Save a Horse, Ride a Manatee?


Many Floridians can describe the iconic sea cow that peacefully glides through Florida’s intercostal waterways munching on sea grass. Yes, that’s right it’s the Manatees.
However, recently, the manatees’ rather peaceful existence has been shattered by members of the Tea Party. Ana Gutierrez decided to hop aboard the sea cow and take it for a ride. The report that got Gutierrez in trouble described her as a strange woman touching and riding a manatee at Fort Desodo Park, Fla. She was in violation of the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act. The riding of a manatee is subject to a $500 fine and six months in jail.
While I honestly don’t find Gutierrez’s actions to be completely and utterly grotesque, the reaction of the Tea Party is another story.
“Riding the manatee … stands for liberty and freedom and doing what we want to do without harming anyone else,” Tea Party spokesman Michael Coffman said recently. I would like to point out that Coffman was being completely serious.
Coffman went on to say, “Today we can’t ride a manatee, tomorrow we won’t be able to open a business … The purpose of the endangered species act isn’t to protect endangered species, it’s to deny people private property.”
Now, I’ve tried to make a logical connection between how preventing someone from riding an endangered species will eventually lead to preventing someone from opening a business, but I have yet to find one. Coffman’s statement just seems bizarre and desperate.
I just don’t see someone Appling for a business loan and being denied because question number 84 asked, “Have you ever ridden on/harassed an animal on the endangered species list?”
A Citrus County Tea Party group has announced that it`s fighting new restrictions on boating and other human activities in Kings Bay that have been proposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“We cannot elevate nature above people,” explained Edna Mattos, 63, leader of the Citrus County Tea Party Patriots, in an interview. “That’s against the Bible and the Bill of Rights.”