Gov. DeSantis encouragement to a group of high school students to lose their masks (if they wanted to) made a big splash on Twitter yesterday. Some reporters were outraged by it:
This is insane.
DeSantis shaming students for deciding to wear masks? Like he has NO idea if they have a pre-existing condition or a family member who does???
— Rachael Bade (@rachaelmbade) March 2, 2022
Local reporters spoke to parents of two of the kids who were there and they were also outraged by it (notably more so than the students). This first student did remove his mask in the clip above and has now become a meme:
It's cool to be present at the birth of a meme. pic.twitter.com/F0TpwfpcHS
— AmishDude (@TheAmishDude) March 2, 2022
After a long pause, he told a reporter he felt “a little” pressure to remove his mask but his mother said DeSantis was “putting us at risk” though she wasn’t wearing a mask when talking to the reporter. [top clip] Another parent, whose child did not remove his mask, said DeSantis crossed a line by encouraging the kids to remove their masks. [bottom clip]
"I would tell (the governor) to stop bullying kids."
Kevin Brown says Gov. DeSantis had no right to tell his son and the other high school students to take off their masks.
— Justin Schecker (@WFLAJustin) March 3, 2022
It’s interesting that both of these parents sound a lot like the outraged parents in Virginia and elsewhere who have been upset with school boards promoting CRT and mask mandates in schools. Only in this case instead of objecting to mask mandates they’re objecting to official statements to remove masks (even though DeSantis statement wasn’t a mandate of any kind).
What’s really odd about this is that a series of Democratic governors have already ended mask mandates, including in schools. Here in California the mandates are set to end a week from Monday. Granted, there are still a few holdout cities where powerful teacher’s unions are demanding students remain masked (Chicago, San Francisco) but for the most part this debate is over.
DeSantis’ press secretary made that point in response to Rachael Bade, i.e. didn’t the State of the Union in which a bunch of octogenarians gathered in a packed room sans masks demonstrate it’s time to let this go?
The octogenarians at SOTU last night all have “pre existing conditions” and are way higher risk. Why didn’t you call them out for going mask free?
— Christina Pushaw 🇺🇸 (@ChristinaPushaw) March 2, 2022
Today, Gov. DeSantis doubled down, sending out a fund-raising email referencing the controversy. His email made the same point about making at the SOTU which Pushaw made yesterday.
In a Thursday campaign email attempting to spur donations “before the truth is silenced,” DeSantis blasted the “corrupt and biased legacy media” for chastising him over his claims that “masks are political theater.”…
“While in Tampa, I told a group of students masks were ridiculous, and they didn’t have to wear them if they didn’t want to,” the email reads. “Predictably, the leftist propagandists in our media had a meltdown and called me a ‘bully’ for allowing children to breathe fresh air.”…
“Let’s not forget that just 36 hours ago, Joe Biden and the radical Democrat hypocrites were parading around the Capitol without masks, and without so much as a peep from the corporate press, but suddenly permitting children to unmask is ‘unacceptable,’” the campaign email reads.
DeSantis even posted this video on Twitter highlighting the mask hypocrisy.
The political science show cannot go on.
It’s curtain call for COVID theater. pic.twitter.com/CoUIC6NX83
— Ron DeSantis (@RonDeSantisFL) March 3, 2022
Nikki Fried, who is running for Governor against DeSantis, is also fundraising off this incident. I’m sure she’ll get a few donations but I think the window is closing quickly on that. In another couple weeks continuing the outrage over unmasked kids is going to be a pretty fringe position.