Following up my last post about the unintended consequences of bills that are written for maximum political impact instead of actual usefulness to the people who must conform their lives to these laws, recently introduced legislation in Arizona would make it illegal for teachers in that state to teach…well, just about anything.
SB1467 would mandate suspensions and eventually termination for any Arizona teacher that “IF A PERSON WHO PROVIDES CLASSROOM INSTRUCTION IN A PUBLIC SCHOOL ENGAGES IN SPEECH OR CONDUCT THAT WOULD VIOLATE THE STANDARDS ADOPTED BY THE FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION CONCERNING OBSCENITY, INDECENCY AND PROFANITY IF THAT SPEECH OR CONDUCT WERE BROADCAST ON TELEVISION OR RADIO”
First and most prominently, notice that this proposed legislation starts with ‘engages in speech or conduct’. Not public speech or conduct, just speech or conduct, meaning that if a Teacher were to have been found to have dropped an F bomb at his own dinner table he would technically be subject to this law’s sanctions…that is, until this law was torn into so much campaign confetti by the court system. And really, that is all a bill like this is, campaign confetti strewn about by a legislator(s) too busy seeking their own re-election to be bothered by doing actual work for their constituents.
Second, let’s talk about the source of morality to which the sponsors of this bill have pinned the hopes for our Republic’s future: Television. The Federal Communications Commission’s morality, to be specific, so we can assume that teachers in Arizona should steer well clear of any sexual content but can discuss exploding cars, bullet wounds to the head and all manner of grievous bodily injury to their heart’s content. In other words, who’s up for another screening of Braveheart?
Except it’s not that simple. English classes include books with the seven words made famous by George Carlin. I’m pretty sure I had biology textbooks that would have drawn and FCC fine far in excess of the one levied due to Janet Jackson’s Superbowl halftime show. Ironically…and I don’t use that word loosely when writing a piece about Arizona allowing the Federal Government to define its morality…the very Supreme Court Cases which demonstrate that this law is stupefyingly unconstitutional drop enough F-bombs in their rulings to take a teacher from her first suspension all the way through termination under this law.
This is another example of a legislator spending his or her time thinking up ways to get re-elected instead of coming up with real world solutions to real world problems. The person that wrote this should be prevented from ever drafting another piece of legislation unless and until they understand how painfully unworkable the language of this bill makes its implementation. The sponsor of this bill should be prevented from introducing any more legislation until he can demonstrate that any new legislation as written a) in response to an actual problem, b) to address that problem, and c) in language that is compatible with and could work within the system of existing laws we already have in place.
Because if you can’t do all three of those things, then you don’t need to be a legislator…or at the very least, you don’t need to be introducing laws to which the people you represent might actually have to conform their lives. We have enough laws already, thank you very much. Please make sure the next one makes sense before you send it our way.