LOL is right: a spellbinding tale of woe

It’s no secret that the amount of bullshit gushing through and out Florida is, by both absolute and per-capita measures, unquestionably higher than in any other state. Even when Texas gets on one of its famous thundering rolls backward, it’s not even close
But what has recently transpired between the Pasco County School District and a substitute teacher in the pissburg of Land O’ Lakes, located a half-hour west outside of Tampa, makes recent creationist hijinks in the legislature and other gawkables seem like the output of preternaturally composed intellectuals.
Check it out:

The telephone call that spelled the end of Jim Piculas’ career as a substitute teacher in Pasco County came on a January day about a week after he performed the disappearing-toothpick trick for a group of rapt middle school students.
Pat Sinclair, who oversees substitute teachers in the Pasco County School District, was on the phone. She told Piculas there had been a complaint about his performance at Rushe Middle School in Land O’ Lakes.
He asked what she meant.
“She said, ‘You’ve been accused of wizardry,'” Piculas said.
He said the statement seemed bizarre to him, like something out of Harry Potter.
Piculas said he replied, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
He said he also told Sinclair, “It’s not black magic. It’s a toothpick.”

Yes, you read that right. The up-front reason given for sacking this guy was that he introduced his students to irrelevant and possibly evil supernatural ideas and influences, a practice off-limits to all Florida teachers with the exception of those at Christian schools.
Read the whole Tribune article. As noted in The Carpetbagger Report, so far no effort has been made to burn Piculas at the stake.
The immediate natural reaction to this news is this: Either Piculas’ bosses were already looking for a reason to can him or these poor backward bastards really do believe in witchcraft, warlock magic, or whatever the hell. Maybe both, but the article points toward the former, noting inconsistencies between Piculas’ account of how he handles various aspects of his job and the district’s.
As far as the black-magic side of things is concerned, as so often happens, it was the reaction of a single student that really sent the guillotine a-plunging:

One student in the Rushe Middle class apparently took the trick the wrong way, Piculas said. He said he was told the student became so traumatized that the student’s father complained.
Sinclair wrote Piculas a letter, dated Jan. 28, to say the district would “no longer be using your services.” The letter mentioned magic tricks at the end of the list of other classroom offenses he is accused of committing.
The word “wizardry” does not appear in the letter.
“I think she was trying to downplay it because it sounded so goofy,” Piculas said.

Regardless of the differences between Piculas, the rhabdophobic kid, and the school district, if in fact he was ill-suited for the job, the district could have gotten rid of him without any mention of “wizardry.” And even if the district didn’t release any official correspondence with that word on it, Ms. Sinclair had to have heard it from someone on the board.
The grim undercurrent to this? If teachers can be fired for invoking things outside of the physical world as if they were real — be these “magic” tracks performed by “wizards” or things that don’t exist anywhere, period — then any teacher who utters a word about the Resurrection, the End Times, being “saved,” or any of that nauseating bullshit should be thrown under a bus with just as little fanfare as Piculas was let go. This country continues to allow arrant foolishness to pervade every cranny of its culture in a dismally selective fashion, and Florida (especially the panhandle and the various hick-controlled communities girding greater Orlando) is ever eager to keep the vanguard to itself.

7 thoughts on “LOL is right: a spellbinding tale of woe”

  1. It is always a comfort when I find others who recognize just how far behind the times Florida lags. I have lived in the state for two years, and I experienced a bit of a shock when I moved here, especially given that I am from a far more progressive area of the country. I did not realize just how dire the circumstances here were however; i.e., that fears of witches and magic still lurked (circa 1690s)!

  2. Minor nitpick: “Land O’ Lakes, located a half-hour west of Tampa…” LOL is actually almost due north of Tampa. The same distance due west would put you offshore of Clearwater in the Gulf of Mexico.
    Otherwise, I have no gripe at all with your characterization of rural Floridian thoughts and attitudes.

  3. Thanks for the catch, Jake. I have no idea what I was thinking. I pass through Tampa fairly regularly, so I normally know the complexities of the local and regional geography, e.g., that Gainesville and Sarasota are in opposite directions, as are the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean proper.
    Actually, depending on the traffic, you could travel 30 minutes west from downtown Tampa and still be on land in St. Pete, maybe even at Tropicana Park. But that ain’t Land-‘O.

  4. Has no one told these people that it is not wise to meddle in the affairs of wizards? For they are subtle and quick to anger.

  5. Has no one told these people that it is not wise to meddle in the affairs of wizards? For they are subtle and quick to anger.

  6. What really bugs me is the way “traumatized” has become a synonym for “upset” or “disturbed” or “offended” or “frightened.” What ever happened to the idea of resilience? Therapists can’t make money off of resliience, I guess.

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