It seems our left-wing friends have gotten the marching order: You need to attack Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. It has always amazed me how the left acts in unison, with the exact same talking points. It’s as if there is a Left Wing Central they all report to for the issue of the day and what to say about it. Apparently both of The Signal’s left-wing opinion writers think that any deviation from the California playbook is a threat to democracy. They apparently believe there are no issues worth discussing with what is, and has, occurred in California.
Mr. Jonathan Kraut, like Mr. Gary Horton before him, engages in mischaracterization to make his point, which is that we are only free and enjoy liberty and equal justice if we adopt the views of the left. His discussion of rights and freedom are, to put it mildly, bizarre, and find no support in the Constitution or any concept of natural rights, while he ignores the autocracy of the left.
He refers to Florida House Bill 5 and asserts that it limits women’s “medical options,” because “she may offend the religious views and philosophies held by others.” All without mentioning that what House Bill 5 does is limit abortion as a matter of right to the first 15 weeks of pregnancy. This is disingenuous. I am unaware of any “medical option” other than abortion that is based on the termination of another human being’s life. Even the Supreme Court in the Roe and Casey decisions balanced the right of the states to protect the unborn against a woman’s right to an abortion. (The latest SCOTUS decision merely transferred that balancing decision from nine judges to the state legislatures). So just as the people of California have the right to allow abortion at anytime, for any reason, the people of the state of Florida, through their elected representatives, have the right to limit abortion as they have in House Bill 5.
It is unbelievably dishonest to assert that the sanctity of human life is a value held only by the religious or is a philosophy “held by others.” It is a core belief of our society. Perhaps Mr. Kraut should refer to the preamble of the Declaration of Independence, which states “all men . . . are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life . . .,” or to the Fifth and 14th Amendments, both of which prohibit the denial of life without due process.
He then goes on to discuss HB 1467, which his comments reveal he has not read. He is just spouting left-wing talking points. What the bill does is require school boards to make available to parents a list of the instructional materials and books that they are using and provides parents with the right to object materials they believe are inappropriate. Parents are not given the right to overrule school board decisions. Their only remedy, if their objections are not adopted by a board, is an appeal to a mediator whose decision is final. Mr. Kraut mistakenly asserts that a violation of HB 1467 is a felony, which is not true. Mr. Kraut would know that if he had bothered to read the statute and not relied on left-wing talking points.
We should point out that every state (including California), and every school board decides what is to be taught, what is appropriate for each grade level, and what books and other materials are to be used to teach their students. All HB 1467 does is give parents a voice in that decision, not a vote, except for a vote on who is to be the superintendent of instruction, and who the members of the school board shall be. I think that is called democracy.
Mr. Kraut then asserts that DeSantis has prohibited the teaching of Black history, another canard. My earlier letter about the AP kerfuffle sets out Florida law, which expressly requires the teaching of Black history, including slavery, Jim Crow and their effects, and the portion of the pilot AP program that does not concern Black history and that violates Florida standards against indoctrination, and which the College Board had agreed to change.
I have tried to research Mr. Kraut’s last assertion about medical recommendations regarding COVID, but it is so vague, it is impossible to determine to what he is referring. However, the assertion that Florida has made it unlawful to follow medical directives is again not true. What it did do was protect its older, at-risk population, while allowing its other citizens to follow the advice of their doctors rather than politicians, and to live their lives, open their schools and operate their businesses. You know — freedom. We have lived in Florida off and on over several years, and have a number of good friends there, and we have spoken to all of them about what happened in Florida during COVID, so have some familiarity with the response.
It was different from the reaction in California, where the governor and other politicians determined what businesses were, in their opinion, “essential” and ordered other businesses (who I am sure the owners and their employees thought were essential) closed, then allowed them to reopen and then ordered them closed again. They created mask and vaccine mandates. They closed our schools for years. If anyone restricted choice and controlled the message, it was California politicians and bureaucrats, who kept our schools and businesses closed, and a significant portion of our population unemployed.
Mr. Kraut begins his opinion piece with a discussion of his view of fascism and communism, in which he fails to mention that what he is actually discussing is Naziism, and that both Naziism and Soviet Union communism were socialist systems. Why he feels it necessary to discuss either of these is a mystery, as under both of these, government exercised complete control over the economy and citizens. I assume he does so to try to convince us that what is occurring in Florida is either Naziism or communism. This is, simply put, silly in the extreme. Florida has an operating democracy, its governor and legislators were elected in free, fair elections by its citizens, it has a functioning judicial system that is free to enforce its citizens rights, and of course it has a fully functioning federal judicial system that can also enforce its citizens’ rights if necessary.
He discusses Antifa, which amazed me, as to a man my lefty friends have denied its existence. He asserts that Antifa opposes fascism. The truth is that Antifa is an anarchist/nihilist organization, which uses violence (riots, assaults, property destruction — the reason its members cover their faces) to silence those people and groups they disagree with. To my mind it most closely resembles the Nazi Brown Shirts who engaged in the same tactics to silence those who opposed Naziism.
His discussion of rights as being a two-way street is childish at best. The concept that if a right is granted to some people it must be granted to all is not equal protection of the laws. All laws discriminate. However, none of the examples he gives entail a denial of a right given to some but not to all. Every woman in Florida is granted the right to an abortion as a matter of right under HR 5, every parent has a right to be heard under HR 1467 both pro and con, every person has a right to determine how they responded to COVID-19, and there were no mask or vaccine mandates, and businesses were allowed to remain open, while schools were reopened promptly. None of this was true in California. Some businesses where allowed to be open, others closed, schools were kept closed for years, not months, mask and vaccine mandates were the norm. I could go on, but it seems hard to argue that Florida was less open or fair than California, when just the opposite was true.
I fail to see how the practices of either California or Florida ran afoul of the equal protection clause. The practices in California were autocratic and did violate the First Amendment, however. I am forced to conclude that Mr. Kraut’s view of equal protection is that everyone must adopt policies with which he agrees. No dissent, no argument, no countervailing views. That is not equal justice. It is not democracy. It is tyranny — of the left.