By Lindsay Der
Facilitated by the popularization of the “Florida Man” meme—which features real headlines about a “Florida Man” arrest for various heinous or otherwise strange crimes—Florida’s reputation as the “armpit of America” in the words of senior Hailey Abdilla has grown over the years. In addition to the terrifying creatures that inhabit the swamps and marshes of the state, Florida’s population consists of retirees, criminals and drug addicts, according to its media perception. However, does Florida deserve its title of the nation’s “worst state”(according to Thrillist)?
Short answer? No, not really. The long answer is that there are a lot of factors that contribute to Florida’s unfair reputation. Florida’s progressive public record laws stand out as one of the most prominent. The Sunshine Law provides “a right of access to governmental proceedings at both the state and local levels,” which is why we see Florida Man in the news far more often than “California Man,” even though California has the largest population by far. Additionally, thanks to encouragement from Florida’s booming tourism industry and teen movies focused on Florida’s “wild” beach scene, spring breakers have made Florida a destination for overdrinking, uninhibited sex, and drug use. Tourists tend to use their trips to Florida as opportunities to act wildly and irresponsibly, in ways they would not in their home states.
In all, Florida has not fairly earned its standing as the worst state in America. In fact, ranked the #1 state in higher education, #5 in air and water quality and #9 in economic growth, Florida offers much more than Florida Man and a vacation spot for rowdy drinkers.