Ron DeSantis at a press conference in Florida on February 5, 2024

Ron DeSantis Is Still Claiming Book Bans Don’t Happen in Florida

During a recent press conference, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis repeated his bizarre claims that Florida doesn’t ban books.

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The thing is, Florida admitted to banning 300 books over the 2022-2023 school year alone, with the state’s school districts receiving a total of 1,218 book objections. However, even DeSantis realizes how terrible of a look it is to be labeled a book banner. Courts have begun ruling that book bans infringe on constitutional rights, and many are comparing the banning of books and silencing of authors to fascism.

Additionally, the hate group Moms for Liberty, which started in Florida and was the most vocal advocate for book bans, has been on the decline, with even conservative politicians distancing themselves from the organization. Evidence continues to arise showing that the vast majority of the United States does not support book banning. Needless to say, even right-wingers don’t want to be openly associated with book banning.

It’s kind of inescapable for DeSantis, though. Florida has long been at the center of the book-banning movement sweeping the nation. Not only did it give rise to Moms for Liberty, whose members consider it a felony for students to check out library books in Florida, but DeSantis has passed bills specifically designed to enable book bans. In early 2023, he passed House Bill 1069, which prohibited schools from offering any materials broadly defined as having “depictions of sexual conduct.” The bill made it easier to challenge books on false allegations that they contain pornography, leading the state’s school district to pull books from shelves by the hundreds to avoid lawsuits.

Yet, DeSantis has repeatedly insisted that book bans don’t actually happen in Florida.

Ron DeSantis gives bizarre, contradictory speech on book ban “hoax”

During the press conference, DeSantis claimed that Florida book bans were a hoax. It’s not the first time he has made this claim, but this instance was filled with even more bizarre and contradictory statements. DeSantis argued that book bans don’t happen in Florida, but also that some people (not him) are taking book bans too far in the state. He claimed that book bans are a fictitious narrative created by the media, even going as far as to suggest that both liberals and conservatives have filed false book challenges to propel the narrative.

At the same time, he admitted that book banning had gone too far in Florida. According to him, the state only ever wanted to “empower parents to object to obscene material in the classroom.” Meanwhile, he admitted this goal opened the gateway to “bad-faith objections” and people objecting to “every single book under the sun.” DeSantis also suggested that schools and the state take action to limit the number of false challenges considered at these schools.

So, now, DeSantis is painting himself as an advocate against book banning and is out there suggesting that Florida pass legislation to limit the book banning he claims doesn’t happen. However, the major thing he seems to be forgetting here is that it’s his own legislation he’s apparently against now. He passed HB 1069 with the explicit purpose of giving schools, parents, and the state the right to ban every book under the sun. Escambia County has used his bill to justify removing 2,812 books from its school shelves. It’s notable that he’s supposedly decrying book bans yet is not decrying the bill he passed to make these bans possible. He does not suggest that lawmakers repeal HB 1069. His entire statement is just a clumsy attempt to save face without admitting his wrongdoing or making any substantial promises for action or change.

On top of that, PEN America has compiled a list of all his lies, primarily that Florida doesn’t ban books and that only “pornography” is being removed from schools under his bill. It pointed out that Florida itself compiled a list of the 300 book bans and 1,218 challenges schools received in the 2022–2023 school year. Additionally, it called DeSantis out for lying that Toni Morrison’s books weren’t banned in the state (they were) and that the only books banned were “pornographic” (none were pornographic, but many boasted LGBTQ+ themes). On top of that, he can’t condemn or blame locals for book banning when there is so much evidence that the book bans are a direct result of his own laws and the efforts of groups like Moms for Liberty he has aligned himself with.

DeSantis isn’t fooling anyone when trying to claim that book bans don’t happen in Florida or that he’s not responsible for the book bans that do occur. His press conference actually only serves to make him look worse. He obviously knows how evil it is to take away books from children, given how desperate he is to pretend he’s not a book banner. Yet, he continues banning books and enabling book banners anyway.

(featured image: Joe Raedle / Getty)


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Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is an SEO writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, YA literature, celebrity news, and coming-of-age films. She has over two years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.