The Oklahoma state legislature is getting ready to exact a cost on Oklahoma University for inviting Richard Dawkins to speak there. Lawmakers have been trying to find out every penny spent bringing him to the university, and even which professors spent time on the visit.
…State Rep. Todd Thomsen, R-Ada, filed a resolution this session opposing Dawkins’ invitation to speak at OU and the university’s actions “to indoctrinate students in the theory of evolution.”
In a phone interview Thursday, Thomsen said the university has a right to bring any speaker it chooses, but is accountable to taxpayers. On behalf of his constituents, Thomsen wanted to present the opinion that Dawkins doesn’t represent Oklahoma’s ideals.
“They’re not in a plastic bubble that can’t be touched,” he said.
Too true, that. The Supreme Court has, back in the days before all the Reagan and Bush appointees, called it a “chilling effect on free speech”.
Mind you, it was perfectly all right for OU to invite Ben Stein and pay him $60K. But not Dawkins, who even waived his speakers’ fee for the event. So I want to know something:
What do we even need university presidents for? Why supercharge the marketplace of ideas? Why have scholars who try to challenge students with ideas they may not like? Why invite controversial, award-winning authors to campus to speak? Why not just let pignorant legislators run everything?
As Garrison Keillor says; “There’s a reason the iPod wasn’t invented in Kansas.” Maybe we should change that to “KansOklahomas”.
- Cary Nelson at Inside Higher Ed has an outstanding historical perspective: Monsters With Constituencies. (h/t Chad Orzel)
- A little tidbit on Ben Stein: he doesn’t waive his speaker’s fee for educational institutions, and if they run out of money and can’t cough up his sixty G’s, he charges them a cancellation fee. Nice.