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A new South Dakota policy forbids the use of gender pronouns and tribal affiliations by public university faculty and staff in official correspondence.

Two University of South Dakota faculty members, Megan Red Shirt-Shaw and her husband, John Little, have long included their gender pronouns and tribal affiliations in their work email signature blocks. Both received written warnings from the university in March that doing so violated a policy adopted in December by the South Dakota Board of Regents.

That policy came only months after Republican Governor Kristi Noem – famed puppy killer and politician who lied about facing down a North Korean dictator – sent a letter to the regents that railed against “liberal ideologies” on college campuses to “remove all references to preferred pronouns in school materials,” among other things.

So they did.

Two thousand miles south, in Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis has declared it “Freedom Summer” and is only allowing bridges to be illuminated in red, white, and blue colors.

The order—which Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Jared Perdue recently shared on social media—means that bridges across the state that normally illuminate in colorful arrays of light to mark holidays or awareness events won’t be able to use any other colors from May 27 through Sept. 2.

The order prevents cities from expressing support during Gay Pride month with rainbow colors, which was the whole point of the “Freedom Summer” declaration:

No more public displays of support for things that DeSantis and his goons oppose.

The Ringling Causeway Bridge over Sarasota Bay, for example,  usually lights up in rainbow colors for a week in June. During the summer, other causes are also marked, such as orange for National Gun Awareness Month and yellow for Women’s Equality Day.

Not anymore.

“As Floridians prepare for Freedom Summer, Florida’s bridges will follow suit, illuminating in red, white, and blue from Memorial Day through Labor Day!” Perdue announced. “Thanks to the leadership of Gov. Ron DeSantis, Florida continues to be the freest state in the nation.”

It’s possible that Perdue doesn’t even see the hypocrisy in declaring a place “the freest state in the nation” by limiting freedom of expression.

He might be just stupid enough not to see the ridiculousness of his statement.

Three things about these policies:

  1. A political party once very interested in personal freedom and abhorred government interference in personal lives has limited American’s freedom of speech – not because that speech is dangerous to public safety – but because they are frightened snowflakes, ignoramuses, and bigots.
  2. Though the former remains true, this is also vile political theater designed to score points in a culture war at the expense of human dignity and personal liberty.
  3. It’s hateful. Truly hateful.

Just imagine:

South Dakota politicians have outlawed the use of gender pronouns and tribal affiliation in official emails as if including such things in correspondence might somehow harm the people receiving those emails.

And Florida politicians have prevented cities from expressing support for members of the LGBTQ community because doing so might make people gay? Or offend heterosexual sensibilities?

It’s stupid and cruel and probably disingenuous, but mostly, it’s hateful. A cruel piece of political theater that thoroughly exposes the depravity of these people who trade hate for power.