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


University of Oklahoma

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Case Overview


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.