Welcome to the eve of another Florida legislative session or, as we locals call it, Looney Tunes when Florida’s attention-seeking representatives compete to see who can introduce the most crazy, most stupid, most overreaching, most gonna-get-the-internet buzzing, most own-the-libs bill for consideration.
A word about the title: Grumpy Old Teacher (GOT) knows about the racism that infused the classic Warner Bros. cartoons. It’s not only the banned cartoons the link will inform you about; it’s also the way stereotypes infuse the classic Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Foghorn Leghorn, Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam, and more cartoons. Some people object that Warner Bros. edited that out in the 1980s, but it’s too pervasive for editing to remove the underlying, offensive themes.
Given the current governor’s anti-woke campaign, which includes banning any teaching in public schools that might make anyone (white) feel uncomfortable about the past, bring up systemic racism, or imply that we have a responsibility to address past inequities, the title bears a painful irony even as GOT uses it in its general slang sense of ongoing mayhem.
“I’ve never owned a slave.” How often has GOT heard a white person say that as if the only issue in discussing reparations is the economic theft of labor before the 13th amendment passed. How about the massacres and violence directed against Black people whenever and wherever they built up wealth–places like Tulsa, OK, Wilmington, NC, and too many others to list them all that destroyed their property and took their lives.
“I didn’t do that.” How about the GI bill that benefitted returning white veterans of World War 2 but left out returning Black veterans?
“I wasn’t alive then.” How about the redlining that limited Black people to certain neighborhoods that then failed to appreciate in value the way that white neighborhoods did? The main way that white families built generational wealth was denied to Black families because of the racism codified into law and human behavior. What about that?
Ron DeSantis seeks to bring back those days, those Looney Tune days (feel the bitter irony?) with his anti-woke campaign. There is legislation to ban investments in businesses with environmental, social, or governmental policies that consider anything other than the rapacious pursuit of profit. There is HB 999 that would eliminate programs and centers that focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) as well as majors and minors that could be considered CRT (critical race theory), gender theory, or intersectionality related.
Even now, the governor’s office is sending messages to colleges and universities demanding information about DEI programs.
But there’s more. SB 1320 would ban the use of preferred pronouns expressed by either a student or a teacher. It would extend the ban on classroom instruction about gender identity or sexual orientation through grade 8, the last middle school grade. (Because, as everyone knows, that’s all schools do. They’ve given up on teaching reading, math, science, and history because corrupting American youth is just so delicious and the mission is to reach them before they reach puberty around age 25 or so. Oops, sarcasm alert.)
HB 1069 would give authority over adopting sex education curriculum to the state Department of Education, which removes curriculum-deciding authority from local school boards. It would declare in statute that a person’s sex can only be binary, either male or female, as observed at birth from genitalia and that this is unchangeable, immutable, and forever.
SB 254 would prohibit parents from seeking gender-affirming care for their children. Oh, those silly parents who think that Florida’s Republicans led by their Dear Leader really hold parents’ rights as a moral principle! If parents do that, Florida courts would be given the authority to remove custody of their children and place them into the state system.
Oh, and all health-care providers would have to swear that they are not providing gender-affirming care just in case parents escape notice.
Then there’s the bill that would require bloggers to register with the state if they derive income from what they publish online.
Let GOT declare now that no one pays him for what he writes in this little-noticed blog. Further, he has denied WordPress permission to show ads on the pages that would otherwise provide a small stream of income to offset the hosting and domain name fees.
GOT knows how the GOP sneers at him because he gives it away for free. But there are more important things to life than acquiring money.
But the silly season is not done yet. The last example is SB 1248, which would outlaw the Democrat Party without mentioning it by name. After enjoying his more than 15 minutes of Andy Warhol fame, the bill’s sponsor walked it back saying he was only trolling the opposition. But what’s really hilarious is that when GOT did a Google Search for a link, Google added ‘cartoon character’ to the description, which fits the Looney Tunes motif of this post, that nowhere appears in the actual article.
Let’s not overreact. Every Florida legislative session, as GOT suspects happens in many other states, features foolishness designed to gain attention. These bills are doomed to die in committee. Two months is not enough time for the hundreds of bills that are filed to even get a hearing, much less advance to the floor of either chamber.
However, we have also seen how one year’s crazy-pants bill laughed out of town becomes a common-sense-how-come-nobody-thought-of-this-before law two or three years later. The first year’s objective is merely to introduce the outrageous to the conversation.
Moreover, Florida is also prone to the strike-all-and-replace amendment that takes place the night before the last day of the session in the house speaker’s or senate president’s office. The first 59 days seldom matter. It’s what the strong-arm leaders will put on the floor on the last day with the threat to vote for it or else. Bills that die in committee have a strange way of resurrecting in the budget or other legislation at the end.
Constant vigilance is required. Keep an eye on the principal actors, especially the Top Gov, who’s off running for president in Iowa as GOT writes … oops, he hasn’t declared yet … off promoting his book in key early primary/caucus states.
One thought on “Looney Tunes”
FWIW, your blog is not “little noticed”!
Like Abe, the world will little note nor long remember, but teachers in the trenches do.
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