Florida Gov. Rick Scott is no stranger to controversial headlines. His wife, on the other hand, prefers to stir less trouble and usually stays out of the limelight. She shot that all to hell this week though when she decided to read a profanity-laden book about prostitutes, porn shops, and drug addicts to a group of fifth graders.
Florida First Lady Ann Scott visited a school in Hillsborough County school on Thursday to celebrate the literary achievements of the students. She often travels to schools around the state to read to children, so sitting down with two classes of 10-year-olds should be second nature to her by now.
But this time, she probably should have done just a little more research when she decided what literary work she was going to share with all the impressionable young minds that were hanging on her every word.
She chose to read from Patrick D. Smith’s Florida classic, A Land Remembered. The novel follows three generations the fictional MacIveys family and covers more than 100 years of state history from 1858 to 1968.
Although this book is standard reading for school children throughout the state, they read from a highly edited version that omits the fouler language and more lurid scenes. Mrs. Scott apparently never got that particular memo. She read to the children from the unedited adult version. Oops.
According to the Miami New Times:
The two characters discuss Miami history, including a quick telling of the story of Julia Tuttle, the mother of Miami, as they drive off the causeway that bears her name.
‘I’ll bet ole Julia Tuttle would throw a tissy fit if she could see what this causeway leads to now,’ one of the characters quips. ‘She’d probably want her name off of it.’
But the conversation is also peppered with words like ‘bastard,’ ‘damnit,’ and ‘son-of-a-bitch.’
When the characters drive down Biscayne Boulevard, it takes on an even more adult tone:
‘They turned left again at the mainland, cruising down Biscayne Boulevard, its northern section jammed with more motels and junk food shops, service stations, massage parlors, porno movies, bars, adult book stores, the sidewalks empty in the early morning sun but teeming at night with prostitutes and junkies and winos and professional muggers. Then they came into the downtown business section of Miami, passing the MacIvey State Bank Building with the letters MCI across the front entrance, then Bayfront Park with more winos and junkies and panhandlers and muggers.’
The scene also says that Florida, in its entirety, was “born of violence” and is “littered with bones.”
You know, Arthur, I don’t know why some folks was so shocked by the riot. Hell, this whole state was born of violence,” one of the characters mutters. “You can’t go anywhere without stepping on the skull of some man or animal that was killed. The whole damned place is littered with bones.
Not at all surprisingly, at least one parent had a few complaints about Mrs. Scott’s idea of acceptable reading material for 10-year-olds, which prompted her office to issue an official apology.
I am writing to sincerely apologize for any language that was not age-appropriate from the Florida classic A Land Remembered, by Patrick D. Smith earlier today. As the mother and grandmother of two wonderful daughters and four grandsons, I would never want to cause any offense or concern for students or parents.
Now, these kinds of things probably didn’t scar these fifth-graders for life. To be sure, it’s unlikely this is the first time they have heard these types of things in this day and age. And it is also safe to assume that the first lady of Florida had no idea that there were two versions of the literary classic.
Still, it’s hard to imagine just how the wife of an ultra-conservative governor didn’t look at the words on the page and wonder if she really oughta be reading to little kids about hookers or using words like “bastard” and “son-of-a-bitch.”
Featured image via flgov.com