In his latest desperate attempt to prove that New York is “back,” the city’s hapless mayor Eric Adams has taken a hysterical potshot at Florida — a much happier jurisdiction to where many of his constituents have had the good sense to move.
Adams announced that private funds made available to his cash-strapped city would be used to place billboard and digital ads in five booming Florida markets: Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa, West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale. These ads invite Floridians to “come to a city where you can say and be whoever you want.”
The jibe is directed at Florida’s recently approved Parental Rights in Education bill, which prohibits instruction in sexuality and gender identity for children from kindergarten through third grade. Opponents have labeled it the “Don’t Say Gay Bill,” even though the word “gay” does not appear anywhere in it, and none of its provisions would prevent anyone from saying the word “gay” or any other word. In lockstep with the progressive left, of which he is a typically mindless member, Adams has angrily denounced the Florida law as a weapon in a “shameful, extremist culture war targeting the LGBTQ+ community.”
Mayor Adams is delusional: he requires two-year-old nursery school students to be masked, burdens his groaning subjects with America’s highest tax rates and instructs those horrified by a sharp rise in subway murders to “change their perspective.” Yet Adams has convinced himself that people will voluntarily return to the ghastly concrete gulag he presides over because of an education bill that bars six-year-olds from learning about the vaginoplasty options.
One may rightly wonder why Adams and those who share his politics are so emotionally invested in expanding the sexual horizons of small children. Regardless, relying on leftist zeal to boost New York’s declining population and tax base is just poor salesmanship. According to a recent poll that accurately relates the language of the Florida bill, 61 percent of Americans — including 55 percent of Democratic voters — support it, while only 26 percent agree with a mayor 1,200 miles away who thinks it should be legal to teach second graders about dental dams.
Even Floridians tempted to relocate would be hard-pressed to find New York a place where they could “say and be whoever you want.” They might solicit the opinion of former New York Times editorial page editor James Bennett, who was forced to resign in June 2020 after he greenlighted an op-ed by a US senator suggesting the army be deployed to control Black Lives Matter riots — a fully constitutional measure supported at the time by 58 percent of Americans. Would-be New Yorkers looking forward to shoplifting deodorant with impunity may wish to consult, too, with star Times editorial writer Bari Weiss, who followed Bennett out the door after suffering enormous harassment for defending the principle of free speech.
Dissidents from Florida might also want to ask former New York Magazine contributor Andrew Sullivan why he was forced to leave his publication after opposing critical race theory in print. And speaking of publications, a down-on-his-luck Floridian who cannot find a job in a state with functional full employment but thinks he has better prospects in a city with 8 percent unemployment would be well advised to take a close look at New York’s publishing industry. There, he would have the pleasure of working with hundreds of colleagues who signed an open letter demanding that people who served in the Trump administration “not have their philosophies remunerated and disseminated through our beloved publishing houses.”
Anyone willing to trade Florida’s extraordinarily clean, efficient and privately operated Brightline train for the horrors of Metro-North would be ushered into a city where New York’s literary elite are sacked for “saying what they want.” Literary agent Sasha White was fired from her job in August 2020 after tweeting that “denying biological sex” was something less than “wonderful.” In April 2021, Paul Rossi, a math teacher at the once-prestigious Grace Church School, lost his job after criticizing the school administration’s embrace of woke ideology, a program that included deriding “objectivity” as a characteristic of “white supremacy” and dropped the words “mom” and “dad” to refer to parents.
A Floridian exile dreaming of the good life may also be disappointed by a New York Times investigation of wokeness in New York City private schools, which found no teachers and only one parent willing to go on the record, with many citing fears of serious consequences if they spoke out.
Miami party people willing to move to a place where dining after 9:30 p.m. has all but disappeared due to lack of interest would not find a lively, intellectual community secure in its constitutional right to “say whatever it wants.” Rather, while wallowing in fond memories of days at the beach, our adventurous Florida expat would see that in Eric Adams’s New York, one cannot even repeat someone else’s words without fear of reprisal. Columbia University legal scholar Dinah PoKempner was fired from her teaching position and unrelated job as general counsel of Human Rights Watch, a left-leaning advocacy organization, because she uttered the N-word while reading aloud to her class from the case record of a lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center against the Ku Klux Klan.
Not even the most optimistic citizen willing to increase his state and local tax liability from 0 percent to 14.778 percent to help Adams out could fail to admit that members of the mayor’s own administration are equally vulnerable to cancelation. Just five weeks ago, LGBTQ activists protested three appointments to posts in New York City’s offices of faith-based and immigration affairs due to the officials’ past opposition to gay marriage. All three men were reportedly put on notice that their views are “unacceptable” and that they may only continue in office if they do not state them. These men cannot “say whatever they want.” Less fortunate was their short-lived colleague Kathlyn Barrett-Layne, who lasted just six hours as a member of the mayor’s Panel for Educational Policy before it was revealed that she had published anti-gay comments in a book released in 2014.
If Floridian readers are still tempted to become New Yorkers, I leave you with this: on the very day Adams announced his Florida ad campaign, city legal counsel Daniela Jampel was fired after daring to ask the mayor when he would “unmask our toddlers.” At the time, the unamused Adams was standing beneath a banner that proclaimed, “Come to the city where you can say whatever you want.” Any Floridian who believes him should immediately book a flight, secure in the knowledge that he is no loss to the freest state.