Speed Reads

'full circle'

Pennsylvania GOP is trying to 'cancel' critical race theory academics, critics point out

A Pennsylvania bill aimed at preventing critical race theory from being taught in schools would also reportedly seek to ban universities from hosting speakers or assigning readings discussing certain ideas.

Pennsylvania's House Bill 1532 was introduced earlier this month, and it seeks to ban the teaching of concepts that Republican lawmakers' "trace to critical race theory," the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. The bill received newfound attention on Friday after Acadia University lecturer Jeffrey Sachs dug into it on Twitter, writing that "not only does it prohibit universities from promoting any of the usual forbidden concepts, it also prohibits them from hosting speakers or assigning readings that do." 

The bill states that postsecondary institutions shall not "host, pay or provide a venue for a speaker who espouses, advocates or promotes any racist or sexist concept" or assign "learning material that espouses, advocates or promotes a racist or sexist concept." It defines these concepts as including ideas such as that "an individual, by virtue of race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive," that "an individual, by virtue of the individual's race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by members of the individual's race or sex," that "an individual should receive favorable treatment due to the individual's race or sex," and that "the United States of America or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is fundamentally racist or sexist." 

The Atlantic's David French criticized the law as "blatantly unconstitutional," while NBC News' Benjy Sarlin wrote, "Remember when students blocking controversial speakers was the big story about 10 culture wars ago? Anyway, here's a bill to ban speakers who advocate something as controversial as affirmative action." Vox co-founder Matthew Yglesias echoed that sentiment, writing, "The 'cancel culture' discourse has genuinely gone full circle," adding that "the notion that a university should be forbidden from assigning students a putatively racist text to read for any reason is deeply problematic."