Let Her Speak | Crooked Media
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April 26, 2023
What A Day
Let Her Speak

In This Episode

  • Montana Republicans voted to censure Democratic Rep. Zooey Zephyr, the first openly transgender person to be elected to the state’s legislature. The vote comes after Rep. Zephyr last week said supporters of a proposed ban on gender-affirming care for young people would have “blood on their hands.”
  • And in Florida, Disney sued Governor Ron DeSantis for revoking the company’s long-standing control over its Disney World Resort. The suit claims DeSantis engaged in “a targeted campaign of government retaliation” after Disney publicly denounced Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill last year.
  • And in headlines: House Republicans narrowly passed a bill to raise the debt ceiling and cut government spending, Sudanese civilians are scrambling to escape the ongoing violence in that country, and hundreds of Freddie Mercury’s personal items are going up for auction this summer.


Show Notes:



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Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Thursday, April 27th. I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And I’m Josie Duffy Rice. And this is What A Day where just when we needed it most. And Just Like That dropped it’s season two trailer. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Will it be good? Surely not. Will we watch it anyways? You betcha. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Che Diaz? Haven’t heard that name in years. 


Tre’vell Anderson: [laugh] Probably for the best. [music break] On today’s show, House Republicans narrowly passed a bill to raise the debt ceiling. Plus, if you have some spare cash laying around, now’s your chance to try to buy Freddie Mercury’s mustache comb. 


Josie Duffy Rice: But first, on Wednesday, Disney sued Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in federal court, claiming that the governor and the five member board that oversees Disney World had engaged in a, quote, “targeted campaign of government retaliation.” It was an escalation in the conflict between DeSantis and Disney, which is largely over Disney World and the surrounding area where the company has self-governing powers. 


Tre’vell Anderson: We’ve been following this kind of, you know, tit for tat situation with Disney and DeSantis for a little bit. But for those who don’t remember. Let’s rewind a little bit. How exactly did we get here? 


Josie Duffy Rice: I think it all begins with Ron DeSantis being the pettiest person on the planet, [laughter] is my current operating theory. It’s been a long and arduous journey. It has somehow resulted in me rooting for the corporate behemoth that is the Walt Disney Company. And it all started about a year ago, last March after DeSantis signed into law the Don’t Say Gay bill, which we talked about a lot on the show, explicitly anti-LGBTQ law that restricted schools from discussing sexual orientation and gender identity. For weeks after DeSantis signed the bill. Disney actually stayed pretty quiet. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. 


Josie Duffy Rice: But eventually, after, you know, their employees and the community spoke out, they also spoke out against the bill. Right. Stating that, quote, “Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down by the courts.” So after that, as everyone can imagine, DeSantis handled it great, like a real adult. 


Tre’vell Anderson: He definitely did, right. He immediately sent out a fundraising email saying, quote, “If Disney wants to pick a fight, they chose the wrong guy.” You know, very big chested of a comment there. You know, very bold of him. 


Josie Duffy Rice: About Disney World by the way. [laughter] We’re talking about Disney World. 


Tre’vell Anderson: [laughing] Okay. So that was a year ago. What has happened since then? You know, other than Ron DeSantis referring to the company almost exclusively as woke Disney. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. Which, by the way, is like not a good nickname. It’s just saying woke before the company. It’s not smart. [laughter] He’s basically spent the last year doing whatever he kind of can to strip Disney of its self-governing powers, which it’s had for like 50 years. So Disney basically controls the area immediately surrounding Disney World. And Ron DeSantis is basically trying to stop that. In February, he signed legislation that allowed the state to take control of that area that Disney currently runs. And instead he handed control over to a, quote, “tourism oversight board” that DeSantis hand-picked. Unfortunately for the governor, the area’s outgoing leadership at the time signed a development deal that reduced Desantis’s ability to take over the area by giving Disney and I quote, “authority until at least 21 years past the death of the last surviving descendant of Britain’s King Charles, the third.” You may be wondering why would they do that? And it is because of the dumbest legal principle on Earth called the rule of perpetuities. It has been around for a gazillion years, and for some reason it still comes up apparently once every I don’t know how many years because haven’t heard it since law school. 


Tre’vell Anderson: [laughing] It’s also really interesting the whole like Britain’s King Charles the third like how he get into this?


Josie Duffy Rice: He’s like why am I in it? 


Tre’vell Anderson: Very that. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 


Tre’vell Anderson: So obviously, I’m sure DeSantis wasn’t happy about that. 


Josie Duffy Rice: He was not happy. He was not expecting it and has basically been pushing back since. And so on Wednesday, he and his hand-picked board voted to invalidate that agreement, the 21 years King Charles, King William King whatever, Arthur Louis, they voted to invalidate that agreement. And within minutes, Disney filed their lawsuit, claiming, among other things, that DeSantis has violated their First Amendment rights. And this lawsuit does not mince words. It says, quote, “This government action was patently retaliatory, patently anti-business and patently unconstitutional.” But the governor and his allies have made clear they do not care and will not stop. It also stated that, quote, “Disney now is forced to defend itself against a state weaponizing its power to inflict political punishment.” 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, I’ll just repeat that thing you mentioned earlier about us now rooting for the House of Mouse. Who would have thunk it? [laughing]


Josie Duffy Rice: I certainly would have. My whole paycheck goes to their toys, and I’m furious that I’m now rooting for them. 


Tre’vell Anderson: [laughing] Okay, so now what? What happens after this point? 


Josie Duffy Rice: So now a district judge will hear the case, though. I suspect this will not be the end of it. This will certainly be appealed and maybe even go to the Supreme Court. But for now, DeSantis has kind of an uphill battle because this case is going to U.S. District Judge Mark Walker in Tallahassee, Florida, who was appointed by Obama and has already struck down some of Desantis’s political stunts in the past. He even called some of his legislation, quote, “positively dystopian,” it’s going to be a tough one. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. 


Josie Duffy Rice: I do want to say that the Disney deal is weird. It is weird that Disney, like, has a deal with the state where they get to just run a city. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me structurally. However, DeSantis has managed to find the most depraved, horrific, immoral reason to push back. And so, once again, here I am, standing arm in arm with Mickey Mouse I guess. [laughter] Life comes at you very fast. 


Tre’vell Anderson: I think I love or hate that for us. Not really sure. In other anti-LGBTQ news. 


[clip of protestors in Montanta advocating for Zooey Zephyr] Let her speak! Let her speak! Let her speak! 


Tre’vell Anderson: That is the sound of Montanans earlier this week demanding that the Republican leadership of the state’s House of Representatives allow Democratic Representative Zooey Zephyr to speak. She’s been effectively silenced. And just yesterday, the House decided to, you know, formally show their ass, voting to censure her for the duration of their session. As we mentioned on the show, Zooey became the first openly transgender person to be elected to Montana state legislature last year. But she has been blocked from speaking during the House’s current session since last week, when she rightfully told her colleagues who are supporting a bill to ban gender affirming care for young people that they would have, quote, “blood on their hands.” I’ll remind everyone under the sound of my voice that the health care that some trans people require is not only supported by literally every major medical association, but it is also lifesaving. But of course, Republicans don’t care about any of that. And those in Montana’s House of Representatives accused Zooey of violating decorum and using accusatory language. And because she refused to apologize, they’ve voted to punish her. Here is Zooey speaking from the chamber floor yesterday. 


[clip of Zooey Zephyr] I have had friends who have taken their lives because of these bills. I have fielded calls from families in Montana, including one family whose trans teenager attempted to take her life while watching a hearing on one of the anti-trans bills. And in that hearing, our caucus pleaded with the Republican chair of the Judiciary Committee to not allow certain testimony to keep decorum. And we were told a lot of people have a lot of opinions on these things. So when I rose up and said there is blood on your hands, I was not being hyperbolic. I was speaking to the real consequences of the votes that we as legislators take in this body. And when the speaker asks me to apologize on behalf of decorum, what he is really asking me to do is be silent when my community is facing bills that get us killed. He’s asking me to be complicit in this legislature’s eradication of our community, and I refuse to do so. And I will always refuse to do so. 


Josie Duffy Rice: So just tell us a little bit about what this vote means. 


Tre’vell Anderson: So the Montana House voted 68 to 32 to censure Zooey, which means she is banned from attending or speaking during floor sessions. She will be allowed to vote on measures, but only remotely, and this will last through the end of the current session, which is May 5th. But you know, what’s particularly insidious about this is that you know while they are literally silencing Zooey, they are also passing bills to harm trans people and queer folks in the state. Not only did the bill that led to Zooey being silenced pass, but so did one that legally defines sex in binary terms based on if a person produces eggs or sperm. There was also an amendment to an online privacy bill that prohibits the distribution of drag shows online and an education bill that would get this require written consent from parents for a child’s preferred names or pronouns to be used in the classroom. But it does not also require those teachers to use said preferred name and pronouns. Even if consent is given. It really doesn’t make any sense. And we’ve been saying that trans and queer people nationwide are experiencing a legislative assault, and this is yet another example of that. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. And re-emphasizing what you said, like Zooey has been told at this point, she can’t talk. She just has to sit there silently as they pass bill after bill after bill. I mean, it reminds me of what happened just a couple of weeks ago in Tennessee with the Justin’s. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, right. Those racist Republicans in Tennessee’s House voted to expel state representatives Justin Jones and Justin Pearson about three weeks ago for using a megaphone on the chamber floor during a gun reform protest. Though both of them have been reinstated. I think it’s safe to say, right, that we’re seeing a pattern of behavior in Republican controlled state legislatures where if they don’t agree with somebody or if they don’t like how someone attempts to hold them to account, they’re going to do what they can to silence and or remove them. As another example, we should mention that the same silencing also happened to Oklahoma Representative Mauree Turner, who we’ve had on the show before. Mauree is the first and only out nonbinary lawmaker in that state and Oklahoma Republicans overwhelmingly voted last month to censure and strip them of all of their committee assignments. Basically, there was a bill passed that bans health care for young trans people and limited or prevents health insurance plans from covering such health care at any age, which effectively is, you know, a ban on trans health care for adults. In outrage a trans person threw water on a Republican lawmaker and resisted being detained by an officer. Republicans say Mauree allowed that person to hide in their office, which they say impeded a law enforcement investigation because Mauree was, quote, “harboring a fugitive,” which, you know, give me a fucking break. That’s not what Mauree was doing. That’s not harboring a fugitive, like, let’s be serious. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Like, have these people ever see a movie? 


Tre’vell Anderson: Apparently not. But, you know, Mauree was given two options to either apologize to law enforcement or be censured. And they said, quote, “I think an apology for loving the people of Oklahoma is something that I cannot do. I will never apologize for showing up fully and freely as myself. I will never apologize for allowing the people of Oklahoma to show up fully and freely as themselves, because that is the work that they elected me to do.” 


Josie Duffy Rice: It’s infuriating. 


Tre’vell Anderson: No, it absolutely is. And, you know, before we wrap, I definitely want to say that, you know, as a trans person, as a Black person, as, you know, someone who is, you know, a marginally engaged citizen, I especially am so fucking tired. Right? These people are not only saying the quiet part out loud now, but it is legitimately a coordinated effort. And if you don’t see how these anti-trans efforts are connected to the anti-Black ones, which are connected to the anti-immigrant ones, which are connected to the anti bodily autonomy ones, you’re really just not paying attention. You know, I know they accuse all of us of being woke and what not. Right. But it’s definitely time to wake up and see kind of the concerted effort that’s happening here. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Absolutely. 


Tre’vell Anderson: More on all of this very soon because they won’t leave us alone. But that is the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break] 




Josie Duffy Rice: Let’s wrap up with some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Josie Duffy Rice: House Republicans yesterday narrowly passed a bill that would raise the national debt ceiling by $1.5 trillion dollars for about a year. The legislation was approved in a very close 217 to 215 vote, largely along party lines and as expected, with more strings attached than Snoopy at the Macy’s Day Parade. As we’ve discussed on the show before, the bill, led by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, also calls for big spending cuts and policy changes. It would require stricter work requirements for Medicaid and food stamp recipients, block student loan forgiveness, cut various climate change measures and more. All bad ideas one after another. But here is the good news. The bill actually doesn’t really stand a chance of becoming law. And that is because President Biden has already threatened to veto it should it make its way to his desk. And it’s unlikely to pass the Democratic led Senate anyway. So Republicans see this vote as a strategic victory to push President Biden back to negotiation talks over the debt ceiling. But meanwhile, as House lawmakers discussed the legislation yesterday, Biden told reporters, quote, “I’m happy to meet with McCarthy, but not on whether or not the debt limit gets extended. That is not negotiable.” 


Tre’vell Anderson: Now for an update from Sudan, where two rival Sudanese commanders have been battling since April 15th, which has left over 500 people dead and 4200 wounded. Fighting in the nation’s capital of Khartoum reportedly continued yesterday despite a three day truce announced by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken earlier this week. Though there are indications the ceasefire could be extended. And while foreign governments have evacuated their diplomats and citizens from the area, Sudanese civilians are searching for ways to escape the violence themselves. According to witnesses in the city, many residents who’ve been trapped indoors took advantage of the lull in fighting yesterday to find food and water lining up outside of grocery stores and bakeries. Others decided to join the tens of thousands of people who have chosen to flee Khartoum. Some have made the harrowing journey through the desert to the Egyptian border or to the city of Port Sudan on the Red Sea coast in an effort to leave the country altogether. The UN’s refugee agency says it is anticipating a, quote, “large scale refugee crisis in Sudan because of the fighting.” 


Josie Duffy Rice: Lawyers representing Adnan Syed, the subject of the popular Serial podcast, filed a motion on Wednesday asking for a Maryland court to reconsider its decision to reinstate his murder conviction. You may remember that Baltimore prosecutors vacated Syed’s conviction last year after discovering new evidence in this case. He was freed from prison after spending 23 years behind bars for the murder of Hae Min Lee, his former high school girlfriend. But last month, an appeals court reinstated Syed’s conviction because Young Lee, Hae Min Lee’s brother, wasn’t given enough notice to attend the hearing that granted Syed his freedom in person, though he did attend on Zoom. The court argued that this violated the Lee family’s rights. But Syed’s lawyers argued in yesterday’s motion that Young Lee’s physical presence wouldn’t have made a difference during the hearing that overturned their client’s conviction, and that by siding with the Lee family and their decision, the court was awarding them, quote unquote, “special treatment not even available to criminal defendants.” Syed is currently still free, but his supporters worry that he could be taken back into custody depending on how the case plays out. I do want to say I’ve never seen this happen. Never. I’ve never seen someone’s murder conviction be reinstated. It’s really quite nuts. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Super odd because–


Josie Duffy Rice: Odd. 


Tre’vell Anderson: –he was there virtually. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Right. What would his physical presence change? Turns out when they’re not busy being flagrantly shady individuals, the Supreme Court justices have also been hearing cases. The Supreme Court on Wednesday seemed poised to side with a 94 year old woman who is suing a Minnesota county for selling her condo and pocketing all the profit just because she forgot to pay a small property tax bill. The case dates back to 2015, when Geraldine Tyler lived in Hennepin County. At the time, she owed the county $2,300 in property taxes plus interest. So to settle the debt, the county seized her one bedroom apartment and sold it for $40,000, a.k.a. much more than what Tyler owed. And Tyler never saw a single cent because Minnesota is one of few states that allows counties to pocket the extra cash in sales like these. Tyler argues that Hennepin County violated her Fifth Amendment rights by taking her private property without just compensation. And she also argues that allowing the county to keep the excess money violates her Eighth Amendment rights by subjecting her to excessive fines. If the high Court sides with her on the Fifth Amendment issue, it will not have to make a decision on the Eighth Amendment claim. Either way, a decision in the case is expected in late June. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Priceless paintings, a replica of Royal Crown and a Tiffany mustache comb are just a few of the hundreds of items going up for auction later this summer in a massive exhibition of personal goods collected by legendary Queen frontman Freddie Mercury. When Mercury died from AIDS related complications in 1991 at the age of 45, he left his London home and its contents to his close friend Mary Austin, who helped care for the singer in his final weeks. Now, decades later, Austin is offering Mercury’s stuff for sale. Around 1500 items will be up for the highest bidder, among them, including handwritten drafts of his songs We Are the Champions and Killer Queen, monogrammed cocktail napkins and a vast array of his fabulous stage costumes. If you are not exactly making priceless Freddie Mercury memorabilia money but still want to see the collection, you’re in luck before the items settle back at Sotheby’s London showroom, where they’ll be auctioned off in early September. Public exhibitions will be held throughout June in Los Angeles, New York, and Hong Kong. 


Tre’vell Anderson: You know, I want to make some sort of joke or something about, you know, the people who might try to, you know, get something from this auction. But I can’t talk because I participated in a recent auction myself for Andre Leon Talley. So I will just sit here and mind my business. 


Josie Duffy Rice: I’m thrilled for your auction success. I have an auction that I want to experience in May for this random writer I like from the 1980s that I will probably be the only person there. And so I might be with you very soon. And those are the headlines. [music break]


Tre’vell Anderson: That’s all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review, find yourself somebody to love, and tell your friends to listen. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And if you’re into reading and not just all the ways Kevin McCarthy would sell his soul to pass a single bill like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Josie Duffy Rice. 


Tre’vell Anderson: I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 


[spoken] And where is Samantha? 


Josie Duffy Rice: That I know about. 


Tre’vell Anderson: You know where she is? 


Josie Duffy Rice: No, I just know that she’s not where she should be. 


Tre’vell Anderson: [laughing] Good answer. 


Josie Duffy Rice: You know what I mean? 


Tre’vell Anderson: Good answer. [laughing] [music break] What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lantz. Our show’s producer is Itxy Quintanilla and Raven Yamamoto is our associate producer. Jocey Coffman is our head writer, and our senior producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.