After news broke that Florida’s Republican governor Rick Scott’s administration had forbid state employees from using the phrase “climate change” during official business, many conservatives claimed that people were overreacting. After all, they reasoned, Rick Scott wouldn’t seriously punish scientists for talking about climate change.
Oh yes, he would.
According to a press release issued by the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a Land Management Plan Coordinator named Bart Bibler has already been suspended without pay for mentioning in his notes that climate change was discussed at an environmental meeting. His “Official Written Reprimand” cites things like “insubordination” and “conduct unbecoming a public employee.” The reprimand goes on to explain in detail that Bibler was being punished for giving the “appearance” that a meeting had been held to discuss climate change a no-no in Republican Florida:
“I asked you to provide a summary of the meeting. You first provided a takeaway summary of the meeting, but had provided that summary in a document that used the agenda header from Ann Lazar, the meeting moderator, which gave the appearance that this was Ann’s official meeting agenda that included climate change.“
Later the letter asks Bibler to hereby abstain from inserting “any personal agenda or political advocacy into the work you perform” and to “remain unbiased and impartial, and focused on the issues at hand.”
If the violation is ridiculous, than Bibler’s punishment is doubly so. According to PEER:
As he was given the reprimand on March 9th, Mr. Bibler was told to not return to work for two days which would be charged against his personal leave time. Two days later he received a “Medical Release Form” requiring that his doctor supply the DEP with an evaluation of unspecified “medical condition and behavior” issues before being allowed to return to work.
Only in Rick Scott’s Florida can a man be deemed mentally unfit for agreeing with 97% of the world’s scientists on the state of the Earth’s climate.