Saturday, July 08, 2006

Miami Book Banning -- Of Course Politics Behind It

On the surface the book banning of Vamos a Cuba, the kiddie book, has done nothing but provide us a text-book case of unconstitutional censorship, given the ACLU a slam dunk case, and provided Castro's propaganda machine with an excuse to trash anti-Castro opponents.

But, behind the scenes, there is a local poll who is making off like a bandit with the fuss. Frank Bolaños from the Miami-Dade School Board is the loudest and most uncompromising pusher of this loser issue. He has used TV, radio and print media as a bully pulpit to present the issue in a way that it resonates powerfully within the Cuban exile community.

Turns out that Bolaños wants to be State Senator, and is running against incumbent Republican State Senator Alex Villalobos in the Republican primaries. Normally running against the incumbent in the primaries is suicide. But, Villalobos apparently angered Governor Jeb (Bush), and some Republicans want him out, as this entry by Matthew Pinzur, a Miami Herald reporter details. But still, besides being an incumbent, Villalobos has a sizeable war chest and keeps solid backing from some within the Cuban-American community. Seems there is somewhat of a civil war going on among Republicans in Miami. And guess what? Frankie really doesn't have much to talk about in order to sell himself to voters. Senator Villalobos main beef with other Republicans is over such non-sexy issues as tort reform and school size, not exactly what will get our man Frankie in the headlines.

So Bolaños makes a big brouhaha about the book to pimp himself for the election, this way he gets press, doesn't deal directly with Villalobos, and gets to claim he is "tougher on Castro." The school district did not want to remove the dumb book because it had been advised by counsel that it was unconstitutional, but Bolaños kept on pressing the issue, apparently to the point of ordering the book be removed with the Court case pending, the kind of stuff that makes Judges mad - and gets more press. So Frankie collects headlines and sound-bites, while the School district, the ACLU, and the Judge all become villians in Frankie B.'s passion play. And lo and behold this great defender of liberty finds a great fundraising issue and plenty of support to try to unseat the incumbent.

What a cynical charade. People forget that this started when a poor father, who had spent years rotting in one of Castro's dungeons, saw his daughter with the book and felt it was offensive. Can't fault his feelings on the issue, but the constitution and our laws protect even offensive speech. Bolaños is a cynic who has used this issue almost since day one, taking advantage of the students fathers and parts of the communities pain, to make headlines and sell his own candidacy, knowing full well that it was a losing issue. Some people are complaining that the ACLU is getting taxpayers money from this suit. They should be more concerned that the taxpayers are paying for what amounts to Frankie B.'s election fund.