HAPPYTOWN 


Did you know that the phrase "fuck the police" can land you in jail? It can, and it happened right here in Orlando on May 1.

Spencer Young, a 29-year-old black homeless man — one of a few black people in a Hispanic-heavy crowd — was among the hundreds of marchers who circled Lake Eola that Wednesday seeking rights for immigrants. (It was the second annual May Day march; last year's was the biggest rally the city has ever seen.)

Most of the marchers chanted "Si, se puede," Spanish for "Yes, we can." Young was a little more pointed in his exercise of his First Amendment rights; he was shouting, "Fuck the police," which is contemporary English for, "In my opinion, law enforcement in this town is a little heavy-handed and unfair."

Orlando police officers patrolling the rally took note of his opinion. According to the police report, "As he walked with `the ralliers` he chanted, ‘Fuck the police, we can take them! Fuck the police, come on.'" And so they arrested Young for disorderly conduct. While being arrested for making a statement about the police, Young apparently kept on yelling, "Fuck the police," as if his arrest were proving the very point he was trying to make.

"As we asked him to stop using profanity, Young continued to swear again using the phrase ‘fuck the police' in a loud manner, and in the presence of others," the report states.

Young couldn't make his bail, so he sat in the Orange County jail until May 18 — that's 17 days — until he could plead guilty to the charges. He was sentenced to 20 days, with credit for time served. He also has to pay $210 in court costs.

The lesson? Watch your mouth in O-Town, because the police can arrest you for saying things they don't like.

Lest this $3 bill of an issue lead you into the erroneous belief that your lily-livered, pansy-pickin', sodomite ways are blessed in the warm and caring eyes of G-O-D, we are here to remind you that they most certainly are not. As proof, we offer the fact that our favorite cultish codification of all things unreasonable, Exodus International (take that, Scientology!), last week announced that they were entering "a new phase of growth development."

In an effort to broaden their throbbing sphere of influence, the Orlando-based fag-healing organization is promising to streamline its operation with its national network, venture out onto the Internets and expand its "professional network of counselors." In order to achieve the goal of ridding "men struggling with their sexuality" of "unwanted same-sex attraction," Exodus is ramping up their staff with three newbies (two girls!), including some former vice president from Focus on the Family named Dr. Mike Rosebush. Ahem.

So when you find yourself face-down, ass-up in the middle of a bathhouse changing room this gay weekend, biting your lip through a "What have I done to myself?" fainting spell, just remember: There's still hope. Gay? Exodus can fix that.

Not everyone thinks Orlando International Airport sucks. In fact, the people at J.D. Power and Associates say passengers rated the place among the top airports nationwide. OIA ranked No. 6 in the nation in an annual passenger satisfaction survey released May 22. Last year the airport ranked No. 14.

We're guessing the passengers didn't get a chance to read our stories about how the airport's last line of defense — TSA screeners — is a group of hundreds of pissed-off federal employees who say they get treated like dirt by managers. Not to mention little issues such as the time the Transportation Security Administration lost an external hard drive filled with confidential employee information about two weeks ago (oh, and got sued to boot). Happy flying!

From time to time the Orlando Sentinel's editorial board takes a break from telling us to build Rich DeVos' Golden Pleasure Dome™ — and right now, dammit — to tackle the really important issues. On May 25, the same day a poll in the news section of the paper told us that Orlando citizens don't give a toss about the RDGPD™ and are more interested in silly crap like the crime problem and schools, the paper spilled ink on something that really matters: the Orlando Magic's coach.

"Hopefully, the firing of Orlando Magic Coach Brian Hill signals a genuine commitment that the franchise will no longer settle for mediocrity," the paper opined. "That's a pivotal message the Magic need to send to the Central Florida community that is supporting plans for a new downtown arena. … The Magic need to do whatever it takes to get an outstanding coach who is the right fit for a young team on the rise."

Translation: "Magic, please stop sucking, or the infantile rubes who pay taxes in this town will not want to spend a couple hundred million dollars to make a billionaire richer."

Speaking of the Sentinel, here's more proof that the news really is all in how you frame it.

You'd think that the state finally admitting, one year later, that the impressive gains third-graders made on FCAT reading tests in 2006 were actually the result of a massive, systematic screw-up would be front-page, above-the-fold material for Florida's major newspapers. The St. Petersburg Times certainly thought so; "FCAT fiasco: Scores wrong," screamed its May 24 headline. The next day, a follow-up: "FCAT blunder overlooked."

And what was the Orlando Sentinel's headline May 24? "FCAT scores rise across the state." Um, really?

If you squinted down to the third headline, you read that "Some third-graders' 2006 reading tests will be rescored." And in fairness, the paper did devote some front-page real estate to the grading debacle.

One paper thinks the fact that the whole FCAT system is as screwed up as a fag at an Exodus counseling session, and another would rather tell you that your kids are doing totally awesome. See, it's all about perspective.

This week's report by Jeffrey C. Billman, Billy Manes and Deanna Sheffield.

happytown@orlandoweekly.com

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