Tuesday, February 15, 2005


I Don't See Nothing Wrong With A Little Mumper Grind

It's happening.

Ohio State Senator Larry Mumper (pictured above) has sponsored an "Academic Bill of Rights for Higher Education" that would prohibit all college professors -- at both public and private schools -- from presenting any information that did not convey complete "neutrality" with respect to their teachings. The bill also cracks down on "controversial matters" in the classroom.

Which is to say, Ohio Senate Bill 24, if passed, would outlaw ideas.

It would discourage professors from approaching any areas -- especially in the areas of history, political science, and cultural studies -- that might be deemed too "political" or "ideological" or "religious."

And worst of all, Senator Larry Mumper -- who is not a car salesman -- seeks to create a system where the government, via the legislature or courts, would be responsible for monitoring all content of everything taught in the classroom.

Don't be suckered. Proponents of the bill have tried to sell this as an attempt to ensure intellectual pluralism (which I support).

But in reality, this is an attempt to silence "liberal" professors and replace them with conservative ones. While this may be prompted by the Ward Churchill controversy, the bill is also aimed at every professor who has ever questioned any public policy or any history that isn't consistent with the approved textbook of conservative America.

The bias behind the law is especially clear once you discover who is funding this book burning. The bill is based on the principles of the "Students for Academic Freedom." Sounds like a good organization, right? In fact, it's an organization -- opposed to key tenets of academic freedom -- founded by conservative activist David Horowitz.

David Horowitz, as you may recall, is most famous for posting an 'ad' in numerous college newspapers entitled "Ten Reasons Why Reparations for Blacks is a Bad Idea for Blacks - and Racist, Too!"

Among other things, Horowitz argued that African Americans today have not been adversely affected by slavery, and that, in any event, reparations have already been paid in the form of "welfare benefits" and "racial preferences."

Most odiously, Horowitz asked, "What About The Debt Blacks Owe To America?", suggesting that instead of whites owing blacks, the truth is vice versa.

(If you must, you can view the Horowitz ad here. You can also view a response to it here.)

Most likely, this bill stems from the fact that Horowitz is pissed off at being booed, protested, and discredited at so many college campuses.

I don't know enough to conclude whether the Ohio legislation has any chance of passing. Last year, similar bills were introduced in California and Colorado, and they failed.

But the Georgia Senate passed a similar non-binding resolution. Most notably, the other bills that failed had preceded the Ward Churchill controversy.

This is not just an Ohio issue, as there is a nearly identical bill before the Indiana legislature. And most personally threatening, a similar bill has been reintroduced in California targeting our public colleges and universities.

My complete opposition to this bill isn't based on any "liberal" viewpoint of mine, but rather, my firm belief in free speech and academic freedom. Again, even if I were a conservative instructor, I would still oppose any attempt to restrict the free flow of ideas at a university.

I'm not the first to say this, nor the last: Welcome to the 21st century witch hunt.

Don't make yourselves at home.

More news at 11.