Author

Diane Roberts

Diane Roberts

Diane Roberts is an 8th-generation Floridian, born and bred in Tallahassee, which probably explains her unhealthy fascination with Florida politics. Educated at Florida State University and Oxford University in England, she has been writing for newspapers since 1983, when she began producing columns on the legislature for the Florida Flambeau. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Times of London, the Guardian, the Washington Post, the Oxford American, and Flamingo. She has been a member of the Editorial Board of the St. Petersburg Times–back when that was the Tampa Bay Times’s name–and a long-time columnist for the paper in both its iterations. She was a commentator on NPR for 22 years and continues to contribute radio essays and opinion pieces to the BBC. Roberts is also the author of four books, most recently Dream State, an historical memoir of her Florida family, and Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America. She lives in Tallahassee, except for the times she runs off to Great Britain, desperate for a different government to satirize.

COMMENTARY

Hellooooo: FL needs visionary leadership, not boneheadedness

By: - May 11, 2020

The writer (and biochemist) Isaac Asimov famously decried the “false notion,” all too common in America, “that democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.” This is practically the national creed, epitomized by the person who won’t wear a face mask because it infringes on his “freedoms;” or the anti-vaccination movement […]

COMMENTARY

Rick Scott, a man of no sympathy for “whiners who lost their little jobs” and try to access FL’s glitch-prone, crash-happy unemployment system

By: - April 29, 2020

Florida’s junior US senator is quite a guy–as he’d be the first to tell you. He’s worth over $250 million, and you’re not. Rick Scott has no sympathy for these grasping whiners who lost their little jobs in the coronavirus pandemic and now have the gall to expect a government hand-out. Who do they think […]

COMMENTARY

Talking to a screen is not the same as talking to human beings in a room; Going to class is a ritual, an event

By: - April 21, 2020

PLAGUE-RAVAGED TALLAHASSEE—I’m in the middle of talking to my senior literature students about Ralph Ellison’s great novel Invisible Man when the cat sticks his two-tone muzzle up to the tiny camera and scrubs his cheeks on the laptop lid. My students get a screen-full of feline face. The cat isn’t known for his scholarly dignity, […]

COMMENTARY

DeSantis will never do anything to offend Demented Daddy in DC

By: - April 6, 2020

One month after Florida got its first COVID-19 cases, two weeks after the governors of California and New York issued shelter-in-place orders, the governor of Florida finally shut the state down and told people to park their backsides at home and stay there. But don’t blame DeSantis: he had to wait till Demented Daddy in […]

COMMENTARY

Sheltering in place: ‘Anxiety Baking,’ the Complete Works of Henry James and a whole day with a can of Pledge

By: - March 25, 2020

Well, it’s been a quiet week in Tallahassee, Florida, my hometown, out here on the edge of the swamp. Except, of course, for a few ugly scenes in the toilet paper aisle of the Lake Ella Publix and that unseemly tussle over the last package of spinach and chive linguini left in Trader Joe’s. (Hey, […]

COMMENTARY

For real? U.S. Sen. Rick Scott got lousy reviews as FL governor — and now he wants to be president?

By: - March 16, 2020

Rick Scott really misses being governor of Florida. He misses the mansion; he misses tootling about in his private jet; he misses having the power to do cool stuff like deny voting rights to ex-felons, decree the phrase “climate change” verboten, and standing before the cameras, pretending to care about whatever lurid disaster has befallen […]

COMMENTARY

Florida Republicans remain doggedly clueless about higher education

By: - March 3, 2020

OCCUPIED TALLAHASSEE – Florida Republicans’ disdain for education is matched only by their ignorance of how education works. That doesn’t stop them from screwing around with curricula, micro-managing teachers, and undermining knowledge in their attempts to produce generation upon generation of pliant church-going consumer-cogs in the profit engine, unencumbered by critical thinking. The core education […]

COMMENTARY
Florida wetlands

No dang wetland should ever interfere with the pursuit of profit!

By: - February 24, 2020

OCCUPIED TALLAHASSEE — Stop worrying your pretty little head. The state of Florida knows what’s best for that ecosystem thingamajig, so sit back, relax, maybe have one of those craft beers the kids are so crazy about, and let the governor and the Legislature take care of the water. Our water. Your water. You will […]

COMMENTARY
House

Florida Republicans embrace the heavy-handed Big Government they once derided

By: - February 13, 2020

OCCUPIED TALLAHASSEE — While our reality show government lurches from atrocity to atrocity, here in the state capital, your imperial Legislature asserts more and more power over your life. I’m talking about preemption, the Legislature’s favorite laws, the ones overriding local governments when they differ, forbidding cities and counties to do things local people actually […]

COMMENTARY

Somebody’s lying here. Whoever could it be?

By: - January 30, 2020

The prime-time impeachment of Donald John Trump is the best television since that BBC interview when Prince Andrew went so far as to call his pal Jeffrey Epstein’s pedophile sex-trafficking “conduct unbecoming.” Maybe even better than the episode of Dancing with the Stars when Sean Spicer, dressed in a ruffled shirt the color of the […]

COMMENTARY

Uh oh. Gov. DeSantis forgot to mention stuff in his state-of-state speech, like affordable housing, Medicaid expansion, climate change

By: - January 16, 2020

OCCUPIED TALLAHASSEE — Some people around here just don’t appreciate the orgy of bright ideas, altruism and statesmanship that is the annual Florida legislative session. Unkind people have even likened the yearly arrival of lawmakers to dogs returning to a marked tree. Or a swarm of locusts, consuming all before it–in this case steak, oysters, […]

The climate crisis isn’t around the corner — it’s now. Look at California, look at Australia

By: - January 9, 2020

Australia is burning–16 million acres (so far)–the fire killing 25 people and nearly half a billion animals. So far. This is what the climate crisis looks like. Florida: pay attention. Australia’s own greenhouse gas emissions are small–with a population of 25 million, it’s not a whole lot bigger than Florida. But Australia is the world’s […]