WTF has gotten into the head of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.)? He served an excellent term as Governor of Florida, during which time he signed some ground-breaking legislation. These include the anti-grooming bill and the bill to revoke Walt Disney World’s status as a semi-autonomous governing unit. But several commentators, including two of his fellow governors, have hinted darkly that he doesn’t go far enough. Now, over the last week, he has taken several actions that utterly belie his reputation as a defender of liberty. Worse, some of his supporters are starting to behave like cult defenders.
Ron DeSantis has come in for criticism before
Laura Loomer, “The Most Banned Woman in America,” has long suspected him of honoring his commitment to liberty more in the breach than otherwise. True, Gov. DeSantis did sign a law forbidding Big Tech companies to censor political candidates. But the law had a serious flaw in it, and a court threw it out. A Texas law to similar effect still stands. Loomer concluded that DeSantis crafted a law he knew was flawed. As evidence she points out that she offered to make suggestions on how such a law might pass muster. DeSantis declined her offer.
More recently, she ran for Congress in the Republican Primary in Florida’s Eleventh District – and lost. Within days she developed evidence of serious problems in Orange County, the one County her opponent carried. In this regard, she accuses DeSantis of not taking seriously the shortfalls in election integrity in Florida. She attributes her loss to those continued problems and to exploitation of same by Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.). Of note is that Rep. Webster is almost as sick a man as is Senator John Fetterman (D-Pa.).
With that kind of history, some might regard any criticism of DeSantis by her as self-serving. But one cannot say the same of Govs. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) and Nikki Haley (R-S.C.). They each have pointed out ways that Gov. DeSantis has fallen short in the defense of liberty. Noem never locked down her State; DeSantis did. Haley asks whether the anti-grooming bill still allows grooming beyond the third grade.
Excluding opponents from a rally?
Bear all this in mind when considering what DeSantis did when he held a book signing at a Florida bookstore. On February 28, he appeared at Books-A-Million® in Leesburg, Florida, to sign copies of his book, The Courage to Be Free. Laura Loomer decided to go, and invited members of “Villagers for Trump” to appear with her, wearing Trump gear.
But when they showed up to the rally, this happened.
This behavior has no precedent. When Gov. George Wallace (D-Ala.) ran for President in 1968 as an independent, several people showed up to one of his rallies, carrying Nixon signs. Wallace did not expel them; instead he contented himself with addressing them directly and telling them how wrong they were. For DeSantis to expel those people, does not accord with the defense of free speech.
Loomer had a slight confrontation with members of a “Goyim Defense League,” who were also present.
She didn’t resent their presence, but she did resent DeSantis expelling her and her supporters and not these people.
Loomer left several more tweets:
Almost at once, people actually accused her of staging the scene. Here is how she replied:
This witness supported Loomer’s account:
She also pointed out the hypocrisy of the police allowing people to stay who were protesting DeSantis’ cancellation of the AP African-American Studies course.
This episode has cost the Governor several votes:
More disputes of the account
Clearly, Gov. DeSantis knows that he cannot defend this action. So his supporters continue to deny it. Witness this thread:
This video from The Young Turks, a far-left organization, represents the height of irony.
Loomer promoted this video, no doubt because a broken clock does tell the correct time once every twelve hours.
Loomer herself recorded this account on her own YouTube channel:
Even Andrew P. Napolitano, former Judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey (Essex Vicinage), weighed in. He found DeSantis in violation of the First Amemdment and Florida’s Public Accommodation Law. (One thing, had Loomer and her followers tried to enter the bookstore, but they did not.)
Yesterday, another DeSantis supporter thought he could debunk her claim. That didn’t work out very well:
Apparently Mike Lindell doesn’t believe the DeSantis side, or that Florida’s governor has done enough for liberty.
Loomer wrote in greater detail about this affair on her Substack page. There she also pointed out that in Florida, no officeholder may seek other office while still holding the first office. He must resign – such is the “Resign to Run Law” in Florida. Loomer charges that the governor is skirting the law – running a “non-campaign campaign.” She predicts that Florida’s legislature, toward the end of its session, will amend or repeal the “Resign to Run Law.” Then DeSantis will announce his primary challenge to Donald J. Trump.
Will DeSantis sign this kind of bill?
But in the Florida legislature, something is cooking up that is even worse. In the Senate of Florida comes this bill, HB 269, defining “Public Nuisances.” At issue is this proposed new section of the Florida Statutes:
A person who willfully follows, harasses, or interferes with another person’s quiet enjoyment based on the person’s wearing of religious-based garments or garments commonly associated with a particular religious or ethnic group or any other indicia of any religious or ethnic heritage commits the offense of aggravated stalking, a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. A violation of this subsection shall be considered a hate crime for purposes of the reporting requirements of s. 877.19.
Reporter Chris Nelson left this thread in alarm at this bill:
Laura Loomer cited this as further evidence that DeSantis is not a friend of liberty.
Worse than that law is this proposed law requiring anyone who comments on Gov. DeSantis to register with the State. Those who refuse, decline, or otherwise fail to do so, would face a fine. The Attorney General and other members of State government would have the same “protection.”
Dick Morris raised his own alarm at this bill, calling it outrageous. What Judge Andrew Napolitano would have to say about this, one can readily predict.
Whom the Lord wishes to destroy, he first makes mad. Benjamin Franklin, after Sophocles
We have seen Ron DeSantis exclude detractors, as no other candidate ever did. When he did that he violated the Constitution and his own State’s public-accommodation law. We have also seen legislators friendly to him propose laws definitely not friendly to liberty.
Is Laura Loomer correct in saying that Ron DeSantis always had a tyrannical mind-set? We can definitely say that something we do not want to see in a Presidential candidate, has happened to him.
If Ron DeSantis expects to run for President someday – whether he resigns his governorship or not – he now has many questions to answer. They actually go back to why he did lock down Florida, only to turn against those who promoted a rationale for it. Recall that Kristi Noem did not do it even when nearly every other State governor did. And why can’t he write an anti-Big Tech censorship law that will pass muster, if Gov. Greg Abbott (R-Texas) can?
Will he have good answers? Stay tuned.
Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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