A Florida official has told staff to ignore Gov. Ron DeSantis' order to fly flags at half-staff for Rush Limbaugh because they must not 'celebrate hate speech'

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Thomas Colson
·3 min read
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DeSantis, Limbaugh
Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida announced Friday that flags would be flown at half-staff to honor the radio host Rush Limbaugh, who died last week. Joe Raedle/Getty Images, Jim WATSON/AFP
  • A Florida official told her staff to ignore orders to fly flags at half-staff for Rush Limbaugh.

  • Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered flags to be flown at half-staff to honor the polarizing radio host.

  • Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried refused, saying the state must not "celebrate hate speech."

  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

A Florida official has instructed her staff to ignore instructions from Gov. Ron DeSantis to fly flags in the state at half-staff to honor the conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, saying that doing so would "celebrate hate speech."

"Lowering to half-staff the flag of the United States of America is a sacred honor that pays respect to fallen heroes and patriots," Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a Democrat, said in a statement Monday.

"It is not a partisan political tool. Therefore, I will notify all state offices under my direction to disregard the Governor's forthcoming order to lower flags for Mr. Limbaugh - because we will not celebrate hate speech, bigotry, and division," she said.

Fried's instructions apply only to state offices under her purview. The Florida Department of Agriculture oversees dozens of buildings, including regional offices, forests, and agricultural-inspection stations.

Democrats had criticized DeSantis, a Republican, after he announced Friday that flags in Florida would be flown at half-staff to remember Limbaugh, who died with lung cancer last week at the age of 70.

"What we do when there's things of this magnitude, once the date of interment for Rush is announced, we're going to be lowering the flags to half-staff," DeSantis said at a rally last week, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

Limbaugh was influential in shaping the identity of the modern Republican Party but was widely criticized for his extensive record of sexist, racist, and homophobic comments.

"Lowering the flag of the United States is a high honor reserved for those who have honorably and bravely served our state and our nation," said Gary Farmer, a Florida state senator, in a statement responding to DeSantis' announcement.

"Unfortunately, Gov. DeSantis has now transformed this distinction into a partisan political tool to salute a man who served no other interests than his own and did his best to deeply divide a country along political fault lines."

Florida's state protocol says flags should be flown at half-staff on certain holidays, if prominent state officials die, or if members of the Armed Forces, police officers, or firefighters from Florida die while on active duty.

The Tampa Bay Times reported that DeSantis had recently flown flags at half-staff when Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in September and after the January 6 riot at the US Capitol.

Read the original article on Business Insider