Florida schools have now decreed that nothing from Shakespeare can be taught, if it’s sexual in nature.
I’ve got news for you, Ronnie. All of Shakespeare is sexual in nature. In fact, pretty much all of life is, too.
Think of Verona, Italy - the setting of Romeo and Juliet - as a microcosm of Florida. Adults make all the bad decisions: two groups live to fight each other, the prince decrees death to those who don’t follow his rigid laws, a priest gives bad advice to teens. Romeo and Juliet are simply trying to survive and grow up in this not-very-conducive environment. Kind of like teenagers in your state.
The good news for you, Ronnie, is that Romeo and Juliet get married before sex. But sex it is, and without teaching that part of the play, the rest makes little sense.
And if students are lucky enough to have a Shakespeare-loving teacher who attempts to teach the comedies, high school students might run into A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Fairy dust and lust is probably banned in Florida these days, but nothing says classic better than the bard’s wit and a list of mixed-up characters.
In fact, I took a group of high-schoolers to The Royal Shakespeare Theater in Stratford to see this play, and to my knowledge they all grew up to be fine, productive citizens. But that was back in 1979, when Republicans ran on a platform of staying out of constituents’ bedrooms.
But no senior gets out of high school without bumping into the gender-switching roles of the Macbeths. Lady Macbeth prays to be unsexed so she can do manly deeds (that’s got to get your anti-trans blood boiling, Ronnie), while many lines from the play depict Macbeth as womanish. And all of this tension is broken by the bawdy lines of the Porter and his claims that excessive drinking leads to - here it comes- sex and lust. Without these parts of the play, it simply doesn’t work.
But I have another thought for you, Ronnie. High school is all about sex, too. Flirting, teasing, petting, and yes, sex, all take place within and without the walls of secondary education, and that will continue whether you remove Shakespeare or not. Because that’s part of growing up, and now you say even the Bard can’t lend a helping hand or a meaningful discussion for teenagers struggling to find out who they are. Banning the mention of sex makes it forbidden, which makes it that much more tempting. And high schools are chock full of teens just waiting to explore, whether you guide them or not.
But the real irony is that you and your sycophants, Ronnie, are the most obsessed with sex creatures in the country, even compared to banned writers and the Bard himself. Your “Don’t Say Gay” bills, preoccupation with bathrooms and pronouns, and ban on abortions show not only an ignorance about the world you live in, but a fear of what you don’t understand. And they all revolve around sex, even though you don’t want the children in your state to know it exists.
And Ronnie, we’ve noticed that you’ve been roaming the country in a sleeveless fleece vest, in the middle of summer. Hard to see much difference between your plan for Florida and what will happen in Virginian if our General Assembly goes red. Our state could be the next to ban Shakespeare, AP courses, and anything else that smacks of - shhhh…. sex …
Yup, birds do it, bees do it. And Ronnie, so do humans.
So wake up and smell Juliet’s rose.