Bloggers: The New Lobbyists

A little late to the party, but… Taking note here that (some) politicians from an organ-shaped state want bloggers — as benighted a group as ever existed — to register before writing about their Governor. Indeed, said bloggers will have to register with the Ethics Office of the Organ if they receive compensation for writing about any elected officials within that state. Against all semblance of sanity, the proposed legislation is quite far-reaching.

If a blogger posts to a blog about an elected state officer and receives, or will receive, compensation for that post, the blogger must register with the appropriate office … within 5 days after the first post by the blogger which mentions an elected state officer.

SB 1316 (submitted 2023)

In the spirit of said legislative proposal, therefore, the Governor of any organ-shaped state contemplating such policies shall henceforth be referred to as the “Crocodile.”

There Will Be Fines

Now, of course, a mere registration requirement is not sufficient to stop these insidious bloggers. Any blogger who refuses to register faces a maximum $2,500 fine. Plus an additional $25 each day the fine is not paid. Translation: we know most bloggers aren’t highly paid, so this will finally shut them up for good. And, of course, what good is a punitive statute without some reporting requirements thrown in?

The analogy made by the sponsoring legislator is that bloggers are nothing more than lobbyists. Says the wanna-be hockey player who introduced the bill, “If lobbyists have to register and report, why shouldn’t paid bloggers?”

First off, most lobbyists are nothing more than glorified used-car salesmen. But I digress. There is a deeper rationale at stake. I think it’s called the First Amendment. Could be wrong though. Freedom of speech is an endangered species in organ-shaped states.


Ignorant of History? Or Wallowing In It?

Beyond that, I suggest the Senator (and the Crocodile) re-read Thomas Paine. Perhaps they’ve heard of him? He was a famous pamphleteer (predating the modern blogger). And he railed against the British Parliament and the King. The latter was, by comparison, also a Crocodile.

Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness possitively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher.

Thomas Paine, Common Sense

Another model for bloggers who want to write about the Governor of an Organ Shaped State is to take inspiration from the great writer, George Orwell.


His book, Animal Farm, provides a useful template. Animals, in Orwell’s writing, are stand-ins for fatally flawed people. Mark Twain’s The Damned Human Race pulls off a similar stunt. Which is why I am referring here to the Crocodile. If the organ-shaped state wants to come after me, they will have to admit at least one thing (and possibly two).

The Governor of the Organ-Shaped State is a Croc. If the croc fits, wear it.

Even Newt Gingrich, the originator of the Contract On America, finds this idea heinous. He should know. Oh, and the Newt notwithstanding, this idea will come up again. It’s too mean-spirited to die.

Eastern Newt (courtesy National Park Service)

[1] I am not fan of the TFG’s schoolyard bully epitaphs. Hence my relative graciousness on the Governor’s animal name. It does, of course, lend itself to barnyard variations. Tiny Croc comes to mind.
[2] The organ I have in mind is the appendix (a vestigial organ that is perhaps predictive of the future for similarly shaped bodies of land).
[3] The list of authors who have found their way around attempts to censor or suppress their work is, unfortunately, a long one. Victorian writers Thomas Hardy and George Eliot, for example, labored under these very constraints to great acclaim.
[4] And let it be said that these shackles sometimes foster creativity. Tadeusz Konwicki, one of Poland’s best known novelists, was never officially published in his home country. He once wrote: “Yes, writing under censorship has positive aspects. It can be like gambling or doing battle. The fact of having to face a censor can mobilize a writer to create ways of by-passing censorship; it forces the writer to employ metaphors which raise the piece of writing to a higher level. This can sometimes happen. [emphasis added]
[5] Bloggers in Organ-Shaped States: Carry on.

Copyright Leland E. Hale (2023). All rights reserved.

Leland E. Hale

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