Dennis K. Baxley, step up and say hello! Mr. Baxley, a state representative from Florida, submitted a bill which he called, in true doublespeak fashion, "The Academic Freedom Bill." This follows a pattern recently seen by giving bills nice-sounding names - The Clean Air Act, The Patriot Act - which are actually more than a little controversial. Or, in this case, stupid.
Mr. Baxley has some good points - no student should ever earn a grade based on anything but their work in the course. (Even athletes, my mind wonders? How will Miami and Florida field players?) Now, who could argue that? No one.
But then he takes it right over the cliff, stating that students have "...a right to expect that their academic freedom and the quality of their education will not be infringed upon by instructors who persistently introduce controversial matter into the classroom or coursework that has no relation to the subject of study and serves no legitimate pedagogical purpose." And his example of "controversial matter" that "has no relation to the subject of study" and "serves no legitimate pedagogical purpose"?
"Some professors say, ‘Evolution is a fact. I don’t want to hear about Intelligent Design (a creationist theory), and if you don’t like it, there’s the door,’” [Rep. Dennis] Baxley [R-Ocala] said, citing one example when he thought a student should sue."
So, if a professor refused to teach Intelligent Design - a proposal seriously derided by most, if not all, biologists and generally regarded as Creationism Lite by most scientific people - he should be sued. Galileo said "E pur si muove" in vain in Florida - I can see some person suing over the Copernican theory soon.
A danger sign was when David Horowitz helped write this bill. David - who never sees something bad that he can't blame liberals for - is on a crusade, and like Don Quixote, keeps on seeing monsters where windmills placidly turn. Mr. Horowitz has trumpeted bias in two cases - one in Northern Colorado and one in California - that have turned out to be far from accurate. The Northern Colorado one differed widely from what he claimed, and the California one - well, I'll link to the essay in question, and let you decide whether or not it deserved an "F". Here it is.(*) After you read it, keep in mind that Horowitz thinks the ONLY reason the student failed the paper was b/c of a pro-American bias, and ask yourself if this man is one you can trust on these claims. David would scream conservative bias if a Republican failed for writing a paper in French for a Spanish test.
To end on a depressing note, Texas appears to be joining Florida as states with their elbow firmly on the scientific pulse. Tennessee v. Scopes 2 - The Return! coming soon to a court near you.
(*) - If this link doesn't work, use the link inside the Media Matters article. I had copied that link over but on trying it I get a "Page Not Found" message, whereas the one inside the MM article still works. Sorry for the confusion.