I don’t think this has passed yet, but it is not over. This fellow never gives up.
The hysteria these men stirred up through largely unsubstantiated charges caused thousands of people to lose their jobs. Some committed suicide.
Flash forward 50 years: David Horowitz, the 1960s left-wing radical turned right-wing activist/provocateur and Republican political consultant, has picked up McCarthy’s baton. Disguised as an attempt to broaden free speech on campus, Horowitz’s Academic Bill of Rights — which aims to stifle the speech of liberal academics — has been making the rounds of state houses and college campuses during the past year or so.
In Florida, State Representative Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala) has introduced an Academic Freedom Bill of Rights after he “attended a conservative conference in St. Louis last summer where Horowitz spoke about academic freedom,” the St. Petersburg Times reported.
Baxley’s legislation, which in late March passed out of the House Choice and Innovation Committee by an 8-to-2 vote (the only two Democrats on the committee voted against it), was a broad assault on academic freedom.
Baxley was interviewed on Democracy Now in April of this year. As far as I know the bill hasn’t passed yet, but with the current radical GOP people in the Florida legislature right now it might just pass. Jeb calls Dennis Baxley a trusted friend. I believe Baxley was instrumental in putting forth Florida’s “shoot first, ask later” bill.
ROY WEATHERFORD: Well, there are three parts of the bill that are of particular concern to the professoriat. I should mention that I am not merely speaking for the University of South Florida faculty. Throughout this legislative session, I am acting as the higher education director of the Florida Education Association, representing 120,000 education employees in Florida. And I am therefore speaking for the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, our affiliates, and the American Association of University Professors has also asked me to represent their views.
So, for the first time ever, the professoriat is speaking with one voice, and we are unanimously against the bill. The three things that it does that we think are not wise. First of all, it specifies that faculty may not introduce controversial subjects when they’re inappropriate, but it provides no mechanism or means for determining who gets to say what is controversial. Somebody, evidently, will have the right to tell us what we cannot say in our classroom, and that strikes at the very root of academic freedom. Secondly, it says that students have the right to expect that alternative views will be presented. One of the examples that Representative Baxley has used in discussing his bill is that it would be appropriate in a biology class or in a science class, for intelligent design to be taught whenever the theory of evolution is being taught. Well, first of all, that again requires faculty to teach something that they do not think is scientifically legitimate or should be in the course, and secondly, there are far more alternatives than just one. Lysenkoism in the old Soviet Union was the orthodox form of biology; would we be required to teach that as well? Would our business colleges have to teach Marxism as a legitimate business theory? There are many alternatives, not just one or two. And finally, it says that students have a right to expect these things, which presumably means that they would have the right to sue to have the rights enforced, which the bill analysis says would cost the people of Florida $4.2 million, and my wife says would be a real boon to the trial lawyers of our state.
AMY GOODMAN: State Representative Baxley, your response.
REP. DENNIS BAXLEY: Yes. I’d be happy to respond to that. First of all, the whole idea of intelligent design being taught is never something that I have advocated. I merely illustrated that I went on an anthropology class as a student and was dogmatically told that evolution is a fact. There’s no missing link. I don’t even want to hear anything about creation or intelligent design. And if you don’t like any of that, there’s the door. That kind of dogmatism is what I was addressing, not that they needed to teach — they can teach whatever they want to teach, but what the bill requires is that you give different schools of thought and not just the dogma of an individual professor. What we’re trying to achieve –
AMY GOODMAN: Creationism and evolution.
REP. DENNIS BAXLEY: I’m sorry, you run over me, but you don’t run over my opponent while he elaborates on and on. So –
AMY GOODMAN: No, no, no. I’m just trying to clarify. No, no, no, I was just trying to clarify, so you were saying in that point, because some people might not know that term intelligent design. So, you are saying that you want creationism and evolution taught in the classroom.
More in the interview. Baxley seems to equate dogmatism with what he does not believe. If he does not agree with something then it is considered dogmatism and must not be taught in our college classrooms. Isn’t Horowitz tied up with College Republicans or Young Republicans…not sure which. They are watching a lot of professors very closely here in Florida. I know some profs who have been harassed by these young village idiots who listen for every word some professors say. It is a very unhealthy situation. I think a couple of state universities in Central Florida are very much under scrutiny by this bunch.
One more little thing, Baxley was the sponsor of Florida’s Terri Schiavo bill.
“It is a statement of public policy that, in this culture, we don’t starve people to death,” said Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, sponsor of the bill (HB 701), waving a pile of letters from people and groups pleading to keep Schiavo alive.