The state flower of Florida is the orange blossom and so is the painted-on complexion of its most infamous resident.
Yet that’s not most concerning for me about what’s being churned out of that region on the rest of us at this moment in time.
A charter K-12 school in its state capitol called the Tallahassee Classical School, a place that literally markets its mission as training the minds and improving the hearts of young people through a content-rich classical education in the liberal arts, several weeks ago forced a principal to resign for daring to allow a sixth-grade art teacher to show her students an image of Michelangelo’s David, arguably one of THE most regarded works of sculptural art ever made.
Yes, of course David is totally nude, and includes his… penis.
But he is also 17 feet tall, made out of marble and to this day receives more than a million visitors annually at his home in the Accademia Gallery in Florence.
I’ve been there and spent time with Him and I can honestly say nothing prepares you for how truly magnificent the experience is up close. But as a gay man I’m also here to tell you — it’s not even remotely about his… penis.
Not that there is anything wrong with it.
My husband referred me to the David story broadcast on Alex Wagner’s MSNBC show this week and she gives a far more detailed rendition of it than I can here.
Even though I am truly fascinated by the parent who thought David was obscene, the two more families that called for the ousting of the art teacher, and the movement that ensued that forced the principal of that charter school to resign.
Still, the David will get over this. The fact is, He’s not new to controversy. After He was unveiled in the early 1500s the Catholic Church and eventually the Vatican found his nudity so reprehensible that he was given a fig leaf to cover his… penis.
And there that fig leaf remained for approximately 400 years until it was eventually decided that mass society might be mature enough to handle what He was given by Michelangelo – which when you think of it is merely a replication of what the Church believes God gave man.
It makes one wonder if you simply need to be made of stone in order to battle through centuries of insanity and ignorance and still remain standing.
Well, perhaps not.
Grace Linn is 100 years old, made of flesh and blood, and last week she stood up to the Martin Country School Board at a meeting, lambasting the powers that be for banning dozens of books, from school libraries and classroom curriculums, due to pressure from conservative and religious groups.
Among them are classics like Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Toni Morrison’s Beloved. Interestingly, one deals with the enslavement of women and the other the enslavement of non-white people but both are set against episodes of murder, societal mayhem and occasional sex, all topics easily found in any version of another classic – The Bible.
In her short speech, Ms. Linn told us about her husband, who was killed at the age of 26 during WWII defending democracy, the constitution and freedom.
She then went on to point out that one of the freedoms the Nazis crushed was the freedom to read books they banned.
And that in our country the freedom to read, protected by the first amendment, is our essential RIGHT and the DUTY of our democracy. And it is continually under attack by both the public and private groups that think THEY hold the TRUTH.
She said it far more effectively into the faces of those school board members than any of the go f-k yourselves I would likely say to them in person. Or to Florida’s governor, and likely 2024 presidential hopeful, Ron DeSantis – he of the already tired campaign slogan, Florida is where woke goes to die.
DeSantis is currently campaigning across the country against the perils of being awake while one of his century-old constituents is warning us not to go to sleep and avert our minds from reality.
And they say that the age of 80, Joe Biden is too old to lead?
The truth is that it sometimes takes someone a bit more… seasoned… to see the big picture in perilous times. And I say that not merely as someone who at this point could generously be considered to be, well, spicy.
The American Library Association tells us it received a record 1200 challenges to books in 2022, which was almost double the amount it received the previous year, which up to that point was the all-time high.
Those 2022 challenges cover more than 2500 books and are from national conservative groups like Moms for Liberty, an oxymoron if I’ve ever heard one. Included are pretty much what you’d expect but thrown into the mix are things like a children’s biography of the late Puerto Rican baseball star Roberto Clemente – so great that even younger Me was one his fans – and a series of family friendly science fiction YA novels from… James Patterson?
The guy whose non-cutting edge paperbacks you couldn’t turn away from at the airport even if you tried has created a series of novels about winged teenagers (Note: Maximum Ride) that’s deemed too cutting edge for that typical air commuter’s kid to read?
It’d be one thing if I were ranting about the 100 plus anti LGBTQ bills before state legislatures in 22 states in 2023. Not that I’m not and not that there aren’t and not that they are any less scary or important.
Or warning straight audiences across the country that this year’s June gay pride parades won’t be nearly as fun for you to attend with your kids, as I know so many of you do, because of the fact that eight states are already loaded up with bills to severely restrict or ban drag performances.
But the idea of living in a burnt orange world of rage and Florida-like repression really should make us all stop and think while we still can.
And not about naked marble man or his…um… thing.