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

By on 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 for this funding; and the total cost to the university, including, among other things, security fees, advertising, and even "faculty time spent promoting this event."

Rick Farmer, the director of committee staff for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, also wrote the University on March 12, requesting confirmation that Dawkins had indeed waived all compensation for the speech.

Greg pointed out in his last post that if speakers can be investigated simply because they’re controversial, "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." Of course, this news also brings up other concerns:

What does the state legislature plan to do with this information? Does this mean that any time Richard Dawkins or other evolutionary scientists give speeches about evolution in Oklahoma, they too will be investigated? And perhaps most importantly: Doesn’t the Oklahoma legislature have anything better to do?

I think I know the answer to the last question, but I think it’s time the Oklahoma Legislature answered the first two. Stay tuned.

You can read the full article here.

Schools: University of Oklahoma