Legislators in Florida have introduced a bill that would require bloggers who write about Ron DeSantis or his cabinet or legislators to register with the state. This is rich because gun buyers don’t have to register at all.

Apparently, the bill covers only paid bloggers, and Republicans consider them to be no different from lobbyists.

A Republican state senator in Florida has introduced a bill that, if passed, would require bloggers who write about Gov. Ron DeSantis, his Cabinet or state legislators to register with the state.

Sen. Jason Brodeur’s bill, titled “Information Dissemination,” would also require bloggers to disclose who’s paying them for their posts about certain elected officials and how much.

“If a blogger posts to a blog about an elected state officer and receives, or will receive, compensation for that post, the blogger must register” with the appropriate office within five days of the post, the legislation says.

I’m in the clear because no one pays me to blog. I do hope there is a court case testing this among many other pieces of legislation intended to cement DeSantis’ control over everything in Florida.

More worrisome is the legislation that challenges the New York Times v. Sullivan case, which would allow DeSantis to sue his critics for defamation. Justice Thomas and Justice Gorsuch want to overturn that precedent too.

The New York Times published an editorial this morning critical of Florida’s effort to restrict free speech and press freedom.

It said:

A homeowner gets angry at a county commission over a zoning dispute and writes a Facebook post accusing a local buildings official of being in the pocket of developers.

A right-wing broadcaster criticizing border policies accuses the secretary of homeland security of being a traitor.

A parent upset about the removal of a gay-themed book from library shelves goes to a school board meeting and calls the board chair a bigot and a homophobe.

All three are examples of Americans engaging in clamorous but perfectly legal speech about public figures that is broadly protected by the Constitution. The Supreme Court, in a case that dates back nearly 60 years, ruled that even if that speech might be damaging or include errors, it should generally be protected against claims of libel and slander. All three would lose that protection — and be subject to ruinous defamation lawsuits — under a bill that is moving through the Florida House and is based on longstanding goals of Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Even a tweet or a comment in Facebook would trigger a lawsuit.

In a direct attack on a key aspect of free expression, it says that whenever someone is accused of discriminating against others on the basis of race, gender or sexual orientation, that accusation is automatically considered enough to sue for defamation. Any person accused of bigotry based on sexual orientation or gender identity could file a defamation lawsuit and be virtually guaranteed of winning by saying the discrimination was based on personal religious or scientific beliefs. The penalty for calling someone a bigot would be a minimum of $35,000.

Bloggers could no longer call DeSantis names like DeSatan or DeFascist. What a fragile ego he has. How will he survive Trump’s insults?