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Meanwhile… In Opposite Land

Monday, Jul 31, 2023 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Alabama

Alabama Republicans on Friday defied a U.S. Supreme Court order by passing a new congressional map that includes only one majority-Black district.

The GOP-controlled Legislature had called a special session to redraw an earlier map after the Supreme Court reaffirmed a federal court order to include two districts where Black voters make up voting-age majorities, “or something quite close to it.” But on Friday, state Republicans approved a new map with just one majority-Black seat and a second district that is approximately 40% Black.

The bill passed the House in a 75-28 vote after the Senate voted 24 to 6 in favor of the revised map.

The map was completed Friday afternoon — hours before the court-ordered deadline for the Legislature to draw up new boundaries — as a compromise between the House and Senate versions.

Republican Gov. Kay Ivey signed the redistricting map into law Friday night. A federal court will hold a hearing on the map Aug. 14.

* Florida

The Florida Department of Education determined that educational materials geared toward young children and high school students created by PragerU, a nonprofit co-founded by conservative radio host Dennis Prager, was in alignment with the state’s standards on how to teach civics and government to K-12 students.

The content — some of which is narrated by conservative personalities such as Candace Owens and Tucker Carlson — features cartoons, five-minute video history lessons and story-time shows for young children and is part of a brand called PragerU Kids. And the lessons share a common message: Being pro-American means aligning oneself to mainstream conservative talking points.

“We are in the mind-changing business and few groups can say that,” Prager says in a promotional video for PragerU as a whole. He reiterated this sentiment this summer at a conference for the conservative group Moms for Liberty in Philadelphia, saying it is “fair” to say PragerU indoctrinates children.

“It’s true we bring doctrines to children,” Prager told the group. “ But what is the bad about our indoctrination?” […]

Some videos talk about the history of race relations and slavery. In one video, two kids travel back in time to meet Christopher Columbus, who tells them that he should not be judged for enslaving people because the practice was “no big deal” in his time. Columbus argued to the kids that he did not see a problem with it because “being taken as a slave is better than being killed.”

* Wisconsin, West Virginia, Iowa, Michigan

Wisconsin is just one of a growing number of states where predominantly Republican lawmakers are making quiet moves to roll back the alcohol service age, so that kids who can’t legally buy alcohol – or in Wisconsin’s case, even drive a car – would be allowed to serve hard drinks to customers at bars and restaurants. In addition to alleviating the labor shortage, lawmakers behind the bills argue letting kids serve alcohol would give them valuable work experience.

That’s left some opponents of the bills at a loss for words. “It’s bizarre. I can’t believe that we’re even having this conversation,” says Ryan Clancy, a Democratic state legislator who represents parts of Milwaukee, where he also owns an entertainment center that serves alcohol. He’s seen how drunk customers can harass workers, and “the idea that we would expose Wisconsin’s children to harassment through this is just unconscionable. It’s not only an erosion of labor, but our willingness to protect our kids.”

Until recently, every US state required a worker serving alcohol in a bar or restaurant to be at least 18 to 21. These minimums in part reflect the legacy of the movement to end child labor in the 20th century, says Betsy Wood, a historian of child labor at Bard Early College.

But according to a report published last week by the Economic Policy Institute, at least seven states have enacted laws to lower their alcohol service age since 2021, including West Virginia and Iowa, which lowered the minimum age to 16, and Michigan, which lowered it to 17. The bills are backed by restaurant lobbying groups as part of a broader effort to loosen child labor laws “to cut labor costs and deregulate employment”, the report writes – at a time when child labor violations are on the rise across the country.

* Texas

The largest school district in Texas announced its libraries will be eliminated and replaced with discipline centers in the new school year.

Houston independent school district announced earlier this summer that librarian and media-specialist positions in 28 schools will be eliminated as part of superintendent Mike Miles’s “new education system” initiative.

Teachers at these schools will soon have the option to send misbehaving students to these discipline centers, or “team centers’” – designated areas where they will continue to learn remotely.

News of the library removals comes after the state announced it would be taking over the district, effective in the 2023-24 school year, due to poor academic performance. Miles was appointed by the the Texas Education Agency in June.

* Arkansas

Arkansas is temporarily blocked from enforcing a law that would have allowed criminal charges against librarians and booksellers for providing “harmful” materials to minors, a federal judge ruled Saturday.

U.S. District Judge Timothy L. Brooks issued a preliminary injunction against the law, which also would have created a new process to challenge library materials and request that they be relocated to areas not accessible by kids. The measure, signed by Republican Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders earlier this year, was set to take effect Aug. 1.

A coalition that included the Central Arkansas Library System in Little Rock had challenged the law, saying fear of prosecution under the measure could prompt libraries and booksellers to no longer carry titles that could be challenged.

The judge also rejected a motion by the defendants, which include prosecuting attorneys for the state, seeking to dismiss the case.

* Iowa

Hundreds of books would be banned in Urbandale schools, providing the first full scope of just how many titles could be removed from schools under a new Iowa law that forbids teaching about gender identity and prohibits publications that depict sex acts.

The Des Moines Register obtained a list of 374 books that the Urbandale Community School District believes could violate Senate File 496, which, among other changes, requires teachers and administrators to review their libraries and classrooms for books that depict sex acts and prohibits them from buying them in the first place.

The law also prohibits schools from providing instruction about gender identity or sexual orientation before seventh grade, which Urbandale officials believe includes books, according to instructions provided on the list.

Teachers in the school district of about 4,000 students northwest of Des Moines have been instructed to remove those books, which include children’s picture books, titles with LGBTQ themes, and classics like “Ulysses,” “The Catcher in the Rye” and “The Color Purple.”


  1. - Roadrager - Monday, Jul 31, 23 @ 1:21 pm:

    Nothing gets kids to improve their academic performance quite like taking the libraries out of their schools and replacing them with discipline centers.

    I wished we lived in an age or a place where journalists were willing and/or able to call malicious liars in power what they are. Instead we top out at “But others say.”

  2. - Paddyrollingstone - Monday, Jul 31, 23 @ 1:24 pm:

    These people are all insane. I saw that a “concerned parent” objected to “Arthur’s Birthday,” as being dangerous to children’s souls. Now, Arthur, being an aardvark, might be dangerous to ants and their souls, but I have a feeling the kids of Florida who read this book will be allright.

  3. - Demoralized - Monday, Jul 31, 23 @ 1:24 pm:

    Alabama: So the Supreme Court tells them to do something and they stick the middle finger at them.

    Florida: It’s ok to indoctrinate kids so long as conservatives are doing it. Also, this curriculum approval is absolutely absurd. And once again shows just how bigoted the State of Florida has become by allowing teaching that does not say in no uncertain terms that slavery was an abomination.

    Texas: So now conservatives have gone from banning books to closing libraries.

    Iowa: Republicans should be absolutely ashamed of themselves for supporting these book bans. Free speech is ok so long as it’s speech they want to be heard. You know, Republicans say they want to give parents back control of their children but want to tell me what my kid can and cannot read.

    You couldn’t pay me to be a Republican.

  4. - Gruntled University Employee - Monday, Jul 31, 23 @ 1:33 pm:

    ==The largest school district in Texas announced its libraries will be eliminated and replaced with discipline centers in the new school year.==

    Eliminating libraries, in schools? Wow, just WOW.

  5. - Sir Reel - Monday, Jul 31, 23 @ 1:39 pm:

    The PragerU cartoons, 5 minute history lessons and stories shows sound like how adult Republicans learn nowadays. In keeping with Trump’s 1 page bullet point issue papers. Dumbing it down makes it easier to gloss over difficult and complicated reality.

  6. - TheInvisibleMan - Monday, Jul 31, 23 @ 1:47 pm:

    Looking at this list of horror, I’m reminded of a simple observation of the times…

    I don’t care how expensive cannabis is here.

  7. - DuPage Dad - Monday, Jul 31, 23 @ 1:53 pm:

    The Houston story absolutely confounds me. It reminds me of the places that decided that since they can’t ban books, they’ll just close the library altogether.

  8. - West Sider - Monday, Jul 31, 23 @ 1:54 pm:

    It’s more than Opposite Land- it’s becoming a Do Not Hire List. I would not trust the young people from such places as future employees.

  9. - Norseman - Monday, Jul 31, 23 @ 1:55 pm:

    MAGA GOP hypocrisy at its worst. Teaching accurate history and tolerance is bad and negative indoctrination. Pushing a white washed history, eliminating diversity education and promoting right wing politics is good indoctrination.

  10. - Henry Francis - Monday, Jul 31, 23 @ 1:58 pm:

    So the State of Alabama is telling the US Supreme Court to go pound sand, they are going (again) with only 1 minority district in the state.

    I wonder how the SCt is going to feel about this. Maybe they won’t even notice it? I mean just 10 years ago they found portions of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional because it is “based on 40 year old facts having no logical relationship to the present day”.

  11. - thoughts matter - Monday, Jul 31, 23 @ 2:05 pm:

    Demoralized +1

    Texas- what does it say about your education policies and your parents when so many students need disciplinary centers that you have to close the libraries to find seating for them?

  12. - Jocko - Monday, Jul 31, 23 @ 2:07 pm:

    ==he should not be judged for enslaving people because the practice was “no big deal” in his time.==

    Um, Bartolomé de Las Casas might beg to differ.

  13. - Ducky LaMoore - Monday, Jul 31, 23 @ 2:12 pm:

    “being taken as a slave is better than being killed.”

    I prefer, “Give me liberty, or give me death.” -Patrick Henry

  14. - Victor Kingston - Monday, Jul 31, 23 @ 2:17 pm:

    Absolutely wild.

  15. - Bruce( no not him) - Monday, Jul 31, 23 @ 2:21 pm:

    ==The largest school district in Texas announced its libraries will be eliminated and replaced with discipline centers in the new school year.==
    Are “discipline centers” kinda like re-education centers?

  16. - notsosure - Monday, Jul 31, 23 @ 2:23 pm:

    I’m adopting a new rule: do not read the Opposite Land posts, unless there is also an Oscar post available nearby. Definitely need me a moment of Zen after this nonsense. Or maybe a trip to the closest (and I’m with the Invisible Man on this one) overpriced dispensary.

  17. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jul 31, 23 @ 2:24 pm:

    ===decided that since they can’t ban books, they’ll just close===

    Roland Burris tells the story of how the White folks in the Cairo of his youth filled the public pool with concrete rather than integrate the facility. It was, unfortunately, a fairly common reaction.

  18. - Dupage Dem - Monday, Jul 31, 23 @ 2:33 pm:

    Iowa, Arkansas and Texas– not the place for librarians these days.. But wait until they see the good trouble us librarians can give them…

  19. - Dotnonymous x - Monday, Jul 31, 23 @ 2:42 pm:

    If you don’t tell the kids about sex, they won’t do it…right.

  20. - Dotnonymous x - Monday, Jul 31, 23 @ 2:45 pm:

    Cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s own face is inherently human…and ultimately self-destructive.

  21. - Dotnonymous x - Monday, Jul 31, 23 @ 2:49 pm:

    According to the new (rightwing adjusted) definition “Slaves” will now be referred to as “Job Trainees”.

  22. - Flyin'Elvis'-Utah Chapter - Monday, Jul 31, 23 @ 3:05 pm:

    Remembering when I couldn’t believe voters chose W. for a second term.

    Such simpler times.

  23. - JoanP - Monday, Jul 31, 23 @ 3:09 pm:

    Author Jesse Andrews had the best take on how book bans will affect kids: “There is no force on earth greater than a teenager’s will to do something you’ve told them not to.”

  24. - Leslie K - Monday, Jul 31, 23 @ 3:22 pm:

    Librarians can be conservative, liberal, hippy-dippy, whatever. The point is that their politics don’t control what you read.That’s how I was raised (by a librarian in a library world). And, no–my libary Mom and I don’t agree on politics, but we agree that all should have free access to information.

  25. - duck duck goose - Monday, Jul 31, 23 @ 3:24 pm:

    Is allowing minors to sell alcohol really that bad? Every time I’m in the grocery store waiting for at least two and a half yonks for the one employee in the store who’s over 21 to mosey to the register to run a six pack over beeper, I think that we ought to allow someone slightly younger to process the transaction. If you’re old enough to operate a motor vehicle on public roads, you’re probably old enough to make change for a half-rack of Milwaukee’s Best.

  26. - duck duck goose - Monday, Jul 31, 23 @ 3:27 pm:

    It wasn’t slavery. It was just an (involuntary and hereditary) unpaid internship.

  27. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jul 31, 23 @ 3:40 pm:

    ===slightly younger to process the transaction. If you’re old enough to operate a motor vehicle===


  28. - ArchPundit - Monday, Jul 31, 23 @ 3:47 pm:

    ==Is allowing minors to sell alcohol really that bad?

    I have no problem with 18, but if we are going to hold the employee responsible for ensuring people are 21 it seems like that should be done by a legal adult.

  29. - Suburban Mom - Monday, Jul 31, 23 @ 3:50 pm:

    === In one video, two kids travel back in time to meet Christopher Columbus, who tells them that he should not be judged for enslaving people because the practice was “no big deal” in his time. Columbus argued to the kids that he did not see a problem with it because “being taken as a slave is better than being killed.” ===


  30. - duck duck goose - Monday, Jul 31, 23 @ 3:55 pm:

    Fourteen might be young (although you can drive at 14 in Idaho), but we can do at least slightly better than 21. I was getting my dad beers since I was five and I turned out marginally okay.

    I’m probably more concerned about the maturity level of the people cooking my food than I am of the one pouring my drink.

    Many babysitters are around 14. We trust them with the care and custody of children, but not with our BAC.

    Heck, 14-year-olds can own guns (prohibited punctuation) Our priorities may be askew.

    But then again, have you met a 14-year-old? They shouldn’t be doing anything.

  31. - Jocko - Monday, Jul 31, 23 @ 4:14 pm:

    ==Is allowing minors to sell alcohol really that bad?==

    You want a 14yo to check fake IDs and fearlessly say no to over-served customers?

  32. - Excitable Boy - Monday, Jul 31, 23 @ 4:28 pm:

    - You want a 14yo to check fake IDs and fearlessly say no to over-served customers? -

    I’m with you, as someone known to have occasionally been overserved over the years I don’t want some teenager having to deal with me in any way. Kids shouldn’t be bartenders.

    That said I don’t have as much of a problem if the establishment is primarily a restaurant, and I would love it if I didn’t have to wait for a manager every time I pick up a case of beer at Jewel.

  33. - sal-says - Monday, Jul 31, 23 @ 4:29 pm:

    We can only hope & work towards having real people on Planet Earth 1 get real tired of the anti democratic shenanigans from these strokes who are off planet & get politics changed for the better.

    Sadly, not holding my breath, but hope is better than choosing Planet Earth 2.

  34. - Almost the Weekend - Monday, Jul 31, 23 @ 4:30 pm:

    Rich you missed this story in Texas last week. If this happened in Illinois, Lucky Pierre would implode.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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