The freest state?

Gov. Ron DeSantis has long claimed that Florida is the freest state, yet his words, actions, and methods are too often the antithesis of what freedom is supposed to mean.


Welcome to Florida, which Gov. Ron DeSantis assures us is the freest state in the country!

Here, WE ARE FREE as parents to protect our kids from COVID — as long as we expect ZERO help from Tallahassee on this front. Gov. Ron DeSantis saw to it that Florida was the last state in the nation to not pre-order the vaccines available for children under five.

For now, pediatricians can order the vaccine, but the Florida Department of Health will continue not to order doses. Therefore, state and local health departments — where many low-income families receive healthcare — will not have immediate access to the shots.

Frankly, this should be no surprise to parents and school administrators throughout the state who wanted school mask mandates in place only to have the governor fight those potentially life-saving measures tooth and nail. He even threatened to withhold school funding.

DeSantis and his henchman Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo have both claimed that masks don’t even work (despite evidence to the contrary), and the little tykes are essentially immune to COVID anyway (again, despite evidence that says otherwise).

Here, WE ARE FREE to take all the monoclonal antibodies (which may or may not be effective) we can get our hands on — after all, it’s the only tactic the governor believes in to combat the pandemic. This “questionable-treatment-rather-than-smart-prevention” approach encourages us to never take any precautions to avoid contracting and spreading COVID and certainly doesn’t encourage us to get vaccinated.

Well, the results speak for themselves as a staggering 75,000 Floridians and counting have now perished from this pandemic.

Here, WE ARE FREE to exercise our First Amendment right by speaking out against his “Don’t Say Gay” law — that is, if you don’t mind the retaliation. Just ask Disney. This Florida law bans classroom discussion on sexual orientation or gender identity can only lead to the stigmatization and ultimate isolation of LGBTQ youths.

Disney agreed, officially spoke out against it, and got promptly slapped with payback measures from the DeSantis as he sought to dissolve the Reedy Creek Improvement District, the governing jurisdiction and special taxing district for Disney World — leaving the good taxpayers of Orange and Osceola Counties stuck with the $1 billion debt.

Here, WE ARE FREE to openly discuss the race problem in schools and our terrible history associated with it, including the unspeakable evil of slavery — except that DeSantis really doesn’t want you to. When he officially banned Critical Race Theory (CRT) from being taught in K-12, even he admitted that it was a university course only.

His reasoning for banning it? He claimed CRT principles are finding their way into younger kids’ education, ultimately making this some kind of diabolical “indoctrination.” As a result, teachers are now more wary of approaching such topics or tend to keep clear of these issues that could and should be explored in the confines of a classroom, so we can better understand our history and one another.

Here, WE ARE FREE to speak out against the ever-growing problem of gun violence in this country — but expect swift punishment if you do. Just ask the Tampa Bay Rays. The team tweeted awareness about gun violence following the Buffalo, N.Y. and Uvalde, Texas, mass shootings, among others, and sensibly called for change. Strike one.

Furthermore, the Rays donated money to the Everytown charity, which supports gun reform. Strike two. For this, uh, radical activism, DeSantis promptly vetoed $35 million in state funding to the team — money that was to help fund a sports training and youth tournament complex in Pasco County.

The governor, who has made his anti-gun reform stance well known, explained that it would be “inappropriate to subsidize political activism of a private corporation.” Strike three.

Here, WE ARE FREE to respect a woman’s natural right of autonomy over her own body — unless you don’t truly believe the woman holds that right at all. For over a half-century, women have had the right to seek safe and legal abortions in this country, but DeSantis seems bent on dragging us back to the Dark Ages with a draconian anti-abortion law that bans the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy without exemptions for rape, incest, or human trafficking.

It’s a brazen act indeed from a man who claims he doesn’t believe in government overreach.

Yes, fellow Floridians, we are lousy with freedom here and free to express our thoughts if we fully agree with the governor and his views.

DeSantis has long claimed that Florida is the freest state, yet his words, actions, and methods are too often the antithesis of what freedom is supposed to mean.

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