BOSEN: HB 1255 would ban Berlin history from NH schools
(CREDIT: Stefan Fussan, Creative Commons)
There is a dangerous bill, HB 1255, currently passing through our Free-Stater-controlled Orwellian Legislature.
Its proponents tell us that it is only a matter of prohibiting the “advocacy” of political doctrines detrimental to our democratic ideals, as well as any “negative reporting” of our history, except in a larger historical context with other similar “obsolete or discouraged” doctrines. .
However, the wording of the bill contradicts this explanation. As every legal scholar knows, the rules of interpreting legislation require giving meaning to seemingly ambiguous terms used in a statute, whenever possible, in order to arrive at an internally consistent interpretation that encompasses all.
HB 1255 modifies New Hampshire RSA 191:1 to read as follows (modified language in bold italics):
- No teacher should advocate communismsocialism, or marxism as a political doctrine or any other doctrine or theory which includes the forcible overthrow of the United States or state government of any public or state-approved school or state institution.
- No teacher shall advocate any doctrine or theory that promotes a negative narrative or portrayal of the founding and history of the United States of America in New Hampshire public schools that does not include the global context of practices now overwhelmed and discouraged. Such prohibition includes, but is not limited to, teaching that the United States was founded on racism.
III. A violation of this section will be considered a violation of the New Hampshire Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct for Education Professionals and will warrant disciplinary action.
In Part I, the provision “No teacher shall defend . . socialism”, is modified in part II by defining the verb “to defend” as a simple act “to teach”. This, when read together for internal consistency, necessitates seeing that the mere “teaching” of socialism constitutes its “advocacy”, thus leading to punishment.
No teacher will risk it. That may be the intention!
That “socialism” is defined in Part I of the bill to include “the overthrow of the government of the United States or of such State” – which any student of socialism knows – is not a tenet of the doctrine – leaves the bill with the open prospect of arbitrary and politically biased application. This would prohibit anything that other doctrine enforcers choose to label as a threat, even if it doesn’t actually advocate the overthrow of the government.
Notably, at least a dozen democracies are currently governed by socialist parties in whole or in part, all of which have been freely elected, including New Zealand, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Spain and Portugal. And all of whose political systems are ranked by The Economist magazine as more democratic than the United States. Nevertheless, under the inevitable application of this bill, a teacher can be punished for teaching anything about the political history or the economy of these socialist countries.
Most strikingly, however, this bill would prohibit teachers in my hometown of Berlin, New Hampshire from teaching its political history.
In the 1930s, Berlin elected a socialist mayor and city council who applied his political power to a litany of progressive policies: restoring higher wage rates in paper mills, negotiating better compensation for the unemployed, compensation workers’ compensation and loan subsidies – excluding recorders. They organized all local workers and helped organize farmers in Coos County to boycott outside milk dealers in order to force dairy prices higher.
This new “Farm-Labour Party” established outposts throughout New Hampshire, linked up with socialist movements in Northeastern and Midwestern industrial towns, and came close to forming a National Third Party with other regional chapters. They even ran Harvard lawyer Mayor Arthur Bergeron as governor in 1936.
FDR and the Democrats, realizing they would lose if this movement succeeded in establishing a National Third Party, were forced to incorporate their socialist platform into the second New Deal. It all started here in Berlin, the pulp and paper capital of the world and the second largest city in New Hampshire at the time.
HB 1255 will prevent the great-grandchildren of these historical figures from learning about their ancestors’ contributions to American history because they were socialists!
Ironically, because the bill explicitly prohibits teaching any political doctrine that includes the overthrow of the United States government or state, it would also prohibit the teaching of Article 10 of the Bill of Human Rights. Constitution of New Hampshire. This is so because this article openly condones the overthrow of the state government by any means necessary when the public feels that the government’s goals have been “perverted”. This is no less a right of forced rebellion than that found in the Communist Manifesto.
The drafters of the bill may not have intended this outcome, but its clear language demands it.
The only saving grace of this bill, despite its authors’ attempt to exploit the government to foment a new form of local American censorship and revisionism, is that, in addition to their patent ignorance of the disciplines of political history and economic, they don’t know how to effectively draft legislation. This fact, above all, makes this bill “DOA” at the door of the courthouse once challenged for one of its multitudes of flaws. Hopefully they won’t survive the next election to try again.