If Florida is America’s wackiest state, it stands to reason that its governor should be a standard-bearer for wackiness. Florida’s current governor, Rick Scott, certainly didn’t let us down in that department during last night’s gubernatorial debate with challenger Charlie Crist. He refused to come onstage in the beginning because Charlie Crist’s podium had an electric fan in it, and said that Crist was breaking the rule that bans the use of electronic devices in the debate.
Here are the opening minutes of the debate that almost didn’t take place:
Rick Scott finally came out, and in a strange fit of anti-logic, said that he refused to go onstage because he’d heard that Charlie Crist wasn’t going to show up — in spite of the fact that Crist had been onstage for several minutes, waiting:
The spirit and the letter of the electronics rule
The purpose of the ban on electronic devices during the debate is likely to prevent participants from receiving coaching during the debate. That makes sense. If we use the spirit of the rule, the use of an electric fan to keep cool (it was 90 degrees F/32 degrees C that day) is not a violation.
It’s likely that people on Scott’s team will resort to arguing the letter of the rule, and if they do, they’ll lose. The ban is on electronic devices, and there’s a difference between electric and electronic. These are electric appliances…
…and these are electronic appliances:
The simplest way to make the electric/electronic distinction is:
- Electric devices use electricity to transmit, manipulate, and convert power. They use electrical energy and convert it into usable light, heat, and mechanical energy.
- Electronic devices use electricity to transmit, manipulate, and convert information. They use electrical energy in the service of transmitting and receiving information in analog or digital form, as visual, audio, or numerical data.
An electric fan — and yes, it’s an electric fan — is decidedly not an electronic device.
Oddly enough, the rule banning electronics has a very notable exception — each participant in the debate is required to use the electronic aid pictured below:
After this debate, I wouldn’t be surprised if this image kept popping up all over the place: