Florida commissioner rejects governor's order to fly flags at half-staff for Rush Limbaugh
via Monroe County BOCC and Wikimedia Commons

Can we get a round of applause for Nikki Fried, the Florida Agriculture Commissioner? On Monday, she stood up and defied an order from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to fly flags at half-staff when Rush Limbaugh's body is laid to rest.

"Once the date of interment for Rush is announced, we're going to be lowering the flags to half-staff," DeSantis said Friday at a news conference, adding the honor is "what we do when there's things of this magnitude."

Limbaugh, 70, died of complications from lung cancer last week.



Giving Limbaugh the honor of having flags flown half-staff is controversial given his six-decade career of fanning the flames of intolerance. Limbaugh is believed to be one of the architects of modern conservatism and did so by making targets of people of color, women, and the LGBT community.

Back in the '80s, Limbaugh celebrated the deaths of gay men from AIDS with a bit on the show called the "AIDS Update." He aired a parody song called "Barack, the Magic Negro," after Barack Obama announced he was running for president in 2007.

Limbaugh was also a fierce critic of feminism, saying it was "established so as to allow unattractive women access to the mainstream of society." He also popularized the derogatory term "Feminazi."

Recently, he championed the conspiracy theory that Joe Biden didn't win the 2020 election.

Democratic Florida Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz called the governor's decision, "an embarrassment to Florida."

"Rush Limbaugh weaponized his platform to spread racism, xenophobia and homophobia across the nation," she said in a tweet. "His constant hateful rhetoric caused untold damage to our political landscape."

The move was also against the state's flag protocol which says it should be flown at half-staff "in the event of the death of a present or former official of the Florida State government or the death of a member of the Armed Forces from Florida who dies while serving on active duty."

Fried's decision is a harsh, but deserving rebuke of DeSantis and Limbaugh, an opportunist whose life should not be celebrated.

"Lowering to half-staff the flag of the United States of America is a sacred honor that pays respect to fallen heroes and patriots. It is not a partisan political tool. Therefore, I will notify all state offices under my direction to disregard the Governor's forthcoming order to lower flags for Mr. Limbaugh – because we will not celebrate hate speech, bigotry, and division," she said in a statement.

"Lowering the flag should always reflect unity, not division, and raising our standards, not lowering them. Our flags will remain flying high to celebrate the American values of diversity, inclusion, and respect for all," she continued.

Desantis' decision to commemorate Limbaugh after his death is an attempt to legitimize a man whose divisive politics and intolerance should never be accepted. Fried is brave to step up and condemn the decision at a time when many would be quiet out of respect to the recently deceased.

But why does anyone owe Limbaugh respect in death given how he behaved in life?





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Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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One little girl took pictures of her school lunches. The Internet responded — and so did the school.

If you listened to traditional news media (and sometimes social media), you'd begin to think the Internet and technology are bad for kids. Or kids are bad for technology. Here's a fascinating alternative idea.

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This article originally appeared on 03.31.15

Kids can innovate, create, and imagine in ways that are fresh and inspiring — when we "allow" them to do so, anyway. Despite the tendency for parents to freak out because their kids are spending more and more time with technology in schools, and the tendency for schools themselves to set extremely restrictive limits on the usage of such technology, there's a solid argument for letting them be free to imagine and then make it happen.

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