OUR POSITION: The opportunity to score political points sends Florida officials, inappropriately, out of the country for an official Cabinet meeting.
This just in:
Gov. Ron DeSantis recently announced that Florida’s Cabinet will be taking its meetings on the road for the rest of the year.
The tentative schedule calls for a meeting July 14 in Paris to commemorate Bastille Day and highlight the rights of man (and woman.)
August turns so hot in Tallahassee the governor and Cabinet will meet Aug. 17 in the home capital of our neighbors to the north, Ottawa.
On Sept. 13, the Cabinet will remain in the USA, but travel west for a meeting in Hutchinson, Kansas, to coincide with the Kansas State Fair. Cabinet members will stay overnight to be honored guests Saturday evening at the Hanson concert at the Nex-Tech Wireless Grandstand of the Kansas State Fairgrounds.
About as ridiculous as the Cabinet’s meeting at—or in an annex connected to—the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, Israel. While holding a meeting in a small conference room roughly 6,600 miles away from Tallahassee and the Florida press corps, DeSantis signed a bill “prohibiting” anti-Semitism in Florida’s public schools and universities.
The law defined “anti-Semitism” as individual speech “blaming Israel for all inter-religious or political tensions” or “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israel to that of the Nazis,” according to the Associated Press.
Note that this is the same governor who, earlier this year, celebrated the ideal of free speech on public campuses and, according to the News Service of Florida, the same DeSantis who signed a resolution that state colleges would not “stifle the dissemination of any idea,” even that considered “abhorrent.”
At the time he signed the resolution, DeSantis told reporters, “The most offensive speakers, to me, they are the easiest ones to combat because it’s very easy to point out why those views don’t really pass muster.”
Except, apparently, when those blowhards are drawing comparisons between modern-day Israel and the Nazis, which we consider an ignorant, abhorrent twist of reality.
Beyond putting gubernatorial signature to that law during an official ceremony, that Wednesday’s state Cabinet meeting drew objections and a lawsuit from media outlets, which, properly, noted the action put an undue burden on any member of the public who might want to attend or observe.
The absurdity of the situation was highlighted by a glitch in the live broadcast on the FLORIDA Channel, when the satellite feed was dropped in the middle of the invocation. Technicians then fumbled with a re-connection, but eventually live-streaming came back.
Meanwhile, the media’s court challenge had been rejected, essentially on a technicality that the governor and the three independently elected officials who comprise the Cabinet could not be served court papers. They were in Israel, after all.
Barbara Peterson, the president of the First Amendment Foundation, later said she’d ask the court to rule the state meeting on foreign soil was, indeed, a violation of state law. She also said she’d seek an order forbidding any such out-of-Florida public meetings in the future.
“The issue,” she said, “is holding a Cabinet meeting somewhere other than Florida.”
As far as future meetings—from 6,600 miles across the globe, 1,000 miles away in the Midwest or 100 miles north in Georgia—we will pray this doesn’t happen again.