Amazing idiocy in Arizona

My former home state, Arizona, is now considering a bill, misnamed the “Academic Bill of Rights,” that would ban any teacher in any public learning institution at any level from taking any position on a controversial subject. I’m serious; you can read the proposed legislation here. There’s a nice blog post about it at College Freedom.

Take this excerpt:

An instructor at a university under the jurisdiction of the Arizona board of regents or at a community college under the jurisdiction of a community college district who is acting as an agent of or who is working in an official capacity for a university or community college shall not … (various things including)…Endorse, support or oppose any pending, proposed or enacted local, state or federal legislation, regulation or rule…Advocate one side of a social, political or cultural issue that is a matter of partisan controversy…etc.

Pretty amazing stuff — so a professor couldn’t tell a class that she approved of, say, the 13th amendment banning slavery (an enacted federal regulation or rule? Maybe constitutional amendments are exempt) or legislation against sexual predators. As for advocating one side of a “cultural issue” about which there is “partisan controversy” — does this include evolution?

I suppose that the chances of passage aren’t too good, but it did make it out of committee. I can’t help feeling a little schadenfreude here; it’s nice to see another state making an ass of itself.

2 Responses to “Amazing idiocy in Arizona”

  1. Travis says:

    I am almost positive this is another, albeit sneaky, way of getting the topic of evolution out of schools. You’d be surprised at how many students I’ve encountered at the UA, grad and undergrad, who get all shaky when the topic is mentioned even in passing. You may recall Dan Dan the Bible Man from my research methods class last semester who kept picking fights about this. Someone else from that class dropped because he didn’t feel the professor was respecting his religious beliefs when she said, “You can’t test the supernatural.” The son of a woman I work with quit the UA completely when his freshman econ prof mentioned evolution in passing during the course of a lecture. Her son said he was tired of evolution being pushed down his throat.

    I am not entirely sure why this is such a sensitive topic.

  2. Allen says:

    I sort of understand the problem, actually. If your entire world view depends on a static universe created by fiat a few thousand years ago, then it’s very threatening to have people trying to persuade you that the universe is actually billions of years old, and that every aspect of it has been and still is in flux.

    It’s not incompatible with Christianity or any other major world religion, but harmonizing those religions with scientific understanding of the history of the universe requires sophisticated theological work that just isn’t done in some Protestant denominations.

    When you go to college and *everybody*, even your econ prof, treats this revolutionary view of the cosmos as accepted knowledge, no wonder you feel that people are trying to “push evolution down your throat”. Add to this the fact that many scientists actually think that evolution invalidates Christianity, and conflict is the only option. It’s worse in public institutions than it is in, say, Catholic or ELCA Lutheran seminaries. In religious schools, you simply require everybody to study theology, and you teach them how Christianity accommodates evolutionary thought. In public institutions, separation of church and state precludes requiring such courses.

    So in the public institutions, we teach science, but give students little help with how they’re supposed to rebuild their world view to integrate it.

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