Outrages on the soul of Florida: Ordinary folks and tourists kicked off the public’s sugary sand

Blue Mountain Beach, in Florida's Panhandle. Credit: youtube.com

Just in time for the celebration of our Savior’s birth, certain political Christians have taken to hurling stones from the ramparts of their glass castles.

Enraged that Time magazine named 16-year-old climate crisis activist Greta Thunberg “Person of the Year” instead of him, Donald “two Corinthians walk into a strip club” Trump insulted her on Twitter.

Florida congressman Matt “make mine a double” Gaetz sneered at Hunter Biden’s struggle with addiction during the impeachment hearings, while Mike Huckabee, ex-governor of Arkansas, failed presidential candidate, and down-home Pharisee known for regarding women who use contraception as sluts and claiming that school shooting rampages happen because we’ve “systematically removed God” from public education, is trying to wreck the career of a small-town lawyer working to ensure public access to Florida beaches.

Huckabee, who owns a $6 million McMansion at Blue Mountain in Walton County, has complained for years that the ordinary folk who walk or sit on the beach in front of his house leave beer bottles, litter, dog poop, even used condoms, totally harshing his mellow.

Once, the Huckster huffed, two buck-nekkid kids “conducted various sex acts including intercourse on a YOLO board in clear sight of the beach in front of my home at 2 in the afternoon.”

OK, boomer.

Daniel Uhfelder,  counsel for Florida Beaches for All, is fighting the Huckster and the other millionaire waterfront property owners who have exploited a county loophole essentially allowing them to privatize a public beach.

Floridians have enjoyed this beach for generations, but when Uhfelder set up a lounge chair and umbrella in his usual spot by the Gulf, the local constabulary showed up to move him on, informing him that he’d have to sit in the surf. Otherwise, he’d be breaking the law.

Not surprisingly, this upper-income beach-hogging has attracted a lot of attention, little of it Huckabee-friendly.

In a snit, Huckabee has filed an official Florida Bar complaint against Uhfelder, citing “vile and unprofessional attacks” and “disparaging information” against him on Twitter.

The “vile and unprofessional” content bruited about by Uhfelder includes retweeting satirical images by syndicated cartoonist Andy Marlette depicting Huckabee putting up “Keep Out” signs and “liking” a post that reads, “I’m trying not to picture Ol’ Man Huckabee slathered in Noxzema, clad in a Fox & Friends T-shirt, khaki shorts, calf-length black socks and sandals, wandering along the beach with a metal detector.”

Like so many recent outrages on the soul of Florida, this one comes courtesy of that quacking dolt Rick Scott.

In his last year as governor, Scott approved a law making it difficult for local governments to stop property owners from blocking off sections of beaches. Floridians objected–loudly.

Scott (then running for U.S Senate and historically unencumbered by anything resembling a moral core) reversed himself, issuing an executive order contradicting the bill he signed four months earlier.

By then, moneyed twits had put up “No Trespassing” signs and hired security guards.

Tourists visiting Walton County have been kicked off the sand. Long-time residents who happen to live across the street from the beach can no longer walk down to the Gulf.

That’s what Huckabee and his fellow lords of the sugar sand want. Jesus was, of course, all about money, private property and accumulating all the best toys. That stuff he said in Matthew 19:21 about giving to the poor isn’t supposed to be taken literally.

Rev. Huck should know: he’s a Baptist preacher. And a bosom pal of rocker Ted Nugent, that patriot cares so much about America, he’s been known to “minister” to our girls, some as young as 12.

But does that Daniel Uhfelder appreciate how lucky Walton County is to have such a righteous resident? Hell, no: He actually joked that Huckabee’s Secret Service code name should be “Beach Thief,” inspiring Rev. Huck to protest that Uhfelder had “accused me of theft, a crime of moral turpitude.”

Some observers have noted that Huckabee’s Code Blue hissy fit was pitched a mere four days after Uhfelder retweeted a picture of him cuddling up with those rascally (and recently indicted) pals of Rudy Giuliani (and Gov. Ron DeSantis) Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman.

Feeling a little exposed there, Preacher?

The result of Huckabee’s tantrum is that Daniel Uhfelder, by all accounts a fine lawyer but hardly a household name, has increased his Twitter following (@DWUhfelderLaw) from 422 to nearly 80,000.

The funny thing is, all that sugary sand Rev. Huck lays claim to has largely been paid for by the taxpayers. Between erosion accelerated by climate change and half a dozen hurricanes, there would be no beaches if Walton County didn’t truck in tons of sand, costing Floridians millions of dollars.

You’d think in the spirit of Christian generosity, Preacher Huckabee would welcome his fellow Floridians to share the beach with him.

Alas, if Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus themselves pitched up in front of the Huck house to enjoy the turquoise waters, he’d call the cops on them for trespassing.

Diane Roberts
Diane Roberts is an 8th-generation Floridian, born and bred in Tallahassee, which probably explains her unhealthy fascination with Florida politics. Educated at Florida State University and Oxford University in England, she has been writing for newspapers since 1983, when she began producing columns on the legislature for the Florida Flambeau. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Times of London, the Guardian, the Washington Post, the Oxford American, and Flamingo. She has been a member of the Editorial Board of the St. Petersburg Times–back when that was the Tampa Bay Times’s name–and a long-time columnist for the paper in both its iterations. She was a commentator on NPR for 22 years and continues to contribute radio essays and opinion pieces to the BBC. Roberts is also the author of four books, most recently Dream State, an historical memoir of her Florida family, and Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America. She lives in Tallahassee, except for the times she runs off to Great Britain, desperate for a different government to satirize.