Friday, April 18, 2008

Loony Politicians in Arizona

It must be silly season in Arizona's capital again, because its legislators are once again trying to pass the most repressive and ridiculous legislation in the country. Two years ago, the legislature banned appropriations for student newspapers at public colleges because they were offended by an Arizona State newspaper. Then the legislature tried to pass a law allowing college students to opt out of assignments they didn't like, a bill so bad that David Horowitz himself repudiated it (for college students). Now, as an amendment to a bill on homeland security, the legislature wants to ban encouraging dissent in school and prohibit student organizations that deal with race.

The bill declares that schools and colleges "shall not allow organizations to operate on the CAMPUS of the school, UNIVERSITY or community college if the organization is based in whole or in part on race-based criteria." Obviously, a Black Student Union group is not limited to black students, but rather is open to any student interested in the status of black students. To ban any group mentioning racial background is a direct violation of First Amendment rights.

As bad as that is, the bill is even more repressive for the public schools: "A public school in this state shall not include within the program of instruction any courses, classes or school sponsored activities that promote, assert as truth or feature as an exclusive focus any political, religious, ideological or cultural beliefs or values that denigrate, disparage or overtly encourage dissent from the values of American democracy and western civilization, including democracy, capitalism, pluralism and religious toleration." Silly me, I thought the job of a teacher was to encourage dissent. It turns out that the real purpose is to inculcate capitalism. Arizona want to show how much they love liberty, and to do so they want to suppress the freedom of students and teachers to dissent. Maybe they never learned about irony in school.

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