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 indication from numerous sources that the Oklahoma legislature is now conducting an investigation of the event’s funding.
As Greg points out, though Dawkins "specifically waived his normal honorarium, because this would be a mainly student audience," the university would have been completely within its rights to pay him. Greg continues:
Think about it: If every time a student or faculty member invited, say, Rick Warren to speak on campus, they knew they would be subjected to a thorough and time-consuming investigation by state officials, you can all but guarantee that schools across the country would think twice before inviting Rick Warren. This would be a great way for state legislatures to chill speech they dislike without ever having to find the speaker guilty of a single thing. Talk about your un-American activities.
Though the university has not confirmed or denied these claims, the prospect of such an investigation has received plenty of attention. Greg’s article, originally posted on RichardDawkins.net this past Saturday, has now been picked up by blogs both nationally and internationally. Greg’s post, which has received over 200 comments in the past two days, can be found here.