By now, it should be blindingly obvious that many red-state book crackdowns are designed to encourage the impulse toward censorship. By enabling lone actors to get dozens of titles removed from school library shelves while meeting deliberately vague criteria for objecting to them, these measures invite overzealous parents to hunt for books to purge.
A bill advancing in the Florida state legislature suggests this could create problems for Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is using book crackdowns to bolster his GOP presidential hopes. As it gets easier for single objectors to get books removed, the bans could get more absurd — and stick to DeSantis himself.
The proposal in question, which appears to have the governor’s general support, would require the instant removal of certain books targeted for objections, even before any sort of evaluative process unfolds. Advocates for free expression say this represents something new.
“If Florida passes this bill, it may be the first state in the country to institute in every public school a rule requiring the immediate removal of materials following an objection,” Jeffrey Sachs, a political scientist who closely tracks these proposals, told me. “For activists on the right, this is a new strategy that will greatly speed the process of censoring materials.” [Continue reading…]