Tanner Andrews


In the Soviet Union, you had to register your typewriter. That let the authorities figure out who wrote something they did not like. It has been long enough that I better explain.

The Soviet Union was the name given to Russia and its slave states. They were best known for long queues that sprung up whenever any consumer goods became available. They were run by a series of unpleasant dictators, who hated to be criticized. Think Vladimir Putin, but a little more cheerful.

A typewriter was a sort of mechanical word processor. It had a keyboard similar to what you are used to. When you struck a key, a mechanism banged a slug into a ribbon, and the corresponding letter showed up on a sheet of paper. There were enough manufacturing and wear variations that an expert could tell you which machine did the work.

This trip down Memory Lane is courtesy of the Florida Senate. Sen. Brodeur’s proposed SB 1316 would require that internet bloggers register with the state. Each month, writers will report what they wrote, whom it might offend, and how much they get paid.

The problem is that there are no mechanical parts in a blog. You cannot track individual authors by manufacturing variations or wear and tear. You might say that this columnist shows his age, but younger guys can get away with criticizing Gov. DeSantis or Florida senators without being easily tracked down.

For now, I am probably exempt. I think that people involved with newspapers get a pass on this one. Otherwise I would need to register within five days of the column’s publication. Failing that, the column could become “samizdat.” You can google to learn more.

It is hard to say whether newspapers will still be exempt by the time the bill gets through. For that matter, there is always next year.

Maybe the editor can find a picture of a typewriter in the photo archives. I am sure we can find pictures of thin-skinned politicians. At least Sen. Brodeur makes it clear what they are thinking in Tallahassee — he has a lot of thin-skinned colleagues who need protection.

— Andrews is a DeLand-area attorney and a longtime government critic. For purposes of the column, he finds it convenient that there is so much government to criticize.




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