Joe Henderson: Gov. DeSantis takes trolling to a dangerous new level
The Senate didn't discuss her once controversial nomination to the Board of Education.

esther byrd
Ron DeSantis put someone on the state board of education was said Jan. 6 was 'peaceful.'

In the name of education reform, parents can sue Florida school teachers if their child believes they heard something in class that upset them.

Critics (and there are many) of the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis say it attacks LGBTQ+ individuals. He demonized transgender kids, and the Legislature just did his bidding with bans against critical race theory (which schools don’t teach anyway) and “woke” culture.

But what’s OK with the Governor, besides mom, apple pie and Donald Trump deciding not to run?

Esther Byrd, that’s what.

DeSantis, who delights in annoying critics because he can, recently took trolling to a new level of insanity. He appointed Byrd to the state Board of Education, and we shudder to imagine Florida’s curriculum if she gets any real influence.

After all, this lady said the Jan. 6 insurrectionists were “peacefully protesting.” She spouts QAnon gibberish and defended the Proud Boys. She’s an ardent supporter of what’s-his-name from Mar-a-Lago, so will students take a “How Pinkos Stole the 2020 Election” required course?

On Facebook, she wrote, “In the coming civil wars (We the People vs the Radical Left and We the People cleaning up the Republican Party), team rosters are being filled. Every elected official in DC will pick one. There are only 2 teams… With Us [or] Against Us.”

Sign me up for the “Against Us” team as long as she’s on the other side. And as far as civil war, I think that was the “peaceful protest” of Jan. 6.

Here’s the thing, though. Byrd’s appointment was the next logical step in what has become an increasingly deranged platform for the Governor. And it’s all because of one word.


In DeSantis’ world, it’s woke to criticize Esther Byrd.

It’s woke if you say “Don’t Say Gay” is discriminatory. So what if schools don’t teach critical race theory? One day they might.

And what if you believe LGBTQ+ and transgender people are human beings deserving of the same respect as anyone else? Yep, woke.

Or if you look at the voting changes DeSantis rammed through as a way to suppress minority voters, you must be, well, you know.

Woke came into mainstream use in 2014 by activists protesting the death of Black teenager Michael Brown, shot and killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri.

“Stay woke” was a warning to Black Americans to remain aware of what could happen at their protests.

However, Republicans — particularly DeSantis — seized on it as the mantra of pansy liberals who don’t get it. Now, “woke” is a mocking term for anyone with progressive views on social justice.

It’s equated now with political correctness and cancel culture. That is odd since DeSantis just spent the Legislative Session inventing ways to cancel things, such as a woman’s right to choose.

I suppose that’s why he appointed Byrd to a board that sets education priorities for the state.

It’s fair to wonder if DeSantis one day won’t go too far in his dictatorial zeal to exclude anyone with whom his side doesn’t like, but we’re not there yet.

He’s sitting on an ocean of cash and an obedient Fox News that offers him unfettered exposure whenever he wants. And if other media fight back with, you know, facts?


But another word describes what appointments like Byrd do to our state and children.


Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.


  • Facts Matter

    March 16, 2022 at 7:52 pm

    DeSantis is everything wrong with politics and humanity, for that matter. He is an embarrassment to Florida and America. There isn’t room enough to address each of his toxic 5th grade level thinking policies. It’s just ridiculous narcissistic bigotry and ignorance on display daily in Tallahassee. The GOP and their newest dear leader are a joke. Just a really, really bad one.

    • Nick Whitehead

      March 23, 2022 at 3:25 am

      I wasn’t sure anyone could be worse than pRick Scott, who stole ~$75 billion from the sick, the poor, and the elderly, but DeSantis is really giving him a run for his money. It’ll be interesting to see who ends up as most evil.

  • The Inmate Are Running the Asylum

    March 16, 2022 at 9:04 pm

    The Republicans and Democrats are fairly neck and neck with registration numbers.

    So the real hair to split is with the NPA’s and Independants.

    I cannot help to believe there has to be enough sensible, centrist, adults in those NPA / independents that see through the smoke screens to turn the elections of the future.

    To question the morality of lawmakers and executives that would prioritize things that are a solution in search of problem while real problems are happening (housing crisis, insurance exodus, rising waters, seagrass die-offs, education falling behind, no gas tax holiday, etc).

  • Charlotte Greenbarg

    March 17, 2022 at 7:59 am

    The far left panics as they circle the drain. The people see through the lies

  • Wendy

    March 17, 2022 at 10:58 am

    As far as I can tell Esther Byrd is a secretary with a high school education who works for her husband. Can anyone say she’s qualified to sit on any state board? Maybe she was nominated to divert attention from his other nominee who no one is mentioning – a Catholic extremist anti-choice crusader who will join in with the gay bashing too.

  • Todd Priest

    March 17, 2022 at 11:35 am

    Love our Governor!!

    • Sister Gracious Pugnacious, Bishop Liston Academy for Awkward Boys

      March 18, 2022 at 1:44 pm

      Oh goodness gracious me, Todd, we are all so proud of you for finding love in your heart. But you know, dear boy, this is the “comments” section, where you get to make a comment about the column by Mister Henderson. You don’t have to be nice, you don’t have to agree with him, but you really should stick to the subject of the column.
      Here, let me give you an example: I think Mister DeSantis appointed the wacky Q-anon lady because he is a little stinker, and like any little third-grade stinker, he delights in making people go, “Ewww, what’s that smell?”
      However, if your love for the governor is such that you are unable to process any other thoughts and therefore simply cannot make a rational comment, I understand completely. After all, I suspect you voted for him, bless your heart.

  • Todd Priest

    March 18, 2022 at 3:03 pm

    Aw aren’t you special..? Triggered a bit are ya? That was an easy troll.

  • Edward Freeman

    March 21, 2022 at 10:49 pm

    Ok, that was fun. After glancing at the photo with that article, I immediately assumed that moRon’s “dangerous new level of trolling” was something akin to the Bruce Jenner/Caitlyn Jenner transformation. My thought was, ‘he really is a masterful troller cause I sure didn’t see this coming’. After reading the article I was crestfallen to realize that I was wrong. I mean I don’t really care one way or the other. It is just that what I thought was at least funny. The reality is just sad.

  • Todd

    March 23, 2022 at 12:45 pm

    DeSantis is the best thing to ever happen in Florida. You folks that are enjoying the benefits while complaining should move to California. You’ll fit right in.

Comments are closed.


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