Opposition to Florida’s Law Is Evolving, as Those Wailing Over What They Can’t Say Now Command Others to Stop Saying Words

(Richard Alan Hannon/The Advocate via AP)

A sign of effectiveness is how many in the press are suddenly uniformly outraged and resorting to hyperbole.

There is a curious development over the last week regarding the coverage of Florida’s newest piece of legislation signed into law. Most have been exposed to the wild claims being made by activist voices in the press that the state of Florida is outlawing a word, with brave resistors defiantly saying the word “gay” to oppose a bill that in no way ever made such a statement. Now in a new development, these legal linguists are taking a new course and they are, in turn, obliviously declaring that it is wrong for supporters to be using a particular term.

That their paradox of a stance is unrecognized to them is another sign of the lack of traction these media scolds possess. After months of mischaracterizations and gaslighting on the Florida Parental Rights in Education bill journalists sat back in disdain as they watched the legislation move through the capitol and ultimately get signed into law by Governor DeSantis. This has not stopped their efforts, as they now peer toward the courts, in the hopes of overturning the law and being granted permission to introduce salacious classroom content to ages five through eight.

If that assessment sounded a bit too extreme, it is with some reasoning. One, it is close to being accurate, but the second is that it is getting a very telling rise out of the sectors that have been prevaricating on the contents of this law all the while. For months, we have been inundated with news outlets insisting this is dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay Bill,” and this was followed by hysterical claims that adults are being silenced (they are not in any way), businesses are affected (nothing in the bill concerns corporations), and teachers are at risk of speaking wrongly about their personal lives (a fallacy, when the bill is centered on classroom instruction). Ignorance has been on full display.

Now, a new line of attack is being crafted. Many people have responded to the “Don’t Say Gay Bill” by turning around that method and redubbing it “The Anti-Groomer Law.” While that may strike some as a bit extreme, this cuts to a fundamental reality in all the opposition to the law: The more outraged you are about being limited from bringing topics to K-3 classrooms that are not age-appropriate shows just how interested you are with introducing that content. This response is being met with peals of outrage in the press.

Since this past weekend, more media players have been coming forward with stern accusations that anyone invoking the term “groomer” is doing so either in bad faith or as a sign of regressive homophobia. The desperation in this line of argument is what is so revealing. 

The same tactic used on the bill is now employed here, and the result says everything — just look at the lies Waldman needed to sell this latest attempt. For one, it is not “accusing anyone” — this concerns specifically what is being foisted in schools. Then, it is in no way targeting gays…at all. If you have a desire to have sexual discussions with children ages five to eight, then the concept of pedophilia is going to be reared. And Waldman is hardly alone in this effort.

Vice News has taken up the charge. Oliver Darcy, at CNN, is decrying the accusation as being from the Qanon playbook. David French was certainly bothered by it, while never griping about the Don’t-Say-Gay lie. (That speaks volumes, David.) NBC News editor Benji Sarlin also makes the homophobic claim, itself an admission, because “groomer” refers to anyone who is conditioning young children for sexual purposes. For him to stipulate it automatically means gay individuals comes from making that distinction in his own mind. The Daily Beast has followed this narrative, as have WaPo, New Republic, Jonathan Chait, Chris Hayes, and the list is still unspooling from there.

Frank Luntz exposes the game with this latest pushback in a comment he made on Tuesday. Look how he is reframing the entire argument and demonizing others at the same time.

People are not being labeled because of general opposition, Luntz. It is in regards to this particular issue. No one is being called a pedophile for disagreeing about redistricting maps or government spending. If you promote the idea of the youngest classrooms being a freewheeling chamber for sexual discussion, then grooming is certainly a valid topic. But Frank, and the other journos resting on this lame argument, are deluding themselves by contradicting their primary argument.

Look at the very conflict they have now presented. A law that only addresses proper scholastic content in classrooms has been extrapolated into adults somehow being censored. They shriek about a non-existent ban on the word “gay” being a violation of their rights, yet today they are the ones dictating that others are not permitted to use the word “groomer.” It is wrong to tell them what words are acceptable, while others should refrain from using a choice word.

Yet this argument actually proves the very accusation. Even if their false premise existed, it would mean they support saying “gay” to five-year-olds but oppose the use of “groomers” between adults. I am sure that does not paint a picture that is favorable to their cause.

In my recent Lie-Able Sources podcast, I listed a number of news outlets that covered the signing of the law using blatant factual errors, from insisting there is widespread opposition while ignoring polls in support, to straining to find teachers resigning over experiences with the law – that has not been enacted yet. Now we see this newest tactic the press is using in a coordinated effort, and they are failing at it gloriously. 

Want to know why we see this coordinated outrage over the use of “groomers”? It is because it is painfully accurate. They are trying to tell others they cannot say this inappropriate phrase because they are angry over being told they cannot say inappropriate things in classrooms.


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