School censorship by conservatives

The NYT is waxing righteous below about moves by conservative parents and legislators to keep politics out of the classroom. Like most Leftist writing, the article seems very reasonable at first glance. Then you realize the fullness of what is going on.

What is happening is that teachers are abusing their paid positions to preach one brand of politics: Leftist politics. They inject Leftist perspectives into all sorts of subjects.

They are not supposed to do that. They are paid through taxes by the whole community, both Left and Right and they should represent the whole of the community that pays them. They should not take sides. So when they deviate from that, parents and others have a clear right to object. And they do. And it is those objections that the NYT is pouring contempt upon. The censorship is an attempt to restrict leftist preaching -- not in favour of conservatism but in favour of impartiality. Teachers are NOT paid to preach partisan politics

And when the boot is on the other foot -- as when someone in the educational system voices a conservative perspective, Leftists howl for censorship and "cancelling" of him/her. Censorship is bad if conservatives do it but good if Leftists do it, it seems. The Left have NO interest in impartiality. They are bigots who cannot withstand challenge to their beliefs. They can happily exist only in a political monoculture. They NEED their addled beliefs

Fights about free speech can feel rhetorical until they are not. Here’s what censorship looks like in practice: A student newspaper and journalism program in Nebraska shuttered for writing about pride month. The state of Oklahoma seeking to revoke the teaching certificate of an English teacher who shared a QR code that directed students to the Brooklyn Public Library’s online collection of banned books. A newly elected district attorney in Tennessee musing openly about jailing teachers and librarians.

In Florida today it may even be illegal for teachers to even talk about who they love or marry thanks to the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” law. Of course, it goes far beyond sex: The sunshine state’s Republican commissioner of education rejected 28 different math textbooks this year for including verboten content.

Acts of censorship are often tacit admissions of weakness masquerading as strength. This weakness is on full display with the imposition of so-called educational gag orders, laws which restrict the discussions of race, gender, sexuality and American history in K-12 and higher education. A political project convinced of the superiority of its ideas doesn’t need the power of the state to shield people from competing ideas. Censorship is the desperate rear-guard action of a movement that has already lost the fight for hearts and minds.

This year alone, 137 gag order bills like these have been introduced in 36 state legislatures. That’s a sharp increase from 2021 when 54 bills were introduced in 22 states, according to a report released last month by PEN America, a free speech organization. Only seven of those bills became law in 2022, but they are some of the strictest to date, and the sheer number of bills introduced reflects a growing enthusiasm on the right for censorship as a political weapon and instrument of social control.

These new measures are far more punitive than past efforts, with heavy fines or loss of state funding for institutions that dare to offer courses covering the forbidden content. Teachers can be fired and even face criminal charges. Lawsuits have already started to trickle through the courts asking for broad interpretations of the new statutes. For the first time, the PEN report noted, some bills have also targeted private schools and universities in addition to public schools.

It wasn’t all that long ago that Republican lawmakers around the country were introducing laws designed to protect free speech on college campuses. Now, they’re using the coercive power of the state to restrict what people can talk about, learn about or discuss in public, and exposing them to lawsuits for doing so. That’s a clear threat to the ideals of a pluralistic political culture, in which challenging ideas are welcomed and discussed.


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