Florida Republicans are backing an Academic Freedom Bill of Rights that would let students sue “dictator professors” who try to indoctrinate students. The bill passed out of its first of three committees by a party-line vote. From the Florida Alligator:
The bill sets a statewide standard that students cannot be punished for professing beliefs with which their professors disagree. Professors would also be advised to teach alternative “serious academic theories” that may disagree with their personal views.
According to a legislative staff analysis of the bill, the law would give students who think their beliefs are not being respected legal standing to sue professors and universities.
Students who believe their professor is singling them out for “public ridicule” — for instance, when professors use the Socratic method to force students to explain their theories in class — would also be given the right to sue.
“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 said, citing one example when he thought a student should sue.
Rep. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, warned of lawsuits from students enrolled in Holocaust history courses who believe the Holocaust never happened.
It’s interesting that the Socratic method, which annoyed Athenians so much back in the day, still prompts visions of hemlock. Behind this bill is the mushy, multiculturalist belief that all opinions and points of view have equal value. Sincerity counts; scholarship is all subjective and therefore worthless.
Some professors do confuse indoctrination with education. Legislation — especially legislation that facilitates more lawsuits — is no solution.