The Florida Democratic Party doesn't tolerate racism.
They said so in a statement on social media less than a year ago, after West Kendall Republican Sen. Frank Artiles unleashed a string of racial slurs and profane pronouncements during an alcohol-laced tirade at the Governor's Club in Tallahassee.
I believe FDP leaders meant it.
This is what the statement said:
"Frank Artiles must resign now. His use of horrific racist and sexist slurs towards his colleagues is disgusting, unacceptable and has no place in our democracy or our society. ... There is never an excuse for racism or misogyny and the people of Florida aren't buying it. Resign now."
I agreed with the FDP's statement then, I agree with it now.
I agreed with Sen. Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, who filed a complaint accusing Artiles of violating Senate conduct rules -- agreed with him then, agree with him now; "(Artiles) underscored the critical lesson that words can be painful, they can be hurtful, and they can have consequences,” Thurston said.
I agreed with Oscar Braynon, Democratic leader of the Senate, when he said, "We cannot afford the high cost words of divisiveness and cruelty leave in their wake.” And I agree with Braynon now, same as the day he said it.
So, what I'm asking is this: Is a blatant show of racism intolerable only when the offensive language comes out of a Republican mouth, or is racism truly a bipartisan evil?
Democratic State Committeeman John Parker's words-gone-wild Jan. 22 in a Jacksonville restaurant is a test of the Florida Democratic Party's resolve.
Will they decide that, well, what Parker said with his silent (and we have to think complicit) party chairwoman wife Lisa King at his side -- referring, as first reported, to "coloreds" and "sh*t being f**ked up after integration," -- wasn't really all that bad, considering Artiles' tirade?
Will they look for a way to sweep the incident under the rug, passing judgment on which racist words hurt and which don't, or will they show they meant every word they said last April in that iron-handed statement decrying racist language?
We're about to find out.
In the meantime, I admit I'm no more inclined to believe Parker's letter of contrition than District 8 Jacksonville City Council Candidate Diallo-Sekou Seabrooks is.
Parker isn't honest.
In an interview with Florida Politics, he said, "I was never contacted or asked for my version of what took place by anybody. That includes the president of DBCF, the DCDBC, or Sunshine State News ..."
Naughty, naughty, John Parker.
You were asked and you know it.
POLITICO Florida's Marc Caputo texted Parker Feb. 13, three weeks after the restaurant incident. Caputo specifically asked for his side of the story. The text message is reproduced on this page. "Sorry, I can't talk right now," replied Parker.
At least Frank Artiles knew when to wave the white flag.
Reach Nancy Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith