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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Professors weigh in on censorship

“Fire me and fire me now,” said Terry Wimmer, a journalism professor of practice, when he heard about Senate Bill 1467.

The proposed legislation would require public schools to punish instructors who engage in speech or conduct that violates the Federal Communications Commission’s rules concerning obscenity, indecency and profanity for broadcast television.

The first time a teacher uses obscenities, he or she would be placed on unpaid suspension for at least one week. The second occurrence would result in an unpaid suspension for at least two weeks, and the third occurrence would result in the employee’s termination. The bill states that a school may choose to fire the instructor after the first or second occurrence.

Republican Sen. Lori Klein, who represents Anthem, sponsored the bill. Senate Majority Leader Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, has also signed on in support of the bill, in addition to Senators Al Melvin, Don Shooter and Steve Smith.

Klein said she did not intend for the bill to apply to community college or universities, and although the proposed legislation initially did, it has been modified to no longer apply to university classrooms.

As a future teacher of young children, Chelsea Granillo, an early childhood education junior, said she would support this three-strike system.

“Since young children are still developing their receptive and expressive language skills, they are very susceptible to picking up inappropriate vocabulary,” Granillo said. “It is developmentally inappropriate for young children to be around this kind of negative language, and I feel like a teacher shouldn’t be teaching if they feel the need to speak in this manner.”

UA professors and students expressed concern that the bill, if modified to include universities again, could censor university instructors.

“Broadcast obscenity standards has absolutely nothing to do with education,” Wimmer said. “I tell students on the first day that I am a little salty. Things happen in the heat and passion of a classroom. I don’t mean to be uncomfortable.”

Dan Fitzgibbon, board chair of the Arizona Students’ Association, a student lobbying group for higher education, said the bill could have affected the learning experience in a university classroom.

“In the college or university environment, open and intellectual discussion I think is something that is very important, and any type of censorship of that is I think not only detrimental to the freedom of the instructor but also open forum,” Fitzgibbon said.

Fitzgibbon said that because a majority of UA students are older than 18, the bill would have censored conversation between adults. It could also take away basic constitutional rights such as free speech, he said.

Charles Scruggs, an English professor, said he worries that this bill could be the “first start of muzzling a professor.”

“If you cannot say it in the classroom, whose going to say it?” Scruggs asked. “If TV dictates what we know and say, then we’re in deep shit.”The proposed legislation would require public schools to punish instructors who engage in speech or conduct that violates the Federal Communications Commission’s rules concerning obscenity, indecency and profanity for broadcast television.

The first time a teacher uses obscenities, he or she would be placed on unpaid suspension for at least one week. The second occurrence would result in an unpaid suspension for at least two weeks, and the third occurrence would result in the employee’s termination. The bill states that a school may choose to fire the instructor after the first or second occurrence.

Republican Sen. Lori Klein, who represents Anthem, sponsored the bill. Senate Majority Leader Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, has also signed on in support of the bill, in addition to Senators Al Melvin, Don Shooter and Steve Smith.

Klein said she did not intend for the bill to apply to community college or universities, and although the proposed legislation initially did, it has been modified to no longer apply to university classrooms.

As a future teacher of young children, Chelsea Granillo, an early childhood education junior, said she would support this three-strike system.

“Since young children are still developing their receptive and expressive language skills, they are very susceptible to picking up inappropriate vocabulary,” Granillo said. “It is developmentally inappropriate for young children to be around this kind of negative language, and I feel like a teacher shouldn’t be teaching if they feel the need to speak in this manner.”

UA professors and students expressed concern that the bill, if modified to include universities again, could censor university instructors.

“Broadcast obscenity standards has absolutely nothing to do with education,” Wimmer said. “I tell students on the first day that I am a little salty. Things happen in the heat and passion of a classroom. I don’t mean to be uncomfortable.”

Dan Fitzgibbon, board chair of the Arizona Students’ Association, a student lobbying group for higher education, said the bill could have affected the learning experience in a university classroom.

“In the college or university environment, open and intellectual discussion I think is something that is very important, and any type of censorship of that is I think not only detrimental to the freedom of the instructor but also open forum,” Fitzgibbon said.

Fitzgibbon said that because a majority of UA students are older than 18, the bill would have censored conversation between adults. It could also take away basic constitutional rights such as free speech, he said.

Charles Scruggs, an English professor, said he worries that this bill could be the “first start of muzzling a professor.”

“If you cannot say it in the classroom, whose going to say it?” Scruggs asked. “If TV dictates what we know and say, then we’re in deep shit.”

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