November 30, 2022

POSITIVELY DYSTOPIAN: This judge just savagely schooled Ron DeSantis on his Orwellian rules

POSITIVELY DYSTOPIAN: This judge just savagely schooled Ron DeSantis on his Orwellian rules

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Judge Mark Walker let loose on Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ decree about “woke” viewpoints in classrooms, referencing George Orwell’s 1984 in the very first sentence of his order, describing DeSantis’ rule as “Like the thirteenth chime of a clock: you not only know it’s wrong, but it causes you to wonder about everything you heard before.”

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He didn’t stop there, going on to lambast universities and the governor for thinking the state has the “unfettered authority to muzzle its professors in the name of ‘freedom,'” and to silence “viewpoints that offend the powers that be.”

He further decried the assertion that the law protects “academic freedom,” sardonically noting that it does this only “so long as they express only those viewpoints of which the State approves,” and declaring this “positively dystopian.”

Moving on to a more formal tone, Judge Walker laid out specific problems with the law, such as professors and guest speakers being firmly forbidden from speaking approvingly of affirmative action in any form, and pointing out that this would, for example, prevent a guest like Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor from telling her own story of success.

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He ultimately granted partial preliminary injunctions, affirming the central claim, that the law creates an ongoing First Amendment violation, though it did agree that the state has some limited role in determining what courses should be available in public universities.

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It’s a significant slap down for DeSantis, though, as a definitive statement that he doesn’t have the right to determine what viewpoints can be shared in those classrooms.

From the ruling:

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Our professors are critical to a healthy democracy and the State of Florida’s decision to choose which viewpoints are worthy of illumination and which must remain in the shadows has implications for us all…the First Amendment does not permit the State of Florida to muzzle its university professors, impose its own orthodoxy of viewpoints, and cast us all into the dark.

In announcing the Stop W.O.K.E. Act in December 2021, DeSantis declared Critical Race Theory to be “state-sanctioned racism,” claiming that students in public schools are being taught to feel guilty for being white.

The full ruling can be read here.

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