Charlie Crist signs law scrubbing "shylock" from Florida
Citing Florida’s rich diversity, Gov. Charlie Crist signed a bill removing the terms “shylock” and “shylocking” from state law, language dating back to William Shakespeare that is considered anti-Semitic.
“I think one of Florida’s greatest strengths, obviously, is our diversity, and the fact that we have such a strong sense of mutual respect for all races, all religions, all people,” Crist said.
The term comes from Shakespeare’s 16th-Century play, Merchant of Venice. The Jewish character Shylock is a loan shark who demands a pound of flesh as repayment from a debtor.
State lawmakers inserted the term, synonymous with loan shark, into Florida’s usury laws in 1969. The Anti-Defamation League urged lawmakers to repeal the language, arguing it reinforced negative stereotypes about Jews as “money hungry.”
“Shylock is dead, but Shakespeare isn’t really dead. We'll still be reading Shakespeare,” said Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, who sponsored the bill. She added: “This state did the right thing by eliminating shylock from state statutes, which really is pejorative and demeaning to all Jewish people.”