What I’m Reading
December 2, 2022
This week “constitutional sheriff” Wayne Ivey of Brevard County, Florida, stood in front of the county jail and threatened to impose harsh punishments on schoolchildren. He said it was a “new day,” for no apparent reason. He showed pictures that he claimed were bruises caused by kids. He called kids “snots” and “clowns.” He blamed laws that prohibit corporal punishment for creating a new breed of problem children:
“They [kids] know they’re not going to be given after-school detention, they’re not going to be suspended, they’re not going to be expelled, or like in the old days, they’re not going to have the cheeks of their ass torn off for not doing right in class.”
And his many Facebook fans loved it. They cheered him on. They blamed parents, lax teachers, the degeneracy of youth. And when some people questioned the use of violence – isn’t child abuse illegal? – others reasserted their liberty to abuse their children as they wished: “I run my home, I do not allow DCF [The Florida State Department of Children and Families], the police or anyone else to run my home. Discipline is not abuse.”
Yet, questions abound. Why was this a press conference in a front of the jail? Why did he not invite the press? Why did he not mention that criminal, disruptive, and violent incidents were DOWN – dramatically DOWN – over the past year? What policy was he proposing? And why, why on earth, was it the job of a sheriff to threaten children?
His press conference came days after the Brevard County School Board – newly reconstituted with pro-Ron DeSantis and anti-trans members – ousted the former superintendent Mark Mullins and (coincidentally, I’m sure) changed the policy such that transgender students can no longer use the bathroom that matches their gender. Brevard is not the only Florida school board to be targeted by advocacy from the “joyful warriors” Moms 4 Liberty. (I wrote about their efforts to partner with sheriffs around the country here.) Republican State Rep Randy Fines is allegedly behind many of the changes as part of his quest for a “parent-centric” approach to schooling.
It’s worth bearing in mind that less than two years ago, Florida police made headlines for arresting five- and six-year-olds. In February of 2020, Orlando cops put a six-year-old in zip-ties as she cried and begged for help. The little girl had kicked a staff member. The cop was fired, and the state passed a law prohibiting the arrest of kids under seven. A local news station found hundreds to children under 10 were arrested in Florida every year; that number is in the thousands for kids 12 and under.
Joseph Jaafari wrote a great piece on the impunity of Arizona constables, who carry guns even though they aren’t supposed to use force.
Lizzie Presser’s story on the problem of judicial bypass for abortions was just infuriating – a good news article, but a maddening one.
The story I cannot get out of my head is this piece by Rozina Ali about how a U.S. Marine – with the help of Evangelical Christian leaders in the government – was able to steal a baby.