S03E06 – Blasphemy in England, ESG, SVB, and Florida Higher Education Legislation

In this episode of Finding Common Battle Grounds, Tom and Ryan tackle four topics. First up is a case of alleged blasphemy in a high school in England where four students were accused of desecrating a copy of the Quran. We both agree that blasphemy laws are outdated and shouldn’t exist. We then turn to a discussion of ESG and the recent federal legislation on this. ESG is Environment, Social, and Corporate Governance and became an issue when Republicans passed legislation prohibiting Wall Street fund managers from considering ESG factors when making investment decisions. Both of us agree this is partisan pandering with no real benefit for anyone. We then turned to the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank. This led us to a discussion of the power of the Fed and what is effectively a bailout of the bank and the depositors. Tom argued that this is a bad precedent and Ryan suggested he would have been fine with the depositors not getting all of their money back. Finally, we discussed recent and current actions by the Florida legislature and governor to regulate higher education in the state by cracking down on DEI and transgender initiatives at colleges and universities and their attempts to restrict faculty members’ abilities to teach about critical theory. Tom agreed with Ryan that this is a massive over-reach by the legislature, it violates free speech and academic freedom, and it reflects the fact that conservatives realize they cannot win in an open market of ideas, so they are trying to restrict what people can think and what faculty can teach. We did end on a point of disagreement when we considered a related but tangential topic about restricting what teachers in primary and secondary education can say or teach to kids, particularly as relates to sexuality.

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