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Florida’s Political Survey

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Governor DeSantis signed a law recently that includes a requirement to survey public university faculty and students about their political views. Institutions can lose funding if the results do not satisfy the Republican dominated state legislature. As would be suspected, there are many concerns about this law, or so Republicans have suggested. The survey results might not be anonymous and despite some reassurances there is nothing in the bill that prohibits faculty from being rewarded or punished for their professed beliefs. The treatment of Republicans such as Liz Cheney provide grounds for concern. After all, if Republicans will punish their own for deviating from their devotion to Trump and his election lies, then it would be odd if they showed restraint towards faculty who disagreed with their views. As would be expected, this law is following the GOP playbook. First, it is claimed that there are benevolent intentions behind the law; Republicans claim the survey is aimed at determining “the extent to which competing ideas and perspectives are presented” and to assess if students “feel free to express beliefs and viewpoints on campus and in the classroom.” Taking in isolation, these goals seem reasonable. After all, universities are supposed to be places of diverse ideas where students can express their views. Which is what they, in fact, are.  This takes use to the second stock play. Republicans have shown a marked tendency to pass laws to solve problems that do not exist in a meaningful way or are already adequately addressed by existing laws and practices. If universities were ruled by ideological dogmatism and students’ right of expression was being trampled, then action would be needed. One would think that if the “small government” Republicans were using the coercive power of the state, then there would be real problems calling for government action. But when reporters pressed DeSantis for evidence of the problem, the best he could. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

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