citizens is on the upswing.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement statistics show that before the law was enacted in 2005, there were about 13 justified killings each year by citizens from 2000 to 2005. Between 2006 and 2010, the average has risen to 36 justified killings each year.
That’s over a hundred deaths in Florida alone directly attributable to Baxley’s “Christian” values in action [see comments 8 and 9 for an explanation of the addition of quotation marks around “Christian” after the post was published].
Dear Mr. White,
You are a shitty journalist. You paraphrase other blogs and media and you site bills to give us a perspective of implied wrong doing on behalf of an ex-politician as well as fear of repercussion. In reality you don’t have a fucking clue of what you’re talking about. You just spew rhetoric, next time actually spend the extra effort to research outside of a fucking google search.
Some guy who expects at least a little bit more professionalism than a Fox News team.
Let’s not forget that JebB signed the bill into law and he had a lawyer in his family to discuss Timoney’s prediction.
@Gatz: Thanks. I guess you missed the part where I said I live in a district adjacent to Baxley’s. I’ve been in this part of Florida for almost 19 years. And he’s not an ex-politician. He’s back in the Florida House: http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Representatives/details.aspx?MemberId=4200
Care to point out anything in the post that isn’t true?
The Tampa Bay Times has a more detailed analysis of the use of “Stand Your Ground” in Florida. It can be found here:
The case that I find sad is the case about the father at the park being shot in front of his daughter.
@klynn: Don’t you understand? The world must be protected from basketballs. And Skittles.
Fine report, Jim, I’ve been wanting to read about this guy since Martin was killed. I could not believe Baxley was out there almost immediately, talking about how his law was ‘misused.’ He knew this would happen; he was told.
I object to this conclusion, unless “Christian” is put in quotes. The values that he is promoting are not Christian. The only attention you devote to this issue seems to be this: “a distorted radical Christian fundamentalism and gun worship.” This hardly justifies a slam at all Christian values.
Bob in AZ
@Bob Schacht: Good point, thanks. I’ll add the quotes to make it more clear that I don’t think Baxley’s version of Christian values fit with real Christian teachings.
@Jim White: It’s not about truthfulness it’s about lacking integrity. Did you even attempt to interview Baxter, no you just attempt to push your particular agenda. It’s like reading onto the set of the O’Reily Factor for anti-gun activists. The way your present your information is obviously spin, in the same way fox presents truthful information and spins it to bash on the left.
Thank you Gatz for your first posts ever on this site. Please tell us — are you a member of Baxley’s staff or do you work for the NRA and get a stipend per comment on websites critical of gun issues?
Upon further reflection, perhaps Gatz had a point, Jim. Perhaps your research of Baxley feel a bit short. I would be particularly interested in hearing more about Baxley’s membership on the “Florida Council on the Status of Black Men and Boys.”
@Gatz: I’ll guarantee you that I spent as much time trying to interview Baxley before I wrote this post as Baxley spent trying to interview Obama before he put out the statement about Obama’s Muslim past being scary.
In the meantime, Obama has not “submitted” our country to Islam once he was elected and we have a number of deaths in Florida that independent journalists have linked to Baxley’s bill.
@Jim White: So Baxley is a shitty journalist so you should be one too huh?
This just in: Geraldo warns white folks that if they get shot while wearing a Confederate flag, either on their clothes, body, or car, it’s their own fault if they get shot.
Here is a road rage story from last week. Sounds like ‘stand your ground self defense’ to me? Too bad the dead guys daughter was in the back seat — she obviously should have been wearing a bullet proof vest as well as being buckled in. Perhaps states will reconsider their laws? Too late for Florida this year — the legislature has gone home for the year– I think. It would have be nice to put the legislature and the Governor on the spot.
@Jim White: This is the purpose of the shorthand “Xtian” that I use regularly to indicate the values of the Christianists, values that are very far from Christ’s.
I don’t think this usage is widely understood. On the other hand, Xtian is commonly used as shorthand for Christian in other contexts, IIRC.
Bob in AZ