Florida's Idiocracy: An Update
Statues without pants
David by Michelangelo (Photo by © Todd Gipstein/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
I regret to tell you that this is not a parody:
A Tallahassee charter school principal has been forced to resign after parents complained about a sixth grade art history lesson, claiming Michelangelo's statue of David, arguably the most famous sculpture in the world, was 'pornographic'.
Hope Carrasquilla was pushed out of Tallahassee Classical School this week after three parents complained about the curriculum.
Two said they wished they'd been made aware that kids were being shown images of the sculpture first, and one claimed it was 'pornographic'.
According to the Tallahassee school, some of the children were “upset,” which seems unlikely.
What actually happened is that three (3) parents, who were evidently unacquainted with depictions of genitalia or classical art, but ever vigilant to the threat of wokeness and pornography, decided to be offended.
So the principal is out, and the tender eyes of the young classicists are protected from the corrupting influences of Renaissance art.
“We’re not going to show the full statue of David to kindergartners,” the school board chairman told Slate. “We’re not going to show him to second graders. Showing the entire statue of David is appropriate at some age. [Ed note: It was actually shown to sixth graders.] We’re going to figure out when that is.”
This—in all of its effulgent glory—is actually an episode from The Simpsons come to life: In the cartoon version, Michelangelo’s David is sent around on a tour of the US, with an expected stop in Springfield, which triggers members of SNUH [Springfieldians for Nonviolence, Understanding, and Helping].
They urge Marge to protest the famed sculpture, claiming it’s offensive and inappropriate. However, Marge, being an artist herself, insists it’s a masterpiece.
But, the Florida story is even better, because this episode of pecksniffery and philistinism is brought to you by the inaptly named “Tallahassee Classical School,” which claims that it is committed to “training the minds and improving the hearts of young people through a content-rich classical education in the liberal arts and sciences, with instruction in the principles of moral character and civic virtue.”
One suspects that many of these words do not mean what the Florida folks seem to think they mean.
The school’s website defines “classical education” as “the pursuit of truth, goodness and beauty.” And it adds:
The word “liberal” comes from the Latin word “libertas” meaning “freedom.”
This does not, however, mean the freedom to look at what is arguably the world’s most famous statue, because, well, you can see his junk. Which, apparently, is not conducive to “principles of moral character and civic virtue.”
The school’s chief idiocrat and board chair, Barney Bishop III, explained:
Well, we’re Florida, OK? Parents will decide. Parents are the ones who are going to drive the education system here in Florida. The governor [Ron DeSantis, Slayer of Wokeness] said that, and we’re with the governor.
He insists that Florida parents who chose this kind of classical education expect to have their children shielded from actual classics like David—or any of that other woke/CRT/1619 crap.
Parents choose this school because they want a certain kind of education. We’re not gonna have courses from the College Board.
We’re not gonna teach 1619 or CRT crap.
I know they do all that up in Virginia. The rights of parents, that trumps the rights of kids.
And who needs experts?
Teachers are the experts? Teachers have all the knowledge? Are you kidding me? I know lots of teachers that are very good, but to suggest they are the authorities, you’re on better drugs than me.
This may not be solely a Florida problem, however. Tallahassee's Classical School is part of Hillsdale College’s charter school initiative and uses Hillsdale’s “classical” curriculum.
Hillsdale has long been a bastion of conservative academia, but in recent years it has thrown in its lot with the Trumpified culture warriors.
As it turns out, its commitment to the pursuit of truth, goodness, and beauty is in tension with the culture war penchant for moral panics triggered by statues without pants.
Exit take. Wait ’til they hear about this1:
And we shudder to imagine the reaction of the budding juvenile classicists if they should ever encounter this2:
We all live in CatTurd’s world now
On Thursday’s podcast, I talked with Semafor’s Shelby Talcott about Trump vs. DeSantis and the rise of the social media influencers like CatTurd, who now have more clout than the legacy media.
Meanwhile, in post-normal America:
The former president warns of “death and destruction” if he is charged with a crime.
This came after Trump declared that “THIS IS NOT LEGAL SYSTEM, THIS IS THE GESTAPO, THIS IS RUSSIA, AND CHINA BUT WORSE” and called Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg a “SOROS BACKED ANIMAL,” which historian Kevin Kruse called a “nice racist two-fer.”
And, of course, he’s not at all, in any way, suggesting violence.
1. DeSantis vs. DeSantis?
In today’s Bulwark, Will Saletan wonders: Has he really walked back his remarks about the Ukraine war?
Many Republicans, alarmed by isolationist comments from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, would like to see him pivot and support aid to Ukraine. This desire aligns them with the press, which tends to see any shift of position, particularly by a Republican presidential contender, as a flip-flop or walkback. So it’s natural that DeSantis’s latest remarks on this subject, in an interview with Piers Morgan that aired Thursday night on Fox Nation, are being reported as evidence that the governor has “changed course,” “reversed” himself, and “sought to toughen his position.”
Don’t believe it. DeSantis has hardly budged. In the interview, he rephrased one of several reasons he previously gave for opposing aid to Ukraine: that the war was just a “territorial dispute.” But he reaffirmed his other arguments against American involvement, and he added further reasons to stay out.
2. TikTok’s Uber-Prog Friends
TikTok spokesman and former Biden campaign press secretary Jamal Brown shepherded the raucous group, and he capped their day with an outdoor press conference led by Rep. Jamaal Bowman of New York, a Democrat. Bowman also brought along two Democratic colleagues, Reps. Mark Pocan of Wisconsin and Robert Garcia of California.
Bowman repeatedly brushed aside national security concerns about TikTok, drawing a misleading comparison to hate groups or foreign governments posting content and organizing on American social media sites. (Comparing the potential for harmful content being posted on a platform to the power of the owner to manipulate all content on a platform and to possess private user information is clearly an apples-to-hand-grenades situation.)
Instead, he framed it as a free speech issue, a case of racist partisan demagoguery from one side of the aisle, and a risk to the youth vote in future elections.
He said Republicans have been “creating a red scare around China” and that TikTok is just the latest target.
“It poses about the same threat that companies like Facebook, and Instagram, and YouTube, and Twitter pose,” Bowman said. “Let’s not be racist towards China and express our xenophobia when it comes to TikTok because American companies have done tremendous harm to American people.”
I asked Bowman what his conversations have been like with members of the Intelligence Committee on this issue and whether he trusts TikTok when they say they don’t share American data with the Chinese government. He dodged both questions, saying, “we’re having those conversations,” and “I don’t trust nobody.”
The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli
Pan and Syrinx by Jean-Francois de Troy