Tuesday, April 18, 2023

The New Eleventh Commandment

I suppose it was fairly predictable.  After Governor Ron DeSantis signed his signature "Stop Woke Act," he blasted the "myth" that "Florida schools have been directed to 'empty libraries' and 'cover classroom books.'"

However, as Judd Legum has pointed out, a regulation issued by the state's Department of Education has created sufficient confusion and fear that a few districts such as Manatee County School District have

instructed teachers to "remove or cover all classroom libraries until all materials can be reviewed." In addition, a librarian must "vet every classroom library book" and

In Escambia County for example, there have been challenges filed to remove 175 books from school libraries. 148 of those books have been removed from library shelves during the challenge process, which includes multiple reviews and appeals. But thus far, the Escambia County school board has considered and made a final decision on just four books. It voted to remove all four. The other 170 challenges are still pending. But, in DeSantis' intepretation of the data, Escambia would have only removed four books.

Large numbers of books have been removed pending appeal in Clay County and other school districts as well.

These challenges of individual books is entirely separate from the reviews of classroom libraries, which must be performed by librarians, mandated by the DeSantis administration. That process is why, according to data released by Duval County, more than 1.5 million books remain inaccessible to students.

Confused?  I am, and I'm writing about it, although Legum is thorough. Confusion probably is the intent, ambiguity the means for the governor. Far less ambiguous is the six-week ban on abortion approved by the legislature in Florida and signed by DeSantis which

will take effect only if the state’s current 15-week ban is upheld in an ongoing legal challenge that is before the state Supreme Court, which is controlled by conservatives.

The policy would have wider implications for abortion access throughout the South in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year overturning Roe v. Wade and leaving decisions about abortion access to states. Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi have banned abortion at all stages of pregnancy, while Georgia forbids the procedure after cardiac activity can be detected, which is around six weeks.

A woman often does not know prior to six weeks that she is pregnant but the punitive ban, as the cliche goes, is "a feature rather than a bug," which more properly would be phrased "a benefit rather than a bug."

Supporters of DeSantis' expected candidacy for the GOP nomination for President have supported his legislative initiatives, however cruel or authoritarian, or both (here again, benefit rather than bug). However, so have his critics, whether supporters or skeptics of Donald Trump's bid for the nomination. 

In the latter category would be former New Jersey governor Chris Christie. The Guardian reports

DeSantis accused Disney of perpetrating a legally unsound “sham”, which he said he would dismantle. He also threatened to build on state-owned land next to Disney World.

“What should we do with this land?” DeSantis said. “Maybe create a state park. Maybe try to do more amusement parks. Someone even said, like, maybe you need another state prison. Who knows? I just think that the possibilities are endless.”

Christie said: “I don’t think Ron DeSantis is a conservative, based on his actions towards Disney.

“Where are we headed here now, that if you express disagreement in this country, the government is allowed to punish you? To me, that’s what I always thought liberals did. And now all of a sudden here we are participating in this with a Republican governor.”

As well as questioning why DeSantis attacked Disney, Christie blasted how he did it.

“For him … to not have foreseen that Disney was going to do what they did in response, which was to completely take over the millions and millions of acres and the zoning decisions on that … well, I’ll tell you this much: that’s not the guy I want sitting across from President Xi.”



Christie is not alone in his criticism, for former Vice President Mike Pence is doubling down on attacks against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis:

The latest salvo came during a Yahoo! News interview Tuesday, when the potential Presidential candidate likened “government activism” from DeSantis to that of California’s Gavin Newsom, comparing Florida’s handling of Disney to how California dealt with abortion pills.

“I’m a limited government conservative, and I believe in private property, free enterprise. My concern more broadly was just simply about taking action against a company in the wake of a political dispute, where the company had taken a different position than the state,” Pence contended.

“I have concerns about that in Florida. I had the exact same concerns about California, pulling a $54 million contract from Walgreens because Walgreens announced that they’ll not be distributing the abortion pill in 20 states where it would be illegal to do so. To me, it’s the same kind of government activism — one on the right, one on the left, and both are wrong.”

Ronald Reagan said the 11th Commandment is "Thou shall not speak ill of another Republican."  He first said that, though, well over a half century ago. No, it is more like "Thou Must Not Antagonize Corporations."

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