DeSantis Wants To Water Down Book Ban Now That He’s No Longer Running For President

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ORANGE CITY, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES - 2024/02/06: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis attends a press conference at Blue Springs State Park in Orange City. During his remarks, DeSantis highlighted the state's successful effort... ORANGE CITY, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES - 2024/02/06: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis attends a press conference at Blue Springs State Park in Orange City. During his remarks, DeSantis highlighted the state's successful efforts to protect Florida's manatees and improve water quality. (Photo by Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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Back in Florida after a humiliating run against Donald Trump, Gov. Ron DeSantis is trying to do some clean up.

The Florida governor spent the first half of his second term signing legislation into law that would, essentially, help him run for president. His state became the breeding ground for Republicans’ manufactured culture wars as his GOP-dominated state legislature passed anti-“woke,” anti-LBGTQ, anti-“DEI” and pro-“family values” legislation into law left and right. It was widely speculated that DeSantis was using his own state to showcase policy that he hoped would resonate with Trump voters ahead of his announced 2024 bid.

We all know how that scheme ended.

So, back in Florida, after mortifying himself and dashing his own hopes of being likable on a national stage, DeSantis appears to be doing some damage control on some of the far-right legislation he signed into law.

At a press conference in Orlando on Thursday the Republican governor acknowledged that his whole book banning thing had gotten a little out of control. Not because the policy itself is too extreme, of course. He blamed teachers, school administrators and “the news media” for whipping up a frenzy (he called it a “hoax”) and “activists” for trying to score political points by proposing bans on too many books.

“Lets’ not let people try to hijack the process,” DeSantis during the news conference Thursday.

“With objecting — if you go to a school board meeting objecting. If you have a kid in school, okay. But if you’re somebody who doesn’t have a kid in school and you’re gonna object to 100 books? No, I don’t think that’s appropriate,” he continued, appearing to support a new bill that’s been proposed in the Florida state House that seeks to prevent people who don’t have children enrolled in a school district from filing complaints against a school district’s book materials.

The proposed bill would require book challengers without children in a school district to pay a $100 “processing fee” per book challenge after they’ve already filed five challenges that were denied by the district.

“So I think the legislature is interested in limiting what the number of challenges you can do, and maybe making it be contingent on whether you actually have kids in school or not. We just want to make sure we’re not trying to incentivize frivolous objections or any type of games being played,” he said.

Educators on the ground aren’t buying the spin.

“Governor DeSantis’ denial that Florida is banning books, and his shifting blame to local school boards and Floridians, is a blatant attempt to avoid responsibility for the significant and ongoing harm caused by statutes that he championed,” Katie Blankenship, the director of the Florida office of PEN America, which has filed a lawsuit against the Florida School System over the law, told the Florida Phoenix in response to DeSantis’ remarks Thursday. “But there is one thing we can agree on: book banning has gone too far, and limiting challenges is a good first step toward protecting Florida’s libraries.”

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