An old Southern folk saying has ignited a new political controversy in Tallahassee. While referencing the fight over redistricting, Republican state Sen. Don Gaetz used the old phrase, "Some people would complain if you hung them with a new rope." Turns out black politicians don't exactly like hearing Southern conservatives talking about hanging people with rope.
When asked about planned lawsuits that would challenge Republican's plans for redistricting, Gaetz told the Orlando Sentinel, "We were told ... that we would be sued no matter what the lines were, no matter how the districts were drawn. My father used to say, 'Some people would complain if you hung them with a new rope,' and I think we had people who all along had a lawsuit strategy and hoped that somehow they could find some judge, somewhere, who would agree with their contentions."
Rep. Mia Jones, the Jacksonville Democrat who heads the state's Congressional Black Caucus quickly released a statement:
"Senator Gaetz' use of such highly charged and disturbing language has absolutely no place in this important discussion about the future of Florida. His remarks are extremely inappropriate. But in spite of his comments, I urge my colleagues in the Legislature and all Floridians to take the high road. I believe it is important that we continue to elevate the public discourse as we seek a fair and just system that protects the voting rights of all.""The senator's comment is especially appalling given that it is made in connection to the issue of redistricting, in which there is considerable history of racial minorities being deprived of adequate representation," echoed Rep. Perry Thurston, a Democrat form Plantation.
Riptide can't quite seem to find a source pinpointing the origin of the phrase or its exact implications, though there seems to be some suggestion online it dates back to Medieval times. Though, that doesn't quite explain how it came to be such a common phrase among Southerners of a certain generation. Urban Dictionary says the phrase is, "Used to poke fun at a complainer or to ironically acknowledge a complaint."
Still, we're kind of baffled by Gaetz's use of the term. Is he basically acknowledging that the Republican's redistricting plan is so unfair to Democrats that it's on the same level as actually hanging them?
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