Lots of talk among civil libertarians about a little ol’ bill filed yesterday by far-right Republican Sens. Gary Stubblefield and Mark Johnson and Rep. Mark Lowery.
They want to dictate what teachers may say in public schools, K-12 through college. Those who speak freely about political, racial, gender, sexual orientation or other topics offensive to these governmental censors would face a loss of public funding.
AN ACT CONCERNING COURSES, CLASSES, EVENTS, AND 10 ACTIVITIES AT PUBLIC SCHOOLS; TO PROHIBIT THE OFFERING OF CERTAIN TYPES OF COURSES, CLASSES, EVENTS, AND ACTIVITIES THAT PERTAIN TO RACE, GENDER, POLITICAL AFFILIATION, SOCIAL CLASS, OR PARTICULAR CLASSES OF PEOPLE; TO ADJUST FUNDING FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS THAT OFFER CERTAIN TYPES OF COURSES, CLASSES, EVENTS, AND ACTIVITIES THAT PERTAIN TO RACE, GENDER, POLITICAL AFFILIATION, SOCIAL CLASS, OR PARTICULAR CLASSES OF PEOPLE;
This is part of the 1619 Project blowback. You know, the movement by Sen. Tom Cotton and others to prevent the use of the New York Times’ project on the 400-year impact of slavery on American life.
It is about more than slavery. It echoes Donald Trump’s executive order, heading for the dustbin, banning diversity training on racial and gender issues. Wrote Vox:
The administration’s war against “race-based ideologies” — code for theories and practices that examine the racism in American history and institutions — started on September 4 when Office of Management and Budget (OMB) director Russell Vought, at Trump’s behest, released a memo instructing federal agencies to identify any critical race theory and white privilege training within their departmental training plans. According to the memo, the administration’s mission is to stop funding any and all programming that suggests the “United States is an inherently racist or evil country or that any race or ethnicity is inherently racist or evil.”
This is government prohibiting free speech. Period. Commented a lawyer:
Completely and utterly unconstitutional in all its forms. If it passes, it will cost the state dearly in attorneys fees to litigate and lose, since the AG stupidly takes the “duty to defend” to its absurd conclusion.
Attorney fees for unconstitutional law have never dissuaded the Arkansas legislature, certainly not the bunch in power now. If it passes, it won’t do so unanimously.
And then there is this, looking straight back to 1619. What a great idea to have the legislature dictating academic freedom. What could go wrong? https://t.co/O1IOkOY3aS
— Joyce Elliott (@xjelliott) January 20, 2021