Culture warrior Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Jonesboro) pulled his so-called “Free Thought in Higher Education” bill from consideration by a Senate committee after getting grilled on it for an hour.
Continuing the abiding theme of the legislature so far of wasting everyone’s time on problems that only exist in wacko-Republicans’ imagination: Sullivan’s bill would ensure that state colleges can’t restrict speech anywhere on campus — unless it’s judged to “substantially disrupt” the institution.
It’s an update on a law passed in 2019 that banned university’s from creating “free speech zones.” Conservative lawmakers then were surely motivated by stories of left-leaning student groups successfully blocking college speaking appearances. But they could at least point to an example of such a free-speech zone in Arkansas.
Sullivan described the new bill as taking the protections afforded outside on campus grounds inside.
But pressed by Sen. Kim Hammer (R-Benton) for real-life examples of why this was necessary, Sullivan only had made-up ones.
“We have a professor that says that we’re going to be respectful of people’s gender assignment or pronouns, and some students disagree with that and express that in a classroom in a respectful way,” he said. Or maybe there was a poster for a drag show or a Second Amendment meeting, which offended certain students. The university couldn’t prohibit those.
Clearly, the pronouns issue is animating Sullivan. The bill even specifically says that universities may “not mandate the use of specific words, including without limitation pronouns.”
Look for this one to return.