When fascist Governor Ron DeSantis signed the Orwellian-sounding “Individual Freedom Act” — aka the “Stop Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees (WOKE) Act” — into law in April 2022, it was a foregone conclusion that his unconstitutional anti-free speech agenda would end up in court. It was also a foregone conclusion that it would be found to be an unconstitutional violation of free speech.
The first conclusion came to fruition in June 2022; the second was realized in August 2022 when a federal judge ruled that efforts under the Stop WOKE Act to constrain workplace sensitivity training violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
In his 44-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker in Tallahassee wrote at the time: “Florida’s legislators may well find plaintiffs’ speech ‘repugnant.’ But under our constitutional scheme, the ‘remedy’ for repugnant speech is more speech, not enforced silence. Indeed, it is the purpose of the First Amendment to preserve an uninhibited marketplace of ideas in which truth will ultimately prevail.” (Emphasis mine)
As is his right, DeSantis appealed this ruling with the 11th District Court of Appeals where he lost again (via New York Post):
A federal appeals court has ruled to keep in place a temporary block on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ “Stop Woke Act” limiting conversations surrounding race in schools and the workplace.
The DeSantis administration and state university system were seeking to lift the block until the appeals case concludes.
But on Thursday, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals denied the request — leaving a lower court ruling untouched that stopped the law from taking effect, according to a report by CNN.
“The court did not rule on the merits of our appeal,” DeSantis spokesman Bryan Griffin said in a statement. “The appeal is ongoing, and we remain confident that the law is constitutional.”
Despite the optimism expressed by Mr. Griffin, his boss has established a track record of unconstitutional attacks on free speech. In fact, it has been a key part of Ron DeSantis’ agenda ever since Steve Deace started praising him as a 2024 presidential candidate, calling him a man who “won’t back down to woke Hollywood.”
In February 2021, DeSantis took an early swing at free speech he proposed state legislation designed to crack down on Big Tech for their alleged bias against conservatives.
“What began as a group of upstart technology companies from the west coast, has since transformed into an industry of monopoly communications platforms that monitor, influence, and control the flow of information in our country and among our citizens,” DeSantis said from the Cabinet Meeting Room. He also ranted about how ‘Big Tech’ is becoming more like ‘Big Brother’ with “each passing day.”
Apparently, DeSantis is unfamiliar with George Orwell’s 1984 because “Big Brother” was the name given to describe tyrannical big government, not a free market business.
In May 2021, DeSantis signed the “Transparency in Technology Act” (TTA) into law, claiming that it “[protects] the speech of Floridians who face being removed from social-media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.” Conveniently left out of his comments about the law was the part mentioning the massive fines to be levied against social media companies if they removed political candidates from their platforms.
The TTA went down in defeat in July 2021 when a federal judge blocked it because it violated free speech rights.
I’m no fan of the “woke” agenda, but the First Amendment protects private individuals and entities from people like Ron DeSantis, a man literally engaged in an anti-free speech assault on liberty with laws like the “Stop WOKE Act.”
All of this confirms what many people have come to know about Ron DeSantis: he’s not a conservative in the traditional meaning of the word. Instead, he’s a Trump-inspired nationalist and fascist.
Nationalist conservatives believe traditional conservatism has paid too much attention to freedom and not enough to virtue. Nationalist conservatives believe that traditional conservatism has grown infatuated with limited government when bigger government is needed. Nationalist conservatives claim to reject the socialist belief that the state can and should dictate economic activity, yet they call for the use of big government to rein in the free market in the name of protecting “national” interests.
In an appearance at last year’s National Conservatism Conference, DeSantis accused “corporate America” of having too much power and using his “success” as governor of Florida, he openly advocated the use of government power against people who don’t meet his expectations (via BusinessInsider.com):
In his hourlong speech, DeSantis said the Republican Party’s thinking about big business needs to change, arguing that his experiences in Florida provide a “lesson for people on the right.”
“Corporatism is not the same as free enterprise, and I think too many Republicans have viewed limited government to basically mean whatever is best for corporate America is how we want to do the economy,” DeSantis said during his keynote speech before a crowd of friendly attendees at the JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort.
He accused “corporate America” of having too much power in America and of “exercising quasi-public power in terms of using their economic power to change policy in this country.”
“What I’m doing is using government to give space to the individual citizen to be able to participate in society to be able to speak his or her mind,” DeSantis said.
“And I think that’s an absolutely appropriate use of government power.” (Emphasis mine)
I seem to remember that government is supposed to protect the rights of individual citizens, not create them. But hey, that’s just me.
Instead of standing as a defender of conservative values like free market capitalism and free speech, Governor Ron DeSantis embraces the nationalist and fascist ideals guaranteed to destroy liberty as he prepares for his 2024 run.
There’s a heart of fascism beating within the chest of Trumpist Republicans like Ron DeSantis, a man ready, willing, and able to wield the hammer and sickle of big government against people and businesses who reject unconstitutional laws like the Stop Woke Act.
One more reason for liberty-loving conservatives to stop putting their confidence in spineless cowards like the Florida governor and the rest of the Republican Party.
David Leach is the owner of the Strident Conservative. He holds people of every political stripe accountable for their failure to uphold conservative values, and he promotes those values instead of political parties.
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