COLUMNISTS

Will Florida be consumed by wokeness now that DeSantis' Stop WOKE Act has been blocked?

One can imagine the tragic news reports: A 52-year-old Osceola County man passed out after hearing a group of woke social justice warriors discuss the gender pay gap in his company’s break room.

Rex Huppke
USA TODAY

Republican politicians like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis proudly tout their crusade against the word "woke" and all things associated with "wokeness."

But what does "woke" mean? For those who have yet to face the existential threat of woke-itude, there are two definitions.

If you believe in dictionaries, Merriam-Webster defines “woke” as “aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice).”

If you believe dictionaries are a Marxist tool and you support politicians like DeSantis, “woke” means, “Uhh, something? Probably the worst thing imaginable. Definitely a thing that must be stopped.”

A divisive slang word is "woke," which means to be alert to social justice.

Making people think about things sounds ouchie

For example, say I’m a white guy – which I am – who has to go to a mandatory diversity training session at my job. In that session, I’m informed that sexism and gender discrimination are real and that America’s long history of racism continues to negatively impact Black people.

If I have to view the world through a lens other than my own, there’s a chance I’ll start to think about things differently or have feelings.

How is that fair? 

Ideological mobs have us running scared. Time to stand up for ourselves.

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Don't worry, DeSantis is on the case

In Florida, DeSantis is fighting the good fight against whatever the word "woke" means. He recently signed a not-at-all-ridiculous-sounding law, the Stop WOKE Act. But before all wokeness could be stopped, a federal judge leaned on the First Amendment – the woke-ist part of the U.S. Constitution – to block the state from enforcing part of the law. 

Can you believe that? Now wokeness is raging unabated throughout the great state of Florida, probably.

Don't make nonmarginalized people like me feel bad

The judge wrote that the law, which bars companies and schools from teaching diversity or history in a way that might unfairly make nonmarginalized people like me feel uncomfortable, violates the First Amendment and includes “a naked viewpoint-based regulation on speech.”

Really Florida? A 16-year-old is mature enough to have a baby but not an abortion?

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis

That’s ridiculous. Yes, the law attempts to regulate other points of view in workplaces or schools, but there’s no need to bring the word “naked” into the discussion. That sounds like wokeism.

The First Amendment turned 'upside down'

In his ruling blocking Florida from enforcing the Stop WOKE Act as it applies to companies, U.S. District Court Judge Mark E. Walker wrote that Florida had turned “the First Amendment upside down” and is attempting to win an argument “by muzzling its opponents.”

That seems totally unreasonable. All the law is trying to do is bar discussions of racism or sexism that might make white dudes like me feel “guilt, anguish, or other forms of psychological distress.” Haven’t we not suffered enough?

The Churchill of the war on woke

The good news is this legal setback isn’t stopping DeSantis. He made his belief in the war on woke abundantly clear at a speech on Saturday: “We must fight the woke in our schools. We must fight the woke in our businesses. We must fight the woke in government agencies. We can never, ever surrender to woke ideology.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Feb. 24, 2022, in Orlando.

It was like the governor and possible GOP presidential candidate was channeling Winston Churchill, if Churchill had the charisma of a lightly buzzed mortician and was only worried that the Nazis might reach England’s shores and teach British children that racism is a thing that exists.

Imagine the random acts of wokeness to come in Florida

My fear, and I’m sure the fear facing many Floridians right now, is that while the Stop WOKE Act is halted, dangerous acts of wokeness will break out across the state.

One can imagine the tragic news reports in the coming weeks:

►A 52-year-old Osceola County man was listed in good condition Thursday after he passed out from hearing a group of woke-wielding social justice warriors discuss the gender pay gap in his company’s break room.

►A white, 15-year-old Cocoa Beach High School student was diagnosed with "acute wokeness-instigated nausea" Tuesday following a history class in which the teacher suggested racism in America did not end when slavery was abolished.

Protesters rally against critical race theory in Leesburg, Va., on June 12, 2021.

►Following a mandatory workplace training seminar on inclusivity, a 43-year-old woman from Kissimmee collapsed upon learning that gay people are real and was rushed to the nearest Emergency Wokeness Exposure Center, where she was revived by old episodes of Pat Robertson’s "The 700 Club."

That’s the kind of dystopian world woke ideologues want us to live in, one where “understanding” others is “good,” and where people who “cannot remember the past” are “doomed to repeat it.”

There will be no thinking on my watch

NO THANK YOU!

It’s time to open your eyes and wake up to wokeness, people. This is war. And the first step toward victory comes by closing your eyes and not being awake.

More satire and humor columns from Rex Huppke:

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Follow USA TODAY columnist Rex Huppke on Twitter @RexHuppke and Facebook: facebook.com/RexIsAJerk