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Ron DeSantis Getting Nervous About Censoring Books Decrying Censorship?

Not All Of Florida Is Like The Panhandle

We had no choice in high school. Classics like 1984 and Brave New World were part of the curriculum. Under DeSantis’ censorship law, backward counties are challenging books like these, removing them from libraries and curriculums. Bay County is one of those anti-education hellholes in the Panhandle. 71% of the voting bucktooth rednecks there went for Trump in 2020. So why be surprised that the school board decided 1984 had “communist views.” When, if anything, Orwell wrote it as an anti-Stalin critique. Duval County includes Jacksonville and it is not a backward hellhole but Republicans still control the levers of power… and challenged Brave New World, claiming Huxley included “sexual content” and “unsettling themes.” Literature and “challenging themes” and synonymous and the whole idea of grappling with complex and disturbing themes prompt personal growth and conservatives’ biggest bugaboo: critical thinking. Challenging “unsettling themes” in schools is a dangerous precedent, leading to the censorship of crucial perspectives that are in any way “diverse.”

Across Florida hundreds of titles have been removed from libraries and from school curricula, in a dangerous spree of censorship driven by ignorant, hateful psychopaths like Moms for Liberty, a group obsessed with— even driven mad by— their own sexual appetites. Now that his presidential run has flopped, DeSantis is beginning to call for amending his law (Bill 1069, the so-called “Parental Rights in Education Act”) to prevent “abuse” from these crazed right-wing lunatics, while the Florida constituencies contend with lawsuits filed by students, parents, civil rights groups and authors challenging the removals.

Among the books banned in some counties are classics like Toni Morrison’s Beloved (which addresses generational trauma caused by slavery) and The Bluest Eye (which looks at themes of race and societal pressure in a coming of age story) Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird (addressing racial injustice), Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (addressing racism, and societal hypocrisy)John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men (the struggles of migrant workers during the Great Depression)…

The PEN America report "Banned & Challenged Books in Schools, 2021-2022" found that books with LGBTQ+ themes and characters were the most targeted category for removal. The American Library Association reported a record number of book challenges in 2022 and 2023 nationally, especially in Republican areas of Texas and Missouri where these “Parental Rights in Education” bills have passed, especially targeting race, history, gender, sexuality (especially LGBTQ sexuality), books critical of authority (like anything exploring police brutality, as well as books discussing sensitive topics like climate change, immigration and poverty. More examples of important books banned: Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich, How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi, This Book is Anti-Racist: How to Change the World from Young to Old by Tiffany Jewell, We are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom and Michaela Goade, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander…

Yesterday, Judd Legum noted that DeSantis is trying to back away from any responsibility for the ugly mess he created calling a press conference where he “blamed teachers, school officials, ‘random people,’ community members, ‘bad actors,’ and the media. DeSantis pointed the finger at everyone except for the person most responsible: himself. What is happening in Florida school libraries is a direct result of legislation signed by DeSantis and regulations and guidance produced by the DeSantis administration. As a result, thousands of books, including many award-winning works of literature, have been pulled off the shelves in Florida schools, and hundreds have been banned permanently from school libraries.” 

DeSantis claimed that he only “empowered parents to object to obscene material in the classroom.” Now, he is complaining that “members of the community… just show up and object to every single book under the sun.” But DeSantis and his administration have championed laws, regulations, and guidance pushing for a much broader selection of books to be removed. 
n March 2022, DeSantis signed into law the Parental Rights in Education Act, also known as "Don't Say Gay." The new law stated that "classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3." The law was expanded last year to cover all grades. 

The text of the law clearly says these restrictions apply to "classroom instruction" — not library books. But in January 2023, the Florida Department of Education conducted mandatory training for school librarians and emphasized that there was "some overlap between the selection criteria for instructional and library materials." The training says that library books and instructional materials cannot cover "unsolicited theories that may lead to student indoctrination," which includes "sexual orientation or gender identity" as specified in the Parental Rights in Education Act. The school librarians were encouraged to "err on the side of caution" and were warned that making books prohibited by Florida law available to students could subject them to third-degree felony charges. 
Subsequently, there have been hundreds of challenges of books simply because they include LGBTQ characters. In September, Popular Information obtained an internal document summarizing guidance from the Superintendent in Charlotte County, Florida, Mark Vianello. According to the document, county librarians were told that "[b]ooks with LGBTQ+ characters are not to be included in classroom libraries or school library media centers." 

Charlotte County later said that all books with LGBTQ characters were removed from elementary and middle school libraries, but not high school libraries. Charlotte County is not an outlier. Popular Information has documented that books with LGBTQ characters were challenged and removed from Lake, Seminole, Escambia, Clay, and at least 11 other counties. Similarly, books that discuss racial discrimination are being challenged due to the "Stop Woke Act," a law signed by DeSantis that prohibits classroom instruction on Critical Race Theory. 
DeSantis and Florida Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz Jr., who appeared with DeSantis at last week's event, could put an end to all this by issuing guidance to school districts clarifying that "Don't Say Gay" and the "Stop Woke Act" do not apply to library books. But they have refused to do so, except in the context of litigation. Instead, DeSantis and Diaz Jr. are holding press conferences grumbling about all the people who are challenging non-obscene books. 
At last week's press conference, DeSantis said he would support legislation that would make it a bit more difficult to challenge large numbers of books. But, in May 2023, DeSantis signed legislation that made it much easier to challenge many titles. That law, HB 1069, gives residents the right to demand the removal of any library book that "depicts or describes sexual conduct," as defined under Florida law, whether or not the book is pornographic. The law also requires a school district to remove any book challenged on this basis from the library within five days, pending a formal review.
The Florida Department of Education produced a memo in October 2023 advising superintendents that every book in school or classroom libraries must comply with HB 1069. The Escambia County School Board ordered a review of all books in light of the new law. At the completion of that process, more than 2800 books were removed from libraries, including three dictionaries, eight different encyclopedias, two thesauruses, and five editions of The Guinness Book of World Records. 


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The misspelling of the word ignorant in the comment below as in "Censorship to keep people ignorantd," has to be the Freudian Slip of the year so far.

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Sorry, he crossed a line again and his punishment was to have several posts deleted.

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