Friday, August 10, 2007
President of the Florida Senate loses a son
The President of the Florida Senate is a Republican by the name of Ken Pruitt. As with so many of his peers, he made a name for himself by supporting the "family values" of racism, sexism, and authoritarianism.
By one account, in 1996 as a state legislator he "signed a petition condemning Walt Disney World Company for extending health benefits to the partners of gay and lesbian employees." When confronted by two of his gay constituents, "Pruitt reportedly made several derogatory remarks about blacks and homosexuals."
In January 2006 Pruitt rose to his lofty post of Senate President. Columnist Steve Bousquet wrote,
The next president of the Florida Senate has heads spinning after mailing an incendiary fundraising letter accusing "liberals in the Florida Senate" of targeting the Pledge of Allegiance and the Boy Scouts.
The letter to reliable Republican donors is called a "Protect American Values Petition Drive." Pruitt wants to blanket the Senate with
1-million"emergency petitions" to save Florida from "the ACLU, liberal extremists, the anti-God left and liberal judges" who essentially are out to destroy America.
In his letter, Pruitt calls himself "a rock-solid conservative Republican."
In 2004 during the Bush campaign, he really pulled out the stops. Chris Suellentrop reported—
"I want you to stand, raise your right hands," and recite "the Bush Pledge," said Florida state Sen. Ken Pruitt. The assembled mass of about 2,000 in [Port St. Lucie, Florida] dutifully rose, arms aloft, and repeated after Pruitt: "I care about freedom and liberty. I care about my family. I care about my country. Because I care, I promise to work hard to re-elect, re-elect George W. Bush as president of the United States."
Now Pruitt's son and namesake is dead from an apparent overdose after returning to a friend's home in Tallahassee from a night out at a gay bar. He had been married but was divorced for over a year.
According to Michael C. Bender,
In Port St. Lucie, several people remembered Mr. Pruitt as a well-mannered young man who helped with his father's campaigns, even while living with his mother in another city.
"He wasn't always in the picture as much as Ken's other children, but they seemed very close," said Sharon Kelly-Brown, who worked on Pruitt's campaigns....
The cognitive dissonance that Pruitt's son experienced must have been enormous. No wonder he drank.
I feel sorry for Pruitt's son. I feel sorry for Senator Pruitt. But he is not the only person who has stood, or stands, to lose a son. I hope that in honor of his namesake he will do his best to ensure that not one more person in the State of Florida suffers from the state-sponsored bigotry of which he has been such an avid proponent.