One of the names making the rounds in Republican Party circles as a potential nominee for president in 2024 is Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis who, like the rest of the Republican Party, has promised to destroy free speech by forcing internet and social media companies to allow politicians to use their platforms to advance his campaign.
With the passage last week of anti-free speech legislation by the Republican-controlled Florida House and Senate, DeSantis is about to make good on that promise.
Ever since Donald Trump first uttered the words “fake news,” he and the GOP have been at war against the First Amendment, specifically free speech and a free press. But in the imaginary post-Trump era, Trumpist Republicans like Ron DeSantis are taking the attack up a notch by focusing on so-called big tech and social media.
Governor Ron DeSantis, who is running for reelection in 2022 in a practice run for the 2024 presidential race, has fully embraced Trump’s attack on free speech which is what led to his proposal back in February for new state legislation designed to crack down on big tech and social media 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 at the time before comparing “Big Tech” to George Orwell’s “Big Brother” — ironic when you consider that Orwell used “Big Brother” to describe a tyrannical big government.
Another irony in Ron DeSantis’ proposal is the claim that his legislation would end Big Tech’s ability to “manipulate” news content and design algorithms that give an upper hand to the candidates of their choice. Apparently, manipulating news is OK (forcing companies to post content from politicians) when it’s the news you agree with.
“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 promised.
In a report by the South Florida Sun Sentinel, we see the Trump-inspired motivation of this attack on free speech, and how DeSantis’ proposal is small potatoes compared to what the Republican-controlled legislature has in mind:
TALLAHASSEE — After a debate that focused on free speech and former President Donald Trump, the Florida House on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed a proposal that would crack down on social-media giants that block users from their platforms.
The Republican-controlled House voted 78-41 to approve the bill (SB 7072), which is a top legislative priority of Gov. Ron DeSantis. The Senate approved its version of the measure Monday, but the bill will have to bounce back to the Senate because the House made changes.
Supporters of the bill said Wednesday it is about protecting the speech of Floridians who face being removed from social-media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. They also disputed Democrats’ arguments that the bill was a political reaction to Trump being blocked from Twitter and Facebook in January after his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol to try to prevent certification of President Joe Biden’s election victory.
The bill, in part, would bar social-media companies from removing political candidates from the companies’ platforms. Under the House version of the bill, companies that violate the prohibition could face fines of $250,000 a day for statewide candidates and $25,000 a day for other candidates.
The potential fines are one of the differences between the House and Senate versions. The Senate version would impose fines of $100,000 a day for statewide candidates and $10,000 a day for other candidates.
A key part of both versions would require social-media companies to publish standards about issues such as blocking users and apply the standards consistently.
The idea that Governor DeSantis intends to shred the U.S. and Florida Constitutions and destroy free speech couldn’t be more clear despite the fact that, as Judge Andrew Napolitano said earlier this year, he is clearly prevented by the Constitution from doing so:
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.
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. (emphasis mine)
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 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.
Unfortunately, the constitutional ignorance and/or sycophancy of Trump loyalists have been drooling over Gov. Ron DeSantis’ attack on free speech, and his possible candidacy in 2024. LifeNews.com, Chris Pandolfo at TheBlaze.com, and Steve Deace at BlazeTV have been orgasmic over DeSantis and his promise to destroy free speech.
Ron DeSantis and others like him represent the next generation of
conservatives Trumpists, and they are willing to sacrifice liberty on the altar of politics and the Republican Party.
And if we are to have any chance at defeating these conservative imposters threatening to destroy liberty, we need to radically reject their collectivist politics — along with their Trumpism and nationalism — and fiercely hold on to the Constitution and the foundation laid out by the Founding Fathers.
Failure to do so will result in the rise of more people like Ron DeSantis in states across America — people determined to destroy free speech and the rest of our God-given rights for their political benefit.
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.