Wednesday, April 17, 2024

'Told you so' moment regarding book ban is latest embarrassment for 'culture warrior' Ron DeSantis

Florida Gov Ron DeSantis

While many eyes are on Donald Trump's trial, former presidential candidate FL Gov Ron DeSantis is facing another embarrassment which comes from laws he pushed while hyping himself up as a conservative culture warrior. DeSantis pushed for certain laws in an attempt to get the GOP presidential nomination. Now that the road to the White House has been cut off from him (at least for now), Mr. "Never Back Down" is actually backing down.  And with rapid speed.

From The Associated Press:

Two years ago, Democrats repeatedly and forcefully warned Republicans and Gov. Ron DeSantis that a new law making it easier to challenge schoolbooks was so broadly worded that it would create havoc across the state. 

Now they can say, “I told you so." 

 DeSantis backtracked on the 2022 law on Tuesday when he signed a bill narrowing its focus. He blamed liberal activists for abusing the law, not the citizens whose objections to certain books account for the majority of book removals from school libraries and classrooms. 

 “The idea that someone can use the parents' rights and the curriculum transparency to start objecting to every single book to try to make a mockery of this is just wrong,” DeSantis said the day before the bill signing. “That’s performative. That’s political.” 

 But the organization which has been fighting DeSantis over this book bans, PEN, told the Associated Press that it's actually conservative groups like Moms for Liberty who have been "abusing the law." 

 “The majority of books that we see being removed are books that talk about LBTQ+ identities, that include characters of color, that talk about race and racism, that include depictions of sexual experiences in the most broadest interpretation of that understanding,” said Kasey Meehan, Pen America's Freedom to Read program director.

Those challenges are being made by conservative individuals and groups such as Moms For Liberty, Meehan said. 

 According to the article, DeSantis's office provided one name as proof that the law was being abused by "liberal activists" - man by the name of Chaz Stevens who made challenges in several school districts claiming that the Bible iis obscene. However, Florida Democrat House leader Fentice Driskell disputed that claim. He told the Associated Press that DeSantis was warned in 2022 that the law would be abused. 

 “We told him so. The Florida House Democrats on the floor — in our debate, in our questioning — pointed out the vagueness in the original law and how it could be subject to abuse,” she said. “Chaz is not the problem. It's the folks who are taking liberties with the law who are the problem.”

DeSantis's backtracking on book banning is the second time he has backed away from a position he adopted in an attempt gain the GOP nomination.  In March, a lawsuit settlement practically gutted the centerpiece of his political narrative, i.e. the infamous "Don't Say Gay" law. DeSantis tried to claim that the settlement was a victory for the law, but others pointed out that it actually eliminated the law's most powerful element - it's vague wording.

According to The Tampa Bay Times:

DeSantis and others who backed the legislation insisted repeatedly that they had no intention of stopping discussions about LGBTQ+ issues in schools. Their goal, they said, was to eliminate what they called gender ideology. They did not provide clear definitions, though, nor did they offer detailed guidelines explaining what is and is not allowed in classrooms. 

Some claimed that not providing clear definitions or guidelines was a deliberate intent of the law. While it didn't offer clear instructions, but the penalties for breaking it were made very clear. This caused a lot of fear and confusion:

The critics claimed the result was a chilling effect that led teachers to stop talking about children’s families, remove books relating to LGBTQ+ characters and themes from their shelves, and to pull back support for LGBTQ+ students. As part of their defense, lawyers for the state pushed back against the allegations that the law lacked clarity. The settlement, announced by lawyers for the plaintiffs, took those arguments and made them real.


Nancy Green said...

Kirk Cameron tried to mess with our library, and Moms for Liberty have one of our legislators, but they don’t get too far.

Anonymous said...

DeSantis is cornered by his own malfeasance, how fitting. :)

Anonymous said...

Typical GOP foot-marksmanship.

"Heheheheh, now private citizens can just call for any old book to be banned. This will surely only work in OUR favor."