Conservatives Reveal What They Mean When They Say "Parents' Rights"
Post-liberal conservatism is real.
1. The Free State of Florida
Do you remember being lectured by Conservatism Inc. about how the Florida “Don’t Say Gay” law wasn’t really about preventing kids from telling classmates that they had gay parents—or teachers from disclosing that they lived in same-sex families—in schools? That this was all just about “parents’ rights” and people who said that Republicans in Florida were trying to do anything untoward were partisan monsters peddling disinformation?
Parents’ rights! They are sacrosanct! How dare the state tell parents how to raise their children!
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suggested Wednesday that he might urge the state's child protective services to investigate parents who take their children to drag shows.
When asked by reporters whether he would support proposed legislation from a Florida state representative that would punish parents who take their children to such performances, the governor said he has asked his staff to look into the idea.
"We have child protective statutes on the books," the governor said. "We have laws against child endangerment."
“It used to be kids would be off-limits. Used to be everybody agreed with that,” DeSantis continued. “Now it just seems like there’s a concerted effort to be exposing kids more and more to things that are not age appropriate.”
The debate over whether minors should be allowed to watch drag performances began Saturday after videos showing young children attending a Dallas drag show, and tipping performers with cash, emerged on social media.
The event, “Drag the Kids to Pride Drag Show” — which was held at the gay bar Mr. Misster — was advertised as a “family friendly spin off” of the bar’s “Champagne Drag Brunch” show.
So “parents’ rights” is a thing only for certain parents. Other parents, who make choices Ron DeSantis does not approve of? He is looking into sending child protective services after them.
This is post-liberal conservatism.
“The state” may not impinge at all on any parent’s right to control every aspect of the public school experience. But if a parent takes his kid on an outing that the state does not approve of, the full-force of government may be brought to bear against him.
The mask is off. And no one—by which I mean, voters in Florida, or across the country—seems to care.
Because gas is too expensive, or something.
This reality is of a piece with what we talked about on Monday: that “overreach” is something voters only recognize in Democrats.
“Defund the police” is an issue with electoral salience, despite the fact that it has not been put into practice and that most Democratic office-holders have explicitly and consistently rejected it for two years.
But the sitting governor of Florida—the guy second in line for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination—says he’s looking into sending child protective services after parents he doesn’t approve of because he saw a video from Texas, and