Governor Ron DeSantis is under attack for suggesting a registry for bloggers who write about him or his administration. He’s now distanced himself from the proposed law. He says he had nothing to do with it. Whether he did or did not isn’t the question. The question is, why would anyone think such a registry is a good idea?

The rationale for registries has always been straightforward: they are administrative measures needed to protect the public. People are required to register many things: for driving a car, sailing a boat, flying a plane, signing up for the draft, cutting hair for a living, etcetera.

But anyone reading this website doesn’t need to be told that those aren’t the only type of registries. There is another kind of registry that is designed to shame unpopular minorities. These registries have a long history. California set up one almost 80 years ago for gay people. Today every state has a sex offender registry. Some states have other registries: for animal abusers, domestic abusers, arsonists, etc.

The proposed blogger registry seems to fit the second category. That’s why it has attracted so much opposition. But people opposing it again need to ask themselves that simple question: why would anyone think it is a good idea?

The answer is obvious: Sex offender registries have granted legitimacy to collective shaming. The anti-bloggers make a point: If a registry is o.k. for one group of people, it’s o.k. for another. And another.

In most states it is not necessary to demonstrate that an individual is dangerous for that person to be put on a sex offender registry. The same is true under Federal law. And even if someone can be shown to be dangerous, it is not necessary to demonstrate that putting this person’s name and face and address on a public registry will protect the public.

There is only one thing the registries actually demonstrate: that the people subjected to them are categorically unpopular.

Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch stated in his dissent in the Gundy case: “Yes, those affected are some of the least popular among us. But if a single executive branch official can write laws restricting the liberty of this group of persons, what does that mean for the next?”

The proposed blogger registry is a legislative, not an executive, edict. But that doesn’t mean it is any more justifiable. Lawmaking should not be an unpopularity contest.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Those famous words of Martin Luther King, Jr. apply to registries, too. Bloggers beware.

Share This

Let's Spread Truth

Share this post!