Thursday, April 1, 2021

RI: Another Dumb Bill For Protecting White Folks

Three Rhode Island representatives have proposed a bill to protect students in the state from what the legislators imagine, I suppose, what critical race theory or any of those other nasty anti-racist programs might be.

The three legislators are:

Rep. Patricia Morgan, who has also proposed that mail-in balloting be "tightened up," that the house condemn major tech companies "for their attack on the free speech rights of the American public," and that the house commemorate the life and career of Rush Limbaugh.

Rep. George Nardone, who has also proposed that charter schools be allowed to "engage in non-traditional approaches to learning," that ESAs be established in Rhode Island, and, well, he's on that Rush Limbaugh bus, too.

Rep. Sherry Roberts, who has also proposed the mail-in ballot thing, the Rush Limbaugh thing, and an act providing for the authorized taking of mushrooms from public lands.

Their bill is HB 6070, prohibiting the teaching of "divisive concepts." 

The divisive concepts in question do not, it turns out, include issues such as whether or not the earth is flat, whether Han shot first, or whether Mary Ann is hotter than Ginger. Instead, the legislators are concerned that some naughty teacher might choose to teach--

1) One race or sex is inherently superior

2) Rhode Island and/or the US is "fundamentally racist or sexist"

3) An individual is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive by virtue of their race or sex (can I just point out that their use of "their" here is incorrect by traditional standards, but very much in line with the modern non-binary gender usage).

4) An individual should be discriminated against or be treated badly because of the race or sex

5) Members of one race or sex should not treat members of other races or sexes without respect

6) An individual's moral character is determined by their race or sex (they did it again)

7) An individual, by virtue of race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same group

8) An individual should feel "discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other psychological distress on account of their race or sex"

9) Meritocracy or traits such as hard work ethic are racist, or were created by one race to oppress another

10) Race or sex stereotyping or scapegoating. Complete with detailed description thereof. 


All state and municipal contracts, grants and training programs entered into after the effective date of this section shall include provisions banning the teaching of divisive concepts and shall prohibit making any individual feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of their race or sex.

It would serve these folks right if the first case to come up under such a law was a Black family going after their child's racist school, but in general I'd bet that it's pretty hard to legislate "this institution should not make anyone feel bad." 

Of course, the real target here is critical race theory, or at least what these folks imagine critical race theory is like. Rhode Island is of course not the only place to try this-- Iowa has one of these, Tom Cotton wants one for the military, and the last White House occupant decreed something similar. All use the word "divisive," furthering the weird contrarian view that when a nation is trying to deal with a history of racism, segregation and inequity, somehow it is not the people who conduct and support those policies who are being divisive, but the people who point them out. It's an old piece of gaslighting, like when an abuse victim is told that if they report the abuse, they'll be tearing the family apart. 

I am told that this bill is unlikely to pass. That's good. Not only are its goals bad ones, but it's a ridiculously unenforceable piece of legislation. 

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