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New Florida Bill Empowers Bigotry,  Silences Victims of Hate

On Tuesday afternoon Florida lawmakers filed House Bill 991, terrifying journalists, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and other minority groups alike. The new legislation handicaps journalists privilege in court in addition to the ability for victims of hate crimes to properly refer to the incident as hate, discrimination, bigotry, or abuse.


The Administration has come under fire in recent years due to their forceful removal of journalists and audience members who oppose Governor DeSantis in any capacity during his publicly-funded speeches. 


Considering the years’ worth of battles between the DeSantis Administration and both local/national media outlets, the move is speculated to be a loophole against the First Amendment which allows one to punish opponents through a fine. 


According to the filing available on the Florida Senate’s website, the bill is essentially meant to deter defamation in any medium, whether this be verbal altercations in person or written/spoken defamation in media outlets like cinema. 


Should the bill be signed into law, journalist’s privilege would no longer apply to “defamation claims brought under chapter 770 when the defendant is a professional journalist or media entity”. This legal handicap would squeeze journalists in a hard decision between outing their sources and covering themselves in court. 


DeSantis has proven he has no issue forcing institutions and businesses to comply with the demands of his administration no matter how academically or scientifically unfounded. In recent weeks, the state’s public schools are experiencing a purge of books due to concerns from parents that the content may indoctrinate or influence children in a negative capacity. 


Although these concerns were agitated by manufactured claims of indoctrination and child abuse, Florida schools are forced to abide by these mandates or face their funding potentially being slashed for non-compliance. 

In addition to race-based content being flagged, materials including stories or experiences of characters who are queer have been removed from shelves mainly due to concerns of “grooming children” among other worries. 


Unfortunately, even though these concerns are not based on credible information the expression of these and other unfounded beliefs are protected under this new legislation. Violators can be fined starting at $35,000 for claiming to be a victim of discriminatory behavior should the court find that the vehicle of abuse, like a slur, is protected speech. 


Essentially, bigots in Florida are now free to refer to members of the LGBTQIA+ community as “trannies”, or other slurs, but should one rebuttal with a claim of discrimination they can potentially be held liable even if they do not reside in the state. 


The Governor’s tactics stun Floridians and non-residents alike, generating enough outrage to become the catalyst for mass student-led protests across Florida universities imminently. 


Sadly, even with the upcoming protests by the students it is unlikely that the DeSantis Administration will reconsider their position on the subject.

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Tags: #protest #Florida #Desantis #HB991


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