The Florida Man Legislature Is in Session and Even the Bears Are Worried

by | Jan 29, 2024 | Opinions & Commentary

Photo by Ryan Noeker

The Florida Man Legislature Is in Session and Even the Bears Are Worried

by | Jan 29, 2024 | Opinions & Commentary

Photo by Ryan Noeker

Along with a host of other loony issues—and a fear of bears—Florida's Legislature is all-in on trashing the First Amendment this year; apparently too many citizens say too many things that hurt their feelings.

Republished with permission from Florida Phoenix, by Diane Roberts

OCCUPIED TALLAHASSEE—They’re here, they’re not cool enough to be queer, and they’re hell-bent on turning Florida into Hungary with humidity.

I speak of our legislators, of course, collectively as sorry a bunch of venal twits as you can find anywhere in the country.

I include Mississippi.

They don’t care about the insurance crisis; they don’t care about runaway rents; they don’t care about hungry children or sick women or the climate crisis or pollution or the teacher shortage or anything that you and I and anyone else with two brain cells to rub together would identify as pressing problems here in the increasingly dysfunctional State of Florida.

Here’s what they care about:

Confederate monuments!

Rep. Dean Black of Jacksonville (a city named for a genocidal slaveholder) is so upset that local elected officials, perhaps sick of insulting Black people, keep removing statues of 1861 insurrectionists like Robert E. Lee or Stonewall Jackson or “The Women of the Southland,” and by golly, he’s done wrote him a bill that would nip disrespecting Dixie in the bud.

“It is history,” he says, “We have started tearing down statues and memorials for all sorts of things.”

Especially white things.

Erase the Trans!

According to Florida Republicans, the state is overrun with dangerous trans folk, determined to turn Tommy into Tiffany.

A solid 0.66 percent of Floridians identify as trans. Yet legislators are so terrified they’re determined to force insurance companies to cover detransitioning and conversion therapy on the grounds that Tommy didn’t really mean it.

No choosing your own pronouns, either.

Ronbo’s Private Army!

The governor, rejected by the non-Florida part of the nation, is so mad about it he wants to send his Revolutionary Guard soldiers somewhere to shoot at people.

The Legislature wants to help. HB 1551 would give him the power to activate the State Guard to shut down whatever he defines as “civil unrest” (kids protesting the Gaza massacre on a college campus, say?) and “any other time deemed necessary and appropriate.”

Or at the Texas border, where he can finally realize his dream of killing Mexicans “stone dead” without interference from Washington.

I seem to remember the U.S. fought a civil war which determined that states don’t get to flout and override the federal government—you know, that Supremacy Clause thing?

SnapChat Satan!

The Florida Legislature has made sure drag queens don’t read “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” at children’s story times, and now they aim to protect the young ‘uns from that pit of godless vipers you know as “social media.”

HB 1 would outlaw social media accounts for anyone under 16.

Free State of Florida? Looks like parental rights only apply to history and literature and the least whisper about sex.

The bill has bipartisan support, never mind that it’s probably unconstitutional.

No matter: What’s important is that kids will be better prepared to join Florida’s new child labor force if they don’t rot their brains with TikTok.

Oh, wait—Rep. Linda Chaney, who lists her occupation as “Marketing and Business Development,” says 16- and 17-year-olds aren’t “children.”

They are “youth workers.”

Her pet bill, HB 49, dumps restrictions on how many hours kids can labor in the chicken plant or on the construction site: no more 30-minute breaks every four hours; no more working only 30 hours a week when school’s in session.

Actually, when I say “her bill,” I mean legislation written by the Foundation for Government Accountability.

Rep. Chaney merely read off FGA’s script.

This outfit likes neither government nor accountability, but are keen on kicking people off Medicaid, denying food stamps, and dragging America back to the rip-roaring Nineteenth Century when children could work 10 hours a day in the mills or down the mines.

Woke Teachers!

Our lawmakers are convinced that public school teachers are crypto-Marxists determined to “indoctrinate” students into America-hating communism.

That’s when they’re not trying to turn the youth gay or trans.

No más. Sen. Blaise Ingolia, the genius behind the “Kamala Harris Truth in Slavery Teaching Act,” as well as bills that would outlaw the Democratic Party in Florida and give Ron DeSantis $10 million to kidnap asylum seekers and fly them to Martha’s Vineyard, San Francisco, or some other lefty place, is now determined to stop “identity politics” in teacher training.

According to him, some of these proto-teachers flirt with “things revolving around race or gender.” Even worse, they talk about social class: You know, “the oppressor or oppressed—things like that.”

And we wonder why Florida has an acute teacher shortage.

Sen. Jay Collins, one of the bill’s cheerleaders, says teachers should have no truck with “theories,” just “facts.”

Apparently, Sen. Collins is blissfully unaware that gravity, evolution, capitalism, relativity, plate tectonics, thermodynamics, democracy, indeed, even liberty are all theories.

But banning is easier than thinking.

The state university Board of Governors has just removed sociology from the list of required core courses.

Students can still take the class, but only as an elective.

According to Manny Diaz, Jr., latest in Florida’s long line of anti-education Education Commissioners, sociology has been “hijacked by left-wing activists.”

Translated from the original MAGA, that means that the study of the causes and consequences of human behavior, the development of institutions, and how societies change over time threatens Republicans’ insistence that America does not suffer from systemic racism, that inequality isn’t worth addressing, and poverty is poor people’s fault.


You thought the immigrant “invasion” was bad? Rep. Black (who’s on a roll—see above) warns that bears are muscling into your neighborhood, looking for man-flesh: “They’ve learned that near people there are lots of tasty treats. And it’s only a matter of time before they go the next step and find that the people themselves are also tasty treats.”

Black added, “Bears should go back to where bears belong.”

Never fear: There will soon be a “Stand Your Ground” law allowing you to shoot pesky ursids any time you feel “threatened.”

These are, after all, black bears.

Notes on bear behavior: 1. Bears are scared of humans (with good reason); 2. Bears almost never eat humans; 3. Bears do eat human food. So, get a damn bear-proof garbage can.

Note to Rep. Black: Dude, the bears ARE where they belong. We’ve stolen their land.

Shut Down That Annoying Free Speech Thing!

The Legislature is all-in on trashing the First Amendment this year; apparently too many citizens say too many things that hurt their feelings.

Students caught demonstrating in favor of Palestinian rights could lose their scholarships or see their tuition increased if a pair of bills pass in both houses.

As an added bonus, university administrators would be required to report these students to the Department of Homeland Security.

Anyone who publishes anything that someone claims casts them in a “false light” can sue for defamation.

If I say that Ron DeSantis is a shoe lift-wearing, perpetually scowling, arrogant, ignorant dork, he could sue on the grounds that I’ve maliciously misrepresented him—that he’s actually a very tall, friendly, humble genius.

In other words, criticizing the rich and politically powerful could be criminalized. This is what they do in Hungary and other dictatorships.

This is what your elected officials are trying to do in Florida.

Florida Phoenix

Florida Phoenix

The Phoenix is a nonprofit news site that’s free of advertising and free to readers. We cover state government and politics with a staff of five journalists located at the Florida Press Center in downtown Tallahassee.

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