A bill recently introduced in Florida will require bloggers who write about Gov. Ron DeSantis to register with the state or be fined for failing to do so.
S.B. 1316 mandates that bloggers critical of Ron DeSantis or other Florida politicians register within five days of their first post (via BusinessInsider.com):
The bill was introduced in the Florida Senate on February 28 by GOP lawmaker Jason Brodeur. S.B. 1316 would require any blogger who writes about DeSantis — and is paid for their work — to register with the state ethics commission or the Florida Office of Legislative Services. They must do so within five days of their first post.
Bloggers would also be required to register with the state if they write anything about Florida’s lieutenant governor, a cabinet officer, or any member of the Florida legislature, per the bill.
S.B. 1316 would mandate that bloggers submit monthly reports about their work if they write about elected officials, including how much payment they received for their articles, rounded to the nearest $10, and the name of the “individual or entity” who paid them.
Writers who do not file their reports on time should be fined $25 a day, the bill suggests. A blogger can be fined a maximum of $2,500, the bill reads.
Brodeur’s suggested law does not appear to apply to news organizations but instead would target individual bloggers who write about DeSantis and other officials. (Emphasis mine)
The spirit of Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels — he controlled the news media, arts, and information in Nazi Germany — is alive and well in the “conservative” state of Florida.
For the uninitiated, this isn’t Florida’s first attempt to eliminate the free speech rights of people critical of government since DeSantis was elected governor.
In February 2021, when Governor Ron DeSantis was preparing to launch is 2022 reelection in a practice run for the 2024 presidential race, he announced a piece of Trumpesque legislation allegedly designed to crack down on Big Tech but in reality, was created to force them to allow Florida politicians to use their platforms or be fined.
“Under our proposal, if a technology company de-platforms a candidate for elected office in Florida during an election, that company will face a daily fine of $100,000 until the candidate’s access to the platform is restored,” DeSantis said at the time.
In May 2021, DeSantis made good on his promise to destroy the free speech rights of so-called Big Tech when he signed the bill into law, a law that he said would “[protect] the speech of Floridians who face being removed from social-media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.” Conveniently left out his statement was the part about the massive fines he would levy against social media companies for removing political candidates from their platforms.
Net Choice, a trade group for internet companies, said during hearings for the Florida bill that the free speech rights of the companies involved were clearly being violated. “The First Amendment makes clear that government may not regulate the speech of private individuals or businesses. This includes government action that compels speech by forcing a private social media platform to carry content that is against its policies or preferences,” NetChoice President Steve DelBianco said.
In other words, government coercing a company to publish content is just as bad as government prohibiting a company from publishing content. In both instances, it’s a violation of the First Amendment.
Fortunately, DeSantis’ efforts didn’t last long as federal judge blocked the law in July 2021, saying that it likely violated free speech rights.
Instead of standing as a defender of bloggers, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has decided that free speech is secondary to his presidential ambitions. And despite the incessant complaining we hear about how Democrats and the liberal media promote the ideology of the progressive-left, Republicans and the faux-conservative media are guilty of promoting the ideology of the fascist-right.
FYI: The Florida bill targeting bloggers isn’t unique to Ron DeSantis; it has also been considered on the national level.
In 2013 — coincidentally, Ron DeSantis was a member of Congress at the time — Lindsey Graham and Chuck Schumer introduced the “Media Shield Bill” in response to demands that laws be passed to protect the media from government interference when they report on subjects involving the government.
The 1st Amendment already provides these guarantees, but since when has Washington every let a pesky little thing like the Bill of Rights get in the way of an opportunity to “fine tune” the intentions of the Founding Fathers?
Just like Ron DeSantis and the state of Florida, Graham and Schumer also targeted the free speech rights of bloggers. “Who is a journalist is a question we need to ask ourselves,” Graham said. “Is any blogger out there saying anything . . . do they deserve First Amendment protection? These are the issues of our times.”
Who is a journalist? Can a blogger say anything? Do they deserve First Amendment protection? How obvious can their intentions be?
The state of Florida and Governor Ron DeSantis are serious about shredding the Constitution and destroying free speech, but as Judge Andrew Napolitano once pointed out, the First Amendment makes no provision for their assault on liberty:
The speech we love needs no protection. The speech we hate does. The government has no authority to evaluate speech. As the framers understood, all people have a natural right to think as we wish and to say and publish whatever we think. Even hateful, hurtful and harmful speech is protected speech.
Yet, in perilous times, such as the present, we have seen efforts to use the courts to block the publication of unflattering books. We have seen state governors use the police to protect gatherings of protestors with whose message they agreed and to disburse critical protestors. We have seen mobs silence speakers while the police did nothing.
And in perilous times, such as the present, we have seen Big Tech companies silencing their opponents. I hate when they do that, but they have every right to do so. They own the bulletin board. Twitter and Facebook can ban any speech they want because they are not the government. And the First Amendment only restrains the government. In the constitutional sense, free speech means only one thing — free from government interference.
Punishing speech is the most dangerous business because there will be no end. The remedy for hateful or threatening speech is not silence or punishments; it is more speech — speech that challenges the speaker.
Why do government officials want to silence their opponents? They fear an undermining of their power. The dissenters might make more appealing arguments than they do. St. Augustine taught that nearly all in government want to tell others how to live.
How about we all say whatever we want, and the government leaves us alone? (Emphasis mine)
Ron DeSantis is a nationalist and a fascist, and destroying free speech is paramount to his political ambitions. This is why conservatives must stop playing the Republican good/Democrat bad game being pedaled by Conservative, Inc.
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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