News and Analysis

No, A Proposed Florida Law Doesn’t Make It Illegal To Make White People Feel ‘Discomfort.’ It’s A Hit Piece Against DeSantis.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a press conference at Buc-ee's travel center, where he announced his proposal of more than $1 billion in gas tax relief for Floridians in response to rising gas prices caused by inflation. DeSantis is proposing to the Florida legislature a five-month gas tax holiday.
Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

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.”

DeSantis’ spokeswoman Christina Pushaw pushed back against the AP report, noting that the word “white” nor any other specific race, is mentioned in the bill.

“The bill was introduced by a Hispanic lawmaker to prevent any kind of race essentialist indoctrination,” she added.

Pushaw also asked the AP what part of the bill was racist, including an image of a quote from the bill included in the AP article, which read “An individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, does not bear responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex. An individual should not be made to feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race.”

Pushaw also noted that the AP reporter who wrote the article originally included a line claiming “The governor’s office didn’t respond to an emailed request for comment.”

In another tweet, Pushaw provided an exchange from the AP reporter asking DeSantis’ office to respond to the reporter’s question to Florida state Sen. Shevrin Jones about whether DeSantis is racist.

“I asked Sen. Jones if he thought Gov. DeSantis is racist. He said his policies are. Do you have a comment?” the AP reporter asked DeSantis’ office.

DeSantis’ Communications Director Taryn Fenske responded to the absurd question from the AP by saying: “I just want to clarify – that you, without any context, asked a sitting State Senator if the Governor of Florida is a racist, while on the clock, being paid by the Associated Press?”

This information was not included in the AP article. An updated version of the article includes the following revised claim about the governor’s response:

Asked for comment, the governor’s spokeswoman reiterated comments DeSantis made at a news conference last month in which he referred to the late civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr.

DeSantis said at the time, “You think about what MLK stood for, ‘He said he didn’t want people judged on the color of their skin but on the content of their character. You listen to some of these people nowadays, they don’t talk about that.’ ”

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  No, A Proposed Florida Law Doesn’t Make It Illegal To Make White People Feel ‘Discomfort.’ It’s A Hit Piece Against DeSantis.