You may recall the recent furore that enveloped the University of Oklahoma’s invitation to Richard Dawkins to deliver a lecture (see my article Richard Dawkins visits the University of Oklahoma). You can read the original Legislature motions here (Oklahoma legislator proposes resolution to condemn Richard Dawkins).
Now it seems, the Oklahoma Legistature is attempting to get at the University for having the temerity to go ahead with Dawkins lecture (Greg Lukianoff at the Huffington Post -Oklahoma Legislature Investigates Richard Dawkins’ Free Speech).
Sure enough, I just received confirmation today in a letter from the Open Records Office at the University of Oklahoma. The letter confirms that on the day of Dawkins’ speech, Oklahoma State Representative Rebecca Hamilton requested substantial information relating to the speech from Vice President for Governmental Relations Danny Hilliard. 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.
I can’t think what the purpose of this request is, other than to continue the harassment started before Dawkins’ engagement to speak was fulfilled. It strikes me that it’s an attempted suppression of academic independence, and it has to be motivated byt the personal beliefs (in mediaeval mumbo-jumbo) of members of the Oklahoma Legislature. Shame on them.
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