As reported on the Daily Kos, the Wisconsin Republican Party has sent a request to Professor Bill Cronon, who wrote a critical blog post and Times op-ed piece of the GOP’s (specifically its backers) campaign to bust public unions, for his personal emails sent and received through his school email account. As a public worker, it would seem that on the surface this request is legal. However, there are many complicating factors in a professor releasing emails wholesale–particularly in regard to confidentiality with other persons and potential FERPA violations with student records. Professor Cronon provides a clear rationale about why this is a significant attack on the intellectual community regardless of what point on the political spectrum you inhabit. Please read Professor Cronon’s thoughtful and thorough response to the GOP’s request here. Personally, I support Professor Cronon, and I do not believe that he should be made to release his emails to any group including the GOP. Intellectual freedom is impossible if you have to look over your shoulder constantly, because you fear that your communication and exchange of ideas with others may be de-contextualized and employed to discredit your work as a citizen and a scholar.
Today, Wonkette linked to an article on MotherJones by Nickk Baumann about a new GOP-backed bill that would require the Internal Revenue Service to audit how folks use pre-tax money on abortions. Baumann interviewed tax analyst Christopher Begin, who said, “Were this to become law, people could end up in an audit, the subject of which could be abortion, rape, and incest. . . . If you pass the law like this, the IRS would be required to enforce it” (qtd. in Baumann par. 3). Perhaps it should be reassuring that, “The proposal, which House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has declared a top priority of the new Republican Congress, has 221 cosponsors and is expected to pass the House easily” (Baumann par. 4). Why is this a top priority? Shouldn’t the GOP, whose members claim to be focused on the economy and job growth, work on more pressing matters than using the technologies of taxation to curb access to biomedical technologies of choice. These idiots claim to want less government and less bureaucracy, but it is obvious that they want more control over the lives of American citizens by enforcing their skewed ideology and wonky do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do religious beliefs on others through more laws, penalties, and people responsible for enforcement (I suppose they could privatize the extra headcount necessary for these measures. A system of incentives such as a percentage of fines going to contractors could simultaneously create more jobs for like-minded goons to do the GOP’s dirty work). There is no decency, compassion, or understanding on the part of the GOP House members who support this bill. They make me feel like reality is a thread’s breadth away from The Handmaid’s Tale.