Hate speach

The same Florida Legislature that is trying to criminalize civil disobedience under the cloak of “riot prevention” and is in lockstep behind Georgia's to likely pass voter suppression laws, now wants to be the arbiter of “intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity” on college campuses. I would fall over in laughter if my blood weren't boiling.

To begin with, you need a magnifying glass to find a modicum of intellect among Republicans in the Florida Legislature, so the conjuring up of this bill speaks to their Trumpian pea brains.

Late last week, the Senate took up the House’s version of HB 233, which would lead to colleges and universities surveying students, faculty and staff members to determine if there is sufficient intellectual freedom and diversity of viewpoints at their institutions. The move positioned the Senate to take a final vote on the proposal, which the Republican-controlled House passed in a 77-42 party-line vote on March 18.

Obviously, what they really want to know is if there is enough conservative, Republican influence at the college level, because they know that young voters skew Democrat. Under the proposal, the state university system’s Board of Governors and the State Board of Education would be required to create an “objective, nonpartisan and statistically valid survey.” Clearly, that's a joke.

The Senate sponsor, Republican Ray Rodrigues from Lee County on the West Coast of Florida, says governing bodies that oversee colleges and universities would determine whether there is intellectual freedom on campus based on the survey results.

Sure, Ray. Uh-huh.

“Should those results come back, implying that there’s a lack of intellectual freedom or a lack of viewpoint diversity, and the administration says they’re fine with that, the market will decide whether that’s acceptable or unacceptable,” Rodrigues said.

During a debate last month, House sponsor Spencer Roach, R-North Fort Myers, said future legislatures could “use that data as the basis to make a policy decision.” Sounds rather threatening, don't you think?

Clearly a rhetorical question, Sen. Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, asked whether colleges and universities have requested conducting surveys.

“They have not requested the survey be done. That was my idea,” Rodrigues answered.

Of course not! What college or university would request such intervention by politicians? Also of no surprise, Rodrigues said colleges and universities have not been involved in drafting the bill. In addition, the proposal would prevent colleges and universities from “shielding” students, faculty and staff from any kind of speech. The measure defines “shield” as limiting “access to, or observation of, ideas and opinions that they may find uncomfortable, unwelcome, disagreeable, or offensive.”

Rodrigues and Roach have said the proposal would stop institutions from barring any group from speaking on campus, so the intent is crystal clear. That means any Proud Boy wing nut could come in and speak to students – you know, like the ones who invaded the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Opponents have argued the provision would allow groups like the Ku Klux Klan to come to campuses.

Once again, Florida Republicans are trying to find every avenue for their perverse ideology to invade the state like a cancer, so they can control every facet of society and brainwash our kids into becoming neo-Nazis. I have news for them. It won't work, no matter how vile their attempts.

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