Raznor's Rants

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

A preemptive welcome to Pandagon readers
Posted by Raznor

According to the great Amanda Marcotte, my post on the bill currently in line for the Arizona Senate should appear at Pandagon tomorrow morning. So I thought I'd do a bit of an update on the post.

Via Berube, there's an article at Inside Higher Ed on this little bill. As should be a surprise to no one, the bill is defended with a brazen bit of arrogant ignorance:

The sponsors of the bill did not respond to messages seeking comment. But local news coverage of the session at which the bill won committee approval quoted Sen. Thayer Verschoor as citing complaints he had received about The Ice Storm, a novel by Rick Moody that was turned into a film directed by Ang Lee. “There’s no defense of this book. I can’t believe that anyone would come up here and try to defend that kind of material,” Verschoor said at the hearing, according to The Arizona Star. Other senators spoke at the hearing, the newspaper reported, against colleges teaching “pornography and smut.”


This, by the way, is why I will forever be against any bans on pornography. Because it'll be assholes like these who will wind up getting to define what pornography is.

So what's so annoying about this law? Let's take a look at the official fact sheet for the provisions:

1. Requires universities under the Arizona Board of Regent’s jurisdiction and community colleges under a community college district to adopt procedures providing a student with an alternative course, coursework, learning material or activity if that student finds those offered to be personally offensive without financial or academic penalty.

2. Specifies that a course, coursework, learning material or activity is personally offensive if it conflicts with the student’s beliefs or practices in sex, morality or religion.

3. Becomes effective on the general effective date.


Wow, that's it in a nutshell, isn't it? I'm already pretty pissed off about the state of Arizona higher education (moreso since receiving my rejection letter from UC San Diego earlier today) but looking at provision 2, I can't help but imagine the worst case scenario.

Now I'm lucky in that my field is mathematics. Assholes like the Arizona senators here and David Horowitz don't understand mathematics, and therefore aren't on a crusade to destroy it. (just imagine, though, if they could possibly grasp Banach-Tarsky paradox - then we'd be screwed) But let's take a look at the ramifications of this to the subject areas it does affect.

1) Biology is out. Evolution is "controversial". Therefore it would be possible to get a biology degree at an Arizona school without ever fucking learning about biology.

2) Religion is out. Idiot religious intolerants are going to be offended by learning about wrong religions. So it'll be possible to get a degree in Religion at an Arizona school without ever learning about any religions.

3) Philosophy is out. My God, those existentialists are so immoral!

And you get the idea. Arizona Republicans, unhappy with the slow smothering of higher education they've been working on by their constant funding cuts are now attempting to just throw in a bomb and be done with it.

One thing of interest in the article, though, is even arch-asshole David Horowitz is against this particular bill:

he Arizona bill goes beyond the measures that have been pushed in other states — in fact it goes so far that David Horowitz, the ’60s radical turned conservative activist who has pushed the Academic Bill of Rights, opposes the measure. “It doesn’t respect the authority of the professor in the classroom,” he said. “This authority does not include the right to indoctrinate students or deny them access to texts with points of view that differ from the professor’s. But it does include the right to assign texts that make students feel uncomfortable.”


To which I must respond to Mr. Horowitz with a big, good old fashioned "FUCK YOU!" This is the guy behind the McCarthyite "Know the Network". This is the guy who spreads vicious rumors about university professors started from assholes who failed courses due to their complete lack of intelligence but happen to be conservative. This is the guy who with every breath is trying to fuel the growing stream of anti-intellectualism in this country that leads to bullshit like this.

Ergh.

On a related note Michael Berube is now officially my hero. Funniest post ever.

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