ron desantis, bible ban, florida book ban

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the Bible.

There’s a strange bit of hypocrisy going down in the state of Florida. During the COVID pandemic, it was a place where some protested lockdowns and mask mandates under the umbrella of personal freedom. But now, some of the same lawmakers in the state are doing an about-face and pushing to ban certain books in its public schools.

Last month, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law that allows parents to recommend certain instructional materials be banned from the schools. More than 200 books (mostly those that deal with race, sexuality or LGBTQ+ issues) have been banned in school districts across the state since the law took effect.

Chaz Stevens, a resident of Deerfield Beach, Florida, believes that parents and districts are overlooking one book that contains genocide, slavery, talk of LGBTQ issues, bestiality, misogyny, rape and child sacrifice. You may have heard of it. It's commonly referred to as "the Bible."


Stevens sent petitions to public school superintendents across the state asking districts to "immediately remove the Bible from the classroom, library, and any instructional material," Stevens wrote. "Additionally, I also seek the banishment of any book that references the Bible."

"My goal is to use the law as our expert politicians in Tallahassee intended," Stevens said. "There were no carve-outs for religious texts, so I would assume they meant for them to be in play.”

Billy Epting, assistant superintendent of Leon County Schools, is taking the suggestion seriously and reviewing the complaint.

“If I don’t, that creates a situation where I’m showing favoritism or injecting personal opinion in the process," he said. "The last thing I want to do is pretend or take something as a joke or satirical and it comes back to bite us.”

In Stevens’ letter, he gives numerous reasons why the Bible is inappropriate to have in Florida schools. One reason he claims is that the bible teaches “wokeness” which is a clear jab at the state’s recent ban on teaching Critical Race Theory.

“With the constant babbling concerns about teaching Critical Race Theory, should we not take stock of the Bible’s position on slavery? I am concerned our young white students will read such passages and wake up to civilization’s sordid past,” Stevens writes before referencing Paul’s pro-slavery Epistle to the Ephesians where he notes that servants should be “obedient to them that are your masters.”

Stevens also warns that the talk of bestiality in the Bible violates Florida law. “Taking a cue from Florida Statute Ch. 847.001 6(a,b,c), one should consider such discussions to be harmful to minors and obscene,” he writes.

He also cautions that some of the positive, humane messages in the Bible may teach children “to show empathy for their classmates” and that could lead them one step closer to “getting their LGBTQ+ freak on.”

The self-proclaimed “stunt activist” successfully got several cities in the state to drop the religious invocations that open their city commission meetings seven years ago. Stevens demanded they either stop the invocations or allow him, a self-described “minion of Satan" to lead a prayer to the Prince of Darkness before meetings.

To avoid having to give equal time to a “Satanist,” the cities stopped doing religious invocations, with some switching over to a moment of silence.

"My activism in the past has been wildly successful," Stevens said. "And, I imagine, will continue on a similar trajectory."

DeSantis' craven use of political power to give anyone with an ax to grind the right to silence the voices of people of color and diminish LGBTQ+ visibility is as regressive as it is short-sighted. Stevens’ campaign has brilliantly exposed the unintended consequences of DeSantis’ law. Once like-minded people begin to follow his lead, lawmakers will have to learn a lesson humanity learned decades ago: banning books is no way to create social change.

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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Matthew McConaughey in 2019.

Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey made a heartfelt plea for Americans to “do better” on Tuesday after a gunman murdered 19 children and 2 adults at Robb Elementary School in his hometown of Uvalde, Texas.

Uvalde is a small town of about 16,000 residents approximately 85 miles west of San Antonio. The actor grew up in Uvalde until he was 11 years old when his family moved to Longview, 430 miles away.

The suspected murderer, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, was killed by law enforcement at the scene of the crime. Before the rampage, Ramos allegedly shot his grandmother after a disagreement.

“As you all are aware there was another mass shooting today, this time in my home town of Uvalde, Texas,” McConaughey wrote in a statement shared on Twitter. “Once again, we have tragically proven that we are failing to be responsible for the rights our freedoms grant us.”

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Joy

50-years ago they trade a grilled cheese for a painting. Now it's worth a small fortune.

Irene and Tony Demas regularly traded food at their restaurant in exchange for crafts. It paid off big time.

Photo by Gio Bartlett on Unsplash

Painting traded for grilled cheese worth thousands.

The grilled cheese at Irene and Tony Demas’ restaurant was truly something special. The combination of freshly baked artisan bread and 5-year-old cheddar was enough to make anyone’s mouth water, but no one was nearly as devoted to the item as the restaurant’s regular, John Kinnear.

Kinnear loved the London, Ontario restaurant's grilled cheese so much that he ordered it every single day, though he wouldn’t always pay for it in cash. The Demases were well known for bartering their food in exchange for odds and ends from local craftspeople and merchants.

“Everyone supported everyone back then,” Irene told the Guardian, saying that the couple would often trade free soup and a sandwich for fresh flowers. Two different kinds of nourishment, you might say.

And so, in the 1970s the Demases made a deal with Kinnear that he could pay them for his grilled cheese sandwiches with artwork. Being a painter himself and part of an art community, Kinnear would never run out of that currency.

Little did Kinnear—or anyone—know, eventually he would give the Demases a painting worth an entire lifetime's supply of grilled cheeses. And then some.

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