Josh Freed: Column teasing Floridians about COVID strikes angry chord

I’ve been repeatedly called a “brainwashed Canadian,” also a moron, idiot, wimp, coward, chicken, sissy, serf, slave, little girl and lots more.

Article content

I’ve become Public Enemy No. 1 in Florida, after visiting there briefly and gently teasing Floridians in last week’s column .


Article content

My inbox is swamped by almost 1,000 angry emails from Florida and numerous other states. I’ve been attacked in well over 10,000 online posts, tweets, Reddits, Yahoos, entire websites and online papers with headlines like:

“A Canadian COVID Hysteric Goes to Florida” (a story reprinted in France and Germany).

Also “Quebec Journalist Triggered on Vacation.” (Type Florida and my name for more amusement).

I’ve been denounced on numerous Florida radio shows (and invited onto some next week), as well as dissed by NBC’s Florida correspondent.

I’ve even been criticized in tweets by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s press secretary for my “complaints about Florida.” But I’ve been defended by Washington Post Florida correspondent Tom Craig, who backed my saying most Floridians don’t wear masks indoors.


Article content

My crime? Trying to describe to Quebecers how wildly differently Floridians live while we’ve been penned in.

I’ve been branded a Communist more often than Joseph Stalin. I’ve been repeatedly called a “brainwashed Canadian,” also a moron, idiot, wimp, coward, chicken, sissy, serf, slave, little girl and lots more I can’t print. That’s largely for saying I wore a mask at Florida restaurant patios when waiters there didn’t.

I’m baffled by why masking enrages so many Americans. Of all our Canadian COVID rules, this sensible one bothers me least — in fact, in winter, it adds a nice layer of warmth.

But to many writers from Florida, Utah, Texas, Oklahoma, etc. it’s a “muzzle” that takes away their right to “breathe free,” because “liberty doesn’t hide behind a mask” (Alec).


Article content

I was dissed by Governor DeSantis’s office for criticizing the Miami Herald, though I practically complimented the paper for how they downplay COVID stories, while Quebec media obsess over them.

I’ve been accused of hypocrisy for travelling to Florida, then criticizing it. Big deal — we all have our contradictions. I enjoyed my week away from Quebec’s overly paternalistic rules, but was surprised COVID seemed almost invisible in Florida, so I wrote what I saw.

I did add most Floridians support their government’s freedom-first philosophy, despite the fact Florida itself attributes over 63,0000 total deaths to COVID. That’s about twice Quebec’s per-capita rate, though we have a similar average age (43) to Florida’s (42).


Article content

I somehow thought this was just the price Floridians were willing to pay for the “liberty” so many tout. But most writers are just proud Florida’s deaths are lower than a few Northern “Covid-strict” states and are furious I didn’t celebrate that.

I’m puzzled by the thin skin of these ceaseless, seething message-writers, with countless lines like “STAY HOME stupid Canadian,” or “Never return you brainwashed Communist prisoner,” or “vacation in China or North Korea, buddy.”

Why does the world’s most powerful country care about an unknown journalist from a frigid city they’ve barely heard of, who’s supposedly been “brainwashed by tyranny”?

Perhaps it’s partly the rage of our age when a mask becomes a symbol of your “socialist, authoritarian leanings” in what many termed our Canadian “nanny state.”


Article content

There’s also an evangelicalism to many writers, shocked I didn’t convert and admit Florida is the best COVID spot on the continent, magically combining liberty and safety.

Some of this is also about American versus Canadian attitudes. Canada’s motto is “peace, order and good government,” symbolizing a collective philosophy we perhaps developed from our harsh winters.

In fact, many Canadians chastised me for being “selfish” or “irresponsible” for undermining Canada’s COVID efforts with my “pro-Florida” column.

America’s motto is “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” symbolizing that individual rights often outweigh collective ones. This was most encapsulated by “Florida Man” who wrote: “WE OWE NOTHING TO PEOPLE WE HAVE NEVER MET and SHOULD NOT CARE ABOUT. … Choose the warm sunlight of freedom.”


Article content

Obviously, many Canadians share these Florida views. There were over 1,400 comments in the National Post alone that all seemed to diss me, though more politely than most U.S. messages.

I did get many supportive letters from Canadians and some from Floridians like Elizabeth R. who wrote: “We agree with everything you write, but it’s hard to speak out here.”

Also Candace who wrote: “What some see as freedom, many of us see as just the opposite.”

However, huge numbers of Florida writers were hostile not only to me but also Canadians as “brainwashed robotic prisoners … of tyranny” (Keith) and “slaves of your fascist and totalitarian leaders” (Danny).

Prime Minister Trudeau, I think our insulted nation must act! We Canadians are always looking for a warm place to call our own. I say it’s time to invade Florida.

Our legions of Florida snowbirds are already stationed there. Let’s send in our fully-loaded snow trucks and snowblowers to spread snow and tie up traffic like they do here. Let’s fire up our hockey Zamboni machines to ice Florida’s sidewalks, so everyone falls down.

By the time we send in the snowplows to mop up, there will no resistance.

Florida, this is snow joke!




Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.