MSNBC host Joy Reid complained at length Tuesday about a Florida bill she falsely claimed would make it illegal to “make white people sad.”
“They’re literally legislating white people’s psychic comfort. They’re putting that IN A BILL,” Reid tweeted, sharing an article from the Associated Press.
“A Florida bill that would prohibit public schools and private businesses from making white people feel “discomfort” when they teach students or train employees about discrimination in the nation’s past received its first approval Tuesday,” the article’s teaser read.
A Florida bill that would prohibit public schools and private businesses from making white people feel “discomfort” when they teach students or train employees about discrimination in the nation’s past received its first approval Tuesday.https://t.co/URwHagL0gj
— The Associated Press (@AP) January 18, 2022
“To reiterate: it’s about to be ILLEGAL IN FLORIDA TO MAKE WHITE PEOPLE SAD. Fix it Jesus!” Reid continued. “Are they gonna arrest comedians who tell jokes that hurt white patrons’ feelings? Let white Floridians sue screenwriters who write white villains? Will there be book and movie bans?? Unreal!”
She continued in that same vein, asking whether or not the next thing would be a ban on poking fun at Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. “Y’all know what’s coming, right? How long til til Chairman Ron proposes a bill to make it illegal to make fun of Ron DeSantis…” she said.
Reid also addressed the bill on her blog, adding, “With this bill, Florida conservatives are saying lessons about America’s racist and sexist past are acceptable only if they don’t offend white people.”
Former Republican-turned Democratic gubernatorial challenger Charlie Crist jumped on the bill as well, adding, “Reality is not comfortable for Ron DeSantis. So he wants to ban it.”
But Reid misread the bill — it does not actually ban making “white people sad” as she claimed. As The Daily Wire reported, the controversy began not with the bill itself but with the Associated Press’ use of the bill to aim a hit piece at DeSantis:
The Associated Press on Tuesday provided a wildly inaccurate description of a basic civil rights bill being pushed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), falsely insisting that it would “prohibit public schools and private businesses from making white people feel ‘discomfort’ when they teach students or train employees about discrimination in the nation’s past.”
The bill mentions race but does not single out white people, and the relevant portion of the bill insists that subjecting people as a condition of their “employment, membership, certification, licensing, credentialing, or passing an examination, to training, instruction, or any other required activity” that members of any race, sex, or national origin are inherently racist, sexist of oppressive is wrong. The language is a shade more specific than typical civil rights protections.
The bill does mention the word “discomfort” twice, but it is not specific to white people. One section says that “An individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin.” The second mention is the same but is a subsection relating to the legislature’s acknowledgement that “all individuals are equal before the law and have inalienable rights.”