Dispatches from an old friend

When last we heard from Frank Artiles, the Florida House member was pushing for a bill that would confine bathrooms to the birth gender of their users. When referring to the transgender, he spoke like Douglas MacArthur addressing North Koreans. After winning a seat in the state senate, Artiles had a few more things to say, this time about colleagues:

Miami Republican Sen. Frank Artiles dropped the n-word to a pair of African-American colleagues in private conversation Monday night — after calling one of them a “fucking asshole,” a “bitch” and a “girl,” the two senators said.

Over drinks after 10 p.m. at the members-only Governors Club just steps from the state Capitol, Artiles told Sens. Audrey Gibson of Jacksonville and Perry Thurston of Fort Lauderdale that Senate President Joe Negron of Stuart had risen to his powerful GOP leadership role because “six niggers” in the Republican caucus had elected him.

Artiles later told Gibson and Thurston that he’d used the word “niggas,” suggesting the slang term was not meant to be insulting, Gibson and Thurston said. It’s unclear whom Artiles was referring to, since the only black senators in the state Senate are all Democrats — and none of them backed Negron’s bid to lead the chamber.

“He called Joe Negron a pussy,” Thurston said.

But Artiles had an excuse:

He said, ‘If it wasn’t for these six niggers,’” Gibson said. By way of explanation, he added, “‘I’m from Hialeah,’” she said.

“I said, ‘OK, Perry, I’m done,’” Gibson said.

Gibson left the conversation to go the restroom.

“I said, ‘Dude, did you say ‘niggers?’” Thurston recounted. “‘No, I said ‘niggas,’” which is different in his mind.” But not in Gibson’s and Thurston’s, they said.

Thurston urged Artiles to apologize to Gibson upon her return.

“Let’s kind of nip this in the bud,” Thurston said.

But Gibson was so upset she didn’t come back.

Let us thank the exigencies of the social media age. In 1997, this conversation wouldn’t have been released and had it been the interlocutors would have dismissed the exchange as chatter between good ol’ boys.

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