If Florida Republicans are hell-bent on banning books they consider inappropriate, then one atheist activist wants to make sure public school districts go even further and ban a book that contains genocide, incest, rape, and violence: The Bible.
More than 200 books have already been eliminated from public school districts across the state in response to Gov. Ron DeSantis and his party’s insane rush to ban “woke” content from the shelves. It’s getting to the point where schools may stop assigning books that could run afoul of the law, even if they’re perfectly fine, which is arguably the point. Republicans don’t want kids to encounter ideas that could challenge them—or challenge what conservative Christians indoctrinate them with in church—so scaring everyone into being overly cautious is the net effect of the over-reaching rule.
Enter Chaz Stevens, a.k.a. @TheTweetOfJab, who’s eager to make sure Republicans shoot themselves in the foot with this anti-intellectual push.
Stevens has previously erected Festivus poles in the Florida Capitol as well as Distress-ivus poles that look like Donald Trump. He’s placed an image of an upside-down butt-plugged Jesus outside a local city hall. He once hired someone to wear a costume of a giant phallus with Trump’s head before a presidential debate.
And now, he’s demanding that school districts banning other books also get rid of one more.
In a letter sent to the superintendents of the Broward, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, and Indian River County Public Schools, all in southeast Florida, Stevens argues that if other books are tossed out, so must the Bible.
… I wish to file such an objection, requesting the Broward County Public School system immediately remove the Bible from the classroom, library, and any instructional material. Additionally, I also seek the banishment of any book that references the Bible. And, as is often the case with banned books, I ask your agency lay flame to that giant stack of fiction in a pyre worthy of a Viking sendoff.
Stevens specifically claims the Bible is not age appropriate because it “casually references such topics as adultery and fornication,” includes scenes of bestiality and rape, and promotes “wokeness.” That last one is tongue-in-cheek, as Stevens cites Ephesians 6:5-7 (“Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear…”), which he says could remind “young white students” about “civilization’s sordid past.”
Is he trolling them? Sure. But his underlying point isn’t wrong. And, after all, trolling people is what Florida Republicans are doing with this law. They don’t actually give a damn what’s inside these books because they don’t read any of them to begin with. They just want to make sure books that challenge tradition, or teach students that we’re not always the good guys, is eradicated from the curriculum.
Stevens defended his actions to the Miami New Times:
“If they’re gonna ban books, then the whole library should be in play. My hope — and it’s a longshot — is that they will apply their own standards to themselves and ban the Bible,” Stevens tells New Times.
“They better not fucking ignore me,” Stevens warns. “If they ignore me, doesn’t that tell you something? The government can’t pick and choose religion, but can they choose which books they review for banning and which ones they don’t?”
For what it’s worth, neither of those two districts has banned any books so far. But they still ought to address his concerns because this problem isn’t going away. (They can always write back and say no books will be banned in their district.)
Stevens isn’t just stopping there either.
The district that’s banned the most books so far is the School District of Indian River County, which has gotten rid of The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini and Beloved by Toni Morrison, in addition to over 100 other titles. Just complete lunacy all around. It gets worse, too, because someone filed a criminal complaint over those “pornographic and/or obscene materials” with Indian River County Sheriff Eric Flowers.
But get this: Flowers didn’t just toss out the complaint. In a letter to the school board (published below), Flowers said that, while he wasn’t going to make any arrests, “we do not feel that this content is appropriate for young children.” He added that “I certainly would not want my child to have access” to those books and called on the board to push for “stricter oversight” before kids get their hands on these books.
Stevens has now sent an email to Sheriff Flowers. After reminding him what he wrote to the school board, Stevens gets to his point:
Given this, please accept this email (and kindly acknowledge receipt) as my official complaint with your Agency alleging the following books contain “obscene material” unfit and unsuited for consumption by minors, and I ask your team performs a similar review of the School District of Indian River County as done in the past.
1. Bible (first edition)
2. Bible (2nd edition)Including, but not limited to:. NIV, KIV, ESV, NKJV
My thanks for your assistance.
There has been no response as of this writing.
The best outcome, of course, would not be to ban the Bible. It would be for these districts to stop banning books altogether and for Florida Republicans to stop waging petty culture war battles that marginalize certain students. All students should be challenged and get introduced to people and places and ideas with which they’re not familiar. Just because some of those things may go against biblical traditions doesn’t mean there’s a problem with those books. The problem is with biblical traditions… and anyone who believes conservative political views are the only ones that ought to be acknowledged in public schools.