CNN anchor Don Lemon charged Florida with “book banning”, in which young schoolchildren are protected from graphic, sexualized books without their consent.
The media has been filled with fear about Florida’s HB 1467, which was passed last year.
The law specifically requires that every book made available to students via a school library media center or included on a recommended or assigned grade-level reading list or school must be chosen by an employee of the school district who has a valid certificate as an educational media specialist.
The law requires that books approved for publication must not contain pornography, be suitable to students’ needs and allow them to understand the material. They also need to be appropriate for their grade and age.
After photos went viral of teachers covering their bookshelves in classrooms across Florida, outrage at the law grew. Teachers took these precautions after being warned that third-degree felonies could be incurred if they violate the law.
According to one journalist, Florida teachers will have to remove all unvetted books from their classroom libraries. Otherwise, they could face criminal prosecution. This policy is based upon the assumption that librarians and teachers are using books to ‘groom students’.
Lemon, who reported on Thursday’s controversy, condemned Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), for his “outrageous” and “ridiculous” policy.
“What are you doing here?” Lemon stated that it feels like we’re going backward. It’s like watching a bad episode of ‘Pleasantville’. It feels like I’m in the 1950s with book bans.
He said, “This cancels culture coming from people who, I suppose, just want our children to be ignorant and to have control over the teachers.” This is absurd. It’s just unbelievable.”
After a back-and-forth discussion with his co-hosts, Lemon said, “Ron DeSantis stop it.”
“You’re not helping, you’re hurting,” he added. “These things totally just get me riled up. And you know what? Everybody should be riled up. We got to stand up against this stuff — it is outrageous.”
Manny Diaz, Florida Education Commissioner, said that it was not true that teachers could face felony charges if unvetted books are not removed from their classrooms immediately.
Diaz says that the statute states clearly that criminal charges can only be brought against teachers or other adults who “knowingly” give “egregious” material to children.
He said that there was more fake news coming from media activists who are too lazy to understand FL law. If they knowingly distribute indecent material, like images that depict sexual conduct, sexual battery, or sadomasochistic abuse, a teacher (or any adult) could be charged with a felony. “Who could possibly be against this?”
More fake news from media activists too lazy to read FL law. A teacher (or any adult) faces a felony if they knowingly distribute egregious material, such as images which depict sexual conduct, sexual battery, bestiality, or sadomasochistic abuse. Who could be against that? https://t.co/E6xlXqlVev
— Manny Diaz Jr. (@SenMannyDiazJr) January 25, 2023