A reference to a dystopian America is now officially enshrined in federal case law

U.S. judge Mark Walker of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida has struck down Republican Governor Ron DeSantis’s Individual Freedom Act and the Stop-Woke (Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees) Act as a violation of the U.S. Constitution. Specifically, Walker cited the censorship provisions of DeSantis’s law as a violation of the First Amendment right of free speech and the ban on colleges, universities, public schools, and businesses having more than 15 employees instructing students or employees about cultural and racial awareness as a violation of the 14th Amendment on due process.

It should be noted that as a Lieutenant Commander of the Judge Advocate General Corps of the U.S. Navy, DeSantis is required to uphold both the Constitution and Navy regulations and orders prohibiting discrimination based on race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. His wearing of a Navy uniform while promoting a wide range of discriminatory practices in Florida is an affront to the traditions of the Navy, its active duty and reserve members, and its veterans.

Walker’s opinion on DeSantis’s unconstitutional anti-woke law is riveting in that it cites George Orwell’s novel about a dystopian future, 1984. Walker wrote, “‘It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking 13,’ and the powers in charge of Florida’s public university system have declared the state has unfettered authority to muzzle its professors in the name of ‘freedom,’ . . . Defendants argue that, under this act, professors enjoy ‘academic freedom’ so long as they express only those viewpoints of which the State approves. This is positively dystopian.”

In August, in blocking the portion of the Stop WOKE Act dealing with its applicability to private employers, Walker cited a popular television series. He believed the law to be “bordering on unintelligible” and said parts of it were in a parallel dimension called “the upside-down,” a reference to the series “Stranger Things.”

The premise for DeSantis’s law is, itself, flawed. He maintains that the law prevents the teaching of critical race theory in grades K-12. In fact, critical race theory — the teaching of institutionalized racism in U.S. government institutions and the private sector — is a specialized graduate level course only offered in a few select universities and colleges. What DeSantis and Republicans oppose is the teaching of critical thinking skills.

On DeSantis’s watch, Florida also ranks second among states banning books in schools and public libraries. Texas ranks first and Pennsylvania is third. Twenty-one school districts in Florida have banned 566 titles. They include the school districts of the counties of Orange, Jackson, St. Lucie, Palm Beach, Walton, Brevard, and Polk.

Judge Walker’s opinion recognizes the shocking reality that educational freedom is under attack from Republicans across the nation. For example, Missouri’s Senate Bill 775, which has been a law since August, makes providing students with novels that contain “sexual conduct” a Class A misdemeanor.

Under the Missouri law, eleven school districts have outright banned or banned pending review the following titles:

50 Paintings You Should Know;  50 Women Artists You Should Know; A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel Series; A History of Art (Essential Library of Cultural History Series);  African Art: An Introduction; Alan Moore’s America’s Best Comics;  An Introduction to Oil Painting; An Introduction to Watercolor; The Ancient Greeks (Myths of the World);  Annie Leibovitz at Work;  The Annotated Mona Lisa, Third Edition: A Crash Court in Art History from Prehistoric to the Present (Volume 3); The Apparatus of Death – The Third Reich;  American Gods;  Art That Changed the World;  Babylonian Mythology; Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again; Batman: The Killing Joke; Batman: White Knight;  Cezanne: Mont Sainte Victoire;  Chagall: The Falling Angel;  The Children’s Bible; The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Drawing Manga: Illustrated;  The Complete Maus: A Survivor’s Tale;  Dali: The Persistence of Memory; Degas: Impressions of a Great Master;  Degas: The Dance Class; Democracy;  Edward Hopper: A Modern Master; The Essential Henri Matisse; The Essential Michelangelo; The Essential Pablo Picasso;  The Essential Vincent van Gogh;  Feynman; Gilgamesh: A Graphic Novel; Graphic Classics: Bram Stoker (Graphic Classics Series); Graphic Classics: Edgar Allan Poe (Graphic Classics Series); The Handmaid’s Tale: The Graphic Novel; The History of Art (The History of the Humanities and Social Sciences; The History of Western Painting (Britannica Guide to the Visual and Performing Arts);  How to Read Italian Renaissance Painting; Irving Penn: A Career In Photography; The Last Supper; Life in a Nazi Concentration Camp (Living History); Macbeth (Shakespeare Classics Graphic Novels); Magritte: The Human Condition;  Manet: Le dejeuner sur I’herbe (One Hundred Paintings Series); Matisse: LA Danse (One Hundred Paintings Series); Michelangelo: Master of the Italian Renaissance; Munch: The Scream (One Hundred Paintings Series); Raphael: His Life, Works, and Times;  Rembrandt: Supper at Emmaus (One Hundred Paintings Series); Renoir: Moulin de la Galette (One Hundred Paintings Series); Rubens: Garden of Love (One Hundred Paintings Series);  Slaughterhouse-Five: The Graphic Novel; Storytelling in Christian Art from Biotto to Donatello; Toulouse-Lautrec: At the Moulin Rouge (One Hundred Paintings Series); The Walking Dead; Watchmen; and X-Men: Age of X.

The “review” process for banned books can be for an indeterminate period of time, which is tantamount to a permanent ban. And to further confirm Judge Walker’s fear that America is descending into the dystopian world envisioned by Orwell, one of the banned books in Missouri is 1984: The Graphic Novel. Banned graphic novels are those that are illustrated.

In a recent open letter to Missouri school districts, several authors of the banned books condemned their action, writing, “[students] are having their right to access a diversity of ideas, information, art, and literature in school libraries diminished.” The authors added, “We urge school district officials in these 11 districts to reverse these dangerous bans, and to put materials back on shelves where students can regain access to them. Among the signatories were Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale, Art Spiegelman, author of Maus, and Neil Gaiman, author of American Gods.

Missouri’s most famous native son, Mark Twain, best summed up censorship: “Censorship is telling a man he can’t have a steak just because a baby can’t chew it. ”The “Show Me State” is showing everyone that it is governed by a bunch of un-American simpletons and ignoramuses. Mr. Clemons of Missouri also had something else to say about those who ban books: “But the truth is, that when a Library expels a book of mine and leaves an unexpurgated Bible lying around where unprotected youth and age can get hold of it, the deep unconscious irony of it delights me and doesn’t anger me.”

Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.

Copyright © 2022 WayneMadenReport.com

Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist, author and nationally-distributed columnist. A member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and the National Press Club. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).

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