New Bill Targeting Political Bloggers Continues Florida's Descent to Fascism
Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

New Bill Targeting Political Bloggers Continues Florida's Descent to Fascism

The governor and his henchmen are finally coming after me

Very little legislation is introduced by Florida Republicans isn’t already sanctioned by his highness, Gov. Ron DeSantis. This was true of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, the “Anti-Woke” bill, and several others. There was that one time the legislature tried to pass its own redistricting map, but it didn’t take away enough minority seats, so DeSantis vetoed the bill and put forward one of his own. Members of the legislature adopted DeSantis’ bill and went back to their corner.

So when Florida Sen. Jason Brodeur (R-Lake Mary) presented a bill requiring any blogger who writes about DeSantis or any other member of the Florida executive cabinet or legislature to register with the state, you best believe it comes from the state's most powerful man—someone who presumably doesn’t want people like me writing mean things about him. The proposed law specifically excludes newspapers or similar publications.

Related: Florida Rejects AP African American Studies Because Florida

The proposed bill, which should have little trouble being passed by the super-majority of Republican congresspeople, requires that within five days of writing an article mentioning Florida's governor, lieutenant governor, cabinet members or legislative officials, I and others like me must register with state offices or face fines. This applies to people receiving compensation for their stories; it would apply to me because I earn a paltry sum for my stories published on Medium.

Under the terms of this proposed law, if I were to write a second article, I'd have to submit a monthly report by the 10th of the month for every month I receive compensation. The report must disclose how much I earn, rounded to the nearest $10. Failure to register or submit the monthly report on time would lead to daily fines of $25, not to exceed $2,500 per report. The bill would take effect immediately upon approval.

No explanation has been given for why such a bill is required. Sen. Jason Brodeur offered no rationale, and the governor’s office has yet to respond to requests for comment. The bill defines a blog, and there’s no way it doesn’t include me. A blog is defined in the bill as “a website or webpage that hosts any blogger and is frequently updated with opinion, commentary, or business content” and a blog post as “an individual webpage on a blog which contains an article, a story, or a series of stories.”

My stories are reprinted on my website, which counts as a blog even if Medium publications don’t count. Should the bill become Florida law, the only question is, what will I do?

I could adopt the position that I’m such a small fish that the governor of Florida would never have the time or energy to come for me. But then I remembered just how petty Ron DeSantis is and that the things I write about him are the exact types of articles he’s trying to crush.

It would do well for all to know that the things DeSantis does as governor would pale in comparison to what he’d do as president. He talks about freedom, but what he means is the other thing. I could take the position that the law is clearly unconstitutional, and I have a duty to disobey it. (Hell, even Newt Gingrich realizes how ridiculous this bill is, tweeting that it is "insane" and "an embarrassment" that should be immediately withdrawn.) Then again, DeSantis has a private army and the power of the state of Florida. This man is a clear and present danger and must be voted out of office—certainly not elevated to a higher one.

Please pray for us in Florida; we need it. And read the bill in full here.

This post originally appeared on Medium and is edited and republished with author's permission. Read more of William Spivey's work on Medium. And if you dig his words, buy the man a coffee.

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