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Fact Check: Unpacking the Left's Ridiculous 'Book Ban' Meltdown in Florida

AP Photo/Marta Lavandier

Let's first start with a reminder than many 'progressives' are perfectly comfortable with some book banning, both at the local level and even nationally (the Obama administration's FEC explicitly endorsed book bans at the US Supreme Court, in furtherance of an ideological agenda).  Keep that in mind as leftists scream in faux horror over alleged "book bans" in the state of Florida, in their latest hysterical and false attack against the administration of Gov. Ron DeSantis.  The news media is dutifully participating in the racket, as usual, profiling "heartbroken" teachers who claim they've been forced to choose between having books in their classrooms and felony charges.  As you might have gathered, such assertions are expressions of abject ignorance, the result of ridiculous over-interpretation and overreach by local administrators, or deliberate, outright lies.  National Review lays out the backdrop for a useful fact check on the latest leftist meltdown over Florida like so:


What do you get when you take a new law aimed at increasing transparency around public-school materials, add in some misplaced concerns about an existing law that prohibits providing pornography to kids, sprinkle in conflicting directions from local school leaders that provided teachers with no room to use discretion or common sense, and mix them together in a state where the governor — a likely 2024 Republican presidential candidate — is often characterized by the media and his political opponents as akin to a fascist dictator? The answer: The great Florida classroom library freakout of 2023.

The Washington Times offers details:

Florida public schools have begun to implement a new state law to weed out sexually explicit content and other inappropriate material from classroom bookshelves, triggering accusations from the left that Gov. Ron DeSantis is banning books and threatening to jail teachers for stocking their bookshelves...Specially trained school officials must review every book they make available to students to ensure none of the material is considered pornography or is deemed otherwise inappropriate under state education laws. School districts must annually report to the state any books that parents have challenged as inappropriate...The law responds to demands from parents for greater transparency about the kinds of books their children can access in school and follows complaints from parents’ rights groups that learned some of the books available in Florida’s public schools were sexually explicit and, they believe, inappropriateThe offending titles included “Gender Queer,” a book found in some Florida high schools that includes graphic depictions of the author’s sexual experiences, and a book on the 1969 Stonewall riots made available in some elementary school libraries that describes men having orgies, rampant use of drugs and alcohol, and rationalization of prostitution. Another book found in some Florida middle schools, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” includes multiple references to drugs, alcohol, abuse and sex.


If people believe it's appropriate to have materials about drug-fueled orgies available to elementary schoolers, they're welcome to make that argument.  Florida law now says that parents have a right to know that such materials are available, and to object.  The Washington Post has published a "news" story on this issue, entitled, "Hide your books to avoid felony charges, Fla. schools tell teachers," adopting an insane, flagrantly wrong framing. The piece "is shockingly inaccurate and demands immediate correction for its false assertion—surely picked up from anti-DeSantis advocates— that House Bill 1467 carries criminal penalties," Rich Lowry responds, adding, "the reporter is confusing the school materials statue with an anti-porn statue, a mistake that anti-DeSantis advocates have been making out of ignorance or malice."  Mistakes can be made.  Where are the editors at a newspaper that considers itself to be a serious guardian of the public record, fighting against the death of democracy in "darkness"?  Officials from DeSantis' office and the Florida Department of Education have been shoving back against the smears and correcting the record:


"Nobody has a 'right' to give children pornography or push their own political agenda using the vehicle of public education," DeSantis Press Secretary Bryan Griffin wrote. "Those who are equating this to a 'book ban' or censorship are being willfully dishonest."  Added context from the state's Education Commissioner:

I'll leave you with this clumsy propaganda, followed by DeSantis' announcement this week of Florida's decision to defund 'Diversity Equity and Inclusion' (DEI) programs in state schools, along with CRT-associated coursework and materials:

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