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OPINION | EDITORIAL: You don’t say

How to put words in mouths April 27, 2022 at 1:00 a.m.

Another day, another bill signing in Florida. Another bill signing in Florida, another attempt to make it the end of all things good.

The governor of Florida signed another controversial bill last week, this one involving race-based discussions in schools and businesses. And you would have thought he was preventing just that. (A summary of the bill on Florida's government website can be found here: arkansasonline.com/427fla/)

Just as the "Don't Say Gay" bill there didn't say anything like that, the opposition tells us the latest bill would prevent the teaching of American history, or the Civil War, or Jim Crow, or something. The thing about the opposition in these matters, or one of the things, is that it isn't too specific.

For best example:

"The governor is on his bogeyman tour of issues that are not issues," said state Sen. Shevrin Jones. "The Republicans continuously cloak themselves in freedom, but clearly pick and choose which freedoms and for whom they support said freedoms . . . They sure don't support the freedoms of Black people."

Wha--?

We had to re-read the summary of the bill. And, gosh, the state senator must've been given a different copy.

According to the Associated Press (not Fox News), Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law new guidelines for Florida classrooms and businesses that "bars instruction that says members of one race are inherently racist, and that they should feel guilt for past actions committed by others of the same race or that a person's status as privileged or oppressed is necessarily determined by their race. It also bars the notion that meritocracy is racist, or that discrimination is acceptable to achieve diversity."

According to the AP, opponents say the governor doesn't know what he's talking about, besides "his motives are to suppress an accurate account of Black history."

So now they can read his mind? How about, instead, read the bill? And let's have an argument about what it does and doesn't say.

The law probably has legal problems. For example, it sounds like it includes college courses in its guidelines. And clamping down on what professors in college can say gets into dicey territory. (FIRE--Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which has been a favorite of ours for years--has come out against.) As far as private businesses go, the law says these critical race theory teachings cannot be "a condition of employment"--and that might get into what businesses can and can't do in their diversity seminars.

Those are the arguments that folks probably should have.

Instead, media reports quote the opposition as saying the new law is "dangerous" and "devastating" and "whitewashes American history."

Question: How?

After reading the bill summary again, it appears as though the state of Florida would expand the teaching of African American history, slavery, racial oppression, segregation, discrimination, and sexism, but in an age-appropriate manner. And also teach that people are responsible for their own behavior, and shouldn't be punished for the sins of their fathers. Or great-great-grandfathers. Which is probably what parents in Florida want taught.

If we're going to have this discussion, we should at least have it honestly. And quit putting words in each others' mouths. Or motives in each others' minds.


Print Headline: You don’t say

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