Those creationists sure do love their hypocrisy: on one day, they whine about their version of “academic freedom”, which means demanding that creationism be given equal time with legitimate science in the classroom, and the next they throw a hissy fit because someone they disagree with is speaking, such as Barbara Forrest or Richard Dawkins. After failing to block Dawkins from speaking at OU, the Oklahoma legislature is looking for excuses to retroactively punish the university for spending money on his visit. They seem to have this idea that academics they dislike should always work for free, while the ones they like ought to be unquestioningly showered with honoraria.
That’s not the way the system works. Everyone in academia knows that student groups get small allotments of cash to use as they see fit to promote their organization and ideas; this usually works in the conservatives’ favor, because if you look at any university’s roster of student organizations, there’ll be a dozen or more Christian clubs at the trough and maybe one or two, if you’re lucky, freethought clubs. If they want to play that game, bring it on — let’s make Intervarsity Christian Fellowship and Campus Crusade for Christ squeal when we apply the restrictions uniformly and cut them off. Or perhaps the Oklahoma legislators are intending to apply a religious bias to their disbursement of funds?
Likewise, academic departments have small pots of money for bringing in speakers. Is Oklahoma going to meddle directly in the decisions of every unit on a campus? Is their version of “academic freedom” just a fancy justification for micromanagement?
It’s all moot anyway in this case. Dawkins waived his speaking fee for the Oklahoma event. Meanwhile, recently Ben Stein billed OSU $60,000 to speak — where’s the investigation there?