By Adrian Wyllie
Libertarian Candidate for Governor of Florida
One of the greatest problems we face as a state and a nation is a profound lack of forethought and wisdom by our elected officials. They often pass laws with little or no understanding of the consequences of legislation, either direct or indirect. This results in the creation of laws that prohibit our freedom, our communication, our prosperity, and even our ability to reproduce.
In at least two cases, my competitors for the office of Governor of Florida are directly to blame.
The first is the “Internet Cafe Ban Bill,” which was introduced in the 2013 Florida legislative session. The objective of the bill was to shut down Internet cafes and sweepstakes gaming shops in Florida.
Internet and sweepstakes cafes started appearing in shopping centers across the state a few years ago. They offered games of chance to their customers, with a possibility of winning prizes and cash. The games often mimicked popular casino slot machines and lottery scratch-off tickets, and they competed with the Florida Lottery and casinos like the Hard Rock Cafe. They obviously filled a demand in the market, because they quickly became very popular and profitable.
At the insistence of the gaming industry lobbyists, who are known for their generous campaign contributions, legislators got to work writing a new law to outlaw Internet cafes. But, in their haste and zeal to protect state-sanctioned gambling operations from competition by upstart mom-and-pop businesses, the legislature created a very broad definition of what constitutes an illegal “slot machine” in Florida.
According to the bill, the definition of an illegal slot machine in Florida is “any machine or device or system or network of devices that is adapted for use in such a way that, upon activation, which may be achieved by, but is not limited to, the insertion of any piece of money, coin, account number, code, or other object or information, such machine or device or system is directly or indirectly caused to operate or may be operated and if the user, whether by application of skill or by reason of any element of chance or of any other outcome unpredictable by the user…”
So let’s break this down. According to this legal definition, any device that is part of a network (i.e. the Internet or a cellular network), and is activated by an account or code (i.e. password or PIN), is a slot machine. You are not legally authorized to use it. Your home or business PC is now defined under Florida law as an illegal slot machine. So is your laptop…and your iPad…and your Kindle…and your Galaxy S3.
That’s right. If you’re reading this right now, you are probably in possession of an illegal slot machine, and you are breaking the law.
Governor Rick Scott signed this bill into law without any hesitation, and obviously, without any consideration of the unintended consequences.
But, as egregious and devastating this law would be if actually enforced, it pales in comparison to the next law.
Nan Rich is the former Florida Senate minority leader, and one of my Democrat opponents in the race for governor. For several years, she was on a crusade to outlaw bestiality. She repeatedly introduced legislation to criminalize it, and made it one of her highest priorities. Perhaps I don’t travel in the same social circles as Nan Rich and Rick Scott, but I didn’t realize that bestiality is a widespread problem here in Florida.
In 2011, she introduced Senate Bill 344. The objective of the bill was, apparently, to prohibit sexual contact between humans and livestock, pets, or wildlife.
But there was a slight problem. That’s not the way the law was worded.
The language of the law prohibits any sexual act with animals. But, unlike the Internet cafe law, which gave an idiotically broad definition of the term slot machine, this law gives no definition of the term “animals” at all. So, what constitutes an animal is left to interpretation.
The dictionary defines the word animal as “a multicellular organism of the kingdom Animalia, differing from plants in certain typical characteristics such as capacity for locomotion, nonphotosynthetic metabolism, pronounced response to stimuli, restricted growth, and fixed bodily structure.” Humans clearly fall within that definition.
As we all remember from elementary school, humans are scientifically classified as animals. We are members of the kingdom Animalia, or animal kingdom. Even though most third graders would grasp this concept, it managed to slip past the state legislature and Governor Rick Scott, who signed the bill into law.
Under Florida Statute 828.126, any sexual act between humans is technically illegal in Florida, punishable by up to one year in prison.
Yes, you read that correctly. All sex, including human procreation, is prohibited by Florida law. Unless you are completely abstinent, you are a criminal.
Rick Scott and Nan Rich are directly responsible for laws, which — if enforced — would prohibit virtually all electronic devices, and respectively outlaw human reproduction in Florida.
There are only two possible explanations for their lack of judgment. One possibility is that neither of them actually read the bills, and therefore didn’t know what was in them. The other is that they read the bills, but lacked the wisdom to understand the consequences of their actions.
Personally, I can’t decide which is worse.
Some may criticize me for nitpicking, and will argue that we should interpret the intention, not the letter of the law. To that critique, I respond with a question: After reading this, are you willing to gamble your freedom on the wise judgment of your government officials?