OUR readers already know about the so-called Academic Freedom Act which has been promoted in various state legislatures by the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids).
As you also know, although versions of “academic freedom” bills have been introduced into several state legislatures over the past two years, originally timed to coincide with the release of Ben Stein’s Expelled, only Louisiana has enacted one. Bills that failed in 2008 were in Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma (that one passed, but was vetoed by Governor Brad Henry), and South Carolina. Louisiana was the Discoveroids’ only success in 2008; but with that and all the publicity they generated from Ben Stein’s film, there was no momentum for the following year.
In 2009, such bills were filed in Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. Mississippi briefly considered a textbook sticker law. All of those bills failed — except for the Texas bill which is currently in its death throes. It’s HB 4224, still languishing in committee, with no companion bill in the state Senate. There’s only a week left in the Texas legislative session, so it seems destined to join the others in legislative oblivion.
With so many failures, and only the relatively unimportant state of Louisiana in their pocket, what will be the Discoveroids’ next move? Because they’re so fond of using left-wing tactics (stealth operatives, campus activism, etc.), we suspect that their next campaign will be to advocate — at the state level — an academic version of the Fairness Doctrine. As Wikipedia informs us, that is:
… a policy of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that required the holders of broadcast licenses both to present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was (in the Commission’s view) honest, equitable and balanced.
The same concept could be imposed by the states on their school systems, to mandate the teaching of intelligent design.
Why do we suspect that this will be the Discoveroids’ next move? Consider this article at a Discoveroid blog, written two years ago when Expelled and the academic freedom campaign were being developed. It’s by Bruce Chapman, president of the Discovery Institute: We Need a Fairness Doctrine For Media.
Chapman starts out sounding like a proper conservative, opposing the doctrine with respect to talk radio. But then he takes a sudden turn. He says, with bold font added by us:
But the right could be making a mistake. Instead of opposing a new “Fairness Doctrine,” perhaps conservatives should embrace it — providing, that is, that the new policy is extended to all media, not just talk radio. (Do I notice some “progressives” throwing down their papers in disgust?)
Let’s start with that most public of federal broadcast entities, National Public Radio. …
Next, the new Fairness Doctrine should apply to television, including not just PBS, but also CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN and MSNBC, as well as the FOX channel. …
In addition to cable broadcasting, the new Fairness Doctrine also should reach into the press. I know print media have always been exempt, but, hey, judicial precedents change. Newspapers and news magazines not only use the public mails to ship some of their goods (often at subsidized rates), but they also run their delivery trucks over public roads and park their corner coin-boxes on public sidewalks.
Chapman toys with this idea a bit more:
It is never going to happen, you say. Well, OK, but let’s just open up the fairness issue as wide as possible and see where the debate takes us.
It should be exciting, especially when we have congressional hearings that extend the concept of political and cultural “fairness” still further — to Hollywood.
It seems to us — and perhaps you get the same impression — that Chapman is really enthusiastic about wielding his imaginary powers. But then he appears to get back to reality with his final line:
Or maybe the left would be smart to drop the matter altogether.
Yes, it was just a joke. Ha ha. But was it? Chapman clearly likes the idea. True, it won’t fly as he suggested, because that pesky freedom of speech thing gets in the way — but consider this: If Chapman’s extended Fairness Doctrine were applied at the state level to public schools, there’s no issue of press freedom involved.
If we can see the logic of the argument, so can Chapman — and he’s been thinking about it for the last two years.
So when the Discoveroids finally abandon their academic freedom campaign, watch for their Education Fairness Doctrine. That just might be their next move.
Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.