Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he will defend free speech and will not allow his state to “squelch dissent,” in response to orders from Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate parents who protest to educators about their children’s schooling.
“Attorney General Garland is weaponizing the DOJ by using the FBI to pursue concerned parents and silence them through intimidation,” DeSantis wrote in one of his tweets on Oct. 5.
He added: “Florida will defend the free speech rights of its citizens and will not allow federal agents to squelch dissent.”
This is DeSantis’ initial response, while his press secretary, Christina Pushaw, said they were vigilant “to protect the rights of Floridians from government overreach and the inappropriate politicization of federal law enforcement,” according to Fox News.
“However, disagreement is not harassment. Protest is not terrorism, unless it involves rioting, looting, and assault, like some of the left-wing protests of summer 2020,” added a statement from De Santi’s administration.
It continues, “Governor DeSantis condemns any attempt by the federal government to silence free speech. It is despicable and anti-American.”
Garland’s attorney general, meanwhile, had directed the FBI to address threats of violence against school officials and teachers across the country, giving rise to concerns about the issue and De Santis’ reaction.
Critics of Garland’s order complained that threats of violence are already illegal and that what is really under attack with the FBI’s intervention are the rights of parents.
Over the past few months, there has been a succession of protests from parents who disagree with their children being indoctrinated with controversial critical race theories nor being given instructions that tend to sexualize them at young ages.
DeSantis believes that parental rights must be respected when it comes to implementing such policies and issued the Florida Parents’ Bill of Rights in July, which states that the government “may not infringe on the fundamental rights of a parent to direct the upbringing, education, medical care and mental health of a minor child.”
On the other hand, the alternative media outlet The Conservative Treehouse Garland’s daughter, Rebecca Garland, is married to Xan Tanner, the co-founder of the Panorama Education company that sells “social learning” materials.
These materials are distributed to school districts and teachers who teach Critical Race Theory,” so it could set up a conflict of interest.
“Panorama Education, Xan Tanner, raised $60 million to expand its operations,” relates The Conservative Treehouse.
It adds, “Xan Tanner’s father-in-law, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, tells the FBI to investigate any possible parental interference/disruption that might impede his son-in-law’s business interests.”
Among Panorama’s funders is the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, an organization established and owned by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan.