Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has ruled himself control over Walt Disney World’s self-governing district. The takeover effectively disciplines the company for opposing his “Don’t Say Gay” law.

Bad words

“Gay” is not the only word DeSantis frowns on. “Diversity” is a biggie on his no-no list. So, it was a historic inevitability that he would get around to banning an art show titled “Embracing Our Differences.”

DeSantis’ war on “wokeness,” which he calls a “vicious ideology,” canceled the exhibit at the State College of Florida. But “Embracing Our Differences” is a 20-year-old art project launched in 2003 to promote “kindness,” says Sarah Wertheimer, the executive director of the exhibit.

Wertheimer told Art News that DeSantis also censors the word “justice” and “equality,” which are used in the show. “But promoting those values is literally the goal of our organization,” Wertheimer said.

One wonders if DeSantis has seen the show he banned. One example includes an image of the Statue of Liberty and a figure wearing a T-shirt with the words “Justice.” Where’s the ‘vicious ideology” in that? Isn’t “Embracing Our Differences” like asking, “Why can’t we all get along?”

DeSantis blacklisting art brings to mind historian Henry Grosshans’ 1985 book “Hitler and the Artists.” The Führer disliked all art that came after the 19th-century, calling it “decadent without any merit.” He believed in the “power of classical art” as a way to infuse the “Aryan spirit” in the hearts of the German people.

Hobgoblins in art are an old story. Remember in the 1990s when the Supreme Court agreed to consider reinstating a law requiring the National Endowment for the Arts to consider decency when handing out public money?

A 1990 law required that the NEA "take into consideration general standards of decency and respect for the diverse beliefs and values of the American public.'' But the National Association of Artists' Organizations successfully challenged the law in court.

A federal judge in Los Angeles ruled the law unconstitutional, saying it violated artists' free-speech rights. In 1996, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, saying the law would wrongly allow the government to discriminate based on the content of an artist's work. “Government funding does not invariably justify government control of the content of speech,” the appeals court said.

Does DeSantis know this decision?

If an art-decency standard is coming back, can a government list of De DeSantis’s bugaboos be far behind? And how far would it go? Would we have to give Lady Liberty back to France? After all, the statue welcomes “the masses yearning to breathe free,” which sounds like wokeness, don’t you think?

DeSantis’ idea of acceptable art goes further than Hitler, who said: “The artist does not create for himself. He creates for the people, and we will see to it henceforth that the people will be called in to judge it art.”

No, not the people if DeSantis has his way. Just him – Florida’s Führer.