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| Opinion |

Florida GOP Chair Filed Another Bill to Protect Online Racists, So Let's Insult Him

State Sen. Joe Gruters is cosponsoring a bill that would require all businesses to check the immigration status of new employees.EXPAND
State Sen. Joe Gruters is cosponsoring a bill that would require all businesses to check the immigration status of new employees.
Photo via Florida House of Representatives
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State Sen. Joe Gruters is the target of a lot of online harassment. Much of it comes from this very publication. His head looks like a wart-covered toe that learned to talk. His face can only be described as "honey-glazed" or "rotisserie." He looks like a gopher that sells life insurance. He could pass for Business Diglett.

Those jokes might be mean, but according to a new bill that Gruters — the deeply pro-Trump chair of the Florida GOP — filed yesterday, we have a right to lob them at him. For the second year in a row, Gruters has filed a bill to protect online racists, misogynists, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and general bigots of all shades and stripes from being banned from social media.

For the second year in a row, Gruters has filed his so-called Stop Social Media Censorship Act in the Florida Senate. The bill, which died in committee last year, lets social media users in Florida sue any social networking site with more than 75 million users if they're banned for saying hurtful or offensive stuff online. When Gruters filed the bill during the last election cycle, he said in a clear self-own that the bill was designed to protect the voices of "conservatives and Christians [who] feel they've been targeted."

The bill's text, somewhat offensively, defines hate speech as "a phrase concerning content that an individual finds offensive based on his or her personal moral code," as opposed to the term's more usual definition: words slandering specific groups of people, such as people of color or the LGBTQ community. Under Gruters' bill, anyone banned for hate speech could sue whichever social networks they're banned from for, say, posting images from fascist boards on 4chan or attacking members of religious or ethnic groups. A few prominent Floridians could stand to benefit — notably, permanently banned person Laura Loomer, who is running against Congresswoman Lois Frankel in a comedically lopsided U.S. House race in South Florida.

So, to celebrate free speech, let's recount more hideous things Gruters' head resembles, in no particular order:

Lest anyone think this list is too mean: Gruters has sourced anti-immigrant bill ideas from actual hate groups.

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