Editor, The Beacon:
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says that Florida is where “woke” comes to die. The truth is that under his leadership Florida has become a state where constitutional rights and important individual freedoms are dying.
A valid test to determine if a person in power is qualified to advance to even greater power is to see how he uses the power that he has. DeSantis has removed a district attorney from the job he was elected to by the vote of the public he served, and he did so because he did not like a comment the attorney made saying he would be reluctant to prosecute a woman for having an abortion. A judge confirmed that the governor had no right to take such action.
DeSantis has imposed his views on the residents of Florida by signing into law a limit of six weeks in which a woman can have a legal abortion; many women would not even know that they are pregnant at this point. Woke won’t die in Florida, but pregnant women needing an abortion will.
DeSantis has invaded the academic freedom of our educational institutions and educators by political intrusion and changing long-established precedents of governance and deference to First Amendment rights. Now, state university presidents, chosen by the governor. can decide who gets appointed and promoted within departments. And they can overrule decisions previously made by department heads and deans who are actually informed and on-site.
School libraries across the state are having books discussing racial issues, gender identity, sexual orientation or even sexual maturation removed from shelves. Teachers are banned from teaching the actual history of our country because it requires an honest appraisal of slavery and how it affects the economic and political status of Black people today.
Teachers are not allowed to teach critical race theory to students, but does anyone think our racial history of slavery is laudatory? Banning teaching the truth does not educate; it imposes on students ignorance and confusion that impairs knowledge and true progress in racial understanding.
DeSantis bans any teaching or discussion of sexuality, gender, and even girls’ discussion of menstruation. Life doesn’t stop at puberty; young people develop sexually and need to know facts and not be misled by their peer group and false information. Not being able to hear about homosexuality and transgender people honestly and without opprobrium will be very devastating for students who realize that they are those people. The rate of suicide for adolescents has tripled in the past few years; imagine how much higher it is for the LGBTQ community. This banning, although originally limited to kindergarten through third grade (where no one would teach this), has been extended all the way through the 12th grade.
In his zeal to misuse his political power, DeSantis has taken on Disney because Disney dares to do the right thing in supporting gay rights. In retaliation, DeSantis will for the first time not let Disney manage some of its corporate property itself rather than the state. He has suggested that property adjacent to Disney may be appropriate for a prison. Disney has sued DeSantis for this clearly retaliatory act.
DeSantis accused Disney of being “political” for defending its corporate interests and its rights when all of the actions that DeSantis has taken that I have discussed are blatantly political. What some may call cultural issues are, in truth, violations of constitutional rights and political intrusion into educational policy.
DeSantis is waiting for the Florida Legislature to conclude its business before declaring his candidacy for the presidency. The rubber-stamping Republican Legislature has already passed the repeal of the resign-to-run law. Otherwise, DeSantis would not have the security of a generous income with little or no work for the state of Florida while he runs for the Republican nomination for president against former President Trump.
Mega Republican corporate donors have backed off of DeSantis because of his extreme action on abortion and actions against Disney, as well as other matters.
DeSantis also has what could be a fatal flaw for a political candidate: He appears devoid of emotional intelligence. A former House colleague in Congress said that he sat next to DeSantis for two years without DeSantis speaking to him once. Most recently a Republican colleague said that the more you get to know DeSantis, the less you like him.
Linda Colvard Dorian, attorney and DeLand resident