If you’ve been keeping up with life in Florida lately, you probably know that governor Ron DeSantis is on a one-man crusade to turn the place into an uninhabitable hellhole. So far, that campaign has included signing the magnificent “Don’t Say Gay” bill; to prohibit Medicaid from covering gender-affirming care for transgender people; fire an elected official for refusing to prosecute pregnant women seeking abortions; walking the scorched earth on a major corporation that dared to disagree with him on LGBTQ+ issues; bullying of the Special Olympics; and signing the ridiculous “Stop WOKE Act” which effectively bans schools and private businesses from making white people feel bad about the history of racism in this country. And while there is little hope for Floridians living under this petty tyrant, they got some rare good news Thursday when a district judge declared the “Stop WOKE” law a no-go.
In a 44-page ruling, U.S. Dist Mark Walker said the law regulating race-based conversations is unconstitutional, writing that it violates the First Amendment and is “impermissibly vague,” according to the Associated Press. That vagueness was no doubt by design, of course. Like the “Don’t Say Gay” legislation, the “Stop WOKE Act” was written in such a way that teachers and businesses could conceivably be sued for pretty much anything. “It is unclear what is prohibited and even less clear what is permitted,” Walker wrote, adding: “Imagine that during a mandatory seminar on conflict resolution, an employer cites the civil disobedience exemplified by Martin Luther King Jr . and Mahatma Gandhi as a peaceful, preferred approach. Has that employer ‘inculcated’ employees with the belief that black and Asian people are morally superior to white people?” Before the legislation was passed by the Florida legislature, Democrats had argued that the bill would lead to frivolous lawsuits and basically amount to censorship. When asked for real-life examples of schools or businesses telling students or staff they were inherently racist because of the color of their skin, their Republican colleagues couldn’t come up with any. “This bill is not for blacks, this bill was not for any other race,” state Sen Shevrin Jones said in January. “This was aimed at making whites not feel bad about what happened years ago. At no point did anyone say that white people should be held responsible for what happened, but what I would ask my white counterparts , is, are you an enabler of what happened, or would you say we should talk about history?
In addition to declaring the law unconstitutional, Walker declined to issue a stay that would keep it in effect pending an appeal by the state. DeSantis has previously said he expects any lower court setbacks to be reversed in the appeals process.
The overturning of the legislation came as a result of a lawsuit filed by private entities, including the Clearwater, Florida-based honeyfund.com, a honeymoon registry company, in which the complaint argued that the law violated the right to free speech by infringing on training programs emphasizing diversity and inclusion. Another lawsuit, filed by university professors and students, says the law is fundamentally “racially motivated censorship” and will “stifle widespread demands to discuss, study and address systemic inequities,” adding: “Instead of free and open academic inquiry and debate, instructors fear discussing topics of oppression, privilege, and racial and gender inequalities that the legislature disagrees with. As a result, students are either denied access to knowledge entirely, or instructors are forced to present incomplete or inaccurate information that is ruled against the legislator’s own views.” Which is clearly what DeSantis was going for!
The Florida governor, who is running for re-election this year and reportedly has his eyes on the White House, has become utterly obsessed with eliminating what he describes as “woke” ideology, claiming in a speech in December 2021 that “ vigilantism” is “a form” of cultural Marxism” and that anyone who espouses such types of ideas wants to “tear up the fabric of our society.” Of course, one could argue that the real danger to society is wannabe despots , who want to dictate what people can say in public and do in the privacy of their own doctor’s offices, but hey, that’s just us!