“We will be shutting down low-performing, ideologically-captured academic departments and hiring new faculty,” Rufo tweeted. “The student body will be recomposed over time: some current students will self-select out, others will graduate; we'll recruit new students who are mission-aligned.”
For “low-performing, ideologically-captured academic departments,” read “departments with professors whose politics we don’t like.” The new faculty hired will be guaranteed to be partisan Republicans—DeSantis’ new higher education bill provides for boards of trustees appointed by the governor to make all hiring decisions. And the current students who will “self-select out” will be the LGBTQ ones, the students of color, anyone who is not fully on board with the DeSantis-Rufo program.
Don’t expect this kind of approach to stop at New College. That’s a test case, and the DeSantis bill, if passed, will make it easier to carry out political takeovers of every public college and university in Florida.
That’s higher education. Then there’s this: State Sen. Jason Brodeur is proposing a bill calling for bloggers, defined as “any person as defined in s. 1.01(3) that submits a blog post to a blog which is subsequently published,” who are compensated to write on blogs, defined as “a website or webpage that hosts any blogger and is frequently updated with opinion, commentary, or business content,” to register with the state “within 5 days after the first post by the blogger which mentions an elected state officer.” After that, these bloggers have to file monthly reports for any month in which they write anything about any elected state officer, and will be fined up to $2,500 if they fail to report. But one blogger could rack up multiple failures to report multiple pieces.
If passed, this would not apply to the websites of newspapers.
This is an attempt to control citizen media just as DeSantis’ goons are gearing up to control public higher education. In both cases, it’s about concentrating the control of the Republicans who dominate the state government and about limiting places where people—be it professors, students, or bloggers—can disagree with and criticize those Republicans. They’re literally trying to ban dissent, one form at a time.
Both the blogger bill and the higher education one still have to pass. But when it comes to Florida these days, it’s hard to bet against even the most repressive measures passing.
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