A proposed new law in the horrible state of Arizona would require teachers there to keep their behavior G-rated both in and out of the classroom. No, really. The law, sponsored by five Republican senators, would suspend or fire teachers if they spoke or conducted themselves in a manner contrary to FCC regulations for TV at any time. Arizona teachers, batten down your nipples— Janet Jackson style shenanigans will no longer be tolerated.
SB 467 is sponsored by Senators Andy Biggs, Don Shooter, Al Melvin, Lori Klein, and Steve Smith, and would apply to all public school teachers at all times, from Kindergarten on up through college. It would require all teachers to only perform activities and use language that would be allowed to be broadcast on television or radio, and any harloty teacher who failed to act like a character in a Nickelodeon teen sitcom would be dealt with severely. The text of the bill reads, in part,
For the first occurrence, the school shall suspend the person, at a minimum, for one week of employment, and the person shall not receive any compensation for the duration of the suspension. This paragraph does not prohibit a school after the first occurrence from suspending the person for a longer duration or terminating the employment of that person.
The second violation requires teachers to suspend teachers without pay for two weeks, and the third violation requires that the teacher be fired. The Act Like A Disney Character Act is not fucking around!
Free speech advocates are understandably concerned about the law not only for the implications it has on private citizens' private lives, but because of the implications it has for material that could be taught in the classroom. Teaching Huck Finn and other great works of literature, for example, may be a suspension-worthy offense, as would many medically accurate descriptions of sexuality. And college-level classes that use materials involving nudity, drug use, salty language, and other such pearl clutch-inducing offenses would be verboten.
Outside of the classroom, teachers would still be held to these absurd standards. Would they be allowed to take their clothes off? Masturbate? Take a dump? Swear when they open their teacher-sized paychecks and realize that they'll be eating rice and beans for the next two weeks after they pay their bills? How will teacher babies be made? Storks? Or will the teacher and his or her spouse be forced to make a suggestive comment to each other, wait for the canned "WOOO!" audience sounds to erupt, and then go into a totally darkened room while the credits roll?
Obviously, this proposed law is absurd. The state government should not and does not have the right to regulate private citizens' speech outside of their workplace, nor should it have a right to impose impossibly arcane standards of morality on what academic materials are or are not suitable for children. And it takes about 5 seconds of thought to realize that imposing these standards on university professors would cause a mass exodus of what talented students exist in public Arizona universities as well as discourage high quality faculty from accepting positions there.
We know that Arizona's a state that loves to legislate curriculum— it's now illegal there to teach any course that focuses on ethnic studies, because people who seriously say things like "Why isn't there a WHITE history month?! are in charge there. But the cynical side of me sees this particular bit of overreach as another attempt by conservatives to dictate how women should and should not act. Teaching's a heavily female profession, after all; according to the National Center for Education Statistics, in the 2007-2008 school year, more than three out of four teachers were women. Attaching penalties to teacher conduct that is "obscene" is pretty low, even for Arizona.
A good way to ensure the public keeps believing bullshit is to keep them from facts, and it seems now that some conservatives are making no effort whatsoever to hide their nakedly anti-fact agenda.
Your move, Florida.