A Letter I Sent to the Governor

[Amazon Link]

I was alerted to an interview my state's governor gave to Commie New Hampshire Public Radio recently. A lot of issues covered, but this raised my hackles:

Question: Several listeners have asked about HB 544, which would prevent educators from teaching about systemic racism and sexism in public schools and state funded programs.  Molly in North Conway asks: Governor, if this bill passes the House and Senate, will you veto it?

Sununu: "Probably, yeah. I don't support it. Look, that bill, as I've read it to date, it really limits free speech. We might not like, you know, agree with certain things that may be said in a public setting or school or whatever it is. But that's the beauty of local control, that's working with your teachers, your school administrators, as a parent, on what's going on in the classroom, having that connectivity. But you don't control that by having a big government law that says you can't say certain things. I'm shocked.  I hate that concept. So, yeah, my guess is if it didn't change, I'd probably very likely veto it."

OK, well, that's hot garbage. The Governor should know better.

But I was somewhat more polite in my e-mail:

Dear Governor Sununu --

I was very disappointed to see in your comments about HB 544 in your recent NHPR interview. I hope you'll consider the favorable take on the bill written by James Lindsay, who's devoted much of his recent career to analyzing and criticizing "Critical Race Theory" and its cousin ideologies.: https://newdiscourses.com/2021/03/letter-supporting-bill-ban-critical-race-theory/

(I also recommend Lindsay's recent book-length treatment, Cynical Theories, written with Helen Pluckrose. But I realize you're a busy man.)

With respect to your free speech concerns, he's pretty clear:

It should also be noted that this bill has First Amendment relevance as well, and not in the way its opponents would explain. The essence of the First Amendment is that people have freedom of conscience, particularly with regard to matters of spiritual belief, and freedom of speech, such that the state can neither compel nor restrict speech. Opponents of this bill will say that the bill seeks to restrict speech, but this is not true. It explicitly leaves provision for workplace trainings and education that don’t teach these already-illegal tenets as uncontested fact. Moreover, the situation is quite the opposite to that portrayed by the opponents to the bill who oppose it on free-speech grounds. These workplace trainings and educational programs violate for very many people both freedom of conscience and freedom of speech. Their freedom of speech is violated by compelling them to admit to complicity in racism and sexism, among other social violations that are unlikely to be true. It also compels them to adopt a particular approach to anti-racism and anti-sexism that is very narrow and to speak on its behalf. This latter example, then, not only violates freedom of speech but also the freedom of conscience implied by both the free-exercise and establishment clauses of the First Amendment. It is not the state’s place to be dictating (or funding the dictators of) how one is to feel about the issue of racism and sexism. Citizens, the overwhelming majority of whom firmly reject racism and sexism, should be granted the freedom of conscience to oppose those on terms they find recognizable, which in a free, liberal country like the United States will mostly likely be rooted in equality, colorblindness, individualism, and universal humanity, which are solidly American values. They may also do so from Judeo-Christian principles, for example the famous injunction from Paul that in Christianity there is “neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free,” etc. They should not be compelled to do so in the terms most often employed by so-called “anti-racist,” “diversity,” “racial sensitivity,” and “culturally responsive” programs today, which are a specific ideology known as Critical Theory, which explicitly rejects virtually all of these values for others, sometimes termed “liberationist” and at other times rightly labeled “neo-Marxist,” including in the words of the activists pushings these programs themselves. While the law may not bear out today that these trainings and pedagogical pursuits violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments, as well as existing Civil Rights legislation, it is likely that they will eventually. It is therefore better to get on the right side of this issue now and take proactive steps to strengthen a legal architecture that is failing citizens in their most fundamental rights.

That says it better than I could. I have no objection to people holding any kind of wackadoodle views they want, and trying to convince others of their worth. That's not what the bill is opposing: it's the attempt to present these "woke" views as uncontested spherical-earth fact, in publicly-funded environments where people are coerced into echoing those views back.

Thanks for your attention. Best wishes.

I'd like to think this will persuade the Gov to rethink and remove his veto threat. I know, that's hopelessly optimistic.