Greg Sargent at The Post wrote a column (gift link) about a new bill moving through the Florida statehouse that will supercharge the conservative book-banning spree. As we discussed yesterday, some school district officials (in Pinellas County, for example) are in a defensive crouch and snatch books off school shelves if even a single kook complains. Other district officials take their jobs as educators more seriously and follow a process, leaving books in place until reviews are complete.
As Sargent notes, the bill in question is getting a lot of attention for extending the application of the anti-LGBTQ “don’t say gay” restrictions through 12th grade, but it would also mandate a Pinellas County-style defensive crouch for complaints about books. It would empower random anti-book vigilantes to effect a book’s immediate removal with a complaint and require a review before a title can return to the shelves.
If the new bill passes, it would become statewide policy that this book (Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye) — or others with similarly peripheral “sexual conduct” — must be banned from a given district’s schools immediately upon the objection of one resident of that county, says Kara Gross, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida.
“It grants enormous power to a single bigoted individual to dictate and control what books other parents’ kids have access to,” Gross told me.
This, in turn, could make it easier for bad-faith actors to nix books while avoiding a process in which baseless objections might initially get dismissed. As (political scientist Jeffrey) Sachs put it, “the automatic removal provision will be abused and lead to widespread censorship.”
Feature, bug, etc.
Here’s my question as a non-lawyer: Is there anything the Department of Justice can do about Florida’s worsening censorship problem? The issue isn’t confined to K-12 schools and minors’ access to books. Government censors are abridging free speech for private businesses and muzzling professors and college students too.
I’m aware of lawsuits in some of these cases, but it seems like at some point, it would be appropriate for the federal government to step in and protect Floridians’ rights as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. I’m not sure where that line is.
Sargent thinks that if this bill becomes law, it may hurt DeSantis with suburban voters when more randos cause popular titles to be banned and attract backlash. That happened in Martin County when the GOP operatives at Moms for
Liberty Censorship got novels by Jodi Picoult removed from high school libraries. Picoult is fighting back, and good for her. But we need help now.
Apologies for being a Debbie Downer so early in the day; please feel free to discuss anything!
PS: This 100-year-old lady who addressed a Martin County schoolboard meeting is awesome! And a quilter!
Does this kook have to have an articulated reason for their objection, and if so does that reason get any scrutiny applied to it?
We are going to Disney World in July with grandkids. That may well be the last time I enter that state.
Whose rights are being violated? FL could shut down its public school system altogether if it wanted to.
If it’s the authors’ rights to have their books not banned, then the authors would need to sue.
OT. Number purists rejoice.
NAL, but I doubt the Feds could step in when it comes to public education. One is, that’s a state/local issue, and two, to compel them to leave books on the shelves that those empowered to set policy don’t want on the shelves might even be construed as compelled speech.
Now when it comes to students speaking out on their own, I’d bet that’s much more dangerous territory for the Lege.
And as to what can be done, I wouldn’t wait for Big Gummint to come to the rescue. I’d complain loudly to local politicians, and I’d get all guerrilla on them: I heartily approve of complaints about the Bible and demanding that it be removed, and I’d do the same for dozens of other books, especially but not exclusively the flag-waving kind. Huckleberry Finn, for example, uses the N-word — off the shelves with it! And anything involving war, because that might upset the children. And yes that would create more work for district employees, but it’s not like they’re not doing it already anyway, and I would guess some of them would be happy indeed to be fighting back.
Turn libraries into vacant warehouses, and classrooms into little more than math and blank paper. See how suburban parents feel about that.
Take a lesson from Israelis and shut Tallahassee down. Your state has gone full metal fascist. Time to stop their madness
Saw Sen. Mike Rounds on CNN this morning (my Air B&B had no radio). The Republican “solution” to gun violence in schools is to “repurpose” the $500 million in the Inflation Reduction Act that’s for schools to install solar panels for even more “school security “. They want schools to be like prisons. I wish one interviewer had the stones to say to a Republican “You say there is nothing else you can do about people being murdered in places like schools by AR-style rifles, but the truth is you don’t want to do anything about it because it might keep some of your supporters from being able to have as many weapons of war as they want. ” That’s the truth of the matter, they’re ok with kids being murdered because AR-15’s are “fun to shoot”. I wish they could be made to own that position.
The usual way for First Amendment questions to be raised is through the Federal Courts. The ACLU sometimes provides legal assistance to organizations or individuals who are negatively affected by these kinds of laws. If I were a teacher in Florida, I would go to my Florida Teachers’ Association representative and ask for help battling this. Or an organization of libraries would also likely have standing to raise these kinds of questions.
I do not know why one of these organizations has not already taken on this fight, and I wonder if they are so cowed by the “unwoke mob” that they are staying quiet.
@Baud: Actually, it’s working on shutting down public schools right now.
@bbleh: hire trucks full of all manner of books and drop them at the governors house and at the schools. Fundraise.
@Baud: Time for the purists to pivot. But this could cause a schism, with some arguing that negative numbers should be next, while others demand rational numbers.
@Baud: Arguably the most important number in the decimal system.
Wow, that video. Why’d you make me cry just before class???
It’s been mentioned in other threads, but the Bible would easily meet these criteria…
@Ksmiami: Make sure plenty of media are present the you do it.
Not only a quintessentially British show stopper staged in Japan, if one really looks at it closely you won’t spot a single male in the cast.
Paul in KY
@japa21: I’m going to be there in late June with my family. My son looooves Mickey right now. I fervently hope this will be the last time I’m ever at Disneyworld. Staying at a hotel that the monorail goes to so I can drink copiously.
I do love me some Florida beaches and will probably enjoy those sometime in the future.
It’s become pretty obvious that Florida is going feudal – you have money, you get education; you have jack shit, you get…well, jack shit. After all, you don’t even need to know how to read Dick & Jane, let alone Shakespeare, to be a baggage handler at Hurricane Flotsam Airport. When was the last time a greeter at Bud’s Anal Oyster House told you the line they remembered most from their Black literature course? Rich old farts don’t see the need to pay for education for the peons who change their Depends for them.
As commentor Kathy over at OTB said, “Maximum Security Juvenile Internment Center.”
@Lapassionara: What makes you think that the ACLU, for example, is not already preparing a lawsuit challenging this?
The Kropenhagen Interpretation
@bbleh: Math is the main tool of the devil and must be banned from school classrooms. Don’t even get me started on blank paper, you can put anything on there.
@Baud: When DeSantis fired Hillsborough County’s elected state attorney Andrew Warren for signing a letter expressing opposition to prosecuting abortion providers, that seems to this non-lawyer like Warren’s 1A rights were abridged. Ditto when DeSantis used state power to retaliate against the Tampa Bay Rays for tweeting in support of gun safety, his abuse of state power to punish WDW for speech, etc. Also when the state banned private employers from mentioning CRT or saying anything that might hurt white people’s feelings in employee training classes.
On the books issue, I’ve heard that some of the authors are suing, and I get that there’s a question of standing. But I think the broader point of the 1A is protect citizens’ rights to receive information. Here’s the American Library Association’s take:
Librarians are always right.
The Kropenhagen Interpretation
It’s almost like they’re trained in curating information.
Which will be the first TV station in Florida sued for showing The Flintstones over them being a Stone Age family having a “gay old time?”
@Betty Cracker: Warren, the Rays, and Disney could probably easily so, but they haven’t raised a First Amendment claim for one reason or another.
A school librarian might also be able to sue, but I guess no one wants to try it
The problem is that these are state-run facilities. If FL tried to ban books in a bookstore, that would be an easy First Amendment case.
@Omnes Omnibus: I would hope it is already preparing to fight this.
“Snow showers this morning”
That title! The horror, the horror.
You also can’t sue over a bill. People will have to wait until it becomes law.
For some reason #5 wasn’t willing to postpone her wedding to a 92 year old billionaire for a moment longer. How romantic!
@Baud: The NFL should let Detroit lineman Ndamukong Suh wear the symbol for pi.
@NotMax: Hey, at least I didn’t assign pronouns to each of them. OK Groomer.
@Betty Cracker: Historically, the DOJ has not been used to enforce 1st Amendment rights wrt state government. Off the top of my head, I cannot think of anytime it has happened.
@NotMax: Seriously! Having the “D-word” in the TITLE of a book? For CHILDREN?!? It must be removed immediately!
@japa21: Convention coming up later this year, one I have been looking forward to. I have decided not to go. Cannot justify it.
@Baud: Exactly, I would presume that lawsuits will be filed the second this becomes law.
Video brought tears to my eyes. If I live as long as that wonderful lady, I hope I am still quilting!
I expect Missouri to start following Florida’s repressive laws. I know the legislature in Missouri wants to destroy public education (pushing school choice) but am not sure how that will play out as there are hundreds of tiny rural school districts. Not feasible to set up competing private schools in areas where the student population is less than 500 kids. And let me tell you, in small towns, the citizens are fiercely protective of their schools. They have seen towns disappear when the school is shut down (consolidation follows).
For years, there was a push to consolidate two small rural districts in my area. It would have made sense, as you can provide more services for one big school over 2 small ones. No one cared about that. The citizens of both districts were unwilling to lose their schools. The school is the center of the community.
They’re selling the idea that parents should control their kids’ education. But the end result is some other kid’s parents control my kid’s education. I still have no control. And if the choice is the teacher or some random parent, I’ll pick the teacher every time.
They’re really taking “minority rule” to new heights (or lows, rather) eh?
One kook and a book is gone? Wow.
Is there any other area of government where just one person can complain, and a particular resource or otherwise taxpayer-funded item is gone (or added, for that matter)?
I mean, by the RWNJs’ logic (and I do use the term ‘logic’ loosely here) a single citizen ought to be able to object to all kinds of things that offend them and have them removed from governmental use.
Yesterday I got an email from the school that they are looking for volunteers for a committee that will be reviewing books in the high school library. This is likely a response to New Hampshire’s own legislation to attack the schools. We are a hotbed of right wing school destruction. A small state with a heavily gerrymandered house, senate and executive committee. A little money goes a long way to buy the kind of votes they want. We have an out of control school voucher program, funneling money to religious schools and home schoolers with no accountability. What was originally supposed to be a few million dollars has ballooned to $30M a year and will likely increase more. The vouchers have to be paid no matter what, so the budget line can overrun and the money siphoned from elsewhere in the state education budget. It’s already more that what we give to community colleges, and the money that was supposed to go help build new schools is being diverted to this instead. The Republicans just this week moved to take money out of the education trust fund to put in the general fund, and look to run it to zero in a few years. NH already gives some of the smallest amounts to school districts of any state, but the number looks to drop even further. We experiencing the slow motion destruction of our public schools. Thankfully the supposed parent’s bill of rights (an attack on the public schools and LGBTQ+ children) has been sidelined for the moment. One version had criminal penalties for school staff. To add to the pain, we had our local school budget and board vote yesterday. The bond issue for a new elementary school failed, the budget was voted down, but we at least kept the several right wing candidates off the board. What a mess.
Dr. Jakyll and Miss Deride
(Since we’re talking about horrible people in Florida, this is actually on topic.)
“St. Bees Saga,” Episode 3 (based on a true story):
There was an old man of St. Bees
Who came down with a social disease.
When asked, “How’d you do it?”
He replied: “Nothing to it–
At The Villages, they aim to please.”
I wonder if there is potential for a class action lawsuit by black authors, on the basis that these laws are unconstitutional because they effectively discriminate against a protected class (race).
@Lapassionara: The ACLU and other orgs filed suit against the state on behalf of students and educators in August:
I believe they recently got an injunction for higher ed until a ruling.
I don’t think FL could simply shut down all of their public schools. Their state constitution states: “Adequate provision shall be made by law for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools that allows students to obtain a high quality education.” Confederate states were required to guarantee public schools in their post-Confederate constitutions in order to be reinstated in the Union after secession. And the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution mandates that when a state has a public school system, all children must be guaranteed access to it. But with right wing goons apparently in control of most of the U.S. justice system, who’s going to enforce any of that?
They don’t want to take part in the various processes that are involved (running for school board; serving on a curriculum committee, etc) – they just want to screech and BOOM, everything they don’t like is removed, not just for their kid but for all kids.
In a way, they’re kind of micro-managing the school districts’ budgets and therefore subverting the school boards’ authority.
Today is finally the big day. In a couple hours I’ll be getting my septoplasty and turbinate reduction surgery so that I can hopefully sleep through a night without major nasal congestion waking me up several times. Been fasting since midnight, which sucks. I’d kill for a damn drink of water. But very excited to finally address this long-running (like over a decade) problem. I know a couple people who have said the surgery and it made their quality of life exponentially better. Fingers crossed.
@UncleEbeneezer: Good luck!
@Ksmiami: to what end? Better to call child protective services on him for the obvious “grooming” happening in their house.
@UncleEbeneezer: Good luck
Good luck! I know you’ll be glad to have this problem taken care of once and for all.
“How was the surgery?”
“Y’know, ‘snot so bad.”
@UncleEbeneezer: Wishing you a speedy recovery! I also know someone who had that (or very similar) surgery decades ago and was quite pleased with the results.
Keep us posted!
@UncleEbeneezer: All the best!
@UncleEbeneezer: good luck! I’ve been through a couple of sinus surgeries and they help.
@UncleEbeneezer: Good luck. I hope you heal quickly and that it’s a success.
Good Morning Everyone 😊😊😊
@Betty Cracker: Thanks, Betty. Good to know
🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽May you heal completely
While not books per se, a reminder that history do repeat.
@rikyrah: Good morning.
Kind’a sort’a topical: why Florida Man so prevalent.
In general what is the responsibility of the (federal) Department of Education ? I hope there’s one still, it’s always on the R’s hitlist…if the states can do anything they want what is the function of the federal Dept.
@bbleh: take a page from civil rights activists in the 1960s. Get media on your side
First laugh of the day. (Hopefully the first, anyway.)
This applies to blogs, too:
@Manyakitty: media circus. Plus dump enough books and park large trucks so he’s blocked in. Stage it at 3 AM
@Ksmiami: I agree that the kind of activism that basically just hammers home the book banning without getting into the weeds about when a librarian should be able to reject a book (because ultimately this is a line-drawing exercise) would be a good tactic. Burying some appropriate building in books, calling him “Ron DeBookBanner, whatever.
Too much lefty activism turns into earnest argument about details. The right wingers are so much better at messaging than we are.
@Dr. Jakyll and Miss Deride:
The ‘St. Bees’ ‘limerick’ I heard goes like this:
There once was a man from St. Bees
who got stung in the neck by a hornet.
When asked, “Did it hurt?”
He said, “No, it didn’t,
I thought the whole time it was a wasp.”
Just popping in real quick, not sure if this was posted but thought it was cool and wanted to share:
US teens say they have new proof for 2,000-year-old mathematical theorem
More info in the article. Pretty cool overall.
Paul in KY
@UncleEbeneezer: Best wishes to you on a successful outcome!!
The CBS radio news tells me that the FDA has approved the anti-overdose drug Naxalone(sp?) for over-the-counter sales. It will be available at drug stores and some grocery stores and convenience stores before too long. The sooner the better; that drug already saves a lot of loves and it will save more with wider access.
Keep radical politicians out of our schools and libraries!
I know that lots of good people are in the trenches, fighting these monsters. It must be exhausting.
We know that these attacks are being coordinated by national GQP operatives and their funders. It would be nice if there was a Bellingcat-like group following the money, following the people, exposing their agendas. (There may be, ProPublica for one tries to do stories on things like this, but they don’t get enough visibility.) It would also be nice if the laws about getting tax deductions as a non-profit for operating in the “public interest” (or however it’s expressed) were actually enforced. Advocating the destruction of the government and the commonweal is not actually in the public interest… But that’s not likely to change anytime soon, either.
We have to fight them every single day. There are no short-cuts.
@Steeplejack: A big problem with Mastodon is that its threading is very loose and spotty, and interacts oddly with federation: if somebody who is on a different instance boosts a post that is the beginning of a thread, people who follow them should see the whole thread, but if they boost a post out of the middle of the thread, many people may never see the beginning.
This results in a lot of frustrating discussions where you say A, B and C and then a lot of people respond to C by bringing up A as if it were a novel and unconsidered point.
Getting the media to take a stand against book banning should be doable. A lot of journalists write books or hope to do so. Can they limit what kinds of reporting are studied in high school and college journalism classes?
I follow the novelist John Green on YouTube, who vlogs with his brother Hank. His YA books get banned A LOT because some of them have some kind of depiction of sex in them and get categorized as “pornographic”; sometimes he seems just burned out from the endless fight to get these books un-banned from libraries. I foresee way more of that going around.
A question/thought I have: Can the Fed. Dept. of Ed just not give Florida any $$? That would put a hitch in the giddyup I would think. Not sure of the ramifications, but there is that thought.
@UncleEbeneezer: Wishing you the very best for a successful surgery, quick healing and a great result!
@japa21: Yep, I’ve seen on black social media calls to boycott FL, no Disney, no spring break.
@Betty Cracker: The DA filed in federal court, as I recall. The judge agreed with him, saying DeSantis overstepped his authority, but it was a state, not a federal issue.
I have serious doubts that this is a real Black person.
Because, any Black person knows, even if they aren’t a parent, that it’s utter DELUSION to think that Black parents actually CAN PLAN when they will discuss racism with their children.
It’s the first rule taught by society to Black parents. That they are not in control of the moment that their children will find out that they are hated..
not for anything that they have DONE..
But, for their MERE EXISTENCE.
Black parents know that THAT moment is completely out of their control… and, it hurts Black parents. It strikes them to their core, because they love their children just as much as anyone else loves their, and the protective instinct in them is just as strong.
Clarence Thomas’ play nephew (@NobleNegroe) tweeted at 1:41 PM on Mon, Mar 27, 2023:
Listen, y’all are absolutely crazy if you think it’s okay to teach 6 year olds about racism and it’s concepts. I stand by that. A child’s (of all colors) innocence should be protected up until a certain age. 6 years old ain’t that age. Y’all can miss me with exposing kids to that… https://t.co/NFd0MrLWP7
Mr. Weeks (@WonderKing82) tweeted at 3:15 PM on Tue, Mar 28, 2023:
This is dangerously ignorant. I was 6 years old when my parents sat my siblings and me down to talk about Central Park 5. I was taught to remain still when dealing with the police, always walk home together, and if we get into contact with the police let my eldest brother talk.
Dr. Jakyll and Miss Deride
@lowtechcyclist: I cited that one at the start of this series as my inspiration. You could say it put St. Bees in my bonnet.
@Baud: It’s only a matter of time till right-wing vigilantes start targeting bookstores for daring to carry books they don’t approve of. They’re going to be labeled grooming centers if they don’t knuckle under and remove any and all books that are opposed by the right. It won’t be government action but it’ll be just as effective.
People need to start thinking of how to protect businesses and homes that are targeted by these fascists. Law enforcement may or may not be helpful depending on the situation and jurisdiction.
@Dr. Jakyll and Miss Deride: Sorry, didn’t realize that’s what you were linking to.
@bbleh: Unfortunately, the results of the November 2022 election indicate that plenty of suburban Florida parents are just fine with what DeSantis is doing. They got what they voted for. When their kids have trouble getting into college because they’re functionally illiterate maybe the parents will think about it then. Normal people in other states will just add Florida to the list of states to be avoided like the plague, along with Tennessee, Alabama, etc.
Totally agree: not a real Black person. Like you say, Black parents can’t protect their kids from finding out about racism even at that young age, firsthand, the hard way. But for some White people, reading a book about Roberto Clemente not being able to eat lunch with his teammates during spring training is too much for their kids to handle. Craziness.
@Tony G: Unfortunately, there’s a whole industrial complex of “universities” that live on this stuff. And folks coming out of them continue their involvement in law and politics and trying to push their world view down on the rest of us.
Liberty University and Regent University are two infamous ones in Virginia, but they’re everywhere.
 – At Liberty.edu their General Biology Bachelor Degree program – “You’ll also have the freedom to select various biology electives, so you can take classes that fit your career goals! By taking an origins course, you can evaluate the historical, philosophical, and scientific evidence for biblical creation. Our biology seminar can help you develop core research skills that are essential to a career in biology.”
Unsurprisingly, their undergraduate biology courses listing does not mention the word “evolution” once. Of course, the theory of evolution is the key unifying theory of biology, so leaving it out is, er, pretty awfully bad. I see they offer a lot of courses on how to evaluate forensic evidence for trials and the like. I don’t think I’d want someone who cannot understand evolution opining on evidence in a legal context myself, but I’m sure they don’t lack for job opportunities…
tl;dr – They’re breaking the public schools on purpose, and are fine with sending their kids to echo chamber religious schools.
@Tony G: that’s what Tom Nichols predicted… a return to no go zones.
@Another Scott: DeVry is the one in my area. Less than mediocre, but advertise heavily. High tuition but easy to get student loans. It is the institution of choice for first generation students because it is so welcoming compared to the others (who want to appear to be hard to get accepted when they aren’t.)
“You must remove any book that contains words, as I find all words offensive, including the ones in this letter”