Claim that open debate already exists is debatable

Claim that open debate already exists is debatable

Claim that open debate already exists is debatable

An associate editor for a higher-education news website doesn't think billionaire Michael Bloomberg will convince many that today's college classrooms already allow for free and open debate on critical issues.

Governor Ron DeSantis (R-Florida) proposed in December the Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees Act, or Stop WOKE Act, to oppose progressive indoctrination in schools, higher education, and corporations. Also known as the Individual Freedom Act, the measure prohibits employers with 15 or more workers from administering diversity training. It went into effect July 1.

Matt Lamb, associate editor of The College Fix, explains Bloomberg wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed last month regarding his opposition to the measure (House Bill 7) and arguing that most college classrooms are already conducive to honest and open debate.

"Republicans often rightly complain that college campuses are hostile to the free exchange of ideas," Bloomberg writes. "Unfortunately, instead of taking a principled stand for free speech, many Republicans are now saying: 'If you can’t beat 'em, join 'em.'"

The three-term mayor of New York City goes on to argue that Florida's law "abandons" the ideal of rigorous debate by seeking to proscribe what professors can say on particular topics.

In short, he argues that DeSantis is seeking to control educational and corporate speech.

Lamb, Matt (The College Fix) Lamb

"Michael Bloomberg has this idea that there's going to be a classroom, and one person's going to make a comment about race, and someone else is going to make another comment, and there's going to be this healthy back-and-forth debate, which should be great," Lamb submits. "But that doesn't really happen in most college classrooms today."

He doubts Bloomberg's article will sway many.

"He's maybe influential, I guess, in publishing or with his friends in the Chinese Communist Party, where he has a lot of ties," The Fix associate editor notes. "I don't think the average person really cares about what Michael Bloomberg thinks."

However, citing First Amendment violations, Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker recently blocked enforcement of a major provision of the Stop WOKE Act, and there are other pending legal challenges to it, including a lawsuit by a group represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and another filed by a group that includes teachers

The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) has also opposed the law on the basis that it violates the free speech protections of the Constitution.