By Adrian Pascua
By Adrian Pascua
Ohio has found a way to fight terrorism; stop giving terrorists jobs. A new anti-terrorist policy has just been enforced: the Ohio Patriot Act. The policy states that if you are a terrorist, have been a terrorist, or have even associated with a terrorist, in the state of Ohio, you must declare it on your job application.
Right now, the policy currently starts at the academic level, but these forms also apply to all jobs in the state, such as Ohio State University and the University of Cincinnati, two of Ohio’s most prominent universities. Answering “yes” to any of these questions are grounds for refusing you a job. Not answering them at all is an affirmative yes and makes you a suspected terrorist.
Lying, on the other hand, is no better. Doing so is a fifth-degree felony, punishable by a maximum of 12 months in prison and fines of up to $2,500. In a letter written by Robert M. O’Neil, a law professor at the University of Virginia, it is stated that, “the law threatens academic freedom in ways that have rarely been experienced in the past half century.”
This form is a bad joke born out of terrorist paranoia. This “policy” has been compared to the McCarthy era anti-communist loyalty oaths, which were deemed unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. It questions everything about free speech and academic freedom. What right does anybody have to ask another whether they support terrorism or America?
I can understand wanting to keep your state and communities safe, but doing so at the cost of a right that has been strictly protected by the Constitution of the United States, is completely unheard of. I don’t see the point of passing a law that would do more harm than good. It would be like being told to go to a police station for help, only to be turned away at the door.
Any person that lives in this country shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not they are suspected of being a terrorist. I couldn’t see myself going to a school that took away my right to speak for myself, or questioned my loyalty. I couldn’t see myself walking down a street where I have to constantly look over my shoulder to see if anybody looked suspicious to me.
Recently, the national office of the American Association of University Professors urged the University of Akron President Luis Proenza not to impose the policy. The AAUP has made it very clear that these forms are a lot more dangerous than the anti-communist oaths. Marking “yes” to any one of the questions on the form could make you a target to your own neighbors, not to mention the CIA, FBI and Secret Service.
I presented these questions to one of the instructors here at Riverside City College. “I’m speechless,” said Jule Ardis, a philosophy instructor here at RCC. “I don’t know how much more of our civil liberties we have to give up, because we’re in this for a long time.”
I couldn’t possibly see any college instructor wanting to fill out this form. A good teacher would defend his or her free speech and academic rights even against a state law that would take them away.
I don’t see much difference between the McCarthy era and this one anymore. The only difference I see these days is that the paranoid politician is screaming about terrorism instead of communism.