Ron DeSantis and team are now crying “hoax” when accused of banning books, which suggests maybe they dimly realize that book bans aren’t popular outside the extra-frothy “Moms for Liberty” bubble. As Judd Legum reports, Team DeSantis published a “fact sheet” on the official government website that purports to debunk “myths” about the “book ban hoax.” It’s pure gaslighting, as Legum details in his coverage:
DeSantis falsely claimed that a video of empty book shelves recorded by former Duval County substitute teacher Brian Covey was a “hoax,” noting that Covey was fired. It’s true that Covey lost his job for recording the video, but the video was not a hoax.
A spokesperson for Duval County Public Schools (DCPS), Tracy Pierce, told Popular Information in February that the empty shelves in Covey’s video once housed “the fiction titles” in the school media center, but all those titles were removed pending review by a media specialist. That review was mandated by a “curriculum transparency” law signed by DeSantis last year…
In addition to making false claims about Covey’s video, DeSantis smeared teachers, claiming there was a “concerted effort to bring some of this sexualization into the classroom, particularly in these young grades.”
The so-called “curriculum transparency” law DeSantis championed is vaguely worded by design, just like all of the other bullshit culture war legislation, to maximize the intimidation factor. On their own initiative, districts removed or covered book titles that are subject to review. The “fact sheet” notwithstanding, we have copies of district memos and official statements that resulted in bare shelves and covered titles.
Sometimes all it takes to ban books is a complaint from one parent. A single extremist in Martin County, Florida is behind the banning of nearly 100 titles in a district, including books by popular author Jodi Picoult. She wrote a piece about it in The Daily Beast:
The 92 books that were pulled from Martin County School District shelves were based on the complaint of a single parent…
Look, I’m a mom. I used to read books before my kids did, to make sure I felt they were emotionally ready for the content. If it was a hard topic, we used the book as a springboard for discussion. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a parent deciding a certain book is not right for her child. There is a colossal problem with a parent deciding that, therefore, no child should be allowed to read that book.
Bolding mine. Those sentences underscore the irony here because the book bans in Florida and elsewhere invariably arise from right-wing “freedom” or “liberty” agendas that flatter busybodies who want to curtail their neighbors’ freedom and liberty.
I remember PTA and school board meetings I attended when my kiddo was a Florida public school student. Frequently, there would be a random religious kook who’d go off on a tangent about a book or movie or classroom policy that might tempt their precious Snotleigh to stray from the path of righteousness. The rest of us would exchange glances and roll our eyes while enduring the paranoid rant.
Now randos like that are effectively if not literally running entire school districts. An actual “liberty” agenda requires opposing them at every turn. After decades of mindless humping, there’s so much gross wingnut ball-sweat on words like “freedom” and “liberty” that liberals can be excused for avoiding the terms in the past. But goddamn it, it’s time to hose the words off and reclaim them.