It’s impossible to win a race to the bottom with Donald Trump because the bottom is where Trump lives. He has home-field advantage, and everyone else is forced to play catchup. It would be like racing Matt Gaetz to a Pensacola Hot Topic on a Saturday afternoon. He’s already there, clinging to the ceiling of the girls’ changing room like Spider-Man at the tail end of a six-day Gorilla Glue bender.
But, bless his heart, that glitching simulacrum of a human Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is going to do his level best to match the ochre ogre’s odious oeuvre. Sadly, the party of perv projection sees perversion everywhere, even in the most innocent of places. And so last Wednesday, DeSantis signed a bill taking direct aim at men who wear women’s clothing (or women who wear men's clothing, for that matter)—with a special carveout for Rudy Giuliani, one can only assume.
Of course, while DeSantis’ lack-of-virtue signaling may be good for his future electoral prospects, it’s been toxic to Florida commerce—as evidenced by the recent financial fallout from the fight he’s picked with the Walt Disney Co. And now at least one Orlando business is questioning why DeSantis seems determined to pick its pockets, too—and it’s doing something about it.
Hamburger Mary’s in Orlando is suing Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state of Florida in federal court, claiming the restaurant has been deprived of its First Amendment rights and is already losing customers under a new law affecting drag shows.
Gov. DeSantis signed bills last Wednesday taking aim at transgender treatments for minors, pronouns in schools, bathroom use and children attending drag shows.
The changes included penalties for venues letting children into “adult live performances” and potential first-degree misdemeanor charges for violators.
Hamburger Mary’s filed the lawsuit Monday, which also names as a defendant Melanie Griffin, secretary of Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation
Filed in U.S. District Court, the suit aims to prevent the law from being enforced. Unfortunately for Hamburger Mary’s—which hosts drag-focused bingo, trivia, and comedy events, as well as family-friendly drag shows suitable for children—the new law is an existential threat. According to the suit, the business was forced to tell customers that children were no longer welcome at its shows, and as a result it lost substantial future bookings.
“They simply cannot take the chance that their business or liquor licenses would be suspended for hosting a drag show where children attend,” the lawsuit states. “In addition, the criminal penalties of the law put individuals at risk of prosecution because of the content of their speech.”
Meanwhile, the suit argues that the “broad, sweeping nature of the statute, and the vagueness regarding what conduct is and is not prohibited, will have a chilling effect on the First Amendment rights of the citizens of Florida” and claims the new law targets “even the most innocent drag performances.” According to the suit, the law is also wide-ranging enough to “reach into the private homes of Florida citizens, and to determine on behalf of parents what is and is not appropriate entertainment for their children.”
In other words, DeSantis & Crew are stifling speech they don’t like. Again. Meanwhile, as Florida exits the “fuck around” phase of its gradual devolution into a swamp-forward Siberia, it’s also starting to find out.
The LGBTQ advocacy groups the Human Rights Campaign and Equality Florida have issued an updated travel advisory in the wake of last Wednesday’s bill-signing. The advisory “outlines the devastating impacts of laws that are hostile to the LGBTQ community, restrict access to reproductive health care, repeal gun safety policies, foment racial prejudice, and attack public education by banning books and censoring curriculum in order that prospective travelers or residents can make the best decisions for themselves and their families.”
As Equality Florida’s Senior Political Director, Joe Saunders, stated, “DeSantis has just signed into law the largest slate of anti-LGBTQ bills in one legislative session in the state’s history. This is an all out attack on freedom. Free states don’t strip parents of the right to make healthcare decisions for their children. Free states don’t ban books, censor curriculum, or muzzle free speech. DeSantis doesn’t see freedom as a value worth defending, he sees it as a campaign slogan in his bid for the White House. ... The nation should be on high alert. We are all Floridians as DeSantis seeks to export this blueprint of authoritarianism to the rest of the country.”
Indeed. Not only that, powerful history lessons like this could soon be criminalized in the name of “sexual purity”:
Ah, but at least Floridians will always be free to die of easily preventable diseases. So they got that going for them. Which is nice.
Check out Aldous J. Pennyfarthing’s four-volume Trump-trashing compendium, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Or, if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.