I’d Have Sworn This Was Satire

This isn’t satire. I kid you not.

The DeSantis administration has proposed a rule for Florida’s public campuses that would prevent the teaching of issues “that polarize or divide society among political, ideological, moral, or religious beliefs.”

Back in May, DeSantis signed into law Senate Bill 266, banning the state’s public colleges and universities from using public funds to “advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion, or promote or engage in political or social activism.” But the law, which took effect in July, never defined those terms, instead leaving that up to the Board of Governors that oversees those state schools. Now the board has done just that. In draft regulation obtained by The Chronicle of Higher Education, the board proposes that the ban apply to all campus programs and activities in which the college or university “endorses or promotes a position” on “topics that polarize or divide society among political, ideological, moral, or religious beliefs, positions, or norms.”

This idiocy is the logical outcome of redefining education as job training–a belief near and dear to contemporary Republican hearts. Just crank out worker bees–and for heaven sakes, don’t let them learn anything from our human history of deeply-contested political, ideological, moral or religious theories and beliefs!

UnderS.B. 266, Florida’s public colleges and universities are prohibited from offering general education classes that “distort significant historical events or include a curriculum that teaches identity politics” or that include “theories that systemic racism, sexism, oppression, and privilege are inherent in the institutions of the United States and were created to maintain social, political, and economic inequities.” The law also bars public higher education institutions from using state or federal funds for activities or programs that “advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion”—making Florida’s anti-DEI law one of the most restrictive of the dozens of such laws introduced across the United States. A DeSantis press release announcing the bill’s signing declared it is meant to “prevent woke ideologies from continuing to coopt our state universities and state colleges.”

I have a proposal: rather than this tortured effort to describe matters that will now be forbidden on campus, just reduce the bill to its essence: “Education will not be allowed.”

Think my snark is an over-reaction? Just look at the draft resolution:

In addition to defining “social issues” as “topics that polarize or divide society among political, ideological, moral, or religious beliefs, positions, or norms,” it defines “political or social activism” as “any activity organized with a purpose of effecting or preventing change to a government policy, action, or function, or any activity intended to achieve a desired result related to social issues, where the university endorses or promotes a position in communications, advertisements, programs.” “Diversity, equity, or inclusion,” meanwhile, “is any program, activity, or policy that promotes differential or preferential treatment of individuals, or classifies such individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, gender identity, or sexual orientation.”

As several pundits have observed, today’s GOP is the party of projection: the Florida effort to control what is discussed in the state’s classrooms is precisely the “indoctrination” that they pretend is occurring under “woke” auspices.

How does one teach the Crusades or the Reformation or the colonizing of America without noting the religious beliefs that polarized people living at those times? How do you teach philosophy without examining the contending perspectives of the philosophers, or discuss the role of women in politics without reference to the social “norms” that originally denied women the franchise? 

Are efforts to prevent rape on campus evidence of “differential treatment” of women? Speaking of “evidence,” what does evidence that a university is “promoting equity” look like? (I always thought “equity” meant fundamental fairness–I guess we don’t want that on campus….)

Education is typically defined as the process of acquiring knowledge and developing the powers of reasoning and judgment. Education may also extend to the acquisition of specialized skills needed for a career or profession, but it is usually understood to require the development of critical thinking, differentiating it from mere job training and from indoctrination.

DeSantis is well on his way to destroying higher education in Florida.

He began with attacks on New College of Florida, a public liberal arts college that was forced to alter its curriculum and programs. DeSantis installed conservative ideologue and education foe Christopher Rufo as a member of the college’s board of trustees, and together they worked to “remake” New College, which immediately lost more than a third of its faculty–a fact DeSantis hailed as permitting the “replacement of far-left faculty with new professors aligned with the university’s mission.”

I don’t know what that mission is, but it sure isn’t education.


  1. DeSantis’ Gestapo tactics are a renewal of Hitler’s suppression of all thoughts of any opposition to his personal beliefs being enacted by laws to rule education in the state of Florida. His other edicts are simply spreading his Gestapo control over the minds of Florida residents; slowly spreading Trump’s MAGA, White Nationalist, Freedom Caucus foundation while claiming to no longer associate himself with Trump.

    “I don’t know what that mission is, but it sure isn’t education.”

    He is aiming at another Holocaust!

  2. Ohio is preparing the same idiocy with SB 83, full of Orwellian doublespeak about promoting diversity and freedom of speech while quashing both

  3. When will right wingers wake up to the fact that passing blatantly unconstitutional laws just costs their states millions of dollars in legal fees that could be used for things that actually help people? All of these laws will be challenged. Even with our present SCOTUS, I don’t see how any of them will stand up and the lawyers will be laughing all the way to the bank.

  4. One sees many advertisements for faculty positions in Florida’s public universities. A mass exodus is occurring.

  5. To quote Sheila’s post:

    “DeSantis signed into law Senate Bill 266, banning the state’s public colleges and universities from using public funds to “advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion, or promote or engage in political or social activism.”

    There’s no question that this is against what Lincoln’s interpretation of our Constitution says when he famously, in his Gettysburg Address, declared “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

    I was born less than 100 years later, so I wasn’t there, but we studied this in high school, especially the simple words “for the people,” which meant 100% of the people who lived in the United (thanks to Lincoln) States.

  6. There is an astoundingly arrogant idiocy to legislating lies. Systemic racism, sexism, oppression, and privilege ARE inherent in the institutions of the United States. It’s the backbone of patriarchy that people know their place.

  7. Monsters like DeSantis, Gregg Abbott and whoever you thinking Hoosiers have to endure in Indiana are the direct result of purchased fascism from corporate/banking America. The gun makers? Of course. As part of the Orwellian takeover of democracy, those mindless drones have to be armed to the teeth.

    Again, the Citizens United v. FEC decision allowed big money to buy government. And here we are. Today’s comments, and I’m sure there will be more, are all very depressing… accurate, but depressing. If the drooling wretches like DeSantis and the cabal of corrupt, immoral and fascist idiot Republicans are allowed to stay in government, we’re finished as a democracy.

    Maybe Mitt Romney is correct for once. Our democracy now teeters on the brink of a Republican tyranny.

  8. I can’t attribute this quote because I do not recall the person’s name, but here goes:
    “Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it. Those who do not allow history to be taught intend to repeat it.”

    There should be some reporting about how much Florida is losing due to DeSantis and his policies. And Hoosiers need to start being active and organizing, like the proposal to eliminate the state income tax and replace it with an increased sales tax, which would be a big gift to the top 1% and would cost poor and middle class Hoosiers more.

  9. I have to wonder where the college will find professors who are aligned with the far right, anti-education bent of DeSantis. Preager University? Trump University? Hillsdale? Bob Jones?

  10. Sheila states the essence of SB 266 is that ‘education will not be allowed’. To her statement I will add ‘the truth will not be allowed’. Those white male supremacists are publicly declaring just how threatened and frightened they feel about our country’s true and brutal history being taught.

    This will most likely cause the opposite of what they fear. I envision the truth being secretly taught in homes or private gatherings by the professors that have basically been silenced by the FL senate.

    This cannot bode well for FL’s public universities. Maybe some wealthy Floridians will offer to subsidize FL students’ college educations at private colleges or out of state universities.

  11. The Desantis/Republican plan is to selectively enforce the law against political “enemies” only, while continuing to use taxpayer dollars and the “bully pulpit” to do exactly what the claims to forbid, promoting DeSantis’s polarizing, divisive program of political, religious, ideological partisanship. Any prosecutor who initiates an investigation under this law against something the Governor favors will be dismissed. And, of course, if any state or local government tries to enforce something similar against THEIR side, there will be countersuits, threats of violence, and 24-7 screeching and weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth about “woke censorship” on Fox News and the other usual propaganda channels.

    Rainbow flag? Divisive? Confederate flag? Not divisive.

    BLM? Divisive. Pro-Klan history books? Not divisive.

    Anne Frank’s diary? Divisive. Hitler quotes and fawning interviews with white supremacists by the so-called “moms for liberty”? Not divisive.

    “Wilhoits Law” can in theory apply to any unethical power-seeking movement, but this is a prime example of it applying to its original subject conservatives.

    “Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition, to wit: There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect.”

  12. We all have opinions, but opinions must be based on knowledge. And if we don’t have access to that knowledge, if we don’t have access to history, truthful history, then we are doomed to continue the death spiral of civilization.

    A lot of this stemmed from Barack Obama being elected president. This, as we all know, this created great fear and consternation amongst large swaths of hook line and sinker swallowers!

    Lizard people, gray aliens, Bigfoot, and myriads of other so-called threats hiding in plain sight, no matter how dubious and far-fetched, the flood of disinformation that plays to those fears, alters any sense of reality!

    I’m not saying that all of these lunatics actually believe these so-called truth tellers revealing so-called top secret information, but they become willfully deluded because they want to!

    This goes back millennia, dehumanizing our fellow citizens of Earth! After all, what better way for those seeking absolute power to coerce or cajole The hypnotized propaganda and conspiracy swallowers, that absolutely want to be part of a liberating movement to free humanity from some unseen overlords. A willfully deluded reality that they all can fight for Liberty and truth, against all secretive societies and otherworldly invaders, so they can be World saving heroes!

    Hey, who wouldn’t want to be a Marvel or DC comic superhero? Or even a sidekick? The adoration of fellow believers, to stoke a movement of us against them with a bunch of horse, chicken, or cow manure, take your pick, is shockingly simple.

    This is nothing new, It has happened continuously throughout the millennia, dehumanize, ostracized, then eliminate any and all undesirables. Then they can move ahead with what they see as Manifest Destiny!

    It actually clears their conscience, forcing others to question their inherent human rights, because those wannabe historical giants, Will subjugate, retrain, and brainwash their followers to do the bidding of those historical wannabes. After all, who wouldn’t want to be a freedom fighter against a destructive insurgency, one as innocuous as WOKE?

    If there is no enemy, if there is no threat, manufacture one! People will self-radicalize, they’ll become willfully ignorant, and knowingly deluded! The ability to be a part of something greater than self, but really not knowing what that something is, is astoundingly easy.

    That’s why history is so dangerous. It shows what the outcome is after societies eat themselves! Their so-called movement or movements become self-fulfilling prophecies! They become the monsters that they wish to fight!

  13. “Education is typically defined as the process of acquiring knowledge and developing the powers of reasoning and judgment.” All that and “critical thinking” too? Heaven forbid!!!
    I’m giving in this intellectual wasteland, but, happily, well beyond college age.
    This guy is the equivalent of human wasteland!

  14. Sheila writes, “This idiocy is the logical outcome of redefining education as job training–a belief near and dear to contemporary Republican hearts.”

    I still don’t believe the signs in the windows declaring that the boss can’t find employees. Maybe they should find out why before reshaping education.

    Most likely, they don’t care to find out the truth. Indeed, it won’t present the findings needed to support their lame-brain ideas.

    It’s disaster capitalism with disaster solutions. Kids on campus need to protest, and teachers with tenure need to walk out. Fight fire with fire…

  15. Both the draft resolution and the statute contain language deliberately hazy so that politicians will be enabled to provide definitions to suit the interpretive whims of De Fascist in the certain administrative and court challenges to come.

    My then living wife and I retired to Michigan and later to a lakeside home in Naples, Florida, in the 1990s. She passed in 2009 and I decided I would remain there to live it out. Then Florida elected a fascist governor, De Fascist, and after some experience as a citizen with his dictatorial tactics, I sold my home there and moved back to Indiana, where I now reside.

    I am no youngster, having served in WW II in the South Pacific and elsewhere in a war to end the fascism De Fascist now wants to reinstate under the guise of “Freedom” and other projections with his wholesale destruction of our democratic institutions. I determined that, having given over two years of my life in opposition to fascism, I would not live under fascist rule, foreign or domestic, hence my departure from Florida, which was the only reason I departed the sunshine state since I won’t be around when the state is underwater. (Contra: fossil fuel industry).

    I never dreamed that even the fascist captors of the Republican Party could come up with a worse anti-democracy candidate than Trump, but with De Fascist’s prospective ascendancy to the throne, they may have succeeded. My response to such reality? A political pox on both their houses!

  16. desatin maybe seeking a blank slate when looking at all humans. make humans all, survant to its god. read between the lines,no diversity or social hierarchy. just humans,robotic to accept. step back and read the text, seems his goal is to make everyone serve to capacity in one order. 1984?
    seems theres a few writters rewriting Orwells writing on the wall. desatin is seeking total authoritarian America. trumps too vaugue and stupid, while his lackeys are the same mold. if the stupid keeps keeps throwing money and resources at the same issue, it may become our demise. money today is counted as some sort of vote in the politicians pocket without elections.weve become a society today with unlimited free ink,and people who will follow anyone to a long walk off a short pier. the right,alone has become a faceless conversation that can be think tanked and minipulated to become a new god. we are well on our way..you maybe better off owning a gun now.

  17. I wouldn’t be too optimistic that the accreditors would ultimately win, but the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges needs to take a stand and revoke the accreditation of public colleges and universities in Florida. That would effectively end their students’ eligibility for federal financial aid. Sadly, Florida’s campuses are no more real universities deserving of public investment than Liberty University or Hillsdale College.

  18. Aberger started from where I was thinking, and I agree that denial of federal financial aid would be proper, but unlikely. However, I would go further. Not only should the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges (SASC) revoke accreditation, but major universities should announce that degrees from colleges and universities in Florida will not be accepted for admissions to their graduate programs.

    Loss of accreditation is significant for the reputation of the SASC, but New College and others will certainly receive accreditation from the American Accreditation Society (AKA The True Patriots Christian Accreditation Society – established by Ron DeSantis). Phony accreditation societies already exist.

    The rest of academia should react forcefully, or how about this? Many civil service positions require a college degree or equivalent experience. Have the civil service demand “equivalent experience” if the degree comes from a public college or university in Florida.

    Everyone should be declaring that a DeSantis degree isn’t worth the paper it is printed on.

  19. I have to admit that I’m anxious to see the effect of teaching the unvarnished truth about history, whether it’s American or world history. As I see it, that’s what the law calls for. It wouldn’t be pretty and I would bet it would upset those fragile young white, Christian Americans far more than the DEI would.

  20. What we think of as the “brain drain” is what they call making wherever great again. Driving the decent people out is part of their plan. My kids will live in decent places, then when they settle, I will join them. Their kids will not live in a “shithole” like Florida, and if the fascists use their state takeovers to dominate the US, then they may not live in a “shithole” like America.

    Fight or flight? Tough question.

  21. In case anyone is unclear about equity vs. equality, consider a person in a wheelchair attending a sporting event in a typical large arena. “Equality” says they have just as much right to claim a seat in the middle of the bleachers as anyone. Of course, this would be very, very difficult for them. “Equity” is providing places where wheelchairs can reach and be parked to watch the game.

  22. DeFascist- great version. Harvard declaring they won’t accept students with degrees from the fascist state if FL would end this nonsense. He intends his children to follow him. Too bad the rest of FL haven’t figured out he t go ought do little if education in FL from day one.

  23. They can teach about puppies. They’re warm, and soft, and cuddly. That’s all we need know, right?

    No WEB DuBois, no Frederick Douglass, Sand Creek Massacre, or other unpleasantness. Just puppies.

  24. Is DeSantis ignorant of the federal law requiring inclusion of special ed. children in general education classes to the extent possible? If he prohibits inclusion, I seriously doubt he’s willing to give up all the special ed. funds his state receives from the federal government. But he’s done other thing I could not even imagine. Perhaps he IS willing to return to those good old days when special ed. kids stayed at home or were separate and very unequal to their general ed. counterparts. I’m more than a little surprised that we haven’t heard outrage from special ed. parents who are not at all timid about making themselves heard.

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