The following Letter to the Editor was published in The Daily Sun on March 23, 2024.
HB 991 and SB 1220: Defamation, False Light, and Unauthorized Publication of Name or Likenesses must not become law.
These anti-democratic bills silence the First Amendment right of free speech in seven ways:
- Chill speech critical of government.
- Make it easier to sue media or members of the public for defamation over criticism of public officials.
- Provoke future showdown before the U.S. Supreme Court.
- Force journalists to reveal anonymous sources and scare victims of discrimination into silence.
- Institute one-way attorney fees in defamation and libel suits.
- Make allegations of sexism, racism, homophobia and transphobia “defamation per se” (where the claim is presumed to be fake and defamatory).
- Forbid proving an allegation of homophobia or transphobia is true by citing the speaker’s religious or “scientific” beliefs.
As a former journalism teacher, I am appalled by the authoritarian tone of these bills. If Florida is indeed “free,” why are our free speech rights being abridged?
If you feel the same way, please send the message above to the Judiciary Committee chair(s) for each bill.
HB 991 chairs are Andrade and Beltran; email addresses Alex. Andrade@myfloridahouse.gov and Mike.Beltran@myfloridahouse.gov.
SB 1220 chair is Jason Brodeur. email address brodeur.Jason.email@example.com.
Karen Fisk, Rotonda West
Image Credits: Image by Venita Oberholster from Pixabay