University of Oklahoma: State Legislature Investigates University for Hosting Controversial Speaker

Category: Free Speech
Schools: University of Oklahoma

Noted evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins waived his speaker fee and came to the University of Oklahoma to speak for the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. The Oklahoma state legislature, which considered passing legislation deeming Darwin’s theory “unproven and unpopular,” launched an investigation into Dawkins’ speech. The legislature requested all e-mails pertaining to the speech as well as the total cost of the speech, including any money that Dawkins might have received. By investigating a speech based on the unpopular views of the speaker, the state legislature is endangering free speech, creating a chilling effect by implying that any speech with a controversial message will be subject to intrusive and time-consuming investigation.

  • Engaging the Oklahoma legislature on its decision to investigate Richard Dawkins’ free speech

    May 20, 2009

    by Greg Lukianoff The Huffington Post   Back in March, I uncovered that members of the Oklahoma state legislature had launched an investigation of a March 6 speech at the University of Oklahoma by noted evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. The investigation was preceded by an attempt by another Oklahoma legislator to pass two bills condemning Dawkins and proclaiming the theory of evolution as “an unproven and unpopular theory.” Another representative, Rebecca Hamilton, followed up with a post-speech letter to the university demanding all e-mails and correspondence relating to the speech; a list of all money paid to Dawkins, public or […]

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  • Is Oklahoma investigating Richard Dawkins free speech?

    March 14, 2009

    In a case that harkens back to the old-timey censorship of yesteryear, it appears that the Oklahoma legislature is pulling out the stops to oppose the University of Oklahoma’s decision to host the Oxford evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins on its campus. Dawkins was invited to speak at an event celebrating the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. In a move sure to score political points with some constituents, Oklahoma representative Todd Thomsen proposed not one but two resolutions condemning Dawkins and asking the University to disinvite him. One of the resolutions reads: A Resolution expressing disapproval of the […]

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  • Rights in the News: FIRE Enters the Fray Over Dawkins Investigation in Oklahoma

    March 20, 2009

    In his column posted last weekend on RichardDawkins.net, Greg helped bring attention to what is potentially a deeply troubling breach of free expression: the rumored investigation of the University of Oklahoma’s funding of a speech by evolutionary biologist and bestselling author Richard Dawkins by the state’s legislature. As Claire noted on Monday, Greg’s post has attracted attention from blogs both nationally and internationally; as of today it has also received 270 comments on Dawkins’ site. And as Greg notes in his most recent column for The Huffington Post, an investigation is indeed afoot. Be sure to read his column for […]

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  • Greg in ‘Huffington Post’ on the Oklahoma Legislature’s Investigation of Dawkins

    March 20, 2009

    In an article for The Huffington Post this afternoon, Greg confirms that the Oklahoma Legislature did in fact investigate the University of Oklahoma for hosting Richard Dawkins in early March. This post, a follow up to his article last weekend, cites a letter received by FIRE today verifying that Oklahoma State Representative Rebecca Hamilton requested that the university provide information about all costs associated with Dawkins’ speech. As Greg summarizes: Representative Hamilton’s exhaustive request included demands for all e-mails and correspondence relating to the speech; a list of all money paid to Dawkins and the entities, public or private, responsible […]

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  • Oklahoma legislature investigates Richard Dawkins’ free speech

    March 20, 2009

    by Greg Lukianoff The Huffington Post   Well, it’s official: Oklahoma’s state legislature is investigating the University of Oklahoma for hosting a speech by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. As I noted in a post over the weekend at Dawkins’ website, the legislature first considered two resolutions condemning both Dawkins and the theory of evolution as “an unproven and unpopular theory.” (I highly recommend reading both of the proposed resolutions.) Despite their efforts, the legislature failed to prevent Dawkins from speaking on March 6 to an audience of thousands at the University of Oklahoma. Last week, however, I received multiple reports […]

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  • Greg Discusses Oklahoma Legislature’s Rumored Investigation of Richard Dawkins’ Speech

    March 16, 2009

    FIRE President Greg Lukianoff has weighed in on the controversy surrounding noted evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins’ speech at the University of Oklahoma last week in an article entitled “Is Oklahoma Investigating Richard Dawkins’ Free Speech?” For those who have not been following the situation, Dawkins delivered a speech at a campus event celebrating the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Prior to the event, a member of the Oklahoma state legislature filed two legislative resolutions condemning Dawkins’ invitation to campus.   Though Dawkins’ speech proceeded as planned on March 6, drawing an audience of thousands, FIRE has received […]

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